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Not quite "Blown Away" by Scandal

Scandal (2011) poster

Written by : published Sunday 16th December 2012

Scandal - "Blown Away"
Grade: 88%

ABC's Scandal has a clever concept, big scales stories, and a terrific cast. But it still fails to deliver on its potential week in and week out. The issue may be the episodes that tackle large issues, and then seek closure at the end of an hour, keeping the series from breaking out into a true serial. Or it could be that when larger tales do play out, the situation keeps seeming worse and worse.

This week's fall finale, "Blown Away," is thankfully much more serial than procedural. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is set up for shooting President "Fitz" Grant (Tony Goldwyn), but while his friends try to protect him, he doesn't do himself any favors, tracking down the real killer, Becky (Susan Pourfar), whom he is in love with. All of this plays out admist struggles for power, as the players in Washington won't even wait for Fitz to die before taking control of his office.

The action and mythology parts of "Blown Away" are what Scandal should be every week. The 'B' grade for the episode stems mostly from the fact that it doesn't feel like much of the rest of the season, and only now, well into a second year, are things ramping back up, as they did in season one. That, and things do get a tad predictable. As well as a couple of other issues that I'll get to shortly.

Poor Huck cannot be blamed for trusting Becky. His head is messed up as he struggles with his past and his addiction to killing people. It is because of the way he is trained by the government, and without Olivia (Kerry Washington) to keep a close eye on him, as she is wont to do, he begins to stray. It's no wonder he is easy pickings for another assassin on top of her game.

In the end, Huck decides to do the right thing, but like his relationship, he does so sloppily, giving Becky the chance at escape, but not before slaughtering people that Huck cares about, and leaving him on the hook for a serious crime. Viewers know that Huck will probably eventually be exonerated, even if Becky isn't caught. But that doesn't change the fact that he is in a dark place, and in no condition to handle what comes next. Hopefully, Scandal will allow Diaz to play out this plot to its fullest, taking Huck even deeper into the mire, and making it quite awhile before he can function as a full-fledged member of the team again.

Huck isn't the only one falling through the cracks. Quinn (Katie Lowes) is obsessed with figuring out what happened to her, finally having her suspicions that Huck and Olivia are involved confirmed in "Blown Away." Abby (Darby Stanchfield) is continually drawn towards what she sees as an unhealthy relationship with the "enemy," David Rosen (Joshua Malina). Harrison (Columbus Short) is basically left to run the group, a task he is not yet able to do effectively.

Perhaps a lot of the last few episodes have allowed the various members of Olivia's agency to stray because she herself has her attention divided. Back to flirting with Fitz, acting as the doting girlfriend, gossiping with Cyrus (Jeff Perry), and working at the White House, she has let other things slip, and she should blame herself at least as much as anyone else that her group is fracturing.

Not that I'm complaining about the Olivia / Cyrus scenes. They have been among my favorite parts of the fall run, revealing the depth of their affection for each other, and how they once worked together so well on the campaign.

But the fact of the matter is, Olivia's world is slimy. Politics are disgusting. Watching Vice President Langston (Kate Burton) assume the president's office, seeing Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry, Bunheads, Hung) take control of the new leader, being betrayed by Justice Verna Thornton (Debra Mooney), it becomes more and more clear every day why Olivia left them behind. Her getting dragged back into it now makes her just as damaged as the rest of her team. Scandal is no West Wing by any stretch.

I do worry that the conspiracy story will ruin Olivia and Cyrus as sympathetic characters. Finding out that they rigged the election for Fitz, on top of everything else, and worked with the likes of Verna and Hollis, makes them difficult to root for. The more we learn about their actions, the more despicable they become. The writers may eventually try to smooth this over by giving a good reason why Fitz needed to win, but at that point, will it be too late to salvage their reputations?

There is also bound to be collateral damage before they can overcome their past. James (Dan Bucatinsky) is the most likely victim. It appears for a moment in "Blown Away" that he might be saved, when Cyrus agrees to give him a baby, and James vows to quit his job. But James is only fooling, knowing Cyrus is onto him. The love Cyrus has for James looks real, at least in as much as Cyrus is prepared to love another person. What will it do to Cyrus if James is killed? Or, at minimum, if their marriage is dissolved? Their union seems unrepairable at present.

By the end of "Blown Away," it appears that the writers have themselves in a corner. Will they be brilliant enough to get out of it, without tossing believability aside, or ruining all of the characters? Only time will tell, but there is no obvious path to redemption from here.

Scandal will return to ABC Thursday, January 10th at 10 p.m. ET.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter!

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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