Scandal “White Hats Off” Review

Scandal (ABC) Season 2 Premiere White Hat's Off (5)

The Scandal season premiere certainly hit the ground running. This was my introduction to the show, and as far as intros go, this wasn’t bad. The writing and acting were solid. I’m a Kerry Washington fan, and she brings both a tough edge and a vulnerability to Olivia. The character wouldn’t work without that balance, and Washington does a fine job with her. But before I get ahead of myself, here are a few points of interest:

The relationship between President Fitzgerald Grant and his first lady Mellie is quite sad. It’s really worse than being in an arranged marriage. It seems like they actually loved each other at some point. How or when that love-filled marriage turned into a marriage of necessity, I’m not entirely certain. However, the marriage they have now doesn’t seem like one either of them really want to be in. When most people find out they’re having a baby, they are happy. They plan baby showers and nursery colors. They don’t try to figure out how they can use “America’s Baby” to their political advantage. One thing is for certain, unless the first lady can figure out how to see her child as a beautiful gift and not as political capital, then that kid is in for one massively screwed up childhood.

The relationship between Fitz and Olivia is in stark contrast to Fitz and Mellie. Where the president tells Mellie to stay out of political affairs and reminds her (in a not so nice way) that her opinion is irrelevant, he seeks out Olivia’s opinion. He knows what he needs to do, but he still needs Olivia to tell him. Actually, I got the impression that he telephoned Olivia just to hear her voice. Where his relationship with Mellie is detached and forced, his relationship with Olivia is warm and easy. She helps him find his strength and he helps her find her heart. They are obviously good for each other, but they both know they can never be together as long as he’s president. That fact made the phone conversation between them quite bittersweet.

Scandal‘s plot certainly kept me on my toes. It also left me with a ‘what just happened?!’ face at the end. I most certainly did not see that coming. Of course, the ending raised a few questions. What was with the dog and pony show? Why go through the trial at all? Who were they trying to work over? What’s the endgame? I’m sure some of these questions will be addressed over the course of this season. At least I hope so.

One thing I must say that did not work for me on Scandal tonight was more of a technical issue than a plot point. The filming was terrible. There were a number of weird camera angles that seemed very disjointed and harshly cut. And I hate, hate, HATE shaky cam. There is absolutely no reason that the camera should be shaking while two people are sitting stationary at a table having a conversation. It’s distracting and it removes me from the plot action. This was especially evident in the cutting between the courtroom and the defense team prep room. I suppose those were supposed to be smooth transitions to show action occurring simultaneously, but it felt abrupt and disorienting. I was having a hard time following where exactly we were at any given moment.

All in all I enjoyed this episode. It set up several interesting plot threads for this season. Just as an aside, one thing that bugged me (and this is just a personal thing) was the guy from Texas and his over the top Southern accent. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to it because I’m a Southerner, but for crying out loud, we don’t all talk like we just walked in off the back 40 and we do NOT all tell folks that they look as happy as a pig in slop, or whatever ridiculous metaphor they dream up next. Seriously people. Whew. Ok. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

What did you think of tonight’s Scandal? Are you as interested as I am to find out what the deal is with Quinn?