Scandal Season 3 Review “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”

Scandal Season 3 Episode 14 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (3)

It’s said that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Generally, people tend to think that refers to things. Which it can. But more often than not, it refers to people. The people in our lives that we take for granted. The people we don’t know mean so much to us until they aren’t there anymore. The people we don’t realize we love so deeply until they’re taken from us. That’s when you truly come to understand, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Sadly, that’s a lesson Cyrus had to learn. There have been many times Scandal has left me in shock, but this wasn’t one of those times. This time, Scandal left me in tears.

Jeff Perry owned this episode. If this performance doesn’t win him an Emmy, then I’ve lost what little hope I had left for the Emmy committee. There wasn’t a single scene in which Cyrus’s pain wasn’t palpable, and Perry just nailed it. His performance was nuanced and deep; reflecting all of the crazy things that made up the rocky, complicated, and passionate relationship of Cyrus and James. Although we have seen bits and pieces of Cyrus and James’s backstory, we didn’t really know too much about their past together. Their story was always told as a very small part of the Olivia/Fitz love story. However, as Cyrus was beginning the grieving process, we were treated to flashbacks of their first meeting, their courtship, and how James helped Cyrus come out of the closet. It was a beautiful story, and it kind of helps me understand why James kept forgiving all of Cyrus’s sins. James saw Cyrus as no one else seems to be able to. He saw past the gruff exterior. He saw past the facade and he saw a man who was afraid to admit who he was. He saw a man who was smart, witty, and attractive. I don’t know whether James was just blinded by love or whether he truly only saw the best parts of Cyrus. It’s probably a bit of both. Whatever the reason, though, the fact is that James loved Cyrus deeply and completely. It wasn’t until Cyrus finally stopped running and took a moment to reflect on his relationship with James and how it changed his life that it finally hit him. James is gone. Forever. That realization was just too much for Cyrus to bear. That’s when he lost it. Jeff Perry went all in for that scene and he knocked it out of the park. It’s only the second time in Scandal history that I’ve truly felt sorry for Cyrus. The thing is, I wonder whether Cyrus’s guilt is going to eat him up the way it was eating Sally up. Cyrus has to realize that it was his (and Mellie’s) actions that set the wheels in motion that culminated in James’s death. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see that pimping James out to Daniel Douglas led to a confrontation between Daniel Douglas and Sally. That confrontation led to Sally killing Daniel Douglas; which led to the inevitable coverup; which led to the beginnings of an investigation, which resulted in James and two other people being murdered. I’m not saying that Cyrus necessarily could’ve anticipated that his actions would be the domino that topples all the others, but since hindsight tends to be 20/20 I have a feeling he can see it now. And if he can’t, it won’t be too long before he puts it together. I also get the feeling he already knows that B613 is responsible for James’s death. It didn’t look like he truly believed Olivia when she confirmed that it was a carjacking gone wrong. We’ll just have to wait and see how much Cyrus knows. It’ll be interesting to see just how much James’s death is going to change Cyrus and whether Cyrus will join Olivia and David in destroying B613.

Jake is walking a very dark path. I do not think he’s past the point of no return yet, but he’s getting there. Since he’s become Command, he’s accepted the burden that comes with command. He’s come to realize that the things he’s going to have to do and the choices he’s going to have to make are in conflict with who he is as a person. To cope with that disconnect, it seems that he’s started to compartmentalize his personality. Essentially, he’s become Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde. The clearest example of this is what happened as James died. Jake could have left James to die alone in the street, but he didn’t. He could’ve just stood there without saying anything as the life slowly poured out of James, but he didn’t. Instead, Jake apologized to James for doing something he felt he had to do and for being unable to make James’s death quick and painless. He reassured James that his daughter would be safe and he tried to be as comforting as possible in that situation. The thing is, although I believe Jake meant everything he said about being sorry for what he had to do, the detached way in which he said it kind of scared me. It’s as if the part of him that is still human (Dr. Jekyll) was breaking through while the part of him that’s a beast (Mr. Hyde) was doing what had to be done. It’s like there were two completely separate people on that street with James; two people with two completely conflicting degrees of morality. I don’t think James was the only one who died on that street. A part of Jake died too. A part of his humanity died that night, and he’s one step closer to becoming Eli Pope. The sad thing is Jake doesn’t even realize it. He thinks that by doing the awful things himself, he’s somehow better than Eli. I can see that argument, but Olivia is right. There really is no difference between Jake and Eli except that Eli accepts the fact that he’s a monster. Jake does not. He believes that he’s still a good person, but he has to do monstrous things from time to time. So the question is: how many gruesome acts must you perform before you become the beast, Jake? One? Two? A hundred? Something is broken in Jake and I fear that the longer he stays as Command, the more unlikely it is that he can ever be fixed.

James’s death also forced Olivia to question herself and her purpose. She feels like there’s no one in her life really worth saving anymore. Herself included. She called Eli to try to help her make sense of everything and, true to form, he was unnecessarily harsh and condescending. At least at first. It’s truly a disgrace that Eli is so detached from his humanity that he cannot tell when he daughter is hurting. Or rather, that he doesn’t necessarily care that his daughter is hurting. In the midst of reeling from James’s murder, trying to keep an eye on Cyrus, trying to stay one step ahead of Sally, and trying to manage everything at both the White House and her office, Olivia still had to explicitly beg her father to just be her father. What followed was one of the most backhanded inspirational speeches I have ever heard. Essentially, Eli told Olivia that everyone is worth saving, even the monsters. He told her to forget trying to punish Jake for killing James because there’s nothing she can do to Jake that is worse than being Command. Eli claims to know exactly how many deaths he’s responsible for and he believes that he will carry those stains on his soul for eternity. Eli told Olivia that her purpose is to help people find the light. At least that’s what he believes her purpose to be. Naturally, Eli wasn’t compassionate or loving when he said it. Actually, he spat out the words as if they tasted like vinegar, but it still gave Olivia what she needed to refocus and get her feet back under her. What’s even more interesting about that conversation is Eli’s take on who Command is. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Exhibit 1: Eli Pope. Eli doesn’t believe Command to be just the protector of the Republic. He believes Command to be the hand of God deciding who lives and who dies. Power trip much? I’ve said before and I’ll say again that having a quasi-governmental agency that doesn’t have any meaningful oversight isn’t a good idea. It’s essential that B613 have someone that they have to answer to. Otherwise, Command can take however lives he wants and justify it all by saying he’s doing his job protecting the Republic. Eli is not my favorite person by any stretch of the imagination, but Joe Morton deserves all the praise for his performance. Morton’s passion just leaps off the screen and the way he just chomps through scenery ought to be a crime. Kudos to Mr. Morton for truly top notch work.

David has become one of my favorite people in the Scandal universe because he is the only truly white hat on the show. The truth means something to him. The Constitution isn’t just a piece of old paper to him. The law isn’t what he does; it’s who he is. He seeks to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, not because he thinks it will provide him a better bargaining position. That’s why it was so interesting to watch David’s struggle in this episode. He was caught between a rock and a hard place, and for him, it was a lose-lose situation. Either he did what Jake told him to do and send an innocent man to prison for a crime he knows the guy didn’t commit. Or, he doesn’t do what Jake told him and Jake kills him too. Either way, David was going to have to sacrifice himself. It seemed that David had decided that the lesser of the two evils was to refuse to do what Jake told him to do. It’s not that David wanted to die, but he couldn’t figure out how to stomach sending an innocent man to prison. Although, maybe a part of David did want to die. He was suffering from a tremendous amount of survivor’s guilt, and it probably would’ve been easier for him if Jake had just killed him too. Now David has to live with the fact that three people died while he got to live. Intellectually, he should be able to see why Jake spared him. But emotionally, well, that’s an entirely different matter. Working with Olivia to take down B613 might allow David to get some closure and maybe even some redemption for the blood he feels is on his hands.

The only thing about this episode that did not work for me was the Huck/Quinn scene. There were several things wrong with it. Primarily, it was very poorly shot. In addition to being too dark and too much shaky cam, the actors were obscured. It took me a few minutes to even figure out what was going on because I seriously could not see anything. Secondly, I had to rewind it a couple of times to even figure out what the actors said. Even the closed caption couldn’t pick up some of that dialog. Finally, it was a totally creepy scene and not even in a good way. I’m not sure what they were trying to accomplish with that scene other than to make me feel like I needed to immediately go jump in the shower. The only thing I got out of that entire exchange is that Huck feels like there must still be a part of Quinn that is a Gladiator and he was trying to appeal to that part of her. She (literally) spat in his face and told him that she’s gone and to get out of her house. Maybe that scene was supposed to provide some sort of hope for Quinn’s redemption, but the thing is, I just don’t care. Quinn made a series of poor choices, and I feel like she should have to live with the consequences. Whatever the purpose of that scene was, it was overshadowed by how disorienting and distractingly it was executed. Let’s never do that again shall we?

Despite my one gripe, this was an amazing episode. I am not generally a crier, but this episode was so emotionally powerful and the performances so nuanced and layered that it left me in tears. Wonderfully done. I cannot say I’m surprised about what happened between Mellie and Andrew, but I’m interested to see how that affects things going forward. Mellie has now lost her claim to the moral high ground in her argument with Fitz about sleeping with Olivia. She’s also lost all rights to call Olivia a whore anymore. Not that she should have been doing that in the first place, but this is Mellie we’re talking about. I wonder whether Fitz will turn a blind eye to Andrew and Mellie the way Mellie has turned a blind eye to Fitz and Olivia. Mama Pope is truly a piece of work too. She claims not to be a terrorist, but that’s exactly what she is. Calling yourself a “facilitator” doesn’t make you any less a terrorist. It also appears that Mama Pope is a cold-blooded killer. It looks like Shaleef should’ve done some more research before she got in bed with Maya Pope. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?

Follow me on Twitter @Eutopia26