Scandal “Gladiators Don’t Run” Review (Season 4, Episode 12)

Scandal Season 4 Episode 8 The Last Supper (16)

If there is one thing I can say I felt at the end of this week’s Scandal, it would be surprise. Not surprise in the sense of ‘OMG I cannot believe that just happened!’ But surprised in the sense that some folks behaved in much more human ways than I expected them to.

I can’t say that I was surprised by Olivia’s time with her captors. I didn’t know that Gus was going to kill Ian in cold blood, but I can’t say it shocked me. Especially after we saw him arguing with Ian over the change in plans. I wasn’t even surprised by the fact that the two tech guys working for Ian (and now for Gus) didn’t even try to help Olivia at all despite her passionate plea. Anyone who is willing to go out to the middle of nowhere to set up a black market auction to sell another human being isn’t exactly swimming in compassion. So it wasn’t surprising that Olivia’s pleas fell on deaf ears. Just as an aside, those two dudes are idiots. How could you possibly think that anyone who is willing to murder someone in front of 3 witnesses will a) split the money with you fairly and b) let you live long enough to enjoy your blood money? But what can you expect from a couple of losers like that?

While Olivia was desperately trying to come up with her next move, everyone else in DC was working just as desperately to figure out how to get her back. Well, almost everyone. Andrew was trying to figure out how to salvage his own political career and keep himself out of prison for treason. He threatened to let the cat out of the bag about the real reason Fitz went to war, but when that didn’t work, he went to threaten Mellie and her future political ambitions. The show has worked pretty diligently this season to portray Andrew as the newest big bad, but I’m just not buying it. Andrew wasn’t even really a player on the national political stage when Fitz asked him to step in as VP. He and Fitz were friends, and Andrew was secretly in love with Mellie. So what changed? What made him decide to betray his friend and commit treason? Who convinced him that staging a coup was the best way to get elected? What’s his end game other than getting elected? He has to know that as soon as he puts his name in the running the White House is going to leak what they have on him. None of this makes any sense at all, and it’s really bothering me that the show still hasn’t given any plausible explanation for Andrew’s treachery. Saying that he just wants to be president really, really badly isn’t cutting it.

Andrew isn’t the only one who wants to be president though. Mellie wants it too. And honestly, you’re blind if you didn’t see that one coming. Since the beginning Mellie has wanted power, so it’s not shocking that her ultimate goal is to one day be President of the United States. The fact that she was willing to convince Fitz not to pursue charges against Andrew is more like the Mellie we’ve come to know over these past seasons. It was a calculated, politically motivated decision that had nothing to do with truth or justice. Frankly, her choice didn’t surprise me at all. What did surprise me was the fact that Mellie always went to Dover to meet the planes that brought all of the fallen soldiers home. That may have been another political stunt, but I don’t think so. Mellie going to Dover was about her being a mother who has lost a child and understanding the pain that comes with that. It was Mellie sympathizing with those families who have been destroyed by the death of their loved one. That was Mellie being a human being. Mellie tends to be so abrasive 99% of the time, so tends to be a bit jarring when she has moments of true humanity like she did in the airplane hangar. Bellamy Young did an excellent job in that scene and the visual of all of those flag-covered caskets was powerful.

Fitz also showed a surprising amount of resolve and clarity. His speech to Cyrus about why he was so determined to get Olivia back was surprisingly altruistic for someone who generally tends to be fairly self-centered. Something that has always bothered me about Fitz is that he’s so milquetoast. He’s always allowed himself to be pushed this way or that way by the machinations of other people. With very few exceptions, he’s never really stood up for himself. He’s been selfish and juvenile. Even when he was trying to show how much power he wields, it felt more like a toddler having a tempter tantrum than the leader of the free world telling someone to back up out of his face. However, all of that changed after Gerry died. It’s like something shook loose in Fitz and now he seems to have grown at least a little spine. He’s generally more assertive and he’s pushing for those things that actually mean something to him. He’s even stopped letting Mellie push him around. He and Mellie seem to have agreed that their marriage is little more than a business partnership, and they communicate better now than they have in years. It was actually kind of sweet to see Fitz and Mellie hanging out out the balcony drinking vodka together. There’s an honesty to their relationship now that hasn’t been there in, well, ever. Fitz was steadfast in his determination to go after Andrew until Mellie asked him to stop. That made his explanation about why he NEEDED to get Olivia back even more poignant. Fitz recognizes that he sent soldiers to their deaths for Olivia. He didn’t sugarcoat what he did and he didn’t make any excuses. He acknowledged the weight of the decision he made to try and save her which is why he is so determined that they succeed. Otherwise, he will have put other parents through what he went through after Gerry died for nothing. Sadly, I think this is a weight Fitz is going to carry for the rest of his life. Even after he gets Olivia back, he’s still got to live with the choices he’s made because he couldn’t bear the thought of living without her. It would be romantic if it weren’t so tragic.

One thing I can’t say I was surprised by was the fact that Huck has gone off the rails. For all of Quinn’s blustering that Huck will pull himself back before he gets too far gone, she doesn’t seem to realize that it’s Olivia that actually pulls Huck back. Olivia is Huck’s solid ground. Without her, there is no stopping him. He barely held it together when she left to go be with Jake, and I think he only did it then because he wanted to see his son. Now that Huck has started killing again, I think it’s going to be even harder to reel him in even if they do get Olivia back. Even Jake was stunned by what Huck did to those drug dealers, and I have to wonder how much of him was relieved that he got out when he did. He called Huck an animal, but I wonder whether a part of Jake knew that if he Olivia hadn’t come into his life when she did, he very well could’ve been just like Huck.

Something that didn’t really work for me was Abby flipping out on David for not telling her what was going on with Olivia. Abby has spent the majority of this season being hostile toward Olivia. Among other things, she blamed Olivia for leaving with Jake. She blamed Olivia for Harrison’s death. At one point I think she even told Olivia that she didn’t owe Olivia anything and that the White House was her domain now. Basically, Abby has been a horrible friend. She was hollering and screaming about Olivia being her best friend, but as of late, Abby hasn’t acted like Olivia is her best friend. Then on top of that, what right did she have to demand that David give her information that he was not authorized to give her? The only reason he knew anything about it is, as he said, he’s the Attorney General and he’s got to sign all the warrants. Abby didn’t have the clearance, and although as her friend he probably could’ve told her, if he believed the information getting out would jeopardize national security (which it would have) then he has a duty not to share it. I get that Abby was angry and afraid, but she gave up her right to demand David tell her everything when she broke up with him.

Like I said, there were things about this episode that caused me to be pleasantly surprised. Then there were other things I saw coming from a mile away. I still don’t particularly like that I can figure out what’s going to happen even before it does, but at least the ride to the end is entertaining. I’m interested to see who bought Olivia, and I bet you dollars to donuts it’s Eli Pope. There’s no way Olivia was getting sold on the black market and he didn’t know about it. I’ll bet that he’s even going to take the opportunity to rub her face in the fact that as soon as he stopped “protecting” her, she got nabbed. And I wouldn’t put it past him to use her to once again control the presidency. And even if it’s not Eli directly, I bet he’s somehow involved. That’s all just speculation for now though. We’ll find out next week. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?