Scandal “I’m Just a Bill” Review (Season 4, Episode 19)

One of my favorite scenes from The Lion King is right after Rafiki finds Simba hiding out with Timon and Pumba. Rafiki is trying to convince Simba to return to the Pridelands and take his rightful place as king, but Simba refuses because he’s still running from his past. Simba declares that the past doesn’t matter. So, Rafiki whacks Simba over the head with a stick and tells Simba not to worry about it because it’s all in the past so it doesn’t matter. When Rafiki tries to whack Simba over the head again, Simba ducks out of the way. Simba realized that even though the past can hurt, you must learn from it so you don’t make those mistakes again. It looks like the folks over on Scandal should watch The Lion King because it appears they haven’t learned anything from the past.

Eli Pope showed up with an ultimatum for Olivia. He gave her 48 hours to stop the investigation into B613, or suffer Eli’s wrath. Olivia told the rest of the group what Eli said, but they all agreed to move forward with the prosecution. This is kind of where things started to get a bit frustrating. At every opportunity Olivia and Co. remind each other how dangerous Eli is and how dangerous it is for them to go after B613, but then why aren’t they acting like it? Why weren’t they using the “buddy system” when traveling? Or at least the “common sense” system. Just like they know Jake’s testimony is the crucial testimony they need to put Eli away, Eli knows it too. Why would Jake, a trained operative, respond to a text from Olivia to go meet her in her office alone late at night? How did that not raise any red flags for him? Especially since he’s supposedly been keeping an eye on Olivia and he knows that she hasn’t been staying at the office late nights. This is the same Jake who had to fight off one of Eli’s operatives a week ago after that operative slaughtered the other B613 operatives willing to testify. Ever since Olivia’s kidnapping they have been writing Jake as if he’s some bumbling idiot instead of the lethal, highly-trained operative that he is. That’s bothersome.

It’s also bothersome that Olivia is behaving so stupidly. The last time that she tried to take Eli down using legal methods, the people sent to arrest him ended up dead, the incriminating files disappeared, and Eli walked away unscathed. That entire operation should have taught Olivia that Eli has people everywhere. And if she didn’t learn anything from that situation, she was right there next to Jake when they discovered that David’s assistant was one of Eli’s operatives. Furthermore, Eli has shown Olivia over and over that he does not care about her. He will use anyone and everyone to get to her and to maintain the power he has. So Olivia’s decision to seek out something “uncomplicated” with some strange dude she met at a bar while this whole operation is going on is reckless to say the least. The way that everyone, but especially Olivia and Jake, are behaving in this situation is frustrating. It’s yet another example of the writers writing the characters to fit the story instead of writing the story to fit the characters. Putting characters first allows a story to unfold in an interesting, organic way and it allows for much richer storytelling overall. Having the characters be situationally stupid only serves to frustrate the audience and water-down the story.

Someone who isn’t as stupid as everyone thinks is Susan Ross. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have some odd personality quirks. She definitely does, but she also has a genuine desire to help people. Mellie and Fitz may have thought they were doing themselves a favor by putting Susan in as the VP, but they may have accidentally done the American people a favor in the process. Susan is a very smart and self-aware woman. She knows exactly why she was chosen to be VP, but instead of whining about it or compromising herself, she’s decided to use the opportunity she’s been given to try to make a positive difference. I totally respect that. I absolutely loved how she went right on up the food chain putting people in their place and refusing to simply do what she’s told to do. Oh, if only things actually worked that way. The world would be a much better place. But I digress. Back to Susan Ross. Part of the reason Susan was able to do what she did is that the honestly has no desire to be President. The problem with Sally and Andrew is that they couldn’t do their job as VP because they were so busy trying to figure out how to get Fitz’s job. Well, that and the fact that they’re just horrible people. If either Sally or Andrew had been given the opportunity that Susan was given in this episode, they would’ve tried to finagle until they could get something in return for doing what Fitz wanted. The funny thing about all of that is that no one knew how to respond to Susan because she didn’t behave that way. She wasn’t holding up the vote to prove a point or gain political leverage. She sincerely had questions and concerns about the bill that she needed resolved. Basically, DC hasn’t corrupted Susan yet which led her to work with Fitz on crafting a bill that would actually work. It was a beautiful thing. I don’t know how long Susan will be able to maintain the kind of openness, honesty and genuineness she has now, but I earnestly hope she doesn’t change too much because I really like her.

Susan isn’t the only one who hasn’t completely lost her soul yet. While Olivia and Co. were considering how to move forward on the B613 prosecution, Marcus called Olivia needing her help. When they showed up, they found Marcus in his skivvies, covered in blood in the mayor’s wife’s bedroom. Awkward. Apparently, Marcus was having an affair with the mayor’s wife and he witnessed three men break into the house and kill her. First, it amused me that Marcus called Olivia asking for her help and then had the audacity to catch attitude when she and her team started handling the situation in the way that they handle things. Second, Marcus seems to be incapable of interacting with someone without it becoming a confrontational situation. One of the first things he did when Olivia showed up was try to pick a fight with her about him sleeping with a White woman. Sir, no one cares whether the woman you were sleeping with is White, Black, Purple or Green. However, the fact that she’s dead does raise some concerns. Finally, it looks like even though Marcus is a pompous loudmouth, he hasn’t completely compromised his integrity. At least not yet. Hopefully, after what Olivia told him, he won’t ever compromise. He seemed very impressed by Olivia when she dressed down the police captain in the middle of the police station, but Olivia’s speech to him at the end let him know that there is a high cost to be able to do what she did. Olivia pretty much told him that she used to be just like him, but along the way she compromised. That compromise led to another and then another until it got to the point where her life was nothing but compromises. Now, she’s so far down a path she never wanted to walk that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to get back. Basically, Olivia told Marcus not to become her. She was urging him to learn from her past so he doesn’t make the same mistakes she made along the way.

This episode was ok. It went back to the show’s roots a bit more in that there was a case of the week going on with some political maneuvering thrown in for good measure. This format worked well for Scandal during the first 2 seasons, so I hope they’re headed back toward more of it. I wish I could say I was shocked by anything that happened with Eli, but I really wasn’t. Everything with him played out exactly as I thought it would, and honestly, I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m sure there’ll be some crazy twist at the end of the season though. I sincerely hope that Jake isn’t dead because I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive the show if Jake is gone. I like him. Olivia is still in need of help dealing with the whole kidnapping thing, and I have a feeling that once she figures out that “Russell” is one of her father’s assassins, it’s going to push her even further toward her breaking point. This could get interesting. So what did y’all think of this week’s Scandal?