Previously on Scandal, ‘No More Blood’
Lance, a member of our podcast group, summed this episode up perfectly: “It was like Ferguson fan fiction.”
Oliva is called in to help diffuse a situation: a white police officer has shot and killed a young black boy. His body is still in the street and a crowd is forming. This makes absolutely no damn sense, but okay. While she’s being briefed by the officer in charge, the dead boys’s father (Courtney B Vance) appears with a shotgun. He is going to stand guard by his son’s body until someone … explains to him what happened? No. He wants to… kill the cop who killed his son?
She Olivia Popes the situation until she’s allowed to talk to the grieving father up close and personal. Then, THEN, a community activist shows up and goes beyond the police barrier carrying his phone (videotaping the whole thing) and a lawn chair. He approaches a fucking crime scene and is allowed to chit-chat with the dad, leaving him with the chair.
And he’s not immediately arrested when he crosses the police back to the other side. Nope. He’s allowed to stay, rile up the crowd, side-eye Olivia, and tell her how she’s basically an Uncle Tom.
Olivia gets the police officer’s story, which is that he stopped the boy after getting a call a kid nearby stole a cell phone from the store. He said the boy started to advance on him, threatening him, and he reached in his coat pocket and pulled a knife. Then he shot him. The knife must be under the boy’s body. The officer seems genuinely upset, but he’s Mike from Twilight so I knew he was going to be found in the wrong.
It takes Huck a whole fucking day to find out if there’s video footage of the shooting, because I’m guessing there were SO MANY cameras to choose from. He does learn the police got the one video that exists the night before. If they’re holding on to it, it must show something they don’t want people to see.
But when Olivia views the footage, the boy DOES reach into his pocket before he is shot. She shows the dad and then they check under the body for the knife, which they find. The father insists his son didn’t carry a knife and points his shotgun at Olivia and the activist. And he’s not shot.
After watching the video a bunch more, Jake notices a shadow in the police car. The shooting officer had a prisoner in the backseat, and he didn’t mention it. They dig and figure out the missing perp is the one who had the knife and the cop planted it under the boy’s body. The cop delivers a racist rant and is arrested.
Olivia shares the news with the boy’s father, who finally moves away from the body and prepares to be arrested. But he’s not arrested. The armed man who held a crime scene hostage for a full day is taken to the White House where he meets Fitz and cries in his arms.
Listen. I love Scandal. You guys know I do. But they should have left this topic alone. It felt so contrived. There’s absolutely no reason for Olivia to be called in on this. It made no sense that the situation went on as long as it did. How they figured things out – staring at the video a whole lot and they FINALLY see the shadow? – was silly. This is a complicated, painful topic and deserved better treatment than it got here.
It doesn’t help that immediately after the episode, ABC debuted American Crime, a drama that did a much better job conveying the relationship between white police in minority areas and the loss of a child.
Maybe I’ll feel differently after a re-watch, which I will be doing for podcast notes. I’ll go into my issues with the episode in full on the show.
- Fitz needs to pick a replacement VP for Andrew. He promised Mellie she’ll be president next so he doesn’t want to pick someone who will provide serious competition for her when his term ends. Let’s ignore, for the moment, that Fitz is in no position to promise Mellie a victory when he really didn’t win the two elections that made him president. For once, Fitz is trying to do something for Mellie. Cyrus doesn’t think this is a good idea, and instead pitches a woman governor who posted a passionate video about violence against people of color by white police officers. Fitz considers her, and Mellie is furious. But someone leaks to the press that the governor owns her state’s prison so she’s out. Fitz is responsible for the leak – even though Cyrus suspects Mellie. He tells Mellie they need to pick an unelectable candidate. She presents him with senator Susan Ross, who Olivia helped win election earlier in the season. She’s loud and unpolished. She’ll do just fine.
- The acting this episode by special guests – Courtney B. Vance and Michael Welch as the police officer who killed the boy – was fantastic.