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Scandal – S4E14 – The Lawn Chair

Previously on Scandal, ‘No More Blood’

Lance, a member of our podcast group, summed this episode up perfectly: “It was like Ferguson fan fiction.”

Thats Not How This Works

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 Pope

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.

Scandal S4E14 The Lawn Chair

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.

Scandal S4E14 The Grants

Score | 5.5/10What I Did Like:
  • 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.
About Nina Perez (1391 Articles)
Nina Perez is the founder of Project Fandom. She is also the author of a YA series of books, "The Twin Prophecies," and a collection of essays titled, "Blog It Out, B*tch." Her latest books, a contemporary romance 6-book series titled Sharing Space, are now available on for Kindle download. She has a degree in journalism, works in social media, lives in Portland, Oregon, and loves Idris Elba. When not watching massive amounts of British television or writing, she is sketching plans to build her very own TARDIS. She watches more television than anyone you know and she's totally fine with that.

6 Comments on Scandal – S4E14 – The Lawn Chair

  1. Nina, I was looking for that meme the other day! Lol, so apropos.

  2. Last night was a very polarizing episode. It was really interesting to see the immediate responses after it was over. Some loved it some hated it and some were even questioning the motivations of Shonda Rhimes in even tackling the issue. Where I fall down on it is I liked it, it was a very powerful episode for me.

    Just a few points that I liked:

    I really empathized with Courtney B Vance’s character especially at the end scene with him and Fitz and him breaking down father to father. It was cool to see podcast homie Jeff Canata on Scandal even though he played one of the crooked cops. Liv briefly confronting David about white privilege. That little scene of media coverage manipulation which led to Liv joining the protest because she knew the police wouldn’t dare engage on the crowd if she was in the mix. Both potential VP Nominees showing empathy.

    The scene with the police officer having a racism seizure did seem kind of unnecessarily shoehorned in to wrap up the story. That scene to me was representative of the views certain folks of privilege have and try to express that these victims somehow deserved what they got, we all know about the comment section. Especially the Black on Black crime argument which frustrates me to no end.

    Just one last serious note, putting aside realism I do applaud Shonda and her team for even taking on this issue,and I think they handled it very well within the realm of the Scandal narrative. I understand there were many shortcuts and liberties taken but they weren’t any more egregious as anything Scandal has ever done before. The “fan fiction” argument is valid but the reality is far more painful. It is a shame that TV justice is the only justice we have at this moment. They did the best with the subject in my opinion and at the end I was shedding Chris Pine tears… But then again all this all will have been for nothing if Liv and Marcus don’t hook up and start dating.

  3. Last night’s episode was…better than The Blacklist, but that’s not saying much. My expectations for Scandal are kinda low. It was difficult for me to watch, not just because of Ferguson and NYC, but because I’m from Cleveland–known for many things but right now: Tamir Rice.

    Courtney B.Vance gave a powerful performance; he better get an Emmy nom for guest appearance. I couldn’t stop during his scenes, but I wanted them to move that boy’s body!! As you said in your recap, we all know none of that shit would have gone down like it did. Even when the cop “confessed.” Shonda and the gang really pushed their message down our throats. Did anyone see her tweet about the fights in the writers’ room?

    I loved when Marcus read Olivia and told her about her expired black card. However, no matter how or where she was raised, you can’t expect me to believe Olivia JUST NOW realized there’s a different America for poc. Nope, she’s not that kind of stupid.

    Michael Welch was so good in his confession scene. I know because I wanted to punch his face in. He plays a skeev very well.

    I wish Fitz hadn’t promised Mellie the presidency because it’s not his to give! And why keep breaking promises to her? I got the feeling that once Susan started talking about how thankless the presidency is, Mellie staters to rethink it.

    I hope Olivia doesn’t make Huck her war buddy. Last thing we need is her licking people’s faces and grating their backs.

  4. I thought this was a good episode if a bit unrealistic in the outcome. But it’s tv. It’s not gonna be realistic.

    Courtney B. Vance was amazing as always. Powerful performance. That kid playing the cop was good too. If only the guilty parties would confess like that in real life.

    I’m glad Fitz is sticking to his promise to Mellie. He is truly trying to do what he can for her. Why she would want that job is beyond me tho. They should have put some grey on Fitz’s hair to be more realistic. Unless you’re dying your hair, it’s gonna be grey once you’re done being POTUS.

    I know you didn’t like it Nina. Definitely can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the podcast.

  5. I hated this episode!!! From the white cop rant to having that father sit over his dead child’s body in the street the whole episode!! It just seemed dumb to me!! Also as much I want Mellie to be happy, I know shonda and she loves fucking with my favorite characters so I have no faith this presidency dream will ever be realized!! Anyways I don’t want to be a downer so I’ll end by saying welcome to team Quinn Mizzez Weeks!!!

  6. I know you did this already but Olivia calling a sub a hoagie? It’s DC and all the cops are white? And what is Perd from Pawnee doing on the news in DC?

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