Scandal Season 4Welcome back to the arena, Gladiators, it’s been too long since we fought the good fight along side the fixers of Pope and Associates. Last we heard of our favorite crew of semi-lawyers, the Fixer Extraordinaire herself departed D.C. on a flight with former-Command of B6-13, Jake Ballard. Destination? Terra incognita. Or as far from Washington D.C. as possible.

On the heels of his son’s assassination, President Fitzgerald Grant was elected to a second term in office, and if that wasn’t enough, he also discovered his wife’s rape at the hands of his late father.

After a season that feinted at his own storyline before thinking better of it, Harrison found himself staring down the wrong end of a gun when he uncovered the truth of the First Son’s assassination; and Papa Pope, the man holding that gun, got his Christmas miracle, and was reinstated as Command of B6-13. And, oh yeah, something was happening with Quinn somewhere while Huck was reunited with the family he abandoned all those years ago.

Caught up? Good. Let’s get to the juicy bits.

I wish I could say I doubted Scandal’s ability to ramp the drama from one season to the next, but I can’t. All true Gladiators know that the drama, suspense, intrigue, and jaw dropping moments that Scandal delivers are near magical in their ability to inspire renewed interest.

And this season premiere is no different.

“Where on earth is Olivia Pope?” was the marketing line for this season of Scandal. It was a question that made sense; Liv hopped on a plane and we all imaged her sipping wine ocean-side in the far reaches of the world. But where was she? Where would Olivia Pope decide to spend her time?

I never cared; we all knew Olivia was coming back to DC; I just wanted to know what would bring her back from paradise to the world of fixing. So when we find Liv100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar, sporting a fabulous weave, a beautiful white bathing suit, and engaging in disgusting beach hanky-panky with Jake, we’re just waiting for the ball to drop. When she opens a mysterious piece of mail addressed to Olivia Pope even though no one knows where she is, we find that the “contrivance” that lures Liv back to DC is actually the discovery of Harrison’s body.

Back at OPA, the office is packed like it’s Downton Abbey when the Crawleys go into London: all the furniture is draped, every office empty. As Olivia explores her abandoned sanctuary, Quinn pops up, spouting spy drivel as if anyone was on good terms with her at the end of season 3. Without mentioning their recently rocky relationship, Liv and Quinn embark on a trip to find the other associates and invite them to Harrison’s funeral.

They find Huck working at the “Smart Counter” as an IT attendant, and they find Abby as the new White House Press Secretary. Neither is the least bit hospitable to Liv’s sudden absence and reappearance.

While we visit Abby, we join back up with Fitz and Cyrus, working hard; Mellie haunting the halls of the White House, drunk in sweatpants, still in mourning; and Portia de Rossi, looking fierce.

Scandal Season 4

Meanwhile, Jake, never content to sit back and kick it while his girl struts around the White House gardens shouting accusations, takes a few minutes to threaten David, hoping he’ll finally make a move on the B6-13 documents Jake delivered David at the end of season 3.

And after this game of catch up, we’re even treated to a case! Who knew we’d be so lucky as to explore the dregs of season 3’s unresolved plotlines as well as transport us back to the joys of season 1’s Scandal fixing.

Here’s a question for those Scandal fans really looking to get to the root of Olivia Pope as a character. Don’t worry, it’s a easy one: why did Olivia take this case? She storms off when she finds out the Senator whom she thought had been sexually assaulted by another senator, was in fact covering for her secretary, a young aspiring-politician who was the real victim. And oh yeah, the first senator knew the second senator would attempt to sexually assault her secretary.

D.C. is a terrible place, but none of us—least of all Liv—was under any illusions to the contrary.

Narratively, this case loops live back into the main political vein. Her championing this sexual harassment case plays directly into the Grant administration trying to pass an equal pay bill through the Senate.

More importantly, this case gets Olivia back in the action. Her hair is on point, her white pantsuit is back, and Olivia Pope is fighting for wronged women.

And while the associates of OPA come together to bid an official farewell to Harrison—and Columbus Short in the role—it’s too bad we’re not also bidding farewell to the tired confusion that is the motivations of Olivia Pope. Notice Jake is considered a real romantic possibility for Olivia. But despite spending weeks together halfway around the world, even he knows that when they are in D.C., Liv belongs to Fitz.

Even when they’re pretending not to know each other as they pass each other in the Capitol Hill rotunda.

Stray Notes

  • “There’s a difference between a challenge and a challenger. This case is going to blow up!”
  • David has the President’s nomination for Attorney General. How his star has brightened!
  • I didn’t spend too much time with Mellie and Fitz today, but tonight we learn Fitz tried to kill himself one night after Jerry Jr.’s death. Small news? No. Do I expect this factoid will blow up down the line? Absolutely.
  • While discussing Olivia’s return with Fitz, Mellie admits that there are just some things she won’t do anymore, and pretending is one of them. That is character development. Olivia, take notes.