Scandal: Bodies, Bodies Everywhere

Scandal S01E05: "Crash and Burn"


Wow, Scandal was grisly last night! The carnage started with a field blanketed in body parts, and just got messier from there.

I don't have the patience—not to mention, I fear, the brain power—to fully get into the plane crash story line. It was obscenely boring and I don't think in a real-world situation it would have truly pulled focus from Amanda Tanner's disappearance. Excuse me, MURDER!

Olivia/Kerry Washington's reaction to finding out Amanda had been killed—running outside and shouting at a secret service agent parked within ogling distance from her office—was amazing. So much of this show rests on Washington's ability to let emotions play upon her face like a master pianist upon a grand piano. However, besides this moment, everything about the episode was waaay too upsetting for me. I'm a weenie! I hate dismembered legs wearing crocs, or finding out someone on our "team" is addicted to sadism.

Yes, it's gutsy to get all Dexter and make one of your characters a recovering gore-aholic (I mean, that was what he was saying as he lay there, side by side with a naked dude, readying his power tools and bragging about his specialty razors), but his overwrought monologues were distracting, not disturbing. Don't get me wrong, I wish the whole segment had never happened: I am very squeamish about violence on TV, especially the kind where someone lays down a tarp and takes his time and so forth, and in the last 10 years this kind of TV has increased by 300 percent according to the unofficial statistics I have just pulled out of my imagination. (There's definitely been an increase, though, I can tell you that much.)

However, if we grant that Scandal needs a torture-loving character in its arsenal, and the writers wanted to make him particularly menacing this episode, I think they should have cut ALL his monologues and just had him silently working on the guy and occasionally barking "WHERE IS AMANDA TANNER!" because the exposition-heavy arias felt embarrassingly misplaced. You aren't going to be able to humanize a person while he is torturing someone else, and so making him reminisce about how other people's pain became his jam is just silly/rambling and makes him seem somehow less sinister and more, well, whiny. Like, the real torture was having to listen to that guy yammer. And it didn't help that the the torture scenes cut back and forth with light humor back at the DA office. Made both things seem tone deaf.

Barfing in mouth at the memory of that scene! Glad we got through it.

I did love Olivia's line in the swank, very 24-esque phone conversation boxes. She accused Cyrus of killing Amanda and told the president it would be his fault if that Cyrus was guilty because the prez had let Cyrus "off his leash." Then, when the president sort-of questioned Cyrus about it, we were treated to another sassy monologue by Cyrus.

Although if I were to give a "most unnecessary monologue every frickin' episode" award, it would go to the DA. Every time we see that DA he gives us a different tall-tale metaphor about his job description. I know it's early yet, so the show is still orienting new viewers, but couldn't he just have a plaque on his desk that says DA instead of being like, "I put on my shiny star and I hold my head high and if there's a bad guy to be hung I am the rope and..." Like, we know, we know, your business card must be a scroll.

Also fascinating: We met the vice president! A right-wing religious fanatic lady vice president has become something of a stock character since the last election, and this is the scariest one I've seen preach in a pantsuit. You have to wonder how a president who is all about the Dream Act would team up with someone who bandies about religious imagery in a professional workplace, but whatever. It's necessary to the show that we long for the president not to be unseated yet still have the potential to be threatening.

Because he IS threatening. Nice to know that wasn't his baby, but seeing him show up at Olivia's door was vaguely terrifying to me. This is a ladykiller, as far as she knows, though my instincts are telling me this was the creepy first lady's

That would work especially nicely, because it'd make both of Olivia's romantic rivals moot with one incident. Anyway, the writers better come up with someone good to justify the episode promo for next week, which shows Olivia and the president ripping each other's clothes off.

So I was a little disappointed by this episode. The body count was a little high for my taste (including Amanda being lifted form the river and then identified by her dad), and while I know it's vogue for procedurals to be glibly gory, this show is better than a procedural, and I think it's important to nurture our sense of discomfort with simulated slaughter. So yeah, C+, this episode...still psyched for next week, though.


QUESTIONS:

– The first lady killed Amanda, right?

– Are you shocked that the show so quickly ended the possibility of a pregnancy scandal?

– Why didn't Olivia's gut tell her Amanda's baby wasn't the president's?

– So Olivia knew she was asking that guy to torture people or... ?

– What did you think of the extended torture scenes? Distasteful or discreetly sinister?

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