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?

Comments (11)
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FYI: No issues with the amount of death in this episode. Another Great episode.

-I'm thinking the first lady's a little nuts too! Maybe behind Amanda's death. I know that I don't believe the Pres. is behind it. I just wish Olivia, Cyrus, and the Pres. tried talking to each other weeks ago.

-No, I'm actually happy they wrapped the pregnancy scandal right on up. Didn't want that dragged out.

-Olivia stopped listening to her gut awhile ago.

-She so knew that she was asking him to recapture his torturing days.

-Had no issue with the torture scenes. A Man on Fire is one of my favorites in that genre.
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Eek. I thought it was one of the strongest episodes to date. I found it riveting to be perfectly honest. Huck was among the characters I was drawn to in the beginning and I couldn't wait to learn more about him. And boy did we. I feel so warped but saying this but if he wasn't my fave character before he's pretty much solidified that after this episode. Despite being the tortured sadist who was broken by the government. I thought his scenes were fantastic. I love that usually he has a way of saying so much with so few words, so his monologues were interesting.



-Oh the First Lady is as shady as they come. She's on the other end of spectrum of Huck because she has straight up sociopathic tendences that have been cleverly alluded to but no one seems to notice. I wouldn't put it past her. It's funny, the one person who doesn't seem to be shady in the WH is ironically enough the President because he's somewhat transparent and aloof. My list of suspicious folks is the First Lady, the VP, Cyrus, and the Chief of Staff who pretends to be in the dark and dense about things but who could really be that oblivious?!

-I kind of am. I did not expect Amanda to be dead. I wasn't expecting that at all. Kudos to them though as it makes the rest of the show unpredictable.

-Olivia's gut is obviously overshadowed by her...lust...for the president. So anything to do with him has her judgment impaired.

-Safe to say she was quite sure about what she was asking Huck to do. I found that very disturbing...especially since she later on made a comment to the President about letting his pitbull off of it's leash. The situations parallelled. I think the way Huck responded to her towards the end by recoiling from her touch was very telling. She knowingly asked him to go off the deep end and do the appalling...after rescuing him from that. It was like his sobriety coach suddenly giving him a drink. She knew he'd do anything for her and she exploited that and it possibly affected how he'll ever see her. I know it affected the way I see her. She's not nearly as heroic as she was last week for example.

-Indifferent. I agree that over the years they've taken gruesomeness and violence on tv to an entirely new level that isn't even necessary. I've seen worse so it's not nearly as distasteful as it probably should be anymore which is sad but true.
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I also think the First Lady is behind Amanda's death. She knows so much more than she's letting on and she is incredibly ambitious (to an extent that makes it seem creepy).

I am intruiged by that last phone call Amanda made. Who was she talking to? Who is the real baby-daddy? Does that even matter? Why would she say it's the president's child in the first place? Was someone paying her? Why was she having second thoughts? Did she know how much danger she was in?

Definitely looking forward to the next episode! :D
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I'll be really surprised if it's NOT the first lady who had Amanda killed - at least in part because almost every role I've seen that actress play has been somewhere between your garden variety bad guy and full-on psychopath. The problem, of course, is that I suspect the writers are thinking that having it be the first lady who's behind it to be some kind of shocking twist, when it just feels obvious. It's like how on almost any crime drama where you've got a set of parents who are both considered suspects in a murder, and that have a child that had one or two lines back near the beginning of the episode, it'll be the kid that did it. The L&Os have pulled that trick out of their collective hats so many times that it got to the point where the only way to surprise me was to have it actually BE one of the parents who did the killing! (Note: This only applies if the kid has a couple lines, so as to call attention to it early on. If the kid is just seen in the background or mentioned in passing, then it'll most likely be someone who's not a member of the family who committed the crime.)



Yes and no - I don't know how long they could have realistically kept it going, especially since they'd have a real hard time delaying some kind of DNA test to determine paternity, which would have brought the threat to a close pretty soon anyway. It'll probably be the whodunit aspect that they'll drag out forever.



Olivia's gut doesn't seem to be nearly as good as she thinks it is. Maybe instead of listening to it, she should make note of what it says and then just believe/assume/do the opposite. Seems like she'd wind up with a better track record :D



Yeah, she knew.



As for what I thought of the scenes, they were quite unpleasant and, it seemed to me, unnecessary. They could have gotten the same plot point (guy from "our" team goes and tortures former colleague for info) with a few on-screen comments and then left the rest to our imagination. What really bothered me the most, though, was that it was pretty clear that Olivia KNEW about his "torture addiction" and *exactly* what she was asking of him, and I lost a lot of respect for her character as a result. It was like asking an alcoholic to go enter a "see who can drink the most" contest at the local bar in order to raise money for the company or something along those lines. You just don't DO that! That whole thing was a really bad call by the writers, IMO.
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It definitely made the Olivia Pope White hat thing more grey with sending Huck out to do something like that. I note every week on how she's always wearing white and sometimes grey, and that it's symbolism. Grey was definitely the colour of the week. To have this episode come a week after she was established as this hero among her team for the things she did to get them out of precarious situations...after Abby expressed a sentiment that is undoubtedly echoed by the other team which is that they would follow Olivia Pope over a cliff...it seemed so exploitive on Olivia's part that she would ask Huck to do something that would destroy him and possibly send him over the edge...and she knew he'd do it. Because he'd do anything for Olivia. Which is what he said almost remorsefully when he was preparing to torture this guy to death.It was exactly like sending an addict to crack house or something.
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I think the situation with Olivia and Huck this week shows us just how far off her game her relationship with the President is capable of throwing her. When it comes to the President and this Amanda Tanner situation, she loses her grip on protecting the people who work for her, people she has apparently saved in the past. That said, I think some of the stuff with Huck had to happen, partly to help the viewers understand him better, since before this week he seemed like a softspoken hacker. He's definitely the character I have the most interest in now.
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Why didn't Olivia's gut tell her Amanda's baby wasn't the president's? I think that the baby was an after thought, it was the fact that her former lover who professed his love was professing it to someone else not long after their affair ended. I think she thought they would love each other fro afar while to continue to lead the free world, "the greater good and all".
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The first lady totally killed Amanda!
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I actually liked the crazed monologues by Huck. I thought it felt super creepy: at first he just seemed like the cute puppy dog, the nerdish computer guy. But now, he's turned into a deadly assassin who still has to deal with his demons from the past. He's been maimed, in a way. Or at least, that was what I got out of those monologues: a normal nerdish guy turned supervillain turned forever-haunted-by-loss-of-humanity. To me it really felt creepy, how he couldn't even take Olivia's touch in the end, because he'd let himself be less than human once again.

Did NOT like however that the scene was constantly interrupted. I don't like torture scenes, so get started and get it over with. Don't keep coming back for it, because it made me scared whenever another scene ended. Like "aaah, this scene is coming to a close, please don't go back to watching Huck defile another human being???"
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I did a little lookup on this show and its creators. Shonda Rhimes, out of Obama's hometown, has joined up with Judy Smith, a former aide to Bush 43, to make this fantasy. The result is largely a leftist view of a right administration, which is going to miss realism in many ways. While I like Olivia's team, I am more and more disappointed by the larger story arc and its lampooned characters. Both a buffoon president and a crazed religious VP are stock characters. (Is there anything more hypocritical than the religion of hating religion?) And for the evil VP, they picked an actress who looks like the love child of Dick Cheney and Senator Palpatine.



Yes, the First Lady is fanatical and she's working with Cyrus to protect both Fitz and their link to power. I think Amanda was working for the Veep on a plan to get the Prez discredited and thrown out. Whether the FL and Cyrus protected Amanda with extreme prejudice, or the Veep had her killed for getting cold feet is still unknown.



The violence didn't bother me as much, possibly because (1) I'm a guy, (2) I'm more desensitized by shows like Criminal Minds, and (3) they attempted to show Huck as broken by the government's attempt to make him a sadistic spook.



The only mystery that holds my attention at this point is: Who is Quinn? Once that is answered, I may not have a reason to watch the show.
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i wasn't sure who killed amanda. i didn't like the story line. it was too confusing
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