Scandal: The Heart of the Matter

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Scandal S01E07: "Grant: For the People"

Is it common knowledge yet that Olivia Pope is based on real D.C. insider and crisis "fixer" Judy Smith? A Washington politico phenom who not only deftly hid Monica Lewinsky in a homeless shelter at the height of the Clinton impeachment crisis but who also served as deputy press secretary for George W. Bush? This is a woman whose expertise transcends political borderlines and who will occasionally dip in as a consultant for Scandal. And considering she's, um, VERY easy on the eyes and okay it's sexist to judge a professional lady on this but she is, like, super-gorgeous, sometimes I wonder if there are multiple ex-presidents watching the current season, tub of ice cream in hand, and totally hoping Fitz Grant is supposed to be them.

Last night's finale was allllllzabout laying the groundwork for next season (and the season after that). The show took our proxy Quinn's arc and brought it full circle: She went from being the rookie employee of Olivia Pope to Olivia's newest client (and did a great job pretending to be freezing to death while on speed, or afraid, or whatever that was when she was shaking and stammering and slipping around in a pool of arterial spray).

The Pope team rolled up their sleeves and unquestioningly cleaned up a murder scene to protect Quinn (and because, let's face it, they're a preppy cult family who will do whatever Olivia tells them) and then hilariously got busted for it later by the DA. It was very revealing of what a ragtag motley crew these guys are when they were standing in the apartment, blood all around them, and two of them started freaking out about NOT GOING BACK TO JAIL. Thank goodness for any comic relief in this episode. Also hilarious was Olivia begging the resident sadist not to kill the evil veep's best friend. Oh, you Popettes.

But the real purpose of the finale was to establish a fundamental fault line in the strength of the presidency and shabbily patch it up in a way that unites Olivia and President Grant forever and yet keeps them apart. Grant can, at any time, be called out on the sex tape by the first lady or vice president or even Olivia if she wants, and have his presidency screech to a halt in the coming seasons. That's a really good source of dramatic tension for the next couple seasons (I want this show to go on forever! I love it). And yet at the same time the show made President Grant just that much more lovable because HE wanted to tell the truth, shed the trappings of office, end his sham marriage, and be with Olivia. Swooning.

So while yes, Olivia and Grant are nearing iconic TV romance territory, if they were to abdicate their careers we couldn't rightfully be 100 percent okay with that because it would mean putting the vice president in charge. And this bitch does not need to be in charge of anything. If she were a manager at Staples she'd make her employees' lives hell; can you imagine the havoc she'd wreak if she had access to the federal budget?

Bad as she is, she's not as bad as her oily right hand man Stabby McStabbum, the crazed killer who sank scissors into the blogger's neck last week and continued on his roll by storming into a news conference and accusing the president of sexing Amanda, wrongly labeling the Olivia-Grant duet as proof. Did NOT mind that he got ended later in the episode.

Olivia actually seemed really down to leave her fashionably antiqued office behind and just go to the ski cabin and make the pancakes and maybe some babies with a former commander-in-chief, but unfortunately got caught up in one of Cyrus's rambling monologues. Brainwashed by his restrained delivery and an old-timey oil portrait of a pink-cheeked Alexander Hamilton, Olivia decided to help the first lady spackle over the scandal instead of pursuing her own happiness. The first lady hilariously bitched her out for not being a better first mistress and agreed to (sigh) have sex with her husband and claim the tape was them. (Though wouldn't the person who made it know that the first lady wasn't in the same room/at the same campaign stop as the president at that time or...? Not my problem, and I'm not going to split hairs.)

CLEARLY the first lady is the worst, and Olivia is dooming the president to AT LEAST another six years with this cow AND a beard baby, and while it's all very sad it was also all very Olivia's choice and let's face it, this series is about them being eternally together but forever apart, like my beloved LadyHawke.

So yeah, this was one of those classic "dissolving everything we built up" finales that reset the series at a huge emotional cost and left us with three huge reveals:

1. The president would happily give everything up to be with Olivia, the woman he loves. He's a true romantic hero! Swoon!

2. Quinn is something pretty effing crazy and Olivia has known it ALL ALONG.

3. Cyrus ordered the death of Amanda Tanner. He cannot be trusted! He is a poisonous, cold-hearted asp lurking 'mongst the roses. He's Olivia's work hubby but he's also a cold and calculated man who will do what it takes to, um, keep a moderate Republican in the White House so he has a chance of bettering gay rights? Like, what? Also it always makes me blue when there is ONE gay character and they are capital-E Evil. So I'm not crazy about Cyrus being full-on bad but I appreciate the job Mr. Katimski is doing with the monologues and the brooding.

I did think it was pretty cheap that the show ended on the cliffhanger of WTF is Quinn? I do think it should have told us and then blacked out. But other than the cliffhanger being a little too much hang from not enough cliff, and the Evil Gay stereotype being shamelessly perpetuated, this show made a lot of great decisions to build off of in its WELL deserved Season 2. Can't wait, you guys! What did you think?


QUESTIONS:

1. Did Olivia make the wrong call in sacrificing Grant to save the presidency?

2. What the Eff is Quinn?

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