SCANDAL Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia”

Scandal is back, and full of drama from its first frame onward (one would not expect anything less).  Olivia is also back, one of OPA is gone, and “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia” found the rest of the Gladiators in very different places than where we left them.  Series creator Shonda Rhimes has promised that this season will not only focus back on the core cast, but also be a season where Abby Whelan will finally get a major arc all of her own.  Hit the jump, but only when it’s your turn. 

Of course Olivia (a.k.a Julia Baker) had to return from her beach getaway, but why not have a little fun first?  So there was Liv, with natural hair, being romanced by Jake on some remote island off the coast of Zanzibar.  One of the few (only?) perks to having a father who ran B6-13: he knows how to disappear people.

But Olivia wasn’t the only person who had vanished.  A letter — coupled with her wine delivery — let her know what many viewers had assumed at the end of last season: Harrison is dead.  If fans had to kill off a Gladiator, Quinn probably would have come in first, but frankly, Harrison hasn’t had a role or much to do in several seasons (if ever), and it looks like he might have more impact dead than alive.

As for the remaining Gladiators, Huck is now the Randy of the title, working an IT support job at a box store.  Last season found him being deprogrammed from his B6-13 robot training, but even though he has his memory back, he hasn’t lost the robot voice or mannerisms (or strange, puppy-like attachment to Olivia as a mother figure.  And a killer puppy, at that).  Quinn has become some sort of incredible badass (not that I buy it or am interested by it), and it seems, thankfully, her sociopathic love triangle is over for now.  Abby is the most successful of the bunch, with a job as White House press secretary.  She and David Rosen are no longer together, but there are obviously still feelings there (because what would Scandal be without complicated love?).  Though her job alienates her to some degree from David, it also provides a reason for Olivia to start getting involved again with the White House.

Regarding that particular complicated love story, the Grants are in a bad spot.  Mellie, bereft from the death of her son and the revelation of her rape, is wandering around in kimonos, bowling, and being exceptionally harsh to both Fitz and herself.  Fitz, apparently, is fresh off of a suicide attempt, illustrating the fact that even when Scandal does a time jump, the drama never stops.

Though Mellie tells Fitz she’s done checking on him, and Olivia swears she’s done with that part of her life, Jake and Cyrus got it right.  Cyrus mentioned the revolving love door that Fitz and Olivia are a part of, and how their coupling is sure to happen again (and again and again), while Jake spoke more abstractly about Fitz’s shadow casting a pall over Olivia while she’s in DC.  Though the final  “whatever” walk by between Olivia and Fitz seemed to portend a frostier or more professional relationship between the two, certainly don’t expect it to last all season.

With the introduction of Portia de Rossi as the RNC chairwoman Liz, there’s also some kind of plot burbling about Fitz going rogue by reaching across the aisle, and alienating the base.  This is the time to make a move to define his presidency, and finally prove himself something other than being the utterly useless (though handsome) waffler he usually is.  And of course, that old B6-13 storyline refuses to die.  Jake has tasked David to take care of things, but his own waffling and fear have kept him from doing anything.  A pep talk from Abby sets him straight, though; he needs to take the power that is offered to him so that he can finally do something.

As for the case of the week, it was nice to have the Gladiators back (with Harrison’s death reuniting them), but rape seems like a topic that deserved more than a cursory and whirlwind treatment that began with an assault and ended with a strong and principled congresswoman sending her secretary to essentially be raped so that she could take the fall and get the publicity.  Sickening, but also a good way for Olivia to question returning to the DC cesspool.  And of course she does, because Fitz.

Episode Rating: B+

Musings and Miscellanea: 

— Apologies for the late posting time, I’m traveling and had to review from the road!

— How sexy was that first scene with Jake and Olivia?  How sexy was the second??

— I hope Huck gets redeemed some this season.  I did like the scene where he told the guy his wife was cheating on him.  Old habits die had!

— The Gladiators all have major co-dependent and abandonment issues, don’t they?

— “All the fear and violence kind of blend together” – David.

— I like Mellie, and I respect her grief, but I worry it’s too much of a caricature.  Also, her fighting with Fitz is so done.  Can’t they come together just in this moment?

— Mellie saying it’s 1976 down below, so Fitz won’t be interested in her, is the most sexist thing the show has probably ever said.

— Rowan claims that Maya is “taken care of,” on Fitz’s orders.  But on Scandal, that may not mean dead…

— “You work for the Death Star!!” – David.

— “Get yourself some power, and use it!” – Abby.

— Olivia has a phone again … It’s on!

— “Are we Gladiators, or our we bitches?” – Harrison, via Olivia.

Scandal Season 4 Premiere Recap

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