Scandal: Season 4
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Scandal: Season 4

No one would doubt that television show runner Shonda Rhimes has a magic touch when it comes to creating how long dramas. The series that really put her on the map creatively was a hospital drama focusing on a new set of surgical residents called ‘Gray’s Anatomy’. That Started in 2005 and is still running 11 seasons later. It also had a spinoff, ‘Private Practice’, which ran for respectable six seasons. Show like this can be just as typecast as the actors bring their characters to life. With two medical dramas already in the win column most would expect Ms. Rhimes to continue watching appears to know best when it came time depiction of the series to the network. Like any creative person there is always a need to expand beyond your comfort zone and explore new and different ways of expressing your artistic vision. In the case of Ms. Rhimes she decided to move away from one of TVs most popular genres and create a series concerned with something most programming executives seem to avoid; politics. A series, ‘Scandal’ dives headlong into the murky world of our political process but in doing so she came up with an exceptionally intriguing vantage point relates to story to the audience. The principal character of the series is Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a Washington insider former presidential first director. She is now one of the powerbrokers in politics thanks to the business as a crisis management firm. If a senator’s court with a prostitute over some of the Congressman is involved in a serious DUI, their first call is likely to be Olivia Pope and Associates. She is what used to be called a spin doctor or more accurately anti-publicist. It’s our job to keep your name out of the papers, at least where negative publicity is concerned. The show is presented as fiction but many would agree that there are agencies such as depicted here and considering the number of scandalous stories that appear online in tabloids each day, would be a safe bet that these firms are not lacking for clients or income. In this fourth season the writers have amped up the tension and infused more action into the main story threads. Dealing with the aftermath of hauling public mistakes might be conducive to a slow series but in the hands of these creative people, ‘Scandal’, has steadily delivered throughout its run in this season was arguably the best thus far.

Season four begins with Olivia returning from a two-month vacation with the love interest, Jake Ballard (Scott Foley). A departure from her business in the morass of political intrigue is that most of her friends and associates left having to deal with things on their own. One thing that has to be kept in mind considering any relationship in this series is they do tend to be excessively complex. Jake had once been reporting back to the president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) on the details of Olivia Pope’s life. The present was interested in this very personal reason; the two have been carrying on a clandestine extramarital affair for years. This is been a source of shame and anger for the First Lady, Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) for quite a while but after the tragic death of their son, Lily spiraled into a depression that precluded normal personal hygiene and proper nutrition. It also turns out that Jake is involved with the top-secret, black ops organization, B613. The all-powerful and much viewed head of the organization is none other than Rowan Pope (Joe Morton Olivia’s estranged father. That’s only one thread in the tapestry of dysfunctional relationships. The first part of the fourth season focuses on Olivia’s return to Washington and how she faces the fact that her team have all left to do her own thing. One of the most trusted advisors left altogether, not just the firm but the actor left a series. Olivia’s most trusted associate and closest thing to a best friend she has, Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) has taken the position of President Grant’s Press Secretary. She also has a romantic relationship with the Attorney General of the United States, David Rosen (Joshua Malina, on several occasions has come to a close to uncover some of the skeletons hidden by Pope and Associates.

While the first portion of the season concentrated Olivia having to rebuild her position now that her ‘Gladiators’ have moved on, is the second act that takes the series into a macabre twist realigns most of the relationships. One night while sitting alone in her apartment deadening her mind with a glass of wine, elderly neighbor comes to her door. This is only a ruse for soon as the door was opened men rush in and kidnap Olivia. This bifurcate the action between Olivia’s futile efforts to escape in the escalating political machinations and power plays back in Washington. Ultimately this plot line needs through the people behind the kidnapping holding a dark net auction to sell Olivia to the highest bidder. A somewhat reassembled team manages to become included among the potential buyers. Using a deep cover alias obtained from her mother, Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander), a terrorist currently held incarcerated in the black site. Fortuitously when the team took down B613, Huck (Guillermo Diaz) stashed the over $6 billion of the organizations slush fund. A backdoor deal steals their victory but Olivia is retrieved in a black ops raid. In Washington she was considered to be too much of a threat resulting of old but she knows about government operations that overriding the President’s objection, if Olivia fell into enemy hands of threat would be ‘neutralized’.

One thing that made this season especially exciting the pace was much quicker than previously with story arcs forming and being handled at an astonishing rate. Under the guidance of less talented hands this would certainly become overly confusing alienating the viewership. Instead of watching you do get the sense of what such high level political intrigue must be like; a ‘Wack-A-Mole’ like assault of game changing issues Abby’s abusive ex-husband comes back on the scene after being Virginia State Senator. Mellie is carrying on an affair within the White House. It appears to be rather traditional that every season teases the fans information about the ever mysterious Huck. We have seen how he tortured into becoming a B316 wet works operative; how he escaped and became homeless eventually saved by Olivia and now we get to see glimpses of the family he was forced to abandon. He torments himself by watching them at home. The emotional toll on him is so great that by the end of the season these considering turning states evidence bringing down everyone connected with despicable accomplishments of B316. This is truly an ensemble past the episodes devoted to the mental status of each of the characters. One thing that Ms. Rhimes is exceptionally talented at is creating characters that are fully formed, believable human beings. In this series the set of principal characters psychologically damaged and emotionally overwrought. While this can be said about most television characters the ones depicted in this series exhibit particularly intense issues; they are forced to handle more urgent issues that should be possible. The situations in the story particularly the season, was a crucible to severely test all the principal players. Is going to be extremely interesting to see what happens to them season five.

Extended Finale Episode: "You Can't Take Command" - Go deeper into "Scandal's" world of intrigue, treachery and surprises with an additional 15 minutes of never-before-seen content.
Extended Episode: "No More Blood"
The Fixer - Spend the day with Kerry Washington and her fellow cast members, and learn what it takes to wear the White Hat.

Posted 08/05/2015

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