I thought James should've died 12 or 20 episodes ago, so I wasn't exactly disappointed when last night's episode of Scandal kicked off with Jake Ballard shooting him in the back of the head. In theory, I ought to be more sympathetic to James. James is a decent enough guy who married a monster in Cyrus and wrestled with that reality throughout his marriage. But even in the flashback scenes that played throughout "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," there was one noticeable constant: Cyrus was always who he said he was and James would often push back, thinking he could change him.
Sure, there was some prodding from James that resulted in some change in Cyrus, i.e. him coming out at the Inaugural Ball. Ultimately, though, Cyrus is a power hungry asshole willing to do whatever it takes to win. You can't expect so much out of a person like that even when they love you. Not to get all Steve Harvey, La La Vasquez, and Tyrese on y'all, but when a person always puts themselves and their goals first, there's only so much decency you'll get from them.
Okay, pimping your husband out will forever be some bullshit. James knew Cyrus wasn't worth a good damn. Moreover, James also knew Cyrus and the forces that surround him were dangerous as hell. Yet, he went ahead and tried to expose the Vice President of the United States as a murderer and the White House Chief of Staff as an accessory to murder, without a real game plan.
Dude, where's your head? Oh, with a hole in it because you didn't think this thing through. See you at the crossroads, James.
Now, David Rosen almost made the same mistake as James—messing with the wrong one—after Jake kindly explained to David that if he didn't want to die, he best stick with the story that James lost his life at the hand of a carjacker. What I will say about David, though, is unlike many of the other characters on this show, more times than not, he never wavers when it comes to his morals. He's consistent, which makes his inner struggles easier to stomach.
Thankfully, Olivia Pope talked to some sense into David, letting him know that when it comes to B316, it's best to let them win this battle with regards to James' death in order to win the war and take the whole operation down. Yeah, I don't see that happening, but that strategy spares David's brain cells from being pan-fried on the sidewalk. Win.
Of course, Olivia's speech came after she reached out to her soulless father (and Whitley Gilbert's ex-fiance) for moral support. That spawned what is so far the best monologue from Rowan Pope. We need to get Joe Morton a recurring role on House of Cards. The man has to go toe to toe with Frank Underwood.
Olivia needed to be reminded that despite everyone around her being corrupt, that doesn't mean she should give up on trying to help others. As we've all learned from OWN's docu-series, Lindsay, even in darkness, you have to look for the light—and make some green in the process. With that in mind, here's hoping Olivia Pope & Associates get back to work. Yes, I'm going to continue bringing it up until they get back to work.
As for other people who know they are, I am now an official fan of Quinn. It's such a shame Amy Winehouse is now singing "Fuck Me Pumps" in heaven because I think she would've loved to see Quinn's "fuck-you-up pumps." Others may continue to wish for her slow, painful death, but I hope she lives forever if for no other reason than to spite y'all and the people who hurt her. Speaking of, after Huck realizes that it was Quinn who broke into the office, he shows up to her apartment in yet another attempt to kill her. Quinn fights back, only to find herself pushed against a wall and to have Huck kiss her while telling her to come back home and be a gladiator again. What does she do? Spit in that man's face. Damn right.
There's a lesson there, people: Don't let people turn you into a sociopath and let them easily simp their way back into your lives.
Go, Quinn, go!
I'm also glad Jake checked Olivia and her righteous indignation over James' death. When called out on being just like her father, Jake refuted that instead of allowing some other person to commit some horrific act that would haunt him in his dreams, he did the act himself. In his own way, he was being thoughtful. He's already broken, so he would rather take on the more heinous acts that come with the job than subject anyone else to the torture he went through. Perhaps Olivia will realize that one of the many notes she's tongue kissing a bottle of Pinot Noir.
Also, at the very end, we saw that Jake stood by James as he slowly died. Jake told him that he didn't want him to die alone. That scene made some thug cry, though I was just genuinely appreciative of a show that doesn't make everything so cut and dry. There's no simple good and evil on this show. People perceived as "good" have their flaws and even those who do the most evil things are shown some sense of humanity.
Scandal still plays hot potato and "Baby, let me just put the head in" with its method of storytelling, but that if nothing else is what this show gets right. And it's so needed.
Shout out to Mellie Mel for finally getting some. Her no-good, unappreciative husband couldn't even be bothered to thank her for trying to save his ass with the gun lobby, so she said screw it and got her some VP nominee ass. Gon', Mellie. It's about damn time.
Oh and shout out to Mama Pope for responding to the claim that she is a terrorist by explaining, "I don't make bombs, I make money." That is the TV equivalent of, "I don't write rhymes, I write checks. I see you, Shonda.
Written by Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)