Let's jump right into it: The episode opened with ominous dark lighting, and the soft whispers of Olivia Pope's boyfriend number two, Jake Ballard, giving a little bit of his background at the start of last night's Scandal. From the smidgen of details he gave, it sounded like a kind of American experience many could relate to: A town in the Midwest be described as "middle of nowhere." The product of a person who bought crap off of TV. Jake went on to explain the new B316 recruit, "Not having a family makes you ripe, ready. A hunk of clay ready to be sculpted." Light some incense and snap with your boy Ballard one time.
Speaking of family, the first few minutes of the show reminded me a lot of my own background: Lots and lots of guilt trips coupled with diatribes about demonic forces at work. Trust me when I say that it's more interesting to watch this play out on a Thursday night via a Shonda Rhimes production post-liquor store field trip than it is to live it (especially sober). Amen.
Guiltiest honors go to Sally Langston, who continues to be overrun with grief over her role in the murder of her husband. One of Sally's spiritual advisers is called into her debate prep, and the whole thing ends up sounding more like a revival as she hollers things like, "Time for your slaughter, piggy piggy!" and "Yum, yum, crispy piggy. Yum, yum!" Actually, this sounds more like a Chinese take-out spot or BBQ restaurant. No pork in my fork, though.
Langston's campaign manager wanted the good reverend to return her to a more stable state of mind in time for the debate, though Leo's plan royally backfired as Sally now wants to confess her sins to the world so she can hear God's voice again.
Another person looking to bring that old thing back was Olivia Pope. After being informed of Sally the murderer, and Cyrus, the not-as-good fixer, Olivia is called by David Rosen to help her right this wrong. Similarly, Cyrus wants her to shut the hell up and not to tell Fitz as we all know that self-righteous sum'bitch just loves to pick and choose when to go all moralistic. Olivia chose neither side, but did stress to Cyrus, "I want to walk into the light and feel sun on my face."
This is me, laughing at Olivia Pope thinking that can happen with her group of friends and professional colleagues.
Cyrus then turns to Jake, hoping to convince him that Sally must be taken out for the good of everyone. Jake says no and dismisses it as "petty White House squabble." You know, I thought Cyrus had a point when he said that it's probably not great for the country to know it's executive branch is full of murderers. Jake thought otherwise, branding Cyrus as a "mouse on a wheel" and shortly thereafter quipping, "While I'd love to explain to you how the world really works, I don't have the time and you won't understand."
Great line, but some of Cyrus' commentary must've resonated because Jake did tap Tom the Secret Service agent to assassinate Sally during the debate if she dared to confess her sins on national TV. Tom ended up not having to. One guess why.
Olivia Pope met with VP Sally to get her to turn the volume down on her inner struggle, only you could already tell that was a fruitless type given the way she was greeted: "The devil at my doorstep. My last temptation." So Olivia turned to Fitz, doing exactly what Cyrus asked her not to do and then upping the ante: Asking him to throw the debate. That fool initially balks, but then ends up listening to her. Oh, Olivia. You should've let Sally die. Vengeance is the Lord Ballard's.
Still, this is Scandal, so you know death is coming when it's been promoted in the previews. After the debate, Leo steps into Cyrus' office to dole out backhanded compliments, and as he leaves, makes note of that irritating buzzing sound in his office. Cyrus then discovers the microphone hiding behind a picture frame and confronts James. He didn't choke slam him, instead boo-hooed about doing him wrong and understanding his pain.
That was enough to get James to crawl back on his own call to leak the story of the big gay husband murder cover-up with Sally and Cyrus. So at the very end of the show, we're back to the soft and dark whispers of Jake Ballard. By now, he sent Quinn to fetch all of the information Olivia Pope & Associates had on the murder cover up and set up a meeting with each of the players involved.
One shot reporter.
Then another goes down.
Jake appears, mask-less, and shoots someone -- either David or James, or hell, maybe both. And that was the big surprise ending that's been hyped for a week.
What a waste of hype.
Last night's episode was not my favorite, but if nothing else, I liked that we got to learn a little bit more about Jake. Not really that crap about life in Indiana, but the fact that at one point last night, he said to Olivia, "Run away with me."
Funny that Olivia tells Fitz to get real about Vermont and to live life as it is, not how he wants it to be and yet she continues to ignore the reality that is Jake. He's an available man, who like Olivia, is burdened by all that consumes him. They relate to each other in more ways than Olivia appears to recognize, but hey, if she ran off with him last night, I wouldn't be here next week.
Until then, y'all.
Written by Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)