Culture

“Scandal” review: “Icarus”

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This week has seen the beginning of Heave’s TV coverage, and our rollout concludes here with the first installment of Chris Osterndorf’s weekly take on Scandal.

Following last week’s reveal that President Grant may have been involved in a secret Navy operation that took down a plane carrying Olivia’s mother, killing her and everyone else onboard, the stakes were obviously pretty high going into last night’s Scandal. Yet “Icarus” stalled on this storyline, presumably deciding to tease it out over the course of several episodes. We didn’t really learn¬†anything new other than that if President Grant was somehow involved in the death of Olivia’s mother, he isn’t going to talk about it readily.

Although some of their standalone episodes are great, Scandal is always at it’s best when playing the long game, such as the election rigging/assassination storyline that reached it’s peak midway through season 2. Once again, they seem to be taking two major storylines, those being the President’s mysterious past in the Navy and Olivia’s mysterious past with her family, and blending them together for some big moments midseason. While I’m all for this approach, I can’t help but feel this “My lover killed my mother!” arc is really pushing it. Scandal excels at being pulpy, but there is a limit.

For me, the most interesting part of “Icarus” was that it moved forward with the Congresswoman Marcus (Lisa Kudrow) storyline. As Olivia prepares to help the Congresswoman gear up for the upcoming Presidential race, Marcus has to choose whether to play it safe or start getting aggressive. Lisa Kudrow is her usual sort of funny, quirky self in this role, yet her persona works just as well in a dramatic setting. Marcus is a sort of an intelligent, liberal version of Sarah Palin (and yes, I know, those first two things alone sort of negate some of the resemblance to Palin automatically) who is forced to confront a wave of sexism, even though she would rather not have to play into such divisive politics. This is the rare occasion in which Scandal has actually chosen to look at a real issue, and a very important one at that, and decided to have a discussion about it. Granted, the discussion is secondary to the entertainment, but it strengthens the storyline and the entire show nonetheless.

There were several other interesting details to emerge from “Icarus” as well. Vice President Langston has apparently hired a strategist (Paul Adelstein) to help her gear up for a run against President Grant come election time. Things get complicated though because of her husband Daniel (Jack Coleman, probably best known for playing Horned Rimmed Glasses on Heroes and Angela’s gay husband, the Senator, on The Office), who apparently has a wandering eye. The first lady notices this and suggests they use it to their advantage. Let the juiciness ensue!

Apparently Quinn is going all crazy and shooting guns and recurring character Charlie (George Newbern) is looking into recruiting her for B-613, the division of super spies run by Olivia’s father, Eli (Joe Morton). Ugh, I’m sorry Quinn but no one cares. Stop trying to be all edgy and find a new storyline. Seriously, no one cares.

Finally, perhaps the most surprising thing about last night’s episode was that Harrison seems to finally have been given a storyline (something to do with a bad guy that he doesn’t want to see get a Visa and come back into the country). I always figured that Columbus Short could probably do more than just stand around and look great in a suit, and I guess now we’ll find out.