“Scandal” review: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”


Well, crap.

Anyone who read my Scandal review last week might remember that I predicted, fairly emphatically, that the character who was going to end up dead folioing the shooting at the end of the episode was David Rosen. Yet again, I was completely wrong, as it turned out to be option two: James Novak. I think I need to completely give up trying to predict what’s going to happen on this show.

Said shooting occurred after B-613 leader Jake Ballard drew Novak and Rosen together in order to cover up the information they discovered about the Vice President killing her husband. Last night’s episode, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” showed us the outcome of this fateful confrontation, wherein James Novak took a shot to the gut and Ballard threatened David Rosen to stop digging, or else. The rest of the episode dealt with the fallout from James’ death, and the Grant administration scrambling to retain the endorsement of the gun lobby amidst this tragedy. As Cyrus pours himself into his work, forcing the loss of his husband out of his mind, we see intermittent flashbacks to the beginning of his relationship with James. In the end, Cyrus convinces President Grant to go the other way on the gun issue (thereby invalidating the efforts his running mate, Governor Nichols, and the First Lady had been making on his behalf), using James’ death and his own shooting (back in season two) as an excuse to call for stricter gun laws, and hopefully pull some votes from moderates come election time. (Yet again, it’s sad that out of all the craziness that happens in any given episode of Scandal, what struck me as the most far-fetched in this one was a Republican President ever backing away from the NRA.)

One of the more surprising elements from the fallout of last week’s episode was that when Olivia confronted Jake about what happened to James, he actually came clean to her (sort of). At this point, you can’t blame Olivia for feeling like her whole life is going wrong, so when she goes to her father, who like Ballard was also Command of B-613 at one point, questioning “if everyone I love is a monster,” it was a good way for the show to acknowledge the increasingly conniving and backstabbing nature of all its characters. And when Rowan tells her that she has to be the one to save them, the show seemed to be making a comment on Olivia’s role as the  lead character; although she frequently gets her hands dirty, Olivia is the one character on Scandal whose white hat pretty much always stays on. I guess that’s why they kept David Rosen around, so they can work to seek justice together, as last night’s episode would indicate.

Although they were somewhat distracting, and basically felt like a way to give the character a sendoff, the flashbacks between James and Cyrus did have a few sweet moments. The scene in which Cyrus finally breaks down on TV at the end, allowing himself to mourn his lost husband, was classic Scandal in its over-the-top-ness, but it still needed to happen.

Of course, my favorite moment of the night was Mellie’s steamy scene with Governor Andrew Nichols. Following the President’s decision to go the other way on the gun issue, thus negating the lobbying Mellie and the Governor did on his behalf, we see Nichols and Mellie get a little tipsy as they debate the finer points of gun legislation that night. Their playful bickering turns into foreplay and pretty soon they’re all over each other. The more Mellie the better as far as I’m concerned, and seeing her get the hot clothes-ripping scene rather than her husband and Olivia (who, incidentally, did not get it on this week) was a welcome change of pace.

Couple other things before I go: What the hell is going on with Adnan (Nazanin Boniadi) and Olivia’s mother, Maya (Khandi Alexander)? Now Maya isn’t a terrorist, but some kind of contract killer who just follows the highest bidder? Oh, and apparently she just randomly shoots people when she doesn’t like the way things are going? And now Adnan is questioning her partnership with her? Shit is cray-cray.

Speaking of which, we need to discuss that scene between Huck and Quinn from last night. After coming home and finding him waiting to kill her, apparently because she broke into Pope & Associates’ offices to steal a secret file, Huck pins Quinn against the wall, and they end up making out like animals; um, what? Yeah, I guess it was kind of sexy in a gross way, but doesn’t Quinn remember that Huck tortured her a few episodes ago? Quinn, you know I’m a huge fan of yours, but seriously, have some self-respect. Huck is creepy, and you making out with him is creepy. Although when you guys finished and you said, “If you’re not going to kill me, then get the hell out,” I’ll admit that was kind of badass.

Lastly, I think I need to acknowledge the final scene of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” in which we see Jake Ballard comforting James Novak as he waits for him to die. I’m not sure if this was supposed to make Jake look compassionate or something, but personally I thought it just made him look like a serial killer. I mean, seriously, you just shot the guy, you really think your presence is going to be a calming force as he leaves this world?

“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” matched Scandal’s most heightened levels of ridiculousness pretty well, but if I had to guess, I would assume that things will calm down somewhat in the next few weeks, with the shooting looming less large over everyone’s heads. Or maybe it won’t. Like I said, I can’t call this show for shit anymore.