Scandal Season 4 Premiere Recap: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

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Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Scandal
Show
Scandal
Episode Title
Randy, Red, Superfreak, and Julia
Season
4
Episode
1
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Do you think Cyrus’s hair crawls off into a corner at night to have a slap fight with Liz’s hair? And which one wins — the one that looks more or less like the ragged, green part of a sponge?

I’m Danielle, and I write so much for Vulture that I can’t even make it to the last page of that link right now, but if you want to know more about me, you can go to my website. The most important things to know about me are that I think Olivia and Fitz are a terrible couple who should be kept apart forever — preferably by a powerful curse, bonus if it’s stored in an amulet — and if I have to hear about jam or Vermont ever again in my lifetime, I will light the nearest building on fire.

Where on earth is Olivia Pope? Don’t worry about her — she’s getting finger-banged on an island off the coast of Zanzibar with a cold drink in one hand and a fistful of Captain Shit-Hot Ballard in the other within the first 40 seconds of the show. You can tell how relaxed Liv is by the fact that she’s wearing her hair natural and she’s been riding the same orgasm for months on end. She goes by Julia Baker now (a nod to the 1960s show Julia, the first show — and until Scandal, only show — to have a black female lead), and Julia Baker is L-I-V-I-N. Shonda, thank you for making Jake topless immediately, and how dare you cover up those gorgeous, soulful eyes with sunglasses. I SAID, GOOD DAY. 

I had so many questions right away — who sent her the press clipping about Harrison’s murder? Did Jake have an island name? — but chief among them is why did Olivia go back to Washington goddamn D.C., when she was in the midst of a fully funded permanent bang-cation? If you can order a bottle of rare wine from an island in the middle of nowhere, you can absolutely produce a funeral from there.

The only thing she discovered upon reentry is that everything has fallen apart. Pope and Associates doesn’t exist anymore, but tell me — who is paying rent on that gigantic, empty office? Who is doing the upkeep on her huge, empty apartment? Who is not only getting the mail but arranging the magazines on her desk? Does B613 have a butler service? And if she was really leaving for good, wouldn’t she get rid of all that stuff? I’m sorry, but sometimes my poor-person brain cannot suspend reality enough to understand the inexplicable choices rich and powerful people make on TV, much as I can’t take it when people in sex scenes throw silk blouses on the floor like they were Old Navy T-shirts (it’s going to wrinkle!). Abby is the C.J. Cregg of the White House, Quinn has bonded with her leather jacket and spends most of her time sweating, waiting for Olivia to return, and Huck works IT repair at the Data Stop and goes by Randy now. Don’t worry — he’s still wheeze-talking like he just ate a jar full of incense ash. Quinn checks in on him three times a week but doesn’t think to bring him an oxygen tank or asthma inhaler?

Quinn is the one who tracked down Olivia, so they’re cool, but everyone else is very mad. Jake is mad at David for not doing anything about B613 after he handed everything to him on a platter, Abby is mad at David for letting his obsession with B613 ruin their relationship, Olivia is mad at Abby for blaming Harrison’s death on her, and I’m still mad that no one can see how much Cyrus’s hair is a cry for help. 

In the midst of it all, Olivia takes a case. How did Katie the staffer get up to Olivia’s house let alone call her on her personal number? The case was kind of mediocre; the best part was that Senator Vaughn was so guilty about using her staff member as bait to assuage a sexually predatory man that she tried to take the fall for almost murdering him herself. It didn’t work out; Liv caught her lie but still agreed to help them win their case, which was mostly a way for her to give a big speech about strong women. 

The biggest surprise might be Mellie, who has gone full Grey Gardens in the wake of her son being murdered,  her husband finding out about her rape, and dealing with the Fitz and Olivia romance for so long. Homegirl has had it, and you know what? I’m going to give her this time to be batshit crazy. I mean, Jerry was sort of a waste of space, but he was their kid. I like that Fitz 2.0 is a sober and somber train that keeps on rolling, and that he’s using his anger and grief to fuel some sort of renaissance, but Mellie doesn’t have that kind of outlet, so she’s turning her grief inward. Bellamy Young is so good at conveying that sort of deep pain, and if every scene is a bid for an Emmy fine, give her one!

And Mellie has good reason to feel slightly nuts — what was that little pinky reaching out to each other, smirking glance Liv and Fitz shared at the very end?

LEADERBOARD OF ARBITRARY POINTS, WEEK 1

+ 1,000 points to Liv reading Gone Girl while she and Jake were on Fuck Island — REAL SUBTLE.

+ 2,545 points to Abby for mentioning Westerburg High.

+5,633 points to Mellie for acknowledging that her give-a-shit muscle is sprained. It was kind of funny to see her shuffling around the White House in Ugg boots and a robe, eating cereal directly from the box, but I super loved her speech to Fitz towards the end of the episode. In her drunken splendor, she accidentally let it slip that Fitz tried to commit suicide one night an then very coolly told him that she knew he was going to get back together with Liv. It called back to Cyrus’s speech about how inevitable they are, how everyone had seen that movie 100 times before. Fitz might not like being predictable, but Mellie doesn’t like his thinking she’s a fool.

–10,000 points for Liv’s cold “You lose people, whatever” statement to her dad when they were talking in the restaurant. I hate that she feels the need to become so cold in his presence; it makes her seem diminished. 

+598 points for neatly wrapping up the Mama Pope story line, I guess? It seems to easy to just say, “I took care of it,” and I was hoping she’d pop back up again.

+8,650 points for the return of Gettysburger in the form of a rib sandwich called the Underground Railroad.

–4,000 points to David becoming the Attorney General. I’m not into his extreme rise in power just because he’s one of the only people in Washington with any demonstrable moral base.

But +2,400 points to Abby’s speech about him getting some power and using it.

–680 points to Mellie for the deeply sad way she laid down on her son’s grave, but only because I can’t handle that sort of sadness.

–Infinity Million points to Olivia for interrupting Jake’s attempt to sex her up. Like, it was pure Olivia and very funny that her brain was working too fast for her to enjoy it, but COME ON.

+3,700 points for Jake’s blue-ball-fueled “HEY, I’M GREAT AT SEX” speech.

+12,766 points for Harrison’s funeral, which was actually a little sad. Columbus Short had nothing to do last season, and his real-life troubles eventually got him booted from the show before we could get his backstory, but Liv tied it up nicely with a “he grew up in a group home” sentence and then a ton of tears. His funeral put the band back together. 

– 509 points to Huck saying, “We say good-bye now?” when everyone was putting flower petals on the grave, which was a little too Of Mice and Men, even for him.

+433 points to the look on Jake’s face when he saw Papa Pope at the funeral, quickly rolling up his window. I LOLed. 

–788 points Is Fitz drinking water with olives

+14,779 points to Mellie for any comment about her hygiene, “It’s 1976 down there” and “This shirt is only 2 days old” being chief among them.

I’m giving this three stars because nothing spectacular happened. As per usual, I watched the previous three seasons this month leading up to this premiere, and this show used to be SO much more fast-paced and case-of-the-week interesting. I’m not giving up on it, but I wish they went bigger for the premiere. What do you think?