Wow. Well, at least when Scandal goes prison, it goes full-on prison. A guard spit in Cyrus’ face! We got two prison fights! Cyrus teamed up with a serial killer cannibal! Mellie “twerked!” I guess those are supposed to be the highlights in an episode that really doesn’t focus on any major reveals or plot progression. It might seem shocking to find out that Tom wasn’t behind the assassination, but it doesn’t really change anything moving forward. Instead of figuring out who asked Tom to kill Vargas, the show has decided to remove him from the equation. We’re four episodes into the season, and Scandal still hasn’t seemed to figure out exactly what it wants to do with this whole assassination thing.

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It also doesn’t help that nearly every other plot going on right now feels like a distraction from the fact that we still don’t know who the next president will be. While it was nice to see Abby put in her place, her attempts at power have always seemed more desperate than serious. When it comes to mastermind schemes, Abby was never going to be the next Cyrus or Olivia, so it’s just embarrassing when her plan is revealed. Mellie spends the episode dancing and drinking. Jake is nowhere to be seen, but he’s presumably off somewhere getting ready to assume the vice presidency. Olivia and the gladiators seem to be the key to any plot progression as a lovesick Huck reminds everyone that an entire cabin exploded in front of them and they might want to get some solid evidence on what happened with that whole thing.

It’s clear that Olivia is distracted or at the very least, so power hungry she’s ignoring her intuition. There’s no way the old Olivia would’ve let the death of a woman in an exploding cabin be ignored, but power-hungry Olivia is only concerned with what will get her into the Oval. Olivia and Mellie’s friendship seemed real at the beginning of the season, but it’s starting to feel like she’s merely setting Mellie up for four years of manipulation. We shouldn’t need Huck to fall in love with another girl he creepily stalked to get Pope And Associates to do the right thing, but here we are.

Somehow, Cyrus is the only character who has maintained his sense of identity. Even in prison, he’s quickly figuring out how to get what he wants. Almost as soon as he sees Tom, he starts scheming ways to turn him. He partners with a guard and manages to get an actual serial killer cannibal on his side. It’s fairly over-the-top, typical TV prison stuff, but at least we get to see Cyrus back in his element. He even gets to trick Elizabeth into doing his bidding and has another fight with Michael. Now that Cyrus’ innocence is confirmed, he’s become the most interesting part of the show. He knows he’s innocent, Liv knows he’s innocent, and now we get to see Cyrus try to flex his power through prison walls.

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The episode’s use of a dream sequence after Cyrus gets beaten up isn’t realistic enough to be taken seriously. The second Cyrus wakes up in the hospital bed with Olivia and Michael at his feet, it’s obvious that everything is fake. When we flash to Cyrus’ inauguration, the impossible almost feels like a relief. Finally, we chose a president, now we can move on with our lives and actually get to some storytelling. But, then the blood comes pouring, and we’re transported right back to where we started. That’s often the case with Scandal. While the show is entertaining when it’s burning through plot points at an insane speed, it’s hardly as entertaining when it’s running in circles.

But, there’s still no clear villain waiting to replace Cyrus and Tom, so that means we’re probably episodes away from a Papa Pope/B613 reveal. I hope the show has something more interesting up its sleeve, but so far things have followed the status quo at an unusually slow pace.

Stray observations

  • If Mellie becomes president, I cannot wait to see her alcoholic ass in the Oval. She did have amazing taste in decor in Cyrus’ dream.
  • Seriously, another gross Huck crush? Who wanted another creepy “I watched you from afar” Huck crush? Can someone on this show just solve a murder without romance being involved?
  • I really wish we could read that nasty-ass letter Cyrus wrote Tom. After last week’s hotel room scene, I am sure that letter was filthy.
  • I hope Elizabeth just shows up every so often so people can trick her into thinking she has a new job before using her and never talking to her again.
  • Really, Scandal? Cyrus’ prison pal is a serial killer who ate his entire family except the dog? Fine.
  • Why did the guard get into the prison cell with them during Tom’s attack? It seems like he could’ve kept watch from outside the cell and it would’ve been less dangerous. Whatever, this is Scandal and someone was promised a kill.
  • It seems likely that Tom will die from the attack and it will be up to Liv to do the right thing. She probably won’t.
  • I really wish Olivia and the FBI director could be friends instead of romantic rivals. It would be way more interesting if Olivia had a close, black friend to work against, but casting her as Fitz’s next short-term romance is boring. Also Fitz is the worst.
  • “I will always be your friend, but I will not speak to you again.” —Olivia Pope, friend of the year

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