Scandal‘s previous season ended with Olivia finally topping the power totem pole that everyone in Washington D.C. tries to climb to gain success. B613 had been an enemy at times and an ally in other cases, but now it was time for Olivia to give it a swing, ousting her father from the position of Command. There were questions lingering on whether Olivia would try to maintain her white hat or let the power of B613 get to her head and I was glad to see the very first episode of the final season heads straight into this question.
This newfound power allows her to easily subdue senators who wish to go against Mellie’s desire for a free college education by blackmail, not to say that Olivia has never used blackmail before, but it’s in great access these days. She also isn’t afraid to get confrontational with interviewers on news broadcasts when they decide to try and snub her. The signs that show that the old Olivia is still with us, however, is that she refuses to adopt the old ways of B613 when she learns a undercover CIA agent was captured and may be successfully interrogated about American secrets.
This info comes from the newly-helmed Quinn Perkins & Associates, renamed after Olivia departed considering she has to balance being Chief of Staff and Command now. The same old, same old happens with QPA: Quinn & Charlie bicker and discuss their upcoming baby, Huck continues to be a human deus ex machina, David is still roped along and forced to help out, and Abby is just there. Their first business is in the form of Madeline Stewart, who is concerned that her father has gone missing after traveling overseas and not being in contact for two days. Looking up info on Joshua Stewart leads QPA to believe he’s more than what he seems, which is why Olivia is brought up to speed on the case.
With Fitz out of the picture back in Vermont now that his presidency is at an end, Olivia and Jake returned to being an item, but only on sexual terms. The tensions between Jake wanting the CIA agent dead and Olivia believing there to be another way around the situation quickly end this fling, which is fine as I’ve never cared for Olivia’s constant love triangle between Fitz and Jake. It’s Olivia’s way that proves to be right though, as she manages to save the CIA agent at the last minute by using Huck to hold the Bashrani ambassador’s son hostage with orders to kill if he doesn’t release Joshua Stewart safely. Yeah, it’s a bit much for white hat Olivia, but it’s made obvious that she really only wants it to be a bluff. Luckily, the bluff works, but it leaves the relationship between Bashran and the USA a little shaky.
This all leads to a confrontation in the Oval Office between Olivia, Jake, and Mellie where lines are set straight over who tells who what to do. Mellie originally thought that since she’s now the president, everything she says goes. Olivia sets her straight by explaining that if Mellie follows everything Olivia says, she will have a successful presidency and will never have to worry about anything. If she takes the word of any other man trying to get in Olivia’s way (Jake), Mellie will be on the road to a disastrous career in politics. Olivia’s been good at manipulation before, but her power trip is starting to take it to new heights.
The only other major subplot that starts to boil in this episode regards Cyrus, who is now the vice president after last season’s finale. He is given the task of convincing some of the other senators to agree yes to the college bill, but it seems Olivia also has a mission to discover his true loyalties. While talking with one of the Democrat senators, she offers the idea to Cyrus that they shouldn’t let the Republicans be the ones to secure free college for the United States and instead should wait until Cyrus can run for president himself, as a Democrat. Cyrus becomes interested in this idea at first, but after Mellie lets him know how happy she is that he’ll be along for her ride as president, he has a change of heart and turns the senator down. The senator then informs Olivia of Cyrus’ decision, which could either mean what I said before OR Olivia really does plan everything 100 steps ahead.
Oh, and Olivia decides she can’t go a season without multiple love interests, so she decides to shack up with Curtis Pryce, the interviewer she butted heads with earlier in the episode. I can already tell I won’t care for whatever happens in that side arc…
“Watch Me” was a serviceable opening to the final season of Scandal. It made me glad that we’re getting straight to the meat of things instead of bringing in lots of filler like the previous seasons loved to do. This is only the first episode though, but I’m hoping that with its final season, Scandal will be able to focus solely on wrapping up the story and character arcs that it has been developing over the last 6 seasons. I’ll also say that flashing forward 100 days into Mellie’s presidency was a nice touch and I wouldn’t be surprised if more time skips are to come this season.
Watch Me – 4 out of 5
- Starting the season off already giving Olivia moral choices.
- Stopping the Olivia-Jake-Fitz love triangle hopefully forever.
- I’d like if Cyrus could become a good guy this season.
- Curtis Pryce doesn’t interest me at all.
- Mellie’s still kinda dumb in the grand scheme of things.