After some slam-bang action earlier in season 6, Scandal has kind of been losing steam the last few weeks. May 4's episode was designed to be fraught with tension, but it didn't deliver... and then just like that, Peus (David Warshofsky) and Marjorie/Samantha/Grace/whateverhernameis (Zoe Perry) were thwarted and it's back to business as usual, I guess? It was a bit anti-climactic, to be perfectly honest.
The framing device that was supposed to have us all on the edge of our seats is that Peus flies nine drones over major U.S. cities and threatens to detonate them if the White House doesn't hand over Mellie (Bellamy Young) and Marjorie. He shows he means business by taking out a chunk of Dallas before the opening credits even roll; he later detonates one over Philadelphia.
The problem with this threat is that Scandal takes the "tell, don't show" approach to these terrorist attacks, which would be fine... if this were a radio drama. But the TV rule is "show, don't tell." Where was the footage of some nameless commuters or happy family in Dallas being killed? What about those 19 kids in Philadelphia Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) mentions?
I'm not saying we need terrorist porn on Scandal, but some kind of visual representation of what the attacks truly meant would have gone a long way in evoking some sort of emotional response. They don’t even have to be graphic — in fact, the most disturbing things on TV usually aren’t graphic, instead leaving things to viewers’ imaginations, which is far worse. But instead of even a sliver of real-world impact, we simply hear about the casualties from the safety of the oval office or the situation room, which packs very little punch.
We also spent considerable time in the episode cutting away to Abby (Darby Stanchfield) being all pouty about being left out of the cool kids club, which just took viewers out of the action even further.
The most interesting thing happening in “The Box” is the small mystery of what Peus was sending Rowan (Joe Morton) every few days in order to keep Rowan under his thumb. But the answer to that also turned out to be kind of disappointing. It turns out Peus was sending Rowan bricks that weighed 11 lbs., making him think that at any time he could receive Olivia's (Kerry Washington) head in a box. It doesn't play nearly as creepy as it was probably intended to play, plus all it does is make me hear Brad Pitt screaming, "What's in the box?! WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!"
In the end, Rowan saves the day by deciding to cooperate with Fitz in bringing down Peus. They do so via a plan that any regular Scandal viewer saw coming a mile away, with Rowan pretending to help Marjorie escape so that she could lead him to Peus (and therefore the location where the drones were being controlled). And now Peus is dead by Jake's (Scott Foley) hand and Marjorie is dead by Rowan's and... that's that.
The big bad is done and there are still three episodes left in season 6, which could be either good or bad. Either Scandal is really going to sputter to the finale, or Shonda Rhimes and Co. are holding back some spectacular stuff for the final three episodes to ramp up the action going into season 7.
We're banking on the latter, since Rhimes is usually at her strongest for premieres and finales. So let's all just move on from "The Box" and get ready for Mellie to be sworn in as the first female president.
Speaking of which, at least Olivia's monologue near the end of the episode was worth the price of admission this week.
"It's not over. You have never been and never will be anyone's puppet. You're about to be the first female president of the United States. Do you know how incredible that is? How impossible? They almost handed this job to a man who had been in prison over giving it to you. Why? Because a woman in power is a nasty woman, a woman who needs to be put in her place. That is what Peus and Samantha want to do. They don't give a crap about what you've sacrificed to get here, every drop of blood, bead of sweat and fallen tear -- they just want to turn you into a figurehead and I will be damned if they turn the most powerful person in the world into some princess whose only power lies in a wave or a smile. This is not their White House, it's ours and neither one of us leaving without a fight. Trust."
In light of that, though, it's a shame it was the men and not Olivia and Mellie who were able to take down Peus and Marjorie.
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