The latest Scandal episode, "Lost Girls," picks right back up with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) surprising Olivia (Kerry Washington) in her hallway. But it's not a booty call (not directly, anyway). It's a call to action regarding the hundreds of missing Black girls in Washington D.C., a storyline that, despite being ripped from Twitter, is a huge problem nationwide.
For background, a TIME article from March 2017 breaks down this very real problem and also the way facts were twisted and misrepresented on social media to make it sound like 14 girls went missing in a 24-hour period, which is not correct. However, it is still well documented that Black children go missing disproportionately compared to the overall population. For example, over one-third of missing juveniles in 2016 were Black, though African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population.
Furthermore, the disappearances of white women or girls tend to draw more attention and more media coverage than those of women and girls of color, according to a 2016 report by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Suffice to say that this is a very real problem.
So, that's what Scandal is tackling for its QPA case of the week. However, what's disappointing about the episode is that the show doesn't really tackle it. It touches on some of the problems, like how QPA has to find a squeaky clean Black girl whose name "sounds white" with an upstanding mother to make cable news appearances in order to get the proper attention for the cause. But the cause is also doubling as a way for Fitz to get back in Olivia's life, which feels so reductive of something that is an actual, real problem.
Additionally, the case is overshadowed by a coup in Bashran that unseats President Rashad (Faran Tahir) and derails Mellie's (Bellamy Young) Middle East peace summit between Bashran and Dacal. Mellie is adamant that they send troops into Bashran to restore Rashad's presidency, but Olivia says that would be a huge mistake and advises her not to let her personal feelings for Rashad cloud her judgment. Then, it's like all of a sudden the writers realized the episode only had 10 minutes left, so both plotlines are brought to conclusions that honestly left me kind of confused.
On the "Lost Girls" front, Quinn (Katie Lowes) magically locates Zoe Adams on her own. Then, on the Middle East front, Olivia gives Mellie a rah-rah speech about how of course they're going to "restore Rashad's presidency and return peace to Bashran" when just one scene ago Olivia was going against Mellie's ideas.
I will confess to feeling so befuddled by these two scenes that I had to back up the DVR and make sure I hadn't missed something. This is a problem that Scandal has from time to time, when it's so overstuffed with plot that conclusions feel rushed and half-baked.
How did Quinn find Zoe? Who knows! And what was Olivia's second suggestion to Mellie in regards to the Middle East? Who knows! But apparently we're just supposed to accept that they worked things out and everything's fine, because guess what? Fitz loves Olivia and they make out.
I fully accept that Olitz is endgame for this show, but this episode felt like one giant clusterfuck designed to get the two of them smooching. Olivia acts like she's struggling to choose between B-613 and Fitz, but you know she's going to try to have them both until the series finale, when she'll ride off into the sunset with Fitz. So that's why it's extra gross that we have to go through this whole song and dance with them now at the expense of A) the "Lost Girls" problem, and B) the Middle East summit, which was at least fairly interesting.
There's also the added plot of Papa Pope (Joe Morton) being the one urging Fitz to romance Olivia, because he sees that as the only way to pull her back from B-613's darkness. But Olivia finds out about Rowan's visit to Fitz in Vermont and she is none too happy about it. So that's just another iron in the already overstuffed fire.
You know what would have made for a great episode? If the entire team had been focused on the “Lost Girls” and everything else was left out. They could have given the issue its proper due, plus then the payoff of Quinn getting to tell Zoe’s mom that her daughter is alive would have actually carried some emotional weight (which it really didn’t, the way this episode ran). That also would have made Washington’s PSA at the end seem a little more appropriate.
Big thumbs down this week, Scandal. This episode was a prime example of a "jack of all trades, master of none" episode, which doesn't do anyone any good.
Odds and Ends
I didn't even touch on Cyrus (Jeff Perry) and Fenton (Dean Norris), who are super cute with their budding romance. Suffice to say, Cyrus can't keep the Cezanne, so he "buys" it from Fenton for $20. And love is in the air.
Speaking of cute, Cyrus and Mellie taking a few minutes to talk about boys over a glass of liquor was maybe my favorite scene of the season so far. That was great, more scenes like that, please and thank you.
Jake: "Are you Command or are you someone's girl? You can't be both."
Regardless of how I feel about this episode in general, the scenes between Olivia and Mellie and Olivia and her father were outstanding. Kerry Washington, Bellamy Young and Joe Morton are gifted actors who always manage to elevate the material they have, which admittedly is usually pretty great material, but still – hats off to them all this week.