Scandal Season 6, Episode 14 Recap: "Head Games"

Photo: ABC.
Scandal continues its roller-coaster ride of a season 6. The case of the week (and seriously, when was the last time Scandal actually had one of those?) involves Shawn (McKinley Freeman), a Black man falsely imprisoned for a hate crime when a white supremacist who bombed a Black church is found lynched in a forest. Quinn (Katie Lowes), Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Charlie (George Newbern) are on the case as OPA Gladiators, with Olivia completely distracted by helping Mellie with her transition of power.
It's obvious that Shawn is innocent, but the Gladiator trio actually get another white supremacist to basically admit to lynching his fellow racist because said fellow racist was hogging all the glory for the church bombing. Yes, really. It's super gross and would seem like trumped-up TV drama, except, you know, look around America right now.
But I digress. The point is Shawn didn't do it, but Quinn has no concrete proof. So she avails herself of President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) to pardon Shawn based on "her gut," which both he and Olivia shoot down. Luckily, Quinn has her Olivia Pope hat all ready for donning and she goes off on Fitz in the oval office about doing the right thing, which he then does.
Turns out it was all a test to see if Quinn could become the new Olivia — and now she is. OPA is under new leadership, as Olivia takes her place in the White House. Way to go, Quinn.
Meanwhile, David (Josh Malina), Abby (Darby Stanchfield) and Jake (Scott Foley) are hard at work trying to figure out who Marjorie/Samantha/Grace (Zoe Perry) really is, because apparently none of those names are real. They ask Rowan (Joe Morton) for help and he comes through big time in the form of sending David Marjorie's severed head in a box. It's a shame I used my Brad Pitt joke last week.
A DNA run reveals that Marjorie is actually a woman named Gertrude, and a search of her apartment and electronics further reveal that she and Peus (David Warshofsky) were actually working for somebody else.
Now, the show kind of botched this reveal because the actress' name was in the opening credits — that stinks and it happens on TV all the time. Why can’t they just leave the name out until the end credits? Not every episode, but for when someone returns unexpectedly. Is that too much to ask? Sigh.
Anyway, so it turns out the big bad working so hard to put Mellie in the White House as her puppet is none other than Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander), Olivia's mother.
That's the Scandal we all know and love. It keeps the heat on Liv, it keeps her father in the picture and it gives us a villain with some emotional, personal stakes in play. Nothing against Perry and Warshofsky, they were good in their roles this season, but two seemingly random bad guys working against Olivia & Co. for some unknown reason just isn't that interesting because there's no driving pathos for the viewers. Maya working to put Mellie in the White House? Now that’s interesting.
News dropped Thursday (May 11) that season 7 will be Scandal's last, which is probably the right call. Now it looks as though it'll go out on a high note because Olivia versus her mother is a terrific season 7 set-up. There's always a chance the show wraps Maya's story line up next week, but that seems awfully fast for the gang to deal with such an adversary. We shall see.
Side note — enough cannot be said about the writing in this episode, which was chock-full of quotes and exchanges. Here are just a few of the stellar lines of dialogue in "Head Games."
David: "That man terrifies me, I was not about to argue. He gives me a head, I take a head. I say, 'Thank you for the head.' I take the head and I go."
Abby: "I'm the chief of staff of the United States of America."
Jake: "And I'm director of the NSA and he's the attorney general and if these walls could talk! What's your point?"
Abby: "My point is — it's a head!"
Jake: "I'm showing you these pictures because it seemed your tender little baby heart needed closure."
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