Did Scandal's Ferguson-Inspired Episode Have Too Happy of an Ending?

-Michael Arceneaux

Despite certain optics surrounding Scandal – its creator and star are both Black women – the show very rarely tackles the issue of race head on. However, last night the show took cues from Law & Order: SVU and pulled a story “ripped from the headlines.” The headline in question took many of its cues from recent events that have taken place in Ferguson. I regret not forming a prayer circle before the airing given you never know how a melodramatic show like Scandal will tackle such serious subject matter.

Yet, minus a few winces here and there, I did not want to down a bottle of red wine only to crack the bottle in rage. Yes, that’s a compliment. It was sort of like an after school special, only with a much bigger budget. No shade.

Alright now, let’s discuss.

1. Were you uncomfortable?

The timing of this episode was eerie: days after the anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death coupled with the release of the Department of Justice’s report on the Ferguson police department. It’s been quite a long week, particularly if you are of color and all too aware of the climate. The entire time I was thinking, “Please, don’t be on no bullshit, Shonda.”

Scandal is camp, but it’s actually impressive to see a show like that try to tackle police brutality and institutionalized racism in this manner.

2. Can we get more of activist bae?

Welcome to the show, Cornelius Smith Jr., who played Marcus, the neighborhood activist who challenged both Olivia’s motives and allegiance to the people who look like her but live far away from K Street. Now, the man is handsome, but as far as some of the dialogue goes, whew, they made he seem like he’s only been to three classes of Revolutionary 101.

And that chant: “Stand up! Fight back! No more Black man under attack!” Remind me to use this line when Uber is charging double the rate and I need to hail a yellow cab.

That said, he did push Olivia so by the time the police chief who hired her started to dismiss her advice, she went from Condi to pre-Democratic Primary Michelle real quick.

3. Black people love their lawn chairs, don’t they?

Even when met with a police standoff, you can’t keep a Black person of a certain age away from their lawn chair. Shonda tweeted that she specifically wanted to have the kind of lawn chairs you see your grandparents sitting in. Mission accomplished. Had this not been about avenging his son’s unjust murder, they could’ve blasted Earth Wind and Fire in the background for more effect.

4. Why is Olivia Pope already working again?

Olivia just spent an extended amount of time being kidnapped and held for ransom. Clearly, she is suffers from PTSD, and yet, here she is, standing in front of an angry man holding a shotgun. Why is she not on some island listening to 702 on Spotify, not dealing with a crisis so soon after her own?

5. So the governor of a state is just going to upload a YouTube video while lounging in her PJs?

Meanwhile, this show is a parallel universe in which Republicans acknowledge white privilege and our inclusive and less evil. Even so, I rolled my eyes when I heard “We all matter.” Girl, go away. It’s not about everyone else; just the Black folks getting shot at by the police.

Kerry Washington reveals how long she wants to play Olivia Pope.

[mtvn_player vid="961680" autoplay="true"]

6. When are Mellie and Claire Underwood starting a support group?

When Mellie said, “But you promised!” to Fitz about their VP arrangement, all I could do is picture Hillary Clinton pointing and laughing at her. Yes, in the end he stood by her, but how long will that last?

7. So is Fitz for real with his new VP?

Wasn't this woman elected like four episodes ago? Thicker Sarah Palin is gonna end the world once Fitz gets shot again. Or watch she be secretly some evil genius.

8. How much did we hate that police officer?

Was he supposed to be diet Darren Wilson? I assume so. Either way, I was waiting for Smithers to release the hounds after he went into that diatribe about Black on Black crime, personal responsibility, and blah-blah-blah after Olivia and co. confronted him about him not only murdering an unarmed teen, but planting a knife on him.

9. Did you enjoy the ending?

In reality, no way would a Black man who grabbed his shotgun to seize control of the crime scene involving his son be allowed to walk away from all of that with not only no arrest, but the opportunity to both meet and cry on the president’s shoulder. But, I feel like we needed to see this lie this week. It’s a fantasy, but it’s great that we were allowed to see a place where Black lives, grief, and anger matter.

10. Will this episode earn the cast and crew Emmys?

I’ll let y’all decide that one.

[Photo Credit: ABC]