Scandal, Season 4, Episode 4, “Like Father, Like Daughter”
Written by Mark Fish
Directed by Paul McCrane
Airs Thursdays at 9pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Olivia helps cover up the president’s daughter’s scandal, Jake fails to take down Rowan, and Fitz discovers who killed his son.
Finally, all of the cast members are slowly being brought back together onscreen after a brief three-episode split. The first three episodes of this season were good, but they were still a little lacking, namely because everyone had gone their separate directions. “Like Father, Like Daughter” brings everyone under the same roof–though not yet back together–and the episode is stronger for it’s effort, if not for its overall execution.
For instance, there still doesn’t seem to be any indication where this season is headed. The only consistent storyline thus far is with Jake, Rowan, and B613, and it all feels pretty familiar–is Scandal really going to keep the B613 story going for another season? Honestly, it doesn’t feel fresh at all, even with Jake in charge, and it’s quickly becoming overworked territory. Season four needs a new and distinct direction if it’s ever going to separate itself from season 3’s messes.
Another problem is Olivia’s penchant for over-dramatizing problems–sure, the president’s daughter having a sex tape is bad, but likening it to the threat of nuclear war? You’re better than that, Olivia. Instead of Olivia’s helicopter speech convincing the audience this week’s scandal-of-the-week is a real threat, she merely makes the issue laughable and ridiculous. The whole speech is just thoroughly overdone and painful, especially for a show with writing that’s usually very good.
Fitz’s confrontation with his daughter is also painful to watch, simply because he immediately questions his daughter on whether or not she’s been raped. Is his question legitimate? Yes. But, the scene takes too long to let the matter drop, and it quickly becomes uncomfortable. Fitz’s inability to realize that his daughter would willingly behave the way she did just highlights how out-of-touch Fitz is with his eldest remaining child. Fitz isn’t a good parent, and this episode really serves to reinforce his failures as a father.
That’s not to say the storyline with Karen isn’t compelling stuff, because it definitely is. She’s the last member of the first family whose reaction to her brother’s death we haven’t seen. It absolutely makes sense for Karen to act recklessly and endanger herself, and Mellie’s response to her daughter’s behavior is actually quite lovely. Mellie, unlike Fitz, thoroughly understands her daughter. Their final scene together is beautiful and heartbreaking, and an excellent wrap-up to that particular scandal.
“Like Father, Like Daughter” is pretty good, but it still has several failings. David Rosen is becoming an increasingly-bad character, and not just morally–he’s a coward, and cowards just aren’t fun to watch. Any screen time with him in it feels wasted, and it’s a shame, because he used to be a relatively interesting and honorable character. Like Rosen, B613 needs a massive overhaul, especially if it’s going to be sticking around for a while. However, this season’s largest problem is its overall lack of a clear direction–by now, past seasons have usually begun to set up at least a multiple-episode arc, if not storylines that would be followed through the course of the season. Season four lacks such direction, and it’s making Scandal feel a little bit lost.