Scandal, Season 4, Episode 6, “An Innocent Man”
Written by Zahir McGhee
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Airs Thursdays at 9pm EST on ABC
On this week’s Scandal, Olivia visits Jake, a former first lady charms Mellie, Abby discovers Cyrus’s secret, and Fitz grants Olivia a favor.
Despite the title, “An Innocent Man” isn’t about the men of Scandal, it’s about the women. Mellie, Olivia, Abby, and even Quinn all have significant wins, making the episode a nice departure from the past five. Also, it’s the first time any of the women have felt like their old selves in a long while, particularly Olivia, who hasn’t been fully herself since the arrival of her father to D.C.
Remember back to season one, when the gladiators (also, how long has it been since any of Olivia’s team referred to themselves as such?) insisted Pope and Associates a no-cry zone? Well, Olivia herself hasn’t followed that rule in a long time, and it’s been incredibly disappointing. The crying itself isn’t the problem–it’s the gradual dissolution of everything Pope and Associates used to stand for and be, namely a very powerful and intelligent team led by a fearless and thoroughly-capable woman. Sure, Olivia does get a win over her father (finally!) in “An Innocent Man,” but she still has a long way to go before she’s restored to her former glory.
The case-of-the-weeks used to be fun, and sometimes they’d even add quite a bit to over-arcing storylines, but they’ve begun to feel like afterthoughts, tossed into the episode to fill excess time. All this week’s does is further highlight how far Olivia’s fallen–she is entirely unable to rely on her gut and is fooled by a fame-hungry criminal. Even Fitz–her number one fan–and Rowan show a disheartening lack of faith in Olivia’s intelligence regarding Jake. While it’s unsurprising that Rowan doesn’t have faith in his daughter, Fitz has always been in awe of Olivia and her capabilities–if he doesn’t even trust her ability to not be manipulated, does he even deserve to be with her again?
Back to the women, Mellie really shines throughout the episode. The addition of guest star Bitsy (who’s really just Old Mellie, right?) is a great move by the writers, as she really kicks Mellie’s recovery into high gear. Plus, she’s extremely entertaining and sassy and fun. Bitsy is everything Mellie could become and hopefully will be. Mellie, more than anyone else (even Olivia), deserves some change in her life.
Meanwhile, Abby is perhaps the best option for discovering Cyrus’s illicit secret–she’s long been looked down upon by the White House staff (particularly Cyrus and Fitz), so it should be fun watching her hold this over Cyrus’s head. And Quinn is single-handedly hunting for clues about the lingering case surrounding Olivia’s former college friend and two dead teenagers, so kudos to her for not being a quitter or allowing Huck’s distractions (though they’re good distractions) affect her. Bonus, this season finally has a hint of direction! So thank you Quinn for keeping the investigation going, because it’s about time season 4 knew where it was headed.
“An Innocent Man” may not be season four’s best episode yet, but it remedies quite a few ongoing complaints, like the overall lack of plot direction, and Olivia’s inability to overcome her father’s influences. This episode feels like the first step toward much better things to come, and the new developments couldn’t be more welcome.