It’s Handled: Top Moments from ABC’s ‘Scandal’

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For the past six years, I’ve made it a point to never be busy at or around 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Whether rushing home from choir rehearsal; or, leaving a work event early, before the clock struck 8:59, I’d be positioned in front of a TV screen. Remote in one hand; a smart device in the other.

This weekly ritual centered around ABC’s culture-shifting political soap, Scandal. Being Shonda Rhimes’ second TV series after the successful Grey’s Anatomy, no one expected thunder would strike twice. The initial reception for the show was timid. It teetered on the edge of D.C. thriller (a la House of Cards), and soapy drama of Empire proportions. And if that wasn’t enough, its lead was an African American actress.

While Seattle Grace’s Meredith Grey became a feminist icon, a black woman leading a network drama was a different animal. An African American woman had not lead a drama series since Diahann Carroll’s nurse in Julia. And let Hollywood tell it, people wouldn’t be interested in a black show. But as Field of Dreams stated: if you build it, they will come.

Viewers – mainly black women – came in droves to witness and make history with the series. And in a single season, the synergy of twitter and television became live-tweeting. It tapped into a pulse of TV viewership totally unprecedented. Thus birthed ABC’s TGIT – the biggest must-see TV block since NBC’s Seinfeld- led comedy run in the 90s.

Six seasons later, the twisted tale of Olivia Pope and associates is coming to an end. April 19th the series finale will air, closing an astute chapter in television history. I’ve compiled my favorite moments – from legendary monologues to the ever-so annoying Fitz-infused lip quivers.

1. Amanda Tanner meets Olivia Pope

      1. The pilot introduced us to Washington D.C. crisis handler, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). Her first assignment – dismantling the rumors of an intern’s affair with the president. It was the first of many verbal assaults Olivia catapulted toward an adversary.

2. Meet Papa Pope

The end of season three finds Olivia possibly outed as President Grant’s mistress. As she thinks she has it all under control, her father – portrayed by the magnificent Joe Morton – arrives. He would have a series of memorable monologues, but this one ripped into Olivia’s from stem to stern.

3. Assassination, Attempted

Season two opened with a BANG. After discovering Fitz’s affair, Mellie is reluctant to play nice and attend a state dinner. We assume it’s because she knows what wicked this way comes. Fitz ignores her whining, and exits the limo to the press. Seconds later bullets ring out as he’s shot in the head.

4. Fitz with Blood on his Hands

As you may have guess, Fitz survived the assassination attempt. But when he finds out the who and why behind it, he flips his lid. To protect his legacy he silences the one person with the ammunition to bring him down. The bastard would later deliver the eulogy at his victim’s funeral.

5. Mellie’s Secret Pain

Just as Fitzgerald thought he had severed ties from his power-hungry wife, Olivia drops a bombshell in his lap. A pain Mellie kept hidden from her husband for years finally came to the surface. And like a woman, she swallowed it like it was nothing. This was before the MeToo movement and the call for Capitol Hill’s reform on sexual harassment in the workplace.

6. Liv and Fitz’s Closet Freak

Another staple of the series was the Cinemax-level sex scenes shared mostly between Olivia and her part-time lover Fitzgerald Grant. Here the two slip away from tumultuous situation in the White House to release some tension … in a computer server closet.

7. I Am Huck

In a stunning season two arc, we learn gladiator Huck’s backstory. Suffering througha mental episode, he shuts down verbally, only reciting three numbers. It’s Olivia who is able to reach him. We would later learn the tragedy Huck experienced at the hand of B6-13 years before joining Olivia’s team.

8. Jake kills James

Despite attempting to murder his lover before, Cyrus was never the same when James was killed. Jake acting on the call of Command takes James and two others out. I forget why but it was all to protect the Republic.

9. Quinn Vader

Billy Chambers was the main nemesis in the first two seasons. The conniving official was set to expose the Defiance, OH secret, bringing the administration down. Olivia and Command couldn’t have that. When Huck fails to finish the job, Quinn takes the reigns.

10. Sally’s Sin

In an alternate timeline, Hillary Clinton would have ascended to the Oval back in the 90s if it wasn’t for her philandering husband. Scandal played with this fan-fiction in the life of Sally Langston – a right-winged Christian conservative eyeing Grant’s incumbent seat. But when Cyrus threatens to expose the truth of her husband Daniel’s indiscretions, Sally snaps in a carnal moment.

11. Olivia Kidnapped

This storyline began the nadir of the series. Catapulted by Fitz’s jealous vice president, Olivia is kidnapped and held for ransom. The cost: the U.S. would have to declare war against a rather peaceful country, equaling a major payout for the VP. This had a sense of Cheney and Halliburton written all over it.

12. Olivia Gets Revenge

After the ordeal that was Olivia being held hostage, she struggled with extreme PTSD. Andrew returned hellbent on ruining Fitz’s life. As if being tortured by Charlie wasn’t enough, he pushed Olivia off the edge. She forever lost her White Hat when in a rage killed Andrew with a metal chair.

13. Mother Maya

For years Olivia believed her mother was deceased. A victim in a large-passenger plane crash overseas. But once she uncovered the truth of her father’s occupation, it wasn’t long before Olivia was reunited with her other parent. Turns out Maya didn’t die, nor was she a victim in the plane crash, but the perpetrator.

14. Fitz & Mellie Lose a Child

We witnessed the sinister depths Eli ventured to ruin the Grant family. None other was more cruel than the orchestrated murder of their son, all to swing sympathy toward Grant to win an election.

SNDTRK ’18 | 1st QTR

The soundtrack to my first 90 days of 2018. The favorites are in bold. Link below.

new freezer | rich kid x kendrick lamar

peepin out the blinds | gucci mane

stir fry | migos

finesse (remix) | bruno mars x cardi b

live in the moment | craig david x goldlink

freak | victoria monet

all the stars | kendrick lamar x sza

the kids are alright | chloe x halle

darling | the womack sisters

too fast | sonder

blessings on blessings | oshuan & proda

king’s dead | jay rock x kendrick lamar x future

attention | rich brian x offset

reload | chase x status x craig david

good morning | joyce wrice x jamma-dee

privacy | siergio

rocket | en vogue

talk to me (remix) | craig david x ella mai

10 million stars | brian mcknight

long as i live |toni braxton

my song | h.e.r.

you got me | mya

more | JeRonelle

make me feel | janelle monae

django jane | janelle monae

eyes on us | amber olivier

come inside | lou phelps x jazz cartier

bxnks truck | slim jxmmi x rae sremmurd

don’t nobody want none | tech n9ne

crown | azealia banks

hit the ceiling | thirdstory

still in love | thirdstory

movin’ on up | azealiza banks

insecure | amara la negra

curve | kara marni

pushing the space | jessb x phodiso

sometime a** N**ga | arin ray

let her go | victoria monet

shy | tuexdo x zapp

babybird | chloexhalle

happy without me | chloexhalle

bet ain’t worth the hand | leon bridges

do wut | priscilla renea

smother me | olivia nelson

*don’t wake the baby | marsha ambrosius

*i’ll go here | midas hutch x maad

*rent | big freedia

*bad compnay | a$ap rocky x blackboy jab

*favorite | leon thomas x buddy

Apple Music

Spotify *on Spotify only

‘Black Panther’ & Me

I never was into comics as a kid. I worshiped the Power Rangers and dabbled in Batman: The Animated Series. I remember singing Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” during Batman Forever, and leaving church early to see Spider-Man 2. 

I was the casual geek playing Magic: The Gathering at lunch, but never venturing into Dungeons & Dragons. (Although I did view the awful adaptation in middle school). But I never fully invested in that world. Partially because I didn’t think it belonged to me.

I never saw anyone like me enjoying those things. And the sad part is I never noticed it. I assumed it was what whites did – and if one was black and read anime – you were weird. I didn’t need another moniker added to my name as the chubby Oreo in the all-white Boy Scout troop who secretly crushed on elder members.

So as Ryan Coogler’s story of T’Challa unfolded, with it’s pristine depiction of African royalty in Wakanda, I sat numb in awe. Yes, I may not have known this Black Panther existed before the Black Panther Party. Or that he was basically Marvel’s Batman. But I felt justified. Someone opened the door and said “come on in, we’ve been waiting for you.”

(Black) Lightning Does Strike Twice

The CW threw there hat in the inclusive ring with last year’s announcement of D.C.’s Black Lightning. After the success of their mostly white superhero shows – adding Supergirl two years ago- it was time D.C.’s first African American star shined. Akin to Marvel’s Luke Cage, Lightning struck in the 1970s off the popularity of blaxploitation culture. Afros and jive populated the original comic as Jefferson Pierce, a crime fighter wielding the ability to control electricity, fought injustice. Decades later as the comic genre booms along with the need for fairer representation, Black Lightning strikes back in 2018.

While many blerds rejoiced at the thought of seeing this character come to life, there was an equal level of apprehension. This is The CW we are talking about. Other than Jane the Virgin and supporting casts on the comic titles, accurate potrayals of blacks and POC was scarce. And when rumors buzzed of a Black Lives Matters episode of Arrow, even the ancestors rolled their eyes. Luckily Black Lightning’s success is sewed by Salim and Mara Brock Akil.

The coupled screenwriters behind Girlfriends and Being Mary Jane deliver a relevant and substantial black family drama with hero elements. From this vantage point, the series elevates its tone above the campiness that plagues nominal comic vehicles. The story becomes the focus. And with a good story, everything else can fall into place.

Jefferson Pierce is a divorced principal of Garfield High, curbing the vices of the neighborhood from his students and family. He retired his cape nine years ago, but when a villainous crime circuit threatens his two daughters, Black Lightning suits back up. Driven by Pierce’s need to protect his family, he sees his responsibility goes beyond his own front door. The community is plagued with gun violence and drugs. And where there is violence, there are the unjust hands of the police.

The opening scene finds Pierce (Cress Williams) driving home from a school event. Dressed in a suit and tie, along with his two young daughters, the cops pull him over claiming he matches the description of a theft suspect in the area. Pierce exhausts its the third time that month he’s been profiled as his eldest daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams) records the interaction with her smartphone. The series unabashedly displays and discusses the current Black experience in America. From protests against police brutality, to questions of class within the Black community, its all on deck. And we’re all better for it.

In addition to the topical issues addressed, the Akils have surrounded the show in a tapestry of authentic blackness. A man compares Black Lightning’s costume to a Parliament/Funkadelic outfit. Anissa chides her younger, rebellious sister Jennifer (China McClain) as “fast ass.” The soundtrack – much like Shonda Rhimes’ with Scandal – is syrupy soul and funk, an homage to the 70s original comic. The series opens to the politically-charged anthem “Strange Fruit” made famous by Billie Holiday. The show is a level of blackness never before herald on The CW.

Beyond the great story and rich cultural observance, the hero stuff we actually came for is legit. Black Lightning kicks ass with believable fight scenes and seemingly strong graphics. The pilot skips the clumsy stretch of our protagonist figuring out how their powers work. Instead we see the veteran Pierce reassemble his skills seamlessly. And he’s going to need it facing one of the most gruesome villains in CW history. Arrow had Slade and Flash Zoom, but Lightning brings Tobais – a brutal thug kingpin who harpoons his foot soldiers for discipline. The violence delivers real consequences for our characters and the story, keeping viewers intensely bound to what happens next.

Two episodes in and I’m sold for the season – which promises us at least two more heroes joining the family’s fight. Black Lightning airs Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. ET on The CW or all the time on The CW app.