ABC’s Scandal and the Screwball Comedy of ‘The Last Supper’


It’s been said over and over again: all you need for laughs is a dimly lit presidential bunker, a beautiful woman and two men bickering over her. Last night’s episode of Scandal, “The Last Supper,” almost reached an immediate 10 on the Annoyance Meter, but writer Allan Heinberg quickly made light of the usual love/hate dialogue between Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) by using Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) as the dungeon Zingmaster. My eyes squinted with contempt once Olivia forcefully said, “We stand in the sun. That’s what we do,” however before she even had a chance to spout off another ra-ra line such as “I’m very good at what I do” (that came later), good ol’ Jake delivered a snappy one-liner aimed at Fitz about his time frolicking in the sun with Ms. Pope. This came directly after an Olivia jab by noting, “I don’t want justice, I want to kill your father.” And…scene. Well done, Mr. Heinberg.

With only one episode left before the Holiday break, “The Last Supper” offered plenty of surprises with a well-written script and solid performances from all the main players. The MVP? Joe Morton as Eli Pope, the distinguished father of Olivia that can make any sentence interesting with exquisite pacing and multiple body movements. I don’t know how he does it. It’s more impressive that Huck’s video game face that has been appearing over the last several weeks (complimented by high-pitched giggle). But you can’t blame Huck for acting in a such a way given the reconnection with his son. Eli, on the other hand, can be blamed for his actions, and “The Last Supper” proved that he’s a refined gentleman when it comes to dinner-time violence.

The Elizabeth North (Portia di Rossi) story came full circle by the episode’s final moments and allowed Olivia to remind that she can do her job “brilliantly,” but the best moments of the episode were undoubtedly Olivia’s laugh-cry phone call to set up her father (wow, Olivia, wow) along with the subsequent meeting. Snipers. Red wine. Olivia’s face. What a surreal ending, but one that makes sense. Olivia struts with confidence in public, but her psyche is being pulled in three separate directions. While Fitz and Jake will pull hard enough just to get what they want, Eli Pope demonstrated that his reach is far more potent. He’s a true wizard of understated screwball comedy; the man that inspired Olivia to wear the Greek masks of Tragedy and Comedy during one sip of red wine.

Next week’s episode, “Where the Sun Don’t Shine,” was directed by Tony Goldwyn. Adios, Jake Ballard?

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