Stuck in a Dungeon with You: The Claustrophobic Comeback of ‘Scandal’


It’s been a couple months since I got down with some Scandal and last Thursday’s comeback episode had me utterly confused. In fact, I blurted out a “WTF” during the chaotic opening scene with Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) sprinting like Usain Bolt down some strange hallway. Run, Olivia, Run!

With that being said, I wasn’t surprised to see Jake and Olivia clinking glasses of red wine in the beginning, however I still wasn’t quite sure if Ms. Pope was suffering a nervous breakdown and imagining it all. Ah, then I remembered: Olivia was snatched out of her own apartment. The episode (written by Shondra Rhimes and directed by Tom Verica) was all about the plot to psychologically destroy “the fixer.”

There’s a Hitchcockian vibe to “Run,” but the detailed explanation of Olivia’s kidnapping almost goes to far. However, after processing the entire episode, I believe the claustrophobic settings make perfect sense. Olivia Pope was literally transferred across the hall, which is a frightening concept, but she understands that no one will lay a finger on her without the approval of Eli Pope. So, a weary Olivia finds herself sharing a cell with some freaked-out character (Jason Butler Harner), which allows her to transform into Olivia “BeastMode” Pope. You know, the person who stares directly into your eyes, makes a profound statement (“I will save us”) and then asks you to repeat it. That’s BeastMode Olivia, and she almost escapes through a bathroom window. She. Can. Do. Anything.

Well, it turns out there was a method to the madness. Olivia’s cellmate, Ian, was the man behind her imprisonment. She managed to escape while completely destroying a looming guard in the process, but there was quite the surprise waiting for her at the end of the tunnel: a movie set. Olivia Pope was starring in her own biopic, which made “Run” a seriously inventive stand-alone episode. Ian broke down the rules of the game for his subject and learned that President Fitz would, in fact, do anything to save her. That’s called a bargaining chip.

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC.

-Q.V. Hough

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