With Scott Foley’s track record on Shonda Rhimes shows, I have to wonder if he’s her new Katherine Heigl. Or is it that there’s just something so satisfying about killing off characters that seem so inherently good, despite being an assassin?
For the second time on one of Rhimes’s show, Foley — who also played Henry, a terminal patient who fell in love with his doctor, on Grey’s Anatomy — was offed by Rowan (via Olivia’s new boy-toy), to what I imagine will be the dismay of fans. It’s hard to hate a good guy, even if he isn’t so good. Jake Ballard’s death was not the right thing to do. And so, “I’m Just A Bill” spent the other subplots holding on tightly to those white hats, so much so that it came at a detriment to the episode. (Though real talk: Susan Ross insisting to critique the implementation strategy of a 1400-page bill before signing it made me feel good about the American legislative system for a second, which pretty much never happens on Scandal.)
“The time is always right to do the right thing” was Olivia’s mantra this week. It’s what she tells her client Marcus, the community activist from the Brandon Parker episode, when he calls her with the literal blood of the mayor’s wife on his hands. In the span of a few weeks, Marcus has gone from a grassroots organizer to the Democratic candidate for DC mayor. Going to cruise right past the logistical flaws to point out that any rando could have played this role and served this episode’s purpose. Marcus re-emerged because we’re supposed to care about him. The way he stands up to Olivia — even when they’re on the same team, but especially when they aren’t — is important.
Love triangles work, but love squares are overwhelming and frankly, a little greedy. What if Jake went because Olivia is getting another new love interest? He’s on deck for when she finds out that her current beau killed her ex-beau. (Relatedly: were we supposed to be surprised when we find out that he’s working for Rowan? I thought that was established at the end of last week.)
But Marcus also serves as a moral gut-check for Olivia, as she grapples with what’s right and what’s wrong. Should she take down B-613 and in turn, screw over the man who raised her and the man who loves her, as well as endanger her own life? (Well, I guess Olivia’s life is never not endangered.) Olivia’s partial view of justice does not work on Marcus, who — instead of going with Olivia’s plan to save face — exposes the mayor as the man who murdered his wife over her philandering ways. Of course, there will be no longterm fallout on Scandal over this; the stunt was to jolt Olivia. As if Jake’s dead body in the Pope and Associates conference room won’t do the same thing.
The tension in the room when Olivia and Jake tells David Rosen that Fitz was involved in B-613 was the first inkling: this isn’t going to work. Someone — probably Rosen, if we’re being honest — will get scared, particularly in light of Jake’s murder. Scandal fans are going to have to live with B-613, the show’s most convoluted plotline. As much as I see the thrill in Rowan’s sinister monologues, it’s time for him to go. Instead, Scandal kills off its only likable character. The writers better be scheming something big for the finale.