Now that the first season of ABC’s Scandal is over I have decided to do a series re-watch. Now that I have seen all the double-dealings, back-stabbings, and cliffhangers, I am curious to see where the seeds were planted. In a show like this with lots of intrigue, and jaw-dropping reveals, writers tend to plant clues early on. You just have to know where to look.
Olivia Pope fixes things. That’s who she is. You need fixing. I don’t need to know your story. We all have a story. Everyone in this office needs fixing. You’re a stray dog and Olivia took you in. Don’t question it.
Scandal centers around Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her band of Gladiators in Suits. Olivia runs a crisis consulting firm, which handles problems that influential clients need resolved. With one season wrapped, we still don’t know a lot about Olivia’s band of crisis consultants. What we do know is that Olivia has helped them in some way, and now they have pledged their loyalty to her. She and her gang are lawyers who do not actually practice law, but use it to help their clients in the best way possible. These situations are the Story of the Week, but there is also a wrap around story that continues every week.
The wrap around story involves the President of the United States (Tony Goldwyn) caught up in a sex scandal with a young intern Amanda Tanner (Lisa Weil). Before opening her own firm, Olivia worked for the President as a consultant, and helped get him elected. The President’s right hand man, Cyrus Beene, solicits Olivia’s help in resolving this matter.
Olivia: He’s not wooing me, we’re friends.
Stephen: You and I are friends. He’s the leader of the free world. Your life makes me feel unsuccessful.
In episode 1, “Sweet Baby,” we meet the players. The show opens with Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) approaching a young lawyer, Abby (Darby Stanchfield), with a job offer she can’t refuse. When Abby arrives to meet Olivia and the rest of the team, the gang are visited by a man covered in blood. Sully St. James waked up next to his dead fiance. After he called 9-1-1 to report the murder, the young former Marine heads to Olivia’s for help.
Meanwhile, after Cyrus asks Olivia to help the President, Olivia heads to Camp David to meet with the President in person. For some reason Olivia feels this is the only way to see if he’s telling the truth about being set up. For some reason, Olivia doesn’t seem interested in helping him if he really did have an affair. Once she believes in his innocence, Olivia lays the facts out for Amanda.
This way there be spoilers!
As both of the stories head towards a climax, we learn Sully’s true alibi for the night his fiance was murdered. Turns out that Sully is gay, and his fiance was his beard. She knew that Sully was gay, and in love with someone else, but wanted to help him since she was his best friend, and had political aspirations. Being ultra conservative, Sully would rather go to jail than publicly reveal his sexual orientation. After having a moment of clarity, Olivia tells him that he shouldn’t have to hide who he really is, and that Sully should take the opportunity to be a role model for other closeted gay men.
Sully isn’t the only person willing to die for his secrets. Amanda Tanner attempts to take her own life after both Olivia and the President refuse to speak with her. When Olivia pays Abby a visit to find out Amanda’s status, we learn what the title of the episode, “Sweet Baby,” actually means. “Sweet Baby” is the nickname the President called Olivia. His mistress.
Turns out that the reason Olivia left the White House was over the guilt of sleeping with a married man, and the leader of the Free World. Feeling angry, hurt, and betrayed Olivia goes to the White House to face the President. She could have forgiven him for the affair, but not for lying to her face. Not for giving Amanda her nickname. All of this anger causes Olivia to decide to be Amanda’s champion.
Questions, Comments, Wonderings…
If you’ve watched Scandal, then you know how the first season ends. Now that we are left wondering just who Abby Whelan really is, I was curious if there were hints hidden throughout the episodes, prompting my desire to re-watch the series. There are.
- When Abby meets Harrison for the first time, it’s because he’s interviewing her for a job. A job she denies ever applying for. The only thing that stops her denials is Olivia’s name. Abby’s entire demeanor changes from the moment on. Originally it looked like a young woman getting the opportunity to meet her idol. Now, knowing what I know, it’s like a sleeper agent getting called for duty. Is “Abby” even a lawyer?
The other thing I wanted to look for was clues in the wrap around story involving the President. DIdn’t see any in “Sweet Baby.”
- The First Lady makes an appearance, but doesn’t betray any knowledge about Olivia’s affair with the president. Did the actress (Bellamy Young) know at this point in shooting the series that Mellie was supposed to know about the affair, or did she learn that later? Her portrayal suggests she didn’t.
When I first saw the preview for Scandal, I was skeptical. Not because it didn’t look like a great show. It did. But because network television series with an African-American lead actor tend not to last more than a season. I was afraid to watch, get invested, and then have the show cancelled. Then I had an epiphany: If I don’t watch, it definitely will get cancelled. I’m glad I made the right choice. Not only did I get hooked on a great new show, but Scandal was picked up for a second season. HORRAY! So that ends my recap of episode 1. Join me next week when I recap and review episode 2, “Dirty Little Secrets.”