Scandal 7×01 Review: “Watch Me”

The powerhouse of ABC’s TGIT is back for its final season – and the season premiere could not get here soon enough. The queen herself, Olivia Pope, is sitting in the White House and she’s in control. For the last few seasons of Scandal, we’ve seen her predominately manage her business with the occasional case involving President Fitz. That all changed when Mellie won the presidency with Olivia by her side. Things are changing for the seventh (and final season) of Scandal, but based on the premiere, I’m not sure if I like this version of Olivia.

Olivia, coming off of her shocking cliffhanger at the end of season six, has assumed her power position in the White House. And she loves every minute of having the power. She’s blackmailing people, threatening a child’s life, using people for sex and power, manipulation, and the list goes on from what we saw in the hour. Sure, some of these individuals were bad people, but she’s ignoring the line now – there is no good or bad anymore, it’s just her world and her word. Simply look at the way she’s treating Mellie now. She may be on Mellie’s side and stating that she is working for her, but Olivia is viewing herself as the most powerful person, even more so than the President.

This could be dangerous if she does something she can’t take back. The blackmail of the ambassador, and the potential assassination of his young son, is one of those instances. I mean, SHE THREATENED A CHILD’S LIFE! A sniper was aimed at his head. Olivia has always valued the importance of life and wearing the white hat – this isn’t the case anymore. She’s willing to do anything to win, even if could cause a war. As much as I love Olivia Pope, she’s become a major villain. Hopefully she reverts back to her honorable and amazing ways by series end.

ABC/Richard Cartwright

The case of the week wasn’t too exciting for a season premiere, even though the person turned out to be a spy. All of the interactions and plotting was merely used as a way to show Olivia balancing the power between Mellie and Jake. Suffice it to say, Olivia got her way (see threatening the child’s life above). I liked that it reaffirmed her working relationship with Mellie and it showed Jake who the real boss was.

Seeing Jake and Olivia on “Watch Me” together brought up a lot of good memories. This pairing, while definitely not perfect, was healthier than Olivia’s relationship with Fitz. They complement each other and they work – it’s a shame they don’t want to be together in an ongoing capacity. And, I have to admit, #TeamJake all the way. Let’s cross our fingers this random hookup with the TV personality is only a one-time thing. He’s a little too smug for an ongoing role in Olivia’s life.

Speaking of the case, what was the purpose of QPC? I mean, the missing person’s daughter sought them out and they brought the case to Olivia, but she just snatched it up when the spy turned out to be CIA. They didn’t do much during the season premiere, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, they haven’t been doing much in a while. Scandal has been shifting toward a White House main plot/setting for years now. While David and Abby had connections to the administration, Quinn, Huck and Charlie were mostly the side plot. Unfortunately, all five of them became the third plot of the night. They were shoved into “Watch Me” and it felt out of place.

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Was Olivia testing Cyrus? Was this about his loyalty to Mellie? The twist at the end left me with a few questions about Olivia’s motivation for setting up Cyrus. It’s disappointing to see her gamble an important bill just to test Cyrus’s loyalty to Mellie, but at least it proves he’s on her side… for now. As we’ve all learned from Scandal, any of these characters will switch sides to get what they want. This test may have confirmed Cyrus is willing to work with Mellie; however, it doesn’t prove he isn’t out for his own well-being or future presidency.

“Watch Me” saw the rise and reign of (new) Olivia Pope. She claimed the power and she’s using it with an iron fist. With Mellie by her side, nothing seems like it’s stopping Olivia. Jake and Cyrus may have thrown a few bumps in the way, but the job got done. Still, for the last season premiere Scandal will ever have, I expected there to be more purpose. Many of the characters are set adrift while the main hero we’re meant to cheer on is acting more like a villain every minute. It’s unsettling to follow – it doesn’t feel like the same Scandal we’ve grown to love.



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