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Scandal - Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia: "Slowing Things Down" #TGIT

There's nothing like an excellent season premiere. You have months of anticipation, weeks of teasers, and days of counting down until it finally arrives on your television screen.

Its safe to say that Scandal's fourth season premiere, and 48th episode in its history, was one of the top three premieres I've been patiently waiting for in this new television season. I knew it would be good, but I also knew that anything could happen. This was especially prevalent given the shocking twists in season 3's May 16 finale.

The first thing that struck me about last night's episode was the tempo. Its fair to say Scandal has built a portion of its reputation on high octane intensity, but things were very much toned down in the premiere. Somehow, this worked beautifully despite the approach catching me completely off guard.

It wasn't edge-of-your-seat, jaw-dropping, OMG television that I had anticipated. Instead, writer Shonda Rhimes and director Tom Verica sought to take a bit of time to do things properly, which, in hindsight, was absolutely the correct approach. It allowed time for the numerous reintroductions to take place without feeling rushed or forced. It also left ample room to set some roots for more story arcs in relation to Cyrus, Fitz and Mellie, and David Rosen. Though I freely confess my love for the edge-of-your-seat, jaw-dropping, OMG television, the change in tempo was executed perfectly, and commanded more respect from myself for the creative team's skill in pulling this off.

That being said, plenty still happened. It didn't take long for Olivia Pope and Jake Ballard to wing their way back to DC after the former learned of Harrison's demise. Count me as thrilled to see Quinn back where she should be - away from Charlie and B613, and even in less proximity to Huck. Last season, Quinn was the sole character I would have axed if I was in the position of power, and though Quinn was back to "normal" very quickly, this worked remarkably well, even more so when you factor in her work to locate Olivia and inform her of Harrison's death. Quinn wins my approval for now, so she can stay.

During Olivia's absence, Huck and Abby found new occupations, and while both were clearly unhappy when they saw Olivia for the first time, the lowered tempo I discussed earlier played a role in easing them back into things, culminating at Harrison's funeral. Also, during Olivia's time away, Fitz and Mellie seem to have gone, somewhat understandably, downhill in the wake of their son Jerry's murder last season. The slowed tempo again proved beneficial in giving the pair time together so they could let loose, if you could call it that. Though the cast were solid in their acting, Bellamy Young stood taller with her portrayal of a damaged, depressed Mellie. Next week's promo doesn't bode well for the character, but I'm looking forward to more of the same as a result.

Perhaps the most ominous scenes of the premiere were those that featured Emmy Award winning Joe Morton as Rowan Pope. He played his hand perfectly in last season's finale to secure his position in the eyes of the President. Olivia clearly has doubts about his statements in relation to Harrison's death, and Jake caught a glimpse of him at Harrison's funeral. Fitz may be the President of the United States, but Rowan is the president of Scandal. Anyone else sensing that Rowan is the centerpiece for season 4?

The procedural element of the series was surprisingly strong in the premiere, with a campaign for equal wages for men and women taking center stage. Though not given as much airtime as is typical, it was certainly more than I thought I'd see. I'm expecting the theme of the case to gain some further traction later in the season.

Overall, this premiere wasn't what I expected, but that was a good thing. The tempo was the biggest change, so the creative team will now have to lift that back up again somehow. How they do that is anyone's guess, but I'm very much looking forward to it.

Thanks a lot for reading! As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, The 100, and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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