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Scandal - First Lady Sings the Blues - Review: "More Plus Than Minus"


ABC's Scandal lifted its game a couple of notches higher during last night's hour, but is still far below where it should be at this point in the season, with the season finale due in 3 weeks.

Written by Paul William Davies, the David Rodriguez directed episode titled "First Lady Sings the Blues" did get a few things spot on though.

The most important of those things was the clear focus on the two major storylines with minimal fluff. Following on from Jake's stabbing at the hands of Franklin Russell last week, the hour got underway in fine fashion, despite the horrendously poorly acted yawn by Quinn as she entered OPA headquarters before discovering Jake bleeding out on the desk.

This was a brilliant opening. A cold open could have gone down well also, but what the creative team came up with instead was much more original. Thumbs up there.

With Jake in urgent need of medical attention, a Russian doctor was summoned, which also spawned a more procedural minor storyline for the episode to play out. Citing security for his mother, an ex KGB operative, in return for his medical expertise Olivia was tasked with taking her off the KGB books. Things didn't go according to plan, however, with Mary Peterson ending up dead because Russell, who was also injured, overheard the OPA team discussing their next move.

Having Russell present throughout Jake's intensive care was a move I didn't enjoy. This was chiefly because it made that entire tangent of the storyline extremely predictable. Even the overused phone tapping tactic would have gone down slightly better in my book.

With Jake continuing to hang on by a thread, Olivia finally woke up to her stupidity and rightly accused her boytoy, Russell, of being on her father's side. I had to call BS on that final scene in bed where Olivia held Russell at gunpoint. If Russell can overpower Jake and stab him multiple times, one would assume a squirrel would be a comparable challenge to Olivia. Still, things could change in next week's hour, so we'll have to wait and see.

While the B613 arc was more interesting than usual despite its predictability, it was Mellie's campaigning that left me more pleased about the arc than ever since its inception. With David Rosen having one foot in each storyline throughout, he confirmed it wasn't illegal for Mellie to run for Senator despite being married to the President. With that sussed, Sally Langston was brought in as a temporary roadblock, talk show and all, with Abby validating her otherwise useless presence in the episode by suggesting Cyrus take part in the live interview.

This interview scene was fantastic, and definitely one of my favorite scenes this season. It had good length and pace, and was very well written. Jeff Perry was on point throughout, nailing every line and emotion, cementing once again his prowess over the entire cast. Congrats to everyone involved in that scene's inception - it's very well deserved.

It's also worth noting Mellie and Fitz's growing bond through the campaign. Even during Fitz's presidential races, the couple have never looked so united in the pursuit of a goal. I must say that's a refreshing change - bickering couples do tend to drag the rest of the show down a bit. In this hour we saw Mellie overpower her campaign manager, Elizabeth, and Fitz do the same to Cyrus when demanding his presence on the Langston TV show.

Other minor points worth mentioning are the long awaited return of a Fitz-Olivia phone call - something I was surprised to see included in the episode, and former arch nemesis turned ally, Charlie, assisting the B613 team.

In all, this hour of Scandal had more pluses than minuses. As I said earlier, the show is still miles below where it should be compared to the previous two seasons in particular. The creative team are leaving it very late to accelerate things, suggesting the season finale itself is garnering more attention than the actual lead-up.

Thanks for reading as always! I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the hour in the comments below. You can follow Scandal's ratings on my TV ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com/scandal.

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand, and works in the IT industry. 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, How To Get Away With Murder, Elementary and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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