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Scandal - A Few Good Women - Review: "Long Overdue"

ABC's Scandal was long overdue for a half decent episode. The word "penultimate" must have been in the creative team's dictionary after all, with a big step up in all departments in the second last episode of the fourth season.

"A Few Good Women" was written by Severiano Canales and Jess Brownell and directed by Oliver Bokelberg. It started with a bang as an intense flashback from Jake's perspective occupied the opening 25 seconds before he snapped out of it as Olivia brought him coffee. This was definitely one of the best openings to any Scandal episode in its four seasons.

With Jake recovering in Olivia's apartment, Huck and Quinn were occupied with Russel next door as they tried in vain throughout the hour to get him to talk, in particular about the meaning of "foxtail" which is a word that's been thrown around in various forms in the last few weeks.

The case of the week still featured prominently, which I was quite surprised by, especially given that this episode is the penultimate one. Like several episodes this season, the case had a crack at a headline issue, namely the rape of female soldiers in the military. In general, the creative team were respectful of the topic, but didn't miss the opportunity to allow it to be taken advantage of politically by the characters.

Though it feels bizarre to condone it in a way, this was a great move, and provided an excellent lead-in to next week's finale. Citing precedent, Fitz decided not to get involved publicly, and left the case up to the military systems to resolve. With that inaction not satisfying Vice President Susan Ross - who was responsible for the initiation of the saga - Ross hired Olivia to investigate. Huck remained busy with Russel throughout the hour, with Quinn pairing up with Olivia, and Abby also pitching in in a long overdue reunion of sorts, mostly thanks to Fitz's covert transfer of incriminating evidence to OPA.

However, things didn't stop there. The topic was very close to home with Mellie, and with the campaign for Senator skating on thin ice, campaign manager Elizabeth made herself useful by insisting Mellie visit Springfield, and deliver a speech on the same stage where her son was murdered months earlier. Mellie drew support from the crowd by openly disagreeing with her husband's views on the topic. It was a great full circle moment for the character, who had spent a good portion 2014 in her infamous "smelly Mellie" state as a result of Jerry's death. Expect the polls will pick up for the First Lady in light of all this.

In the apartment next door, the best scene of the hour went down. It was a long one too, between Jake and Russell. The two half-brothers of sorts recited quotes from Command, aka Rowan Pope, and shared some stories and small talk over a beer. Ironically, this was a scene that didn't need to happen, and would have had no impact on the story if it was left out. The only minor point of interest for me was seeing both characters get to more formally meet another one of their own, of sorts. It did further detail Rowan's power over them and Olivia, but those tactics have long been known. Nevertheless, the scene was well written and well acted, with some nice camera work too.

To help tie things in a neat little bow for next Thursday, the last few minutes were pretty startling. The lawyer, Virgil Plunkett, was assigned to fight the rape case on behalf of Olivia and Quinn and who was a bumbling mess initially, turned out to be yet another B613 operative who later rescued Russell at the expense of Huck's consciousness. I found that frustrating initially because I wanted Russell dead, but with "foxtail" turning out to be someone by the name of Mellie Grant, the character could be beneficial to both sides in next week's final showdown.

Speaking of that final showdown, the hour came to a close with Mellie meeting with Rowan. But moments before, it was Mellie's campaign manager Elizabeth who ushered Mellie backstage. Alarm bells anyone? Elizabeth's alliances have been questionable all season, so is the paradigm shifting yet again?

In all, a long overdue, decent hour of television. The episode made sense, some questions were answered, it was easier than most to follow, and provided a solid platform leading into next week.

Judging by the promo and press release for next week's season finale, it looks like we are due for some pretty significant events. Thanks for reading, and please do share your thoughts on last night's episode in the comments below! Remember you can check out Scandal's ratings and an episode guide on my TV ratings website,

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, or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.
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