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#HowToGetAwayWithScandal - Crossover Episode Review: "Eight Out Of Ten"

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Following the Winter Olympics hiatus, ABC's TGIT lineup resumed normal transmission last night, although for its latter two shows things were quite different thanks to the crossover event between Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. Overall I thought the crossover was pretty darn good, but a few gremlins crept in later in the piece. For Scandal, "Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself" was written by Raamla Mohamed and directed by Tony Goldwyn, and for How To Get Away With Murder, Morenike Balogun & Sarah L. Thompson wrote "Lahey v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania", with Zetna Fuentes directing.

What worked really well for this crossover event was the really solid foundation storyline that was easily capable of supporting two episodes. The class action lawsuit Annalise Keating was trying to get momentum on was the basis for everything, and its eventual progression to the Supreme Court required the help of Olivia Pope. The subsequent relationship between the pair was mutually beneficial for the most part, with an all-time high in Annalise's career aiding Olivia in bouncing back from an all-time low in her career.

One of the biggest questions with crossover events is the number of characters that will transition between the two. In both hours, that number was just two. Annalise and Olivia obviously made the cross, but Marcus and Michaela were also crossed, and while the former made sense, the latter ended up dragging things a bit because of the blindingly obvious attempt to pair them up. More on that later.

Airing first was Scandal, and of the two episodes, I enjoyed Scandal's more. The main reason for this is that the environment Scandal is set in lends itself much better to the foundation storyline. The other characters such as the Grants and QPA members were able to contribute to the narrative in their own ways much more naturally than those from How To Get Away With Murder.

This is my town, my game, my rules.

The initial meeting and subsequent confrontations between Annalise and Olivia were much stronger here. I really liked the episode opening in particular. The pair took a bit of time to get in sync, with some early verbal sparring about one another's checkered past being played out surprisingly well. Airing the dirty laundry was a good move by the writers so we were certain neither was going in blind. It took Olivia some time to decide to get on board, but once she did, the case received her full commitment which was really good to see.

Playing the role of antagonist was President Mellie Grant, who, in a meeting with those involved in the class action, thought it would be better to hold the case until a couple of the sitting Supreme Court justices called it quits because it may make the case easier to win. Fortunately no one was having a bar of that, and despite Mellie's attempts to halt the case by spreading the news via QPA of Olivia having been fired from the White House instead of having resigned as publicly stated, the case made it through to a fast tracked hearing anyway, thanks in part to some specialist Olivia behind the scenes magic.

This case chose you.

Scandal handed things over to How To Get Away With Murder from that point, and things didn't quite hold together as well as they should have. While the quality of the foundation storyline remained strong, it was the minor storylines unique to the series that caused a lot of drag.

In the class action case, things were going ahead. However it's hard to make a Supreme Court case take up a full 42 minutes of air time, so some was burned off by showing the other students bumbling their way to Washington, along with further shedding courtesy of Frank and Bonnie, and also Annalise's dreaded parents.

I have to admit I hung my head in disappointment when I saw those actors' names in the opening credits because all they do is cause trouble. I can't understand why Annalise opted to call them and give them notice of what was happening instead of leaving them at home to watch the case unfold on the news. First they forced Annalise and Olivia to eat while they needed to be preparing, and just as the hearing was about to start they waddled their way into the hall and spilled coffee over Olivia, meaning she missed the first part of the hearing.

This carnage threw Annalise off her game, and she got pushed around effortlessly by the justices in her first stint on the stand. She would have been further pushed and trampled if a passing remark from one of the justices pointed her nose toward a pile of ammunition in the form of a decades old case where said justice lent the other way. Michaela and Marcus chased down the lead and returned in the clich├ęd nick of time to save the case and allow Annalise to storm into the lead with one of her trademark courtroom tirades.

The conclusion of the episode saw Annalise and Olivia part ways on amicable terms, but surprisingly the Supreme Court hadn't returned a verdict yet. That will have to wait, and it will be interesting to see whether that is worked into just How To Get Away With Murder, or whether the news is worked into a future Scandal episode as well.

You don't have to handle me any more.

Circling back to the How To Get Away With Murder sidetracks for a moment. Including Annalise's parents, the writers managed to include five of these into the episode, where there should have been two at most, but preferably one.

The first was Michaela cheating on Asher with Marcus. Michaela was always going to be the weak link of the four characters that crossed, and it seems she was really only included so her and Marcus could be put in positions which eventually led to sex in a car while on a stakeout. Further, she admitted to all her fellow students except Asher, and that means her relationship with him is now a ticking time bomb which is pretty disappointing. If the writers are playing a long game, Marcus could be brought across to How To Get Away With Murder in the future given Scandal is in its final season. That's the only positive outcome from this, so hopefully it becomes a reality.

The second sidetrack was the ongoing drama between Annalise and Isaac Roa. Just as Cyrus was missing from the Scandal cast, Isaac was also spelled in favor of his wife, who had been trying numerous times to inform Annalise that Isaac was in hospital thanks to an overdose. This news devastated Annalise right before she was due in court, and it almost led her to relapsing, though by some miracle she didn't.

The third sidetrack was Bonnie and Frank coming to the conclusion that Laurel's mother is now the prime suspect in Wes's murder. That's big news, but like the other three it should have been held until next week. The final sidetrack is the only one I would have deemed acceptable for inclusion in the episode, and that was the revelation that Simon is awake, having made a remarkable recovery from his accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound.

While Scandal put its present storylines aside - and was much better off for it, How To Get Away With Murder bungled a portion of its crossover by pressing on with trying to develop its unique storylines. Viewers who only watch Scandal would have felt a bit lost watching How To Get Away With Murder, but vice was not versa, and when the foundation storyline was approaching and at its climax, the rest of the episode was all at sea with content that would have worked in a standalone episode of How To Get Away With Murder, but was wrongly tacked onto a crossover episode which should have stuck to the material it was using for the crossover.

In all, I'd give the crossover event an 8/10, with the Scandal half scoring 9/10 and the How To Get Away With Murder half scoring 7/10. The way the very well developed lead characters collided and cooperated was superbly done, with their strengths and weaknesses really well utilized. Perhaps due to the subject matter, the Scandal cast were much more at home in terms of relevance, and I would have preferred to see another couple of characters from Scandal crossed into How To Get Away With Murder, while Annalise alone could have comfortably held the How To Get Away With Murder representation in the Scandal half. The homage to TGIT fans via the wine and popcorn enjoyed by the leads in the Scandal half was nice, but fell a bit flat because of Annalise's abstention from alcohol, but it was good to see Olivia holding the balance of power in the Scandal half, and then seeing that shift - if not quite as substantially, to Annalise in the How To Get Away With Murder half.

That's about all from me for this #HowToGetAwayWithScandal review. I do hope you've enjoyed reading it, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and theories on the episode in the comments below.

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