A preview of Scandal’s second season
Since the first season of ‘Scandal’ concluded we’ve been asking just who Quinn Perkins really is. Will we learn the answer to that question in the first episode back?
Way back in the early summer of 2011, when team CliqueClack first got our collective hands on the screeners for the upcoming new season, ABC’s Scandal quickly moved to the top of a very short list of shows I was looking forward to; the other two, for the record, were Smash and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Despite the fact that the show was held for mid-season with its small, seven-episode run, we were given the first three episodes. I would be fibbing if I said that I watched those episodes less than five times. The balance of the episodes aired in the late spring, solidifying Scandal as one of my favorite shows.
There was quite a bit to like, especially for me. My appreciation for Aaron Sorkin’s work is well-known – though most find it annoying – around the halls of CliqueClack HQ. I think there are quite a few similarities between his work and Scandal. Most obviously is the rapid-fire, whip-smart dialogue that permeates the show – Columbus Short is particularly good at delivering it. The political connection to The West Wing is probably a little too obvious, but the comparison between the strong “second-family” dynamic of the casts is much more solid.
The cast is particularly great. There are several standouts, including the lead Kerry Washington, but I am most a fan of Jeff Perry’s Cyrus Beene and Darby Stanchfield’s Abby Whelan. As the President’s Chief of Staff, Cyrus gets the bigger opportunity to interact with both “sets” of the cast. He had an incredibly good monologue in the first season that if you missed – or have forgotten – you should revisit it straightaway. Stanchfield brings such a unique energy to the Abby character; when you can make the “Paige is a whore!” bit as funny as it came across in the pilot, you’ve got skill – in the season two premiere, it’s the reaction to the line “On this desk” that wins the day.
I have some questions going into the second season. First, how will the departure of Henry Cusick’s Stephen Finch affect the show’s dynamic? He’s definitely missed in the first episode back. Washington’s Olivia Pope has a unique relationship with each of her team, but Stephen was the calming influence. As this is a team that faces a new crisis each week, a calming influence is nice to have around the office. The throwaway line that explained his departure was off-putting, and out-of-character for what we know about him.
Conversely, I am looking forward to the promotion of Josh Malina – a Sorkin vet – from recurring to regular status. His character had an interesting relationship with Pope in the first season: sometime reluctant ally, sometime stalwart foe. The premiere sees them on opposite sides, and the way things end between the two of them, they won’t be working together any time soon. But a full-time character that is a member of the US Attorney’s office is an indicator of the types of cases Pope & Associates will be working on this season.
Unlike most Scandal fans I know, my least favorite part of the show is the relationship between Pope and President Fitz Grant – and by extension, the relationship between he and the First Lady. I’ve heard tell that the two characters have great chemistry, but I don’t see it. Moreover I think that her feelings for the President – especially how they’ve physically manifested themselves on-screen – paint a weakness for the character that I don’t believe in. Despite the First Lady’s decision to stay in the White House – and seemingly removing Pope from the equation – at the end of last season, the relationship manages to persist. If you’re a Olivia and Fitz ‘shipper, take heart; if you’re like me, prepare to roll your eyes.
The biggest question the first season finale asked was “Who is Quinn Perkins?” Thankfully, the answer to that question is answer fairly quickly. Knowing who she actually is only leads to more – and much larger – questions that are left unanswered as the final credits rolled. The story of Quinn’s background is far from over, and will likely hang out in the background all season long.
The seven episodes of the first season of Scandal were a tight, well-integrated story. I’m a little worried about the transition from the first seasons contained-arc to a longer season, but Shonda Rhimes has some experience with this particular situation – Grey’s Anatomy’s first season was only nine episodes long. Where will Quinn’s storyline take Pope and Associates, how will the group continue to interact with the White House and what impact will Malina’s character’s promotion will have are all questions that will likely drive the ongoing storylines of the second season. If Scandal is able to retain the momentum it built in year one, we’re in for a heck of a ride.