by Julian Spivey
The sixth season of “Scandal,” delayed to the spring due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, premiered on Thursday, Jan. 26 with a predictable and fast-moving episode.
The season picks up on Election Night with First Lady and Republican candidate Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) believing she is about to be elected the first female President of the United States, before being shocked by Frankie Vargas being the winner. This all happens before the title card is even displayed.
I think “Scandal” chose to blow through the Presidential campaign and election far too quickly, which was also my take on the end of the show’s fifth season. I would’ve liked to have seen the drama and action spread out at least over a few episodes – but that doesn’t appear to be the way things are done in Shondaland. There’s a good chance that Washington’s pregnancy delaying the season until the end of January led to creator Shonda Rhimes speeding up the process to time the premiere’s Election Night shocker with the inauguration.
The big shock of the Election Night episode “Survival of the Fittest” wasn’t that Mellie lost the election, but that Vargas was assassinated during his victory speech. Except if you’re a fan of “Scandal” it wasn’t really that shocking, but rather predictable. The “surprise” of Vargas’ Vice President pick Cyrus Beene (the always entertaining Jeff Perry) being the one to have Vargas knocked off was also too predictable. Sure, there was a thought that it may have been Olivia’s father Rowan Pope (the excellent Joe Morton), who’s in a battle for the ages with Cyrus for TV’s biggest villain, but the death of Vargas didn’t have much for him to gain.
The only real question about the death of President-elect Vargas is … who is the shooter? We know the man arrested for doing it is a patsy. But, the show gave a big clue that it might be Jake Ballard (Scott Foley), who mysteriously went missing right after the election results and showed back up instantly as the fake shooter was detained. The shooter could easily be Jake, but in typical “Scandal” fashion this could also be a MacGuffin.
The most interesting aspect of the season six premiere of “Scandal” was the choice President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) had to make following the death of Vargas. Despite Vargas winning the election, the results would eventually come down to the Electoral College that didn’t necessarily have to go with Vargas’ VP choice. Fitz could’ve put in a good word for Mellie and gotten her the Presidency, as Attorney General David Rosen (Joshua Malina) said it would, but after being involved in fixed elections before Fitz was ready to make the right decision – despite not knowing he played right into Cyrus’ hand.
The only real question after the premiere of “Scandal” is can Olivia (Washington) and her team find a way to stop Cyrus from taking the oath of office, which should set up an interesting series of episodes down the road. I just felt like everything that happened in the premiere could’ve been seen from a mile away.