An artist must hold up a mirror to society and that’s exactly what Shonda Rhimes and the cast of Scandal did on the series’ most powerful and timely episode, “The Lawn Chair.”
The installment, which aired Thursday, focused on an officer shooting and killing a Black teenage boy. But unlike the tragically similar case in Ferguson, Mo., the boy’s father Clarence Parker (played by the incomparable Courtney B. Vance) demanded justice by standing over his dead son Brandon’s body with a shotgun.
While there were those on Twitter who refused to believe that a Black man could hold off the police with a shotgun without being killed, others saw the powerful symbolism involved. Besides, Olivia Pope’s influence helped to protect the dad – even when he pulled the shotgun on her.
If this was St Louis that man woulda been dead in 2 seconds. Ain't nobody negotiating with a black man with a shotgun. #Scandal
But this was far from an easy case for Olivia and there was even a point when she was talking to her pal U.S. Attorney General David Rosen that she actually said she couldn’t fix this situation. The police have gunned down far too many unarmed Black men and boys and not even an unflinching gladiator like Olivia can stomach that reality.
Eventually, David gave Olivia a much-needed assist to solve the case. Marcus Walker (Cornelius Smith Jr.), the neighborhood Black activist who initially fought Olivia’s efforts with rapier wit, also came through in the end. But until he did, their exchanges were legendary because Olivia met her match. Come on, you know you loved it when Marcus told Olivia, “Your Black card’s not getting validated today.”
Did he just read Olivia Pope? And take her black card? #Scandal
Olivia don't need a validated black card. She's worth $2 billion on the black market. Didn't you watch the last episode bro? #Scandal
In fact, Olivia and Marcus clicked so well, it wouldn’t be surprising if Olivia ended up hiring him to replace Harrison.
Marcus will be an gladiator after all of this is over#Scandal
Speaking of job openings, while Olivia fought the power in the streets, Fitz was up in the White House trying to figure out who his next vice president should be. One of the candidates he considered overplayed her hand in support of the slain boy police killed and Fitz eliminated her by leaking her name to the press so they could dig up her dirty laundry.
The better woman for the job, Fitz and Mellie decided, is Sen. Susan Ross a newbie politician unafraid to speak the truth even if it means sticking her foot in her mouth.
Strengths of Susan Ross as Fitz's VP: has not murdered husband; likely uninterested in starting a coup; probably(?) not evil. #Scandal
Susan managed to bring what little levity the episode had. That’s because this was a heady episode where there was actual loss, sadness and justice. No, exposing and arresting the police officer who killed Brandon didn’t bring him back. But at least his dad got answers and everyone learned that the only thing Brandon did wrong was Walking While Black.
Good luck finding anyone who wasn’t sobbing when Brandon’s dad put down his shotgun and got up from his lawn chair. More tears fell when Clarence met Fitz and started crying when he said Brandon’s name and FBI agents put Brandon’s body in a body bag.
Thankfully, we all had Nina Simone’s “I Shall Be Released” to help ease the pain along with the officer’s eventual admission of guilt. If only life were so clear-cut and just. Thank you for that, Shonda.
In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean. The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now. #scandal
What did you think of the latest installment of Scandal? Did the storyline bring you peace or pain or both? Weigh in below: