Scandal s4 ep 16

So there’s a manuscript of a book being touted around D.C. publishers; it’s an intimate memoir, in which a woman describes in salacious detail her hookups with prominent Washington power players, all of whom she has given nicknames. This includes Leo, “The Dustbuster”. (I say again: Leo and Abby? Nuh-uh.) Olivia agrees to handle it, and goes to visit the author, Susanne Thomas.

What she isn’t expecting, though, is a pigtailed Olivia fangirl, played by well-known Scandal devotee Lena Dunham, who is very evidently having the time of her life. Susanne isn’t as breathlessly naive as she looks, though, and quickly agrees to pull the book in return for $3 million. Which means that OPA needs to get its hands on the book and work out who features in it – including David Rosen – and ask them to contribute towards the payoff. This is unsuccessful, so Olivia has to come up with something else.

In the meantime Huck is demanding immunity from prosecution as part of the B-613 investigation – something which seems to require Rosen staying in office, which gives him an extra interest in keeping Susanne’s book off the shelves – and Mellie is planning to run for senator of Virginia, with the improbable help of Elizabeth North.

It’s an odd episode: as ever with Scandal, there are some strong messages about feminism, in particular Susanne’s speech about sexual empowerment, a direct response to Olivia’s attempt at slut-shaming; and Abby bitterly pointing out that even though she’s the Press Secretary she’s still defined as Leo’s girlfriend, and has her looks scrutinised in a way which wouldn’t happen to a man in the same post. The show also takes care to clarify that Susanne’s sexual tastes predate an incident in which she’s assaulted, which Olivia diagnoses as what she’s really unhappy about. This, though, coexists with occasional scenes in which Scotch-sipping buds Fitz and Jake patriarchally discuss Olivia, how she’s doing after the ki***p, and so on. (Olivia takes Susanne’s speech about sexuality to heart and goes out for a little fun of her own, as it happens.)

Then the episode takes an extraordinary turn, when something happens which I did not see happening. (Yay for avoiding spoilers.) And it’s difficult to see how this one can be walked back; Huck’s behaviour has been psychotic and occasionally repellent before now, but there’s always been a sense that (a) he’s been damaged by B-613 and (b) it’s been in the service of a greater good, even if that greater good is only the preservation of Olivia. This, though, can really only be regarded as having been prompted by self-interest, and involved someone who, in Scandal terms, is something of an innocent. Mind you, it might be all forgotten by next week.

Anyway, I enjoyed ‘It’s Good To Be Kink’; I would, though, have expected an episode about a real, proper, juicy, scandal, starring Lena Dunham, to have been a little better.

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