We’ve moved on a few months and Olivia, now a guest lecturer at a university, scrawls “How To Survive A Scandal” on a blackboard. This is a nicely meta touch given that Annalise Keating is in the back of the lecture hall. Yes, we’re in the Shondaland universe, and it’s the Scandal/How To Get Away With Murder crossover episode(s).
Annalise wants Olivia’s help with a class action: she’s representing around 100 people in prison, all poor and mostly people of colour, who had to rely on overworked public defenders at their original trials. Annalise’s argument is that this equates to unequal treatment, and she wants the case fast-tracked to the Supreme Court. For which she needs some political nous of the sort that Olivia can provide. Olivia vacillates – largely because of Annalise’s reputation, which I must admit I’m not up-to-date on the details of, having missed the last couple of seasons of HTGAWM – but eventually agrees to take the case.
And that takes us into Scandal proper, with Olivia lining Fitz up to help, and Mellie, Jake, and QPA on the other side trying to stall the case, Mellie pretending it’s because she wants to hold it back until there’s a better chance of success, but really just wanting to deny Olivia a win. It’s tremendous fun, with the added thrill of seeing Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, two of the leading TV actors of their generation, going head-to-head, in particular in an incendiary scene which starts with Annalise (correctly) accusing Olivia of dishonesty, and leads to a full-fledged argument about the lived experience of African American women, which Mr White Privilege here certainly isn’t going to comment on. There’s even room for a nice little subplot, in which Michaela flirts with Marcus.
The case having been accepted onto the SCOTUS docket, it’s over to How To Get Away With Murder for the second half of the story. And while this was also good, it really just confirmed my decision that HTGAWM and I are better off apart: everyone in the show is still thoroughly unlikeable in a way which is quite distracting. In particular, Asher is still Asher, making Michaela’s decision to do it in a car with Marcus entirely defensible. A bit too much of the episode was, I thought, given over to Annalise having a crisis of confidence which we know she’s going to resolve in time to appear before the court, but that’s more than compensated for by casting the magnificent Sharon Lawrence as opposing counsel.