Previous Paste writers have mentioned this time and time again—the writers of Scandal never shy away from feminist narratives. In a time where a Twitter hashtag (#HowToSpotAFeminist—which has the fortune of sounding similar to another ShondaLand production) popped up to mock feminists this week, it was incredible to see the tag reclaimed to re-introduce ourselves in solidarity. This episode aired in a timely manner, and although “A Few Good Women” isn’t without its faults, a feminist-inspired installment before the big final is always a good way to go.
When you watch the women in the cast align together to attack the navy admiral leader and the military judicial system that protects him (after the rape of a female navy servicewoman, Ensign Amy Martin) you can’t help but let out a sigh of wishful thinking; it’s beyond surreal. Our real world doesn’t function this way; it doesn’t stop and bend 200-year-old “historical precedents” that easily. However, this is a week when I’m craving heroines like no other, so I’m falling hard for this storyline and holding it close to my chest. Women protecting women? Amen! Women squadding up, refusing to accept defeat at the hands of these powerful men (and the law)? AMEN!
Which reminds me—while we don’t know the context of an e-mail that a Marvel exec wrote about failed female superhero movies, perhaps we can advise that he takes a spin in ShondaLand? Maybe it’ll inspire them (or force them to realize) that we crave this on a big screen, too? Just a thought.
“All Good Women” begins with Vice President Susan Ross, the “largely powerless figurehead,” visiting a naval base. While saying hello to Ensign Amy Martin, she catches a glimpse of the woman’s bruised wrist during her salute. Susan is nothing but astute, and has no problem cornering the officer in her private quarters to find out the real story behind that bruise—the “training mission” excuse doesn’t cut it. When Susan brings Ensign Martin to the White House, Cyrus and Fitz are pissed. They want Susan to bring the officer back to base, but Susan can’t allow the abuse to continue. She hires Olivia Pope to “handle” this. Unfortunately, this is the end to Susan’s actions in the episode, because we don’t see her again. What gives?
Liv tries to dirty her white cap once more, but the moment Russell tries to kill himself with a pill, she finds herself lost in the dirty bathroom memories. Liv isn’t a torturer; she cannot ever become as evil as Rowan Pope, and it shows. However, the navy rape case is the distraction she desperately needs; it grounds Olivia back in reality. The blood on her white hat (or her coat—as Jake notices) can be washed or forgotten, because she is a defender of good. Olivia admits to Jake that the only time she felt safe from her father was during the five minutes she was allowed in that dirty bathroom, but I don’t believe it. I think she finds safety in these particular cases, where she helps her clients from other evils.
If there is one thing I love about Scandal, it’s the idea that you can believe Mellie and Liv are different sides to the same coin. Both are trying their best to fight off their past traumas as best they can. The memories propel them forward, without sacrificing their strength; even when they allow themselves to be vulnerable to Jake and Fitz. Mellie has two focal points in her anger: the Navy rape case and the thought of re-visiting Springfield, where her son died. When Mellie hears that her husband/the White House decides to stay distant from the case, the look she gives him screams “JERRY GRANT” and Fitz feels the shame. Yet the president recovers from his earlier fumble, when he tries to help Mellie find a way to visit Springfield without falling apart. They’re a team; that they can cuddle in bed and discuss Liv-inspired plans is astounding. Think back to the days of the first season, and tell me if you ever thought their arc would change to this.
But I really must applaud the Scandal writers for how the rape plot was handled. Ensign Martin is pregnant and wants to abort the baby, but Olivia explains that if she waits until she reaches 8 weeks, they can test the fetus. Instead of forcing this down our throats (and down Martin’s), Olivia accepts Martin’s plea to get an abortion as soon as possible. We’re privy to the medical operation and it’s tough: Liv holds the officer’s hand as we hear the vacuum starting up. I think the song playing in the background was a little cheesy, but still. The support of this moment without filling it with more heaviness is necessary, the tears that aren’t falling from Martin’s eyes—this is all we need to connect. We’re not privy to that security video, however, which proves the admiral raped Martin. In a way, this is a relief: there’s an abundance of grotesque rape scenes on television and film, instead of trusting that the audience is smart enough to connect the dots. (I’m looking at you, Game of Thrones.) We don’t need any more than this.
And then we had some unsurprising B613 drama. The meek lawyer, Virgil Plunkett, who the Navy threw at Olivia to bundle her case? Yeah, he’s another puppet for Rowan. After knocking out Huck (I thought we lost him), he released Russell from across the hallway. It’s going down for next week’s finale!
Abby returns to the OPA offices. This beautiful red-head, this wonderful feminist, belongs in that room. Can’t OPA and the White House share her like a divorced couple shares a child? Plus, did anyone catch her smile in front of the reporters?
Speaking of stray children with asinine father-figures, how MUCH did we enjoy the conversation between Jake and Russell and their Papa Pope impersonations? I mean, they even agreed that Olivia needs to be protected. Will Russell go against Rowan to help Liv? We’ll find out next week!
Foxtail is… MELLIE! Is she in on Papa Pope’s behavior? Is she more cunning to ruin Fitz and Olivia than we thought? Ah!