Whenever Scandal characters becomes too villainous, the show reels them back into semi-likable territory by implying their actions were motivated by a love of their country. Despite killing James (Dan Bucatinsky) in cold blood, Jake (Scott Foley) remained a sympathetic character, because Scandal convinced us that James' murder would save America. And as much as B613 messed up Huck (Guillermo Diaz) up, he still believes that everything Rowan (Joe Morton) has done was for the good of the United States.
Scandal kept us on board with the fact that the "good guys" rigged a presidential election because their candidate was genuinely the best choice for the country. In last night's 100th episode, the show explored what would have happened if they hadn't done so, and Samuel Reston (Tom Amandes) became president instead of Fitz (Tony Goldwyn). But instead of focusing on any of Fitz's policies or achievements, the show gave us some weird fan service about Fitz and Olivia's (Kerry Washington) relationship. (It also gave us a Fitz/Quinn (Katie Lowes) scene that will haunt your dreams.)
Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) may have had less-than-noble intentions for wanting Fitz in the White House, but the rest of Fitz's campaign team agreed to the plan because they truly thought Fitz was best for the White House. Before killing Andrew, Olivia was Scandal 's hero — and we sympathized with her decision about Defiance.
Fitz was a Republican president, but a progressive one. In the true Scandal timeline, he supported the Brandon Bill, which would have required cops to wear body cameras, after a Black teen is killed by police. (As an aside, the widely-praised episode about Brandon Parker's death was also how Scandal introduced now-gladiator Marcus Walker (Cornelius Smith Jr.) into the mix. The alternative timeline doesn't explain why Olivia and Marcus are working on a criminal justice bill, and it doesn't mention what happened to Harrison and Stephen.)
He may not have been a great husband, or a great dad, but Scandal never gave us indication that Fitz wasn't a good president. But last night's alternate timeline didn't suggest that Reston, Fitz's opponent, was a bad president, either.
Reston's presidency was barely mentioned in the episode, and he didn't even appear on screen. The Defiance scandal happened because Fitz was supposedly what was best for the country. But was he really? There's no indication that America is any worse off in the alternate timeline.
I get that Scandal wanted to give fans what they wanted, with an exploration of Olivia and Fitz's relationship. But if the show wanted to explore the election rigging's consequences, it would have been nice to see how the republic they all supposedly love so much was affected by their decision.
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