“Watch Me” didn’t present a radically different Olivia Pope. Olivia’s ruthlessness has been a long gestating storyline on the show. However, the image of Olivia berating everyone around her, especially poor Mellie, made for a striking impression in the season 7 premiere. The impression of “evil” Olivia wasn’t helped by the fact that Kerry Washington was dressed almost entirely in black for the entire episode.
October 5, 2017
Scandal‘s final season is officially underway. Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope is still the undeniable star and lead of the show but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s still a hero. Season 7 opened with Olivia acting precisely as she was at the end of season 6, being utterly ruthless. Mellie might be the President but Olivia is the one calling the shots and that power could go straight to her head, at least that’s what the cast suggested in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Olivia is not quite as altrustic as she once was but even so, Kerry Washington is not ready to call her a villain quite yet. When asked if Olivia’s behavior is a sign that she’ll become the final “Big Bad” of Scandal, Washington answered, “That’s interesting. I never thought about it in those terms. I don’t know if I have enough bird’s-eye view to answer that yet. I’m not sure I can answer that yet.”
The other members of the cast have a much different reaction. Guillermo Diaz, who plays Huck, explained, “Olivia is definitely being looked at as one of the threats by Huck, especially because he’s seeing her transform into being the head of B613 and that’s really scary and odd for him.”
Tony Goldwyn has a similar outlook. Although his character, Fitz, is oblivious to much of Olivia’s morally ambiguous actions, mainly being in charge of B613, Goldwyn reckons that when and if Fitz finds out he won’t be pleased. “His last interaction with Olivia was her attacking him for almost slipping down that slope himself, when he decided to take over B613,” Goldwyn said. “So he thinks she has been wearing the white hat and he honors that. If that changes, Fitz will be profoundly alarmed and concerned.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that Joe Morton, who plays Olivia’s father Rowan, has the most ominous view of Oliva’s mindset. “What we established at the end of last season where Rowan actually said to Fitz, ‘She is the disease, she is the problem,’ which is why he tried to give B613 to Fitz, because that would have been the check and the balance,” Morton said.
“We have all shifted and we understand the difference between good and bad, and Olivia is just doing whatever the hell she wants with no sense of morality whatsoever,” he added.
Morton is right. Olivia has essentially become her own father as season 7 begins. While Rowan Pope was the boogeyman for most of the series and Olivia was trying to fight against him and struggling to not become him, things have changed. Since Olivia is the main character, Scandal has delved into her psychology and reasoning more than Rowan’s but there’s not much that separates them anymore.
While it would’ve been unthinkable for Olivia to become nearly everything she hated at the beginning of the series, now this turn for Olivia seems natural. It’s where the story seemed headed all along. Olivia is no longer the white knight of Washington, looking out for the “little guy.” Olivia is now the boot that is crushing everyone until her heel. It’s a fascinating role reversal and story, if done correctly, and so far Scandal has pulled off Olivia’s journey from hero to anti-hero perfectly.
The only thing that remains to be seen is if Olivia will realize the dark path she is on and change course or just keep going further into the “belly of the beast.” The outcome probably leads to two different themes for Scandal. One is an inspiring (or at least uplifting) story and the other is a depressing tale that explores the destructive nature of absolute power. Given the past six seasons, it’s likely that Scandal is shooting for the latter, not the former. Regardless, the end of Olivia’s story will retroactively impact everything that came before it.
But what do you think? Is Olivia turning into the villain of Scandal? Where do you think the story is headed? Where do you want it to head? Can Olivia turn things around or is she too far gone?
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(Image courtesy of ABC)