by BREANA BACON
Good afternoon, Gladiators.
As usual, I woke up thankful for the brain of Shonda Rhimes, but today, I am especially grateful for her and her brain. Why? Because last night, we not only got a spectacular episode of Scandal, we were notified that although certain issues of black culture are touchy and some would like us to “forgive and forget,” we have not forgotten and we never will.
This was, in my opinion, the best episode of the season. No matter if you’ve been watching Scandal all four seasons or for the last four episodes, this one was an episode we could all relate to and follow. Gladiator or not, anyone could have watched last night’s installment and been moved to tears. I know I was.
I appreciate when people such as Shonda Rhimes use their influence to speak on significant social issues as she did last night. So, Shonda, if you’re reading, thank you. Thank you so much.
Let’s get down to business.
The episode opened with Jake trying to talk Olivia into going to therapy and discussing her captivity with someone, but of course, Liv was not having it and insisted that what she needed was rest. Rest she claimed she was getting as they spoke. However, we see, as expected that a mere two days after she is returned from the hands of those babbling idiots working for Andrew, she’s right back at work, about to attempt to diffuse a situation we are all too familiar with.
When Liv arrives at the scene, there is already a gathering of angry people behind police tape in the street and we learn that a police officer has shot an 18-year old black boy named Brandon Walker in the street after stopping him to question him about a stolen cell phone. Or so we think.
The police chief tells Olivia that the officer claims Brandon pulled a knife and the officer feared for his safety and shot in self-defense. Mhm.
To make matters even worse, the teen has been lying in a pool of his own blood in the street for over a half an hour, unmoved. Apparently, the coroner was “on his way.”
Just as Liv is about to get to work, Clarence Walker, Brandon’s father emerges from behind the police tape firing into the air from a two-barreled shotgun, demanding to see the officer who killed his son. Not surprisingly, the name of the officer that took the shot has not been released nor have any details about the event.
Liv does what she does best and takes the situation directly to the DoJ and to David Rosen the U.S. Attorney General and conveniently, a wannabe Gladiator. But even though David is on Liv’s side, he refuses to look into the situation and insists that Olivia do her job and let the D.C. Police Department do theirs. Wrong answer. Adding salt to the wound, he sends a blonde, white woman we find is his assistant to the scene to work on his behalf. Strike two.
After lawyer Barbie is shut down, we are introduced to Marcus, a community activist who has had enough of the racism of the D.C. police force being projected onto the people of color in the black community of the nation’s capitol. He brings out the prop that becomes the center of the episode– a lawn chair for the elder Walker, who proceeds to place it over his son’s body to shield him from the elements. A clear sign that even though the situation has reached a high level of intensity, he is not going anywhere until justice is served for his son.
Marcus and Olivia bump heads as she believes he is trying to put on a show for his community, saying “This is not an audition to be America’s Next Great Black Activist.” However, Marcus swoops in quickly with the clapback saying that even though Liv is black, she doesn’t have the right to try and identify with black issues because, technically, she is looking from the other side of the fence. I was in no way, shape, or form here for the slander of Olivia Pope, but I couldn’t help but find myself agreeing with some of what Marcus was preaching. It reminded me of some reporters, who shall remain nameless, that go to places like Ferguson and act as if they are so separated from the people they are reporting about simply because they’ve climbed the ladder of society and are “above” the struggles of their people. But I digress.
Meanwhile, in the White House, Fitz and Cyrus are trying to find a new Veep and Mellie wants a say in it, so ultimately, she can become VP. Surprise, surprise. When word of the Brandon Walker situation gets out, political figures begin speaking out on the injustice of it and one Congresswoman’s response attracts the attention of Fitz and Cy. The only issue is that she’s young, Latina, outspoken and extremely qualified– all the reasons why Mellie wants her gone before she’s even really considered. Another reason why I can’t stand Mellie.
Clarence Walker is still sitting in the lawn chair over his son’s body and after interviewing the officer who shot his son, Liv tells him that his son was said to have pulled a knife on the officer. Clarence becomes enraged, of course, and explains that his son didn’t carry a knife and that he was a good boy. Liv says the only way to know the truth is to check Brandon’s body for a knife. They turn him over and shockingly, the knife was there. What broke my heart was his claim to have placed a University of Maryland bumper sticker on the family car, even though Brandon wasn’t going to college, just so cops wouldn’t consider him a “thug” in case he got pulled over.
The fact that this actually happens in real life disgusts me. As I expressed on Twitter last night, the idea that being black equates to having criminal tendencies is absolutely atrocious. The injustice and stereotypes placed on black people, black men in particular drives me absolutely insane. Being black does not make you a criminal, just as being white does not make you a bigot. I just wish people would see that both ways instead of just affirming the latter. But again, I digress.
Liv realizes that tapes from surveillance cameras on the street have not been released by the police department which insinuates that the situation didn’t go down the way the officers claim it did. Big surprise, indeed. Liv again goes to David Rosen to get him to act on this instance of injustice and after explaining to him the plight of her people and comparing it to her experience in captivity, he budges and subpoenas the surveillance tape.
“I thought I was going to die. I lived in fear for an entire week straight. Imagine living like that every day of your life.”
Upon watching the tape, we find out that the real suspect for the robbery was in the backseat of the officer’s patrol car and was freed in exchange for his silence about the shooting of Brandon Walker. Liv does what all of us viewers want to do and rip into the officer, who planted the knife on Brandon after shooting him and lied about the entire situation. Brandon wasn’t reaching in his pocket for a knife, he was reaching for a receipt. After a lot of “you people” statements by the cop, I was fed up. I was ready to see him led away in handcuffs and shackles. He was and Clarence Walker was able to see justice served for his slain son and be consoled by the president of the United States, who is no stranger to the pain felt due to losing a son. But as I watched, I couldn’t help but cringe at the fact that this what SHOULD have happened in Ferguson, but didn’t.
I have an 18-year old little brother and I couldn’t help but cry at the fact that if this were to happen to him, God forbid, the outcome would not have been the same. He would have been considered guilty and deserving of the bullets shot into his chest and the officer would have been heralded as a hero, protecting the public from the “scary” unarmed black boy, wreaking “havoc” on the streets of D.C. What happened last night on Scandal doesn’t happen in real life. It hasn’t happened, as much as we want, need and ask for it to. There is no justice, therefore the dreams we were sold in last night’s episode are just that: dreams.
Although we can’t expect the way our justice system and society works to change based on one episode of Scandal, I have to say thank you to Shonda Rhimes, ABC and the cast of the show for talking about this issue when everyone wants us to shut up about it.
Stay woke, Gladiators.