Scandal Review: Stand Together, Die Alone

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WHO GOT SHOT? Scandal Season 3 Episode 14 wasted no time revealing the answer to last week's question: 

R.I.P. James Novak.

What an emotional roller coaster of a Scandal episode that was tonight! 

In one breath I was complaining to my husband about the way certain characters had been written and two scenes later I allegedly shed a tear over Google Chat with TV Fanatic staffer Leigh Raines about that ending.

When Scandal Season 3 Episode 13 cut away, I knew that it was likely James Novak whom Jake had shot. I didn't think there was much of a chance that David Rosen, the lifeline to the US District Attorney's office and a series regular would be killed. 

I don't think I expected to be so moved by James Novak's death and the many ways it affected those involved.

The decision to intersperse flashbacks of James and Cyrus' early relationship and scenes of their life together with the current happenings was a wise one. They provided relief from the tension of the moment and also allowed for a little more fleshing out of Cyrus' character.

He's more than just a political monster.

It was a very Cyrus Beene move to throw himself into his work as a method of distracting himself from the emotional pain and turmoil of losing his lover and Jeff Perry gets two big hugs from me for that breakdown behind the podium at the press conference. 

When he told Jake to fix it, I truly don't think this is what he had in mind and yet, here it is. Political problem solved. Personal problem in its place.

Speaking of Jake, I was displeased with his scene with Olivia in his office because it felt like yet another time when a character is torn down so that another becomes the desirable love interest. We've seen it time after time on this show where Jake and Fitz alternate between being built up and torn down so that week to week neither or one or both men look like ideal candidates for Olivia.

I was a little ragey that it felt like it was happening again, and to an extent it was. But then my rage gave way to something like sympathy for Jake, especially by the end of the night.

He's Command. Being Command means making tough calls. Instead of putting those decisions on the heads and in the minds of those in his charge, he's taken them on himself knowing that he'll carry the full weight of them for the rest of his life. 

Rowan Pope, former Command, is responsible for 183 deaths while he was Command. He gave the orders to have 183 people killed and carries that burden with him every day. That burden made him the hardened man he is.

What's interesting about those two scenes is that both men are broken or being broken by the weight of being Command. 

Rowan Pope shared that responsibility with the other B6-13 operatives while Jake shoulders the responsibilities himself. 

There is no right way to be Command. People will die and someone will be responsible. 

But then there's that scene at the end where Jake apologizes to James Novak and sits with him while he dies. When I say I shed a tear or two there, I'm absolutely not lying. Coming fresh on the heels of Cyrus' breakdown, that scene and seeing Jake's decision not to let James die alone, reassuring him the whole time, it 

That is how Jake is different as Command. And that is what will ultimately break him most. He doesn't seem to have the capacity to emotionally detach in the way that Rowan Pope can.

And Rowan Pope is most certainly emotionally detached.

I know that the Joe Morton fans out there will say that his vitriol-tinged monologue tonight was perfect and amazing and it was. It was incredibly well-written. But it didn't have to be laced with hate. At least not all of it.

He could have said much of what he said with the voice of resignation or remorse or just not contempt that easily could have been directed at the fact that his daughter needed him. 

Or maybe he did need that anger because he's mad at himself for all the terrible things he's done in the name of saving the Republic which threw him out on his ears the first chance it got.

Olivia is slowly cracking under the weight of all of this, so it was good to see her step up at the press conference and handle things for Cyrus. I half expected her to jump into action when Abby, Harrison, and Huck all burst into her office, but no. She just sat there not taking charge. Again.

Can we give her a case and let her spout off her quick and slightly insulting but completely persuasive speeches instead of having her mope about all the time? Please? Can we do that?

Other notable moments from tonight:

  • Adnan Salif is NOT on board with Maya Pope/Marie Wallace outsourcing her terrorism. In fact, she's ready to get out of the country to avoid complicity in whatever Maya's planning. Those few scenes gave us one of the best Scandal quotes of the night.
  • HUCKLEBERRY QUINN! O. M. G. There's a very, very thin line between love and hate. Or lust and hate. Or whatever it is going on between those two. Wow. I didn't see that one coming, but now that it's happened we all should've seen it coming. He feels ownership or kinship or something because he "made" her and she betrayed him. I'm very intrigued by this.
  • Abby and David FOR LIFE. Break up any other couples on this show and throw them together with whomever you want, Shonda Rhimes, but do NOT mess with Abby and David. Period. 
  • Mellie totally went there. Sure, she was drunk and she'll probably blame it on the aa-aa-aaal-cohol, but sorry, FLOTUS. You don't get a pass. You don't even get a pass because your husband has been cheating on you for years. Sorry. (Full confession: There's a part of me that was definitely cheering her on, but yeah, cheater cheater, Mellie.)

It's hard to believe but there are only 4 episodes left in Scandal season 3. Only 4 more episodes in which the myriad storylines warring for screentime right now can all be brought to a close.

Or perhaps they're just being set up for next season, which is probably more likely. At this point I can't see how Shonda and Co. can wrap all of this up with a bow and hand it to us in just 4 episodes' time, but wonders never cease, right?

What did you think of Scandal Season 3 Episode 14? What do you think about Jake's approach to Command? Are you sad James Novak is dead?

Here's your first look at Scandal Season 3 Episode 15, "Mama Said Knock You Out."

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Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Scandal Season 3 Episode 14 Quotes

Jake: It's unfortunate. Life is unfortunate. Random. Coincidental. Bad things happen to good people all the time.
Olivia: No, you make bad things happen to good people.

[to Adnan] I don't make bombs. I make money.