Olivia Pope is called to a crime scene by the police. A 17-year-old Black kid has been shot by a white cop. He matched the description of a robbery suspect and allegedly drew a knife before he was shot. It’s an all-too-familiar real-life scenario.
The cops want Olivia to handle the situation, but things get worse when the dead kid’s dad, Mr. Parker, shows up with a shotgun demanding to see the cop who killed his boy. Olivia rushes to deescalate the potential race riot by promising to get her good friend David Rosen, the U.S. Attorney General, to personally oversee the investigation.
A community activist named Marcus Walker brings out a lawn chair for Mr. Parker to sit in while standing his ground. Olivia accuses Marcus of showboating and trying to use this tragedy to become America’s next great Black leader. Marcus, meanwhile, accuses Olivia of everything short of being an Uncle Tom, working to protect the image of the cops. After all, she’s a black woman who worked hard to make sure a white male Republican was elected president twice.
Those scenes are probably the most effective and seem to add a worthwhile complexity to this issue. But it ends there. If you want a deeper look at race in this country, just watch the show that airs after Scandal, American Crime.
Olivia Breaks Down
Olivia tries her hardest to keep things calm, but she’s being thwarted on all sides. Marcus leaks the name of the white cop who killed Brandon while the cops block the media coverage so they can try to end the protests without being filmed (prompting Olivia to quit and join the protest). However, Olivia isn’t really on either of their sides. She just wants justice for the dead child and his grieving father.
When she learns that the cops are sitting on surveillance footage, she goes to David Rosen and demands a subpoena. She has a bit of a meltdown while seeming to overcompensate a bit regarding her blackness in light of what Marcus said to her. David is right to point out that she’s really just stressed after being kidnapped. She’s still scared and instead of processing what she went through, she jumped right into this powder keg of a situation.
What Really Happened?
Olivia gets the footage and it shows the cop stopping Brandon and asking for something. Brandon quickly reaches into his pocket and the officer shoots. She shows it to Mr. Parker and Marcus. They agree to look on Brandon’s body and underneath it they find a knife, just like the cop said. Mr. Parker continues to insist that his son never carried a knife.
Mr. Parker is right. Huck and Quinn find a shadow in the cop’s car on the tape and figure out that the cop actually picked up a suspect in the robbery before running into Brandon. That suspect in the car had the knife, so after the shooting, the cop planted the knife from the real robber onto Brandon and let the suspect go to keep quiet.
Olivia confronts him and the cop goes on an ugly rant. He tries to make his case, but his repeated use of the phrases “those people” and “you people” to Olivia just turn him into a super racist. It basically boils down to the fact that the cop is angry because, like Rodney Dangerfield, he gets no respect.
The cop is arrested and Olivia goes to see Mr. Parker. Not only is he not under arrest, but Olivia takes him to meet Fitz in the Oval Office.
I’m disappointed that instead of offering nuance like the episode did earlier in the scenes between Olivia and Marcus, the resolution is simply that the cop is angry and pretty racist. And what’s the moral? That if you pull a shotgun on the police, you won’t be arrested and might even get to meet the president. I know Scandal wanted to oversimplify everything by making Mr. Parker the hero and the cop the villain, but should the grieving father really be rewarded for his actions?