Shonda Rhimes’ ability to tap into people’s consciousness at exactly the right moment is uncanny.
On Wednesday (March 4), the Department of Justice announced Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the shooting death of Mike Brown, leaving more salt in the wounds of Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr. and all the black men and women dead at the hands of police brutality.
As powerful as it was, episode 14, titled “The Lawn Chair,” hit too, too, close to home. Here, VIBE’s staff reflects on the emotional roller coaster that was last night’s Scandal.—Compiled by Shenequa Golding, Iyana Robertson, Datwon Thomas, Christine Imarenezor, Cook T.P. and Adelle Platon
1. Last night’s episode had everyone in their feelings. In between Kleenex breaks and fits of rage, the award-winning show brought the painful nostalgia from Ferguson to the small screen with the case of Brandon Parker, a black teenage boy fatally shot by police officer, Jeffrey Newton.
2. The first 20 minutes were almost too much. It felt like Shonda & Co. should have kept this episode in the stash for next season. The images and emotional portrayal inspired by #BlackLivesMatter mirrored an event still in motion. With racial tensions still heightened and the horror of Mike Brown’s death still etched into our hearts and minds, the disparities between the real story and Rhimes’ fictional version stirred up some initial pushback.
3. The questioning of Olivia Pope’s blackness was on point. Every week, viewers tune in to a black, female lead pushing the agenda of a white Republican president. Though “one of us,” the Head-Gladiator-in-Charge never really felt like one of us. Until last night–when it counted. But don’t expect her to go all “sista gurl” anytime soon.
4. Did y’all peep the grandmom in the protest group set off the drama with the “Good for you!” line when Clarence Parker sat in the chair the first time?
5. Jake’s presence was not needed in this episode.
6. While we’re here… The sideline plot involving First Lady Mellie’s plan for vice presidency was a cool story, bro. But it’s nice to see Fitz and ’em Bonnie and Clyde’ing the White House.
7. The on-screen activists’ war cry of “Stand up! Fight back! No more black men under attack!” seemed like it was pulled from the Ferguson protestors’ playbook. But as pop culture guru/ master livetweeter Luvvie wrote, “My edit to the chant on #Scandal would have been: “STAND UP. FIGHT BACK. NO MORE BLACK LIVES UNDER ATTACK.” B/c Black girls get killed too.”
8. Courtney B. Vance nailed his character of Clarence Parker, an angry, protective, grief-ridden father, demanding justice. Hopefully, his role helped show that wherever one may stand on the race debate, all parents experience heart-pounding loss when they have to bury a child.
9. Let’s talk about the lawn chair. The police allowing a dead body to be laid out on the street for two to three days is unrealistic, but the grand gesture is valid. As Clarence parked his lawn chair over his dead child’s body, clutching a shot gun, he tells Liv that regardless of the circumstances, he would wind up either killed or jailed.
10. Last night’s episode came to a head during the officer’s monologue. Bearing a striking resemblance to Darren Wilson, officer Jeffrey Newton referred to Olivia Pope as “you people” (WTF?) and went on a rant peppered with entitlement, speaking about how black people aren’t taught to respect themselves, or others, and that black people kill each other. The cop’s tirade hurt because there are white men in law enforcement who believe this, despite the fact that white-on-white crime hovers at about 80 percent in the United States.
11. Twitter felt a way about including the officer’s perspective altogether. Did Shonda need to portray the Ferguson-esque case fairly?
12. It’s a sad day when Fitzgerald Grant is braver than your actual president. In the most heartbreaking moment of the episode, Clarence is in awe as he walks through the White House, before sobbing in Fitz’s arms. Perhaps President Obama should have personally witnessed the agony of Mike Brown Sr. …
13. The waterworks flowed when the final scene showed Brandon Parker being zipped up in a body bag. There was not enough time to unpack the on-screen tragedy before even attempting the series premiere of ABC’s new thriller American Crime.
14. There has never been a more important episode of Scandal. Last night’s episode showed how divided we are as a country, yet served justice for Brandon Parker when Gladiator associates Huck and Quinn learned a knife was planted under his body.
15. Thank you Shonda for showing us what justice should look like, but unfortunately, reality isn’t so sweet.