Scandal 4×14 ‘The Lawn Chair’: All lives matter

Scandal 04x14.1

I know I said that “No More Blood” was the best hour of Scandal this season, but this episode surpasses that by leaps and bounds. As much as I want to stay consistent with my regular format of dishing out all the juicy details of each Scandal episode, I feel like that would not do justice to what this episode said. The synopsis reads ‘a tragedy in D.C. gains national attention and the White House must deal with their problematic VP.’ For all intents and purposes I do not really care about the VP situation at the moment as Shonda Rhimes does what she does best, and that is tackle issues head-on without a care of who she might upset. That makes for great TV. Let’s get to it, onto “The Lawn Chair.”

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

This episode tackled the biggest issue in the United States in recent memory. Unless you have been living under a rock then your mind would instantly shoot to Ferguson, Missouri and the killing of Michael Brown Jr. Outside of the location change and the fantasized elements for TV purposes, the parallels of the situation are near identical. Olivia is faced with fixing a situation in which 17-year-old Brandon Parker was killed by Officer Jeff Newton, who mistook him as a robber armed with a knife. The episode focuses on Parker’s father Clarence Parker (guest star Courtney B. Vance) who sits, shotgun in hand, over his son’s dead body until justice is served. Sometimes shows tackling issues turns into a farce and does more bad than good, but Scandal hits it right on the head using a variety of ways to keep the story as real as it can get.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

It Does Not Shy Away From The Issue

If there is one thing Scandal does, it is tackle sensitive topics head-on. This episode in particular goes deeper than some themes we have seen before as it deals with a current issue going as far as to mimic the events very closely. Clarence Parker sits over his son’s body in a lawn chair, protecting him from the rain and everyone else while he waits for answers from the police. Everything throughout the episode mirrors the aftermath of Michael Brown’s case and many others from the media censorship, the protests, the racism and divide it causes, but mainly the fear that people of colour have regarding their safety around the police. A force that is meant to protect you causes more fear than security? That just is not right.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Shonda’s Monologues Make It That Much More Powerful

As always the second element of a ShondaLand show is the impressive and emotionally moving monologues. Usually they are of the protagonist putting another character in their place, but this week the monologues were so much more. The first was Clarence’s speech to protect his son from the police, showing his distrust of them which goes beyond his individual opinion. The second, which was the more powerful and definitely most gut-wrenchingly disgusting, was that of Officer Newton who screams at Olivia, referring to her as “you people” before attacking black people, letting his bigoted side show through. Both of these monologues open our eyes to this issue giving a more first-hand look for people who may not be aware of the full situation.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

Yes the episode was idealized to make it flashy for TV, the perfect evidence in the knife being a clear example, but if it wasn’t then it wouldn’t have fit as an episode for cable TV. Shonda Rhimes and her team were able to take an issue as debated and controversial as Ferguson and create a story that does not make a farce of it, but spurs an even higher demand for change from the viewer. The realistic aspects of Clarence’s fate for standing up for what is right and the deep-rooted issues of race and prejudices still in modern society show us that Olivia, no matter how much TV magic is behind her, cannot handle every situation. In the end Brandon Parker was killed like countless others in society’s ongoing struggle. Regardless of race, gender, culture or sexual orientation. All lives matter.

What did you think of “The Lawn Chair”? Was it everything you wanted? Did the message resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below!

Dylan Phillips

Dylan Phillips

is a film fanatic and TV junkie from the mysterious land of Canada. He is an aspiring writer/director who hopes to make his mark on the industry one way or another, whether it be behind a camera or with a pen. When he isn’t watching hours upon hours of movies or writing scripts, Dylan can be found playing his guitar, avidly watching baseball or writing film reviews on his website and blog.

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