Scandal Episode 414: The Lawn Chair shows Olivia attempting to get back to her regular job in the aftermath of her kidnapping while being challenged by an activist who calls her out for being on the wrong side of an injustice. She is still feeling vulnerable but rather than taking time to heal, she dives headlong into this latest traumatic scene that stems from a police shooting of unarmed Black teenager.
Courtney B. Vance delivers a masterful performance as Clarence Parker, the bereaved father who is determined to get justice for his son who was left laying in the street for the entire episode reminiscent of the incident in Ferguson last year.
Fitz needs to come up with a new VP now that Andrew is incapacitated without picking someone who will pose a threat to Mellie’s future political plans. Cyrus encourages him to make a bold choice, but he wants to pick someone who is going to be a team player and won’t compete with Mellie’s plan to run for office. Fitz says that it’s her turn and Cyrus asks him if he has any idea how difficult it will be for Mellie to make the leap to the oval office. Why let a little thing like experience stand in the way of a bored First Lady’s dreams?
The DC Police department hired Olivia in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Brandon Parker by a White officer. Crowds of angry residents have formed, and the police chief does not want a riot on his hands.
The victim’s body is still lying in the street when his father shows up with a gun demanding to see the officer who killed his son.
Olivia tries to negotiate with Mr. Parker to keep the police from shooting him, but he will not leave his son’s side. A local activist brings the man a lawn chair to sit on and encourages him to remain there since that is the only power he has in the situation.
Olivia accuses the activist, Marcus, of inflaming the situation to try to make a name for himself. She told him that it would be his fault if the boy’s father is killed. “You don’t want justice. You want anger. You want outrage. You want retribution,” Olivia admonishes.
Marcus is not impressed by Olivia’s arguments and calls her out for living in DC but having never visited that neighborhood unless it was to pick up soul food. He lets her know that he knows exactly who she is and brings up the fact that she worked to get the President elected twice.
She tells him he doesn’t know her and that they both want the same thing, but he is not convinced. “You want to put it to bed quietly and go to the Hill and say that you came down to the hood and you saved us. No thanks Olivia. Your black card is not being validated today.” Sir, I am sure that Olivia does have an actual Black card – the kind that gets issued to high net worth individuals.
This Marcus character totally reminds me of Rev. Bullock from Preachers of Detroit (don’t judge me). But I digress….
The officer claimed that Brandon matched the profile of a shoplifter. He said that he stopped the young man who became belligerent and pulled a knife before charging him which is why he shot him. Yeah, because Black boys pull knives on police officers all the time.
Once Olivia realizes that the Police chief is trying to keep the protests out of the news so that he can unleash brutal tactics on the crowd, she joins the protesters behind the barricades.
Huck comes down to the crime scene and tells Olivia that the police have the surveillance footage from the night of the shooting but they have not released it.
Olivia goes to David and tells him that she needs his help. She explains to him that justice is not available to everyone and he tries to squash her comments, but she says that she felt helpless and afraid each day that she was in captivity and asks him to imagine feeling like that every day.
She also told him that Brandon’s father believes that his only way out of the situation is in going to lead to prison or the morgue. And he cannot argue with that.
David issues a subpoena for the surveillance tape which shows the victim reaching into his pocket for something, but it does not show the item. The father allows them to check the body for a weapon and they find a knife. Mr Parker kept repeating that his son does not carry a knife and raises his gun as if he is about to shoot.
Olivia and Marcus manage to walk away from him without being shot, but her hands are shaking, and she is clearly not okay. Ms. Pope is going to have to be checked into the psych ward before it’s all over.
Huck and Quinn discover that the officer planted the knife on the body because he arrested a suspect the previous night but the arrest was never formalized and the man’s knife was never booked into evidence. Brandon was reaching for his receipt when he was shot.
Olivia goes to the confront the officer who launches into this psychotic rant about “these” people and how they disrespect him. “Brandon Parker is dead because he didn’t have respect. Because those people out there who are chanting and crying over his body didn’t teach him the right values.”
Whenever someone starts throwing around “you people” it is always nasty business, and I would bet that he was speaking for many of his real life counterparts. Not all, but enough to create this constant mistrust and hostility.
The officer is arrested and the police department is placed under a federal probe,
Olivia takes Mr. Parker to the White House to meet the President, and he breaks down in tears talking about his son.
This episode was so powerful and emotional because it is loosely based on real events.
Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson and left lying in the streets for hours last August. Massive crowds showed up to protest for weeks after the shooting, and the police treated them like enemy combatants.
The similarities end there because there has been no arrest to date.
Although the Justice Department recently released a report on the Ferguson police department that found a pattern of systemic racism, discrimination and hostility toward Black residents, federal charges will not be filed.
This was an important episode because Ferguson is a deeply divisive issue and unfortunately, it is but one of many stories about Black men being killed at the hands of law enforcement.
As much as I disliked the recent episodes about Olivia being kidnapped and trafficked, I have to give kudos to the writers for getting it right this time.
Olivia is very much a person of privilege living in her own little bubble even as her own father tried to warn her that she would never be one of “them.” So she needed that reality check that Marcus gave her.
Well done Shonda and crew.
Now can we please get our girl some counseling before she completely loses her mind?