'Scandal' Takes On Institutionalized Racism And Police Brutality In Ferguson-Inspired Episode

'Scandal' Tackles Ferguson In Powerful Episode

Thursday night's "Scandal" focused on the shooting of an unarmed black teen named Brandon Parker in Washington, D.C., less than two miles from the White House. In the episode, called "The Lawn Chair," tensions run high as the boy's father positions himself in front of his son's body with a shotgun, refusing to move from the crime scene. Mere days after being held hostage and auctioned on the black market, Olivia Pope is brought on the help the police force manage the incident. She works to avoid a riot, but soon finds herself disillusioned by the people she is defending.

It doesn't take long for Liv to be swayed by the injustice, and she joins forces with the activist leading the crowd surrounding Brandon and his father Clarence. "Stand up. Fight back. No more black men under attack," she chants.

She then does some classic Olivia Pope maneuvering to convince Attorney General David Rosen to grant a subpoena for footage of the altercation. "That man standing over his son's body thinks he's going to end up in one or two places: jail or a drawer in the morgue ... I lived in complete fear" she says to Rosen, referencing her too-recent kidnapping. "Imagine living like that every single day of your life."

When they finally get the tape, the video shows Brandon reaching for something in his jacket. The police claim he had a knife, and, sure enough, a knife is found on his body. But his father is outraged. "He doesn't carry a knife," he says, over and over.

Through her usual super-human powers, Liv is able to prove the knife did not belong to Brandon -- it was evidence from an earlier arrest; Brandon was just reaching for a receipt -- and puts the offending office behind bars. "What the hell is it with you people? Yeah, you people," the (unabashedly racist) policeman who shot Brandon yells at Olivia when she confronts him at the station. "You people have no idea what loyalty is, what respect is. You're here because you were supposed to help us and you spend every second of it trying to tear me down and push your own damn agenda." It's a sobering moment where the camera finds the black officers in the room, focusing on each of their faces as the cop spews his racist agenda.

During the final moments of the episode, Nina Simone plays in the background and Liv tells Clarence the officer is behind bars. Justice is served. She then brings him to the White House and the episode closes with Clarence crying in President Fitz's arms. A final shot shows Brandon being zipped into a body bag.

"In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean," Shonda Rhimes tweeted at the end of the episode. "The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now." Here's what Kerry Washington and the rest of Twitter had to say:

We had a great deal of debate about this ending. Whether to be hopeful or not. It was really hard. #scandal

— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 6, 2015

In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean. The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now. #scandal

— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 6, 2015

Weeping. As if I hadn't read it and didn't act in it. Just weeping. #scandal

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 6, 2015

Everybody was VERY quiet after the table read for THIS episode. #scandal

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 6, 2015

These stories make me sick. And watching them fictionalized makes me sick too apparently. #Scandal

— Alissa (Uh-LEASE-Ah) (@AlissaHenryTV) March 6, 2015

For me, #Scandal is fun campy entertainment. A storyline around a black boy being killed by the police….that’s too real for me

— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) March 6, 2015

It's almost like having diverse voices in TV leads to interesting commentaries on the world around us or something. #Scandal

— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) March 6, 2015

I wonder if non-Black viewers actually feel our pain after seeing this episode. Shonda slapped you in the face with OUR reality.#scandal

— Courtney (@CourtneyCymone) March 6, 2015

Tonight's episode of @ScandalABC will stay with me. Deeply powerful, moving, soul-stirring work. #ScandaI

— Prasanna Ranganathan (@PRanganathan) March 6, 2015

Justice looks like the complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex. #ScandaI

— Dante Barry (@dantebarry) March 6, 2015

Mixed feelings because this is how we wished things would've been resolved in real life #ScandaI #ScandaIABC

— Patchuli Oil & Weed (@AshleyShyMiller) March 6, 2015

What did I say? A nice and tidy ending that shows that justice will be served in America. Don't have time. #ScandaI

— Africana WomaNINJA (@MelanieCoMcCoy) March 6, 2015

It's sad we can only get justice when we write it into fiction. #ScandaI

— Nessa. (@curlyheadRED) March 6, 2015

If only "justice" moved as swiftly as on #Scandal.

— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) March 6, 2015

Scandal has changed the landscape of network TV by changing who gets to speak with authority. Three years in, it remains revolutionary.

— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) March 6, 2015

Between Nina Simone and actually showing the body being zipped into a body bag, Shonda Rhimes wants her viewers to FEEL OUR PAIN! Thank you

— bevysmith (@bevysmith) March 6, 2015

they should just broadcast an hour of silence after that #scandal episode. #AmericanCrime might be good but who can emotionally deal now?:/

— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) March 6, 2015

Also, an Emmy is coming for that episode, y'all know that right. #ScandaI

— Trillary Crosley (@HillaryCrosley) March 6, 2015

Before You Go

"Scandal" Season 3


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