Despite the patriotic red, white, and blue motif that runs deep within the series, Scandal is a show about gray areas. Whether it’s situational or part of a character’s motivation, every episode includes some instance of “going to the dark side.”
It’s important to note that Scandal is a show not only about… um… scandals… but also one about politics, power, and how the two relate.
The White House elite – which includes the President, his wife, and the Chief of Staff – is at the top of the power heap. Then, much farther down the power chain, you’ve got Pope and Associates, the other main component of the show.
It’s the correlation between power and darkness that’s interesting; the people in the White House typically go the way of evil much more often than those who have less “conventional” power – Olivia and her subordinates.
Also in play: the fact that the trio at the very top is much more evenly matched than Pope’s people. While Fitz may seem like the leader, he’s got a lot more backstabbing to deal with than the usually trustworthy “gladiators” Olivia leads (who are still about 50% likely to do something unsavory in any given episode, provided it isn’t murder).
So, without further ado, we present our breakdown of Scandal‘s power dynamics (with nifty “most-likely-to-do-evil” percentages based solely on the biased and complicated calculations made by Max Kelley).
Every show needs a hero – the “white knight”, so to speak – and on Scandal that hero is David Rosen (Joshua Malina) – former U.S. States’ Attorney. His quest for truth and justice ended up being his ultimate downfall, however.
After losing two high-profile cases, he ended up getting fired and now he teaches Government at a D.C. high school. On top of that, he’s been framed for murder and he has to turn to the source of his original downfall for help – the one and only Olivia Pope.
While Olivia (Kerry Washington) isn’t necessarily a villain, she’s done her fair share of bad deeds, including rigging an election. She explained in the last episode to Abby (Darby Stanchfield) how activities like exercise helps with getting your mind off the past – it keeps you “numb.” Based on what Pope and Associates does on a daily basis, the entire office is going to be needing a whole lot of exercise.
When it comes down to it, Scandal seems to be a show that demonstrates that the more power you’ve got, the more likely you’re going to do something shady to keep that power.
Just ask the president. He’s got some killer stories to share.