That was certainly the single word that got the biggest gasps, screams and OMGs. When Kerry Washington uttered those words to Joe Morton, who in this episode finale got a name - Rowan - the entire audience collectively lost their mind. It was fantastic! I can only imagine it was similar to what it felt like to be in a theater in 1980 when Darth Vader uttered those famous five words to Luke Skywalker. We were all jubilant and perhaps the slightest bit embarrassed because the entire SCANDAL cast was right there in front of us. It was a live table read of the season 2 finale, scripted by none other than series creator Shonda Rhimes (also on stage). I was in the fifth row, so when I screamed I was no more than forty feet from Bellamy, Jeff, Tony, Kerry, Guillermo, Katie, Darby, and Josh (Columbus Short wasn’t present for the event.)
Some people showed up thinking we were going to see the broadcast finale and then have a panel. They wanted the music and quick edits, the action and set pieces. I was up for anything. It turned out to be one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. Shonda Rhimes admitted it was an experiment, an effort for them to share with fans how dynamic their table reads were. This one had the benefit of the actors knowing what was coming. Typically, the actors read the scripts for the FIRST TIME at the table read. So much of the casts’ joy after the final line was read was in seeing us have the same reactions they did.
This is my second time this season seeing the cast on a panel, though the first time was more traditional. We watched an episode and then the cast came out and answered some questions. Also the audience was about a fourth the size of this one and there was no press there.
It was funny. I think that was the most surprising aspect of the table read. We all know these characters so well and the actors are more than aware of their characters quirks, so when Jake turned out to be hiding in Olivia’s apartment in Act IV, instead of that being scary, Scott Foley gave a sheepish shrug, because yeah, Jake is kind of a stalker. What wasn’t a surprise was the skill level in the writing. Yes, the dialog popped, but the stage directions were fascinating too. They were full of portent and humor, personality and tone.
We applauded after every one of Cyrus’ speeches because Jeff Perry gives his all. Every time. I felt like he really might have a heart attack right there on the stage. That’s not to say he’s alone in that venture, he just so forceful. Guillermo Diaz is far more quiet, but no less impressive. Kerry Washington remarked how beautiful it was for the rest of the cast to watch Guillermo, who is happy and lively turn into Huck on set. We got to see a smidge of that. It was beautiful indeed.
After every emotional sequence I noticed the actors reaching over and rubbing their co-workers back, patting a knee, if they were physically too far away (they were in two staggered rows on the stage facing the audience, instead of sitting around an actual table), they would clap or toss a quiet word or look - always supporting. Even though the episode was in the can and had aired on the east coast, full commitment and full support. How rare.
I am dying to see what made it into the final cut. To see Jake in his dress whites having a scotch, ready to meet his fate. The look on Olivia’s fate when she is the one confronted by a wall of reporters. But I don’t feel at all cheated having not seen the produced version first. In one take, live, these actors were like the best theater troupe/radio cast ever.
I still felt the soaring possibility of Olivia’s master plan to get herself into the White House. I also knew by its very utterance it would never happen. It’s like when you see the wedding dress on a soap before the bride comes down the aisle. I still was aghast when Cyrus dropped the Verna bomb and then gave Fitz the sex tape. The Olitz chemistry was perhaps even more palpable. I felt the dread as Huck couldn’t torture Billy, knowing that Quinn would.
Afterward, after we gave the cast and the writers standing ovations, there was a panel. The panel was revealing - like when Shonda Rhimes said that when they came back for Season 2 she didn’t know who Quinn would be. Or that originally they were going to have Huck be the one who killed Verna. And that the Presidential assassination came to them later. Bellamy Young was only supposed to be in three episodes, because Shonda really wanted “to write a Presidential divorce.” Now I wonder if we’ll ever see one… Apparently, though none of the cast is aware of what is coming down the pike for their characters Joe Morton knew all along that he was going to be Olivia’s father. Even Kerry didn’t know!
After the panel was the reception in the ATAS lobby. I told myself I would just partake of the mini-dessert bar and call it a night, but there were all just so close. Just hanging around, chatting with reporters, fans and industry folks all the while tweeting on their phones (at this point the West coast broadcast was going on). I started snapping pics and before you know it, well this happened:
Anyhoo, it was a night this #Scandalobsessed fan won’t soon forget. Now, I have to go watch the ‘real’ episode. Character observations, plot turns and conspiracy theories can be found there. Thanks for reading!