Let’s get a couple of things out of the way right off the bat, shall we?
1) I am not a consistent “Scandal” viewer, or even a particular fan. The Better Half enjoys it, and sometimes I watch along with him. I’ve liked it well enough when I’ve caught it, but I am only vaguely aware of the plot arc. When I do watch, I often have to turn to the Better Half and ask if I’m supposed to like some character or not. I’m sure there are subtleties I’m missing.
2) Below Be Spoilers. Fairly warned be ye, if ye watch but haven’t caught recent episodes. Avast if ye be touchy about such things!
So, the other night we were watching last week’s episode, which focused largely on the travails of Huck. For the unfamiliar (who have decided to read this post anyway), the show is all about a Washington, DC fixer (played by Kerry Washington [true fact: I know someone who went to high school with her!]) and her crack team of sleuths and scoundrels. Huck is a former CIA assassin in her employ. He has a… checkered past, which was explored during the episode in question.
We are shown in flashback a much happier Huck, back when he was a mere Marine. It seems he was given a battery of tests, and the CIA discovered in him the ideal torturer and murderer. They fly him home from Kosovo and tell him he essentially has no choice but to join. Initially conflicted about his new job extracting information from targets by torturing them with power tools before killing them and dumping their bodies, we are treated to several scenes showing him gleefully getting into his work. Then he has the temerity to marry and have a child, which is a no-no in his career. Things go poorly for him from then on.
Obviously we’re meant to have complicated feelings for this guy, but to find him ultimately sympathetic. I have major, major problems with this.
First of all, I cannot escape how profoundly dumb I find this storyline. I find it implausible that the CIA farms its dirtiest work to military grunts who score well on some mythical array of tests. And personally, as nauseating as the crimes at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo were, I have a really hard time believing it’s agency policy to extract information from people using drills and acetylene torches. I just don’t buy it, but YMMV. What I really don’t buy is that these professional killers subject their victims to horrible, serial-killer-esque torments then dispose of the bodies in dumpsters on trash day.
That’s transparently idiotic. What, we’re meant to believe garbage collectors will find a mangled, tarp-wrapped corpse and just shrug? They’re going to freak the hell out and call the police! It’s going to make the news! The numerous bodies we’re shown tallying up would be a huge story, and would draw intense attention to actions meant to be super clandestine. Unless there is a massive conspiracy of local waste management, law enforcement and news media across the country, this plotline is just too preposterous. Sorry.
But let’s put that objection aside. As moronic as I find that massive plot hole, let’s say I’m willing to go for it.
What I am not willing to do is root for this character. He enjoys not a jot nor tittle of my sympathy. While I’m sure it majorly sucks to run afoul of the soulless goons who pay you to wreak excruciations and death on their enemies, especially when you were apparently dragooned into doing so, I am going to shed no tears for a character we’re shown happily taking a blowtorch and a drill to two separate victims, making blasé faux small-talk with terrified people right before he starts torturing them in a manner that would make John Wayne Gacy avert his eyes. None.
Maybe I could dredge up some pity for a man driven to slow madness by the sins he is forced to commit. Maybe. But someone who finds he enjoys his knack for incredibly evil work, and only shapes up when he violates the company ban on having a family? Forget it.
Without veering farther into religion than I usually do, I believe there is redemption for everyone who seeks it. In my real-world community of faith, I would find a place in God’s love for a man such as this were he to arrive, broken, at the door. But I have no desire to spend my leisure time rooting for this character. I don’t find him complicated. I find him loathsome.
So, sorry “Scandal.” You’ve lost me. Not only is this plotline dumb, it’s revolting. Supposed government sponsorship or not, this character was a serial killer, and I can only just barely stand seeing a serial killer’s crimes if I know at the end he’ll get blown away by Clarice Starling. I’ll pass on more of this.