Scandal produced its most poignant episode with “The Lawn Chair”.
Ripped from national headlines, the case of the week follows a young black male, Brandon, who was gunned down by a white cop. His father, Clarence, who is hungry for justice, brings a shot gun into the middle of the street where his son has been laying for the past 30 minutes at the least. He wants to find the officer who shot his son and he is willing to do whatever it takes to find the officer and receive justice.
Olivia, who is supposed to be resting after her ordeal, is brought in by the police to help diffuse the situation. She, of course, is met with resistance from a local activist, Marcus, and all neighborhood supporters. The local activist basically calls her a sellout because she is working with the Washington, PD. You’re not going to be able to use your black card this time, he tells her. She tries to remain on the side of the police until she sees what they are willing to do. Tear gas, face masks and guns drawn while the media is being shunned from reporting causes her to stop trying to be neutral and join the supporters and protesters – where she ultimately knows is where she belongs.
We are told that Brandon fit the description of a young man who robbed a store earlier of a radio. The police officer saw Brandon, believed he fit the description and proceeded to ask him about the radio he happened to be carrying as well. The officer claims that he felt threatened once Brandon reached to pull something from his pocket which the officer saw as a knife. At that point, he shot Brandon to protect himself as he thought his life was in danger.
At first, Huck and Quinn cannot find any footage until we find out that the police confiscated the footage near the bank shortly after this incident occurred. They have been holding on to it for almost a day by the time OPA finds out about it. Once Olivia goes to see David, in a scene where she tells him that justice is only for the people with his skin color, he grants her a subpoena for the footage. At first glance, it looks like the police’s story is correct. When Clarence agrees to search his son’s body, they even find the knife. However, Clarence is adamant that his son never carried a knife and upon further investigation, Huck and Quinn find out that he was right.
We find out that Brandon was simply reaching for the receipt for his phone when the police officer shot him. The police officer had arrested someone earlier that night who had a knife that was never entered into evidence. The knife was planted on Brandon and the suspect was released in exchange for his silence. Just like Ferguson and other unfortunate real life RECENT events, the police officer is racist. He resented the fact that he did patrol in Brandon’s neighborhood where according to him, the black people were taught not to trust him. No one in the neighborhood showed respect, he said, and that is why Brandon is dead.
The episode ends with Olivia telling Clarence the truth about his son, informing him that he won’t be arrested and finally those two leaving together. It is assumed that Olivia is taking Clarence home until he realizes that they are going the wrong way. Olivia takes Clarence to see Fitz, where once in the Oval Office, Clarence breaks down and finally starts to mourn the death of his son.
Courtney B. Vance was absolutely phenomenal in this episode. This was such an important episode and kudos to Shonda Rhimes for being willing to tell this story, bringing to life something that for too many are willing to sweep under the rug even a midst news coverage. Kudos for exposing a life that many of us are living RIGHT NOW. There are many of us who will criticize tonight’s episode in regards for many reasons, and granted we are all entitled to our opinion. The fact remains that the story had to be told to national viewers and I, for one, am happy that it was able to happen.
The episode was titled “The Lawn Chair” because Clarence placed the lawn chair over Brandon’s body and sat there with his shot gun for almost two days until the truth came out. It was only when his son was exonerated did he remove the chair and allow the examiners to take his child and photograph the crime scene.
If you take absolutely nothing from this episode, I would hope that you remember one thing: #BlackLivesMatter. I won’t even sit up here and pretend that that this episode didn’t affect me. Of course it did and the last ten minutes especially with Nina Simone playing in the background? Whew!
***For those who are asking, while there was mention of Olivia’s disappearance and we saw evidence of his distress, especially when she admitted she didn’t know how to fix this problem, it hasn’t fully reared its ugly head as yet. The full aftermath of Liv’s disappearance looks like it will ramp up in next week’s episode of Scandal.