Scandal: The Trail (2012) – Tom Verica
It’s the penultimate episode of the first season and it’s the hands-down best episode yet. For the first time, the “story of the week” goes away and the entire episode is dedicated to the ongoing story arc. And this episode has substantial flashbacks to the campaign trail and it’s really wonderful the way this breaks up the samey format of the show. It’s really fascinating to see all these characters that we’ve gotten to know, a couple of years prior to the “present” of the show. All the actors just give everything they have. Bellamy Young in particular just kills this press conference scene. And as the episode tracks toward a big reveal of who the season’s main villain actually is, who’s been pulling the strings behind the scenes, the tension mounts and mounts and then we work toward this big montage of both “past” and “present” and then bam, we get the reveal in both timeperiods simultaneously and then . . . yes, more death and destruction. This was a masterpiece on a technical level, juggling the different time periods perfectly and doing a couple of brilliant montages. And on an emotional level, I was just totally sucked into this episode. It’s a great format change and the best episode of the series so far. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – show changes format to tell a story in the present and also in the past; tension mounts to a big reveal and the characters have never been this fascinating. Best of the series so far. 4 stars.