Scandal's Cyrus Beene Sinks To New Lows
What if he goes to prison? Do you feel bad for him now? What if terrible things happen to him in prison? What if he was innocent the whole time? NOW do you feel bad for him? Do you?
It's semi-understandable that Scandal would want to focus on Cyrus Beene for a bit. Kerry Washington was pregnant while they were filming these episodes, so Liv had to take a backseat. And of the characters who are left, which would you really want to see try to carry an episode: Huck? Quinn? FITZ???? Nah, dude. Jeff Perry is a great actor who hasn't had much to do over the past season other than make out with various dudes and give heart eyes to Frankie Vargas. So why not showcase him, especially since the season premiere claimed that Cyrus Beene was responsible for Frankie's death?
I detailed last week all of the reasons I don't feel bad for Cyrus. He's either being punished for a crime he committed or framed for a crime he didn't commit. Even if he is being framed, he committed enough other terrible crimes (again, see last week) that he deserves to be thrown in prison.
The problem with setting most of the episode in prison, however, is that we've all seen Oz, or Orange Is The New Black, or one of the eight billion other television series or movies about life in the clink. So it's not shocking to see Cyrus go through intake and have to disrobe and be searched top to (literally) bottom. It's not shocking that Cyrus is thrown in a cold cement cell with very little information. It's not shocking that Cyrus isn't allowed to have a pen and paper any old time he wants one, or that he's not allowed to go outside for exercise, or that the guards are not his friends, or that the other prisoners are scary, or that he's not allowed to talk to other prisoners like Tom by request.
Cyrus's one play is to tell Billy Riggins, Prison Guard, that Cyrus can help him get out from under the thumb of the gang that is blackmailing him into smuggling their drugs into the prison. Cyrus claims to have experience with power; people sucked up to him because he controlled access to the Oval (or "O-Fell," as Cyrus weirdly keeps calling it). He advises Guard Riggins to figure out what he has access to that the gang members want, whether it be food or health care or a fellow prisoner who's done them wrong.
Too bad for Cyrus that Guard Riggins realizes that what the gang members, all Frankie Vargas supporters, want is to catch Cyrus, his assassin, in a dark alley. Or a dark prison yard. Whatever works. I don't know why Tom got off scot-free in this beatdown, but Cyrus definitely got messed up but good.
When they showed Cyrus's beaten and bloodied face, I thought maybe I would finally feel sorry for him. I stared at his broken face and did a deep and searching moral inventory. And I discovered that I don't even really pity him. I didn't feel good about his injuries, and I took no pleasure in them. But I didn't feel bad for him. He has caused many to suffer with no consequences for years. I'm not sure if the show is trying to bring Cyrus low so that we will root for him to fight his way back, but…I'm not rooting for him. I don't mind Cyrus being a monster with no friends or family; I just don't want the show to try to make him into a noble monster, or a redeemed monster, or a pitiable monster.