Scandal has returned for #TheFinalSeason, which means Olivia Pope has one last chance to get her love life together, should that be something she actually wants. If the Season 7 premiere showed us anything, it's that she is not on the hunt for longterm partnership. One potential love interest whom she swiftly relegates to hotel room hookup on the first date is a handsome news anchor. But who is Curtis Pryce on Scandal? As of now, viewers don't know much about him just yet.
He's played by Nashville alum Jay Hernandez, who's somehow both extremely hunky and possesses boyish charm. Curtis is a cable news host of a show called The Pryce of Power With Curtis Pryce (get it?), who's first introduced to us when Olivia appears on the show to talk about Mellie's free college initiative. The political bent of Curtis' news hour seems to lean the same way as The Liberty Report, because he adopts all the standard right-wing objections to Liv's points. (Even though Mellie is a Republican president and Olivia is her Republican Chief of Staff.)
The two spar in an opening scene with lightning quick reflexes — an obvious ploy to demonstrate how well-matched they are. Fans know Olivia needs someone who can keep up with her. There's something flirtatious about their arguing, too, and Olivia has been known to enjoy the relationship dynamic of "are they gonna kill each other or —" well, you know. So it's no surprise when Curtis shows up later on what seems to be a date with Olivia. But she doesn't exactly present a warm, open, emotionally vulnerable front.
After basically blowing him off for a whole episode, Olivia firmly states on the date:
There's a car waiting outside. It'll take you to the District hotel. Room 523...You will find a door, the door will be unlocked. I'm going to get up now. Let's give it, I don't know, 30 seconds? Then you come.
Unsurprisingly, Curtis high-tails it after her, because who could resist a command like that? Here's the thing, though — Olivia needs someone to balance her power. She's so capable and in-charge that she ends up staying in work mode, even in her relationships. To be a real warm gooey person (OK, I'm stealing from Grey's Anatomy there, but Shonda Rhimes' female protagonists share the same fundamental baggage), Olivia needs someone who she trusts can handle things in order to allow herself to be messy and human sometimes.
Curtis is intelligent and powerful, which sets him up to have the right stuff. But the way he takes Olivia's bait when she falls back on her bad relationship-forming habits makes me think he's not going to be The One. Olivia also sleeps with Jake at some point in the season premiere, but when he grows moody over her shutting down afterwards, she realizes he's caught feelings and their relationship can't be casual. She dismisses him with an order (sigh), and retreats back into her boss b*tch comfort zone.
Ultimately, I think the right partner for Olivia will be one who pushes back when she acts like that, not in a domineering way (ahem, Fitzgerald), but in a gentle and patient way, letting her arrive at a less guarded place on her own. Curtis, with his sleek lifestyle and sharp wit, feels more like a power couple trophy boyfriend Olivia can show off. Plus, there's something about him that feels a little sneaky — like he may have ulterior motives of his own.
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