Ask Matt Scandal Finale, plus American Crime, Nashville, Grey’s Anatomy, Battle Creek, and More

Ask Matt

Good news, Ask Matt fans! TV Insider is now presenting the popular Q&A with TV critic (and sometime “TV therapist”) Matt Roush twice a week—on Tuesdays and Thursdays—giving you twice as much opportunity to share your concerns and join in the love for all things TV in today’s vast landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] and follow me on Twitter.

Question: Your columns are the highlight of my Tuesdays and Thursdays! I was wondering about your thoughts on the season finale of Scandal. I enjoyed the twists that put an end to B613, since I’ve felt for a while that the B613 subplots had gotten stale. And I loved the break between Fitz and Mellie that opened the door to a reunion between Fitz and Olivia. But the reason for Fitz’s anger with Mellie was that she gave a “list of names” to Command (which led to the jurors’ slaughter), but we never found out who was on the list. I still can’t think of any super-important info Mellie would have, and I’m beginning to think that the writers don’t know either but are stringing us along. Do you think this plot hole will be revealed next season, or is it just sloppy writing? Or (this just occurred to me) maybe the list was unimportant but just her willingness to cooperate with Command was enough to enrage Fitz? — Julie

Matt Roush: Unless I missed something, the list of names Mellie supplied Roman provided the identity of the jurors, leading to the massacre for which she was directly responsible. That’s why Fitz freaked out—although it’s kind of hypocritical when you consider his backstory of downing the passenger jet, etc. With Scandal, though, I’ve really given up trying to worry about logic, including of the emotional variety. Given all that’s gone down this season, it seemed rushed and ridiculous to give the couple a happy ending as they canoodled on the President’s Balcony at the White House in plain public view. Pure pandering, but what else is new?

American Crime
Ryan Green/ABC

Question: There are two shows I rarely read about: American Crime and Tyrant. Admittedly, American Crime might not be for the faint at heart, but I believe it’s one of the most important shows being screened right now. It shows us both graphically and through amazing acting how crime affects families. Where we’re used to watching detectives and lawyers, we barely see them as the camera focuses on the families and how one crime manages to destroy (or, at least, changes) lives. It’s dark and maddening, and hard to find any characters to like, but riveting as we wonder who might survive and who won’t. John Ridley has given us a lot to think about!

Tyrant also brought understanding to an area we should know more about: Middle East politics. I started watching out of curiosity and found myself captured in the same dilemma as with American Crime. Now I can see behind the scenes and I’m not sure if I like what I see. In an age where everything must be happy and speedy, the slow resolution of these stories have given me pause to think more and wonder how people who face these problems can ever experience normal life. — Jim

Matt Roush: Actually, American Crime got a fair amount of media attention, because of its pedigree (Ridley), its cast (Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton among others), and its provocative subject matter. Like many other critics, I was impressed by its “bleak and stark realism” and diversity of perspective. (For those who’ve been writing in to ask me to comment on the finale, be patient. I fell a bit behind on quite a few shows in May, and the onslaught of new summer programming has kept me from catching up.) As for Tyrant, I agree the milieu of a Middle Eastern dictatorship is fascinating and timely, but I wasn’t nearly as convinced by the mostly stock characters or the muddled and melodramatic storytelling, though I’ll give the second season a shot in June and see if becomes more substantive.

Question: I didn’t know Oliver Hudson was in Scream Queens until I saw the recent trailer. I know you don’t go in for spoilers, but do you know, or can you find out, how he will be juggling this with Nashville? He is a series regular on Nashville as Jeff, and while I don’t think too many people would shed tears if Jeff left Nashville, he is a great villain type, and the finale certainly suggested he will have a major role going forward as manager for Layla and now Juliette. And speaking of other Nashville characters no one really likes, do you know if Eric Close will still be a regular now that Teddy is being hauled off to jail? I wouldn’t mind his leaving much. — Jake

Matt Roush: I wouldn’t miss either of these guys if their characters were written out of Nashville, especially Tedious Teddy, but for now, according to the ABC release announcing the new and returning shows for next season, both Hudson and Close are still listed as Nashville regular cast members (which may not signify much, but that’s as far as I’m willing to investigate). Where Hudson is concerned, if I’m understanding the Scream Queens vibe correctly, that show will have a weekly body count, so who’s to say how long his character will even be around? It’s a limited series to begin with, so shouldn’t be too hard to do both.

Question: Relating to your review of ABC’s quiz show 500 Questions: I agree about Richard Quest, but at least the questions still manage to come at a fairly fast pace. My problem with the show is that it seems rather unfair to the participants chosen to be the challengers. No matter how many answers the challengers know, their fate is mostly out of their hands. Sure, they can defeat the main contestant in a “Battle” question, but their victory counts as only one wrong answer against the main contestant, and the latter can quickly sweep that away by answering the next question correctly, and there’s nothing the challenger can do about that. Ultimately, no matter how many answers the challengers may know, and how well they play the game, their fate is almost totally decided not by their own knowledge, but on that of the main contestant. It just seems unfair to me that the challengers must watch helplessly, and that bothers me a lot as I watch. This would be a much better game show if either they did away with challengers entirely, or, if they really want challengers, then the two contestants should have equal chances to score. — Paul

Matt Roush: It’s a fair criticism of a very imperfect premise, but the real selling point of this particular quiz show is all about a single contestant’s staying power (ergo the daunting number of questions), with the challenger(s) being a mere distraction, and not the main event until he or she gets to take over the hot seat. Which as you note isn’t easy, because the show stacks the odds in the primary contestant’s favor. Still, luck is part of the draw as well, because if the player picks a stumper when backed into a corner with a third wrong answer looming, it’s over. It might be a more fun game if more than one person was trying to bank the 500 questions, but it’s all a bit moot because the more I watched, the more the host made me want to put the entire show on mute.

Question: I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the Battle Creek cancellation now that the show has finished its run. When I heard the show was canceled, I was bummed, but quickly moved on. But the last batch of episodes were so fantastic! The show just came together—the stakes got higher and the emotions more true. I’ve been genuinely upset that the show was canceled, more so than some longtime favorites. I really wish we had gotten more time with these characters. I guess I’ve accepted that it won’t be picked up by anyone else (prove me wrong! Please!), but was wondering, have others been as bummed about this cancellation? — Katie

Matt Roush: As I noted in previewing Sunday’s series finale, at least CBS aired the entire first season—and in retrospect, the writers might have benefited the show’s chances by giving us the reveal of Milt’s (Josh Duhamel) tragic back story sooner, but I agree Battle Creek was finally beginning to work out its kinks by the time it was over. I did get some mail from fans worried about its fate when it was clear the show wasn’t going to be a breakthrough hit, several suggesting CBS give it a shot on a different night in a more hospitable time period. But once its departure became a fait accompli after the network’s Upfront announcements, most seemed resigned to its fate. Which doesn’t mean it didn’t sting. Most cancelations do.

Question: While reading your critique of the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, I was struck by something. You say that Meredith’s loss of her person, and then her spouse, culminating in a “happy” season ending, was ridiculous. I have to disagree. While there was some happiness at the end of the episode—Richard and Catherine’s marriage—there was also an ending, in Meredith’s decision to sell the house, which actually makes sense. If Mer does, in fact, buy her mother’s old house back, it will be an interesting reboot of her life. However, while Cristina is gone, instead of having a person, Mer now has people. Becoming closer to her sister and sister-in-law, and dancing it out at the end of the episode, we see Meredith dealing with her losses with a team of people. What do you think? — Carrie

Matt Roush: Again, a fair point that in losing her husband and soulmate, Meredith may have gained a larger family in the hospital that now rallies to dance along with her (instead of in private with Cristina). Still feel the show is diminished by these recent losses, and none of the new “people” in her circle are as fascinating or as enjoyable company as what came before. I’m still not quite ready to break up with Grey‘s, but next season will surely be the decider, and I truly wish the network had the gumption to declare an end game for this once great show.

The Middle Finale
Michael Ansell/ABC

Question: Thoughts on The Middle finale? I had tears! — Keith (via Twitter)

Matt Roush: You’re not the only one. Hard to imagine anyone who loves this show, and its most indelible character of Sue Heck, not choking up when, at graduation, she finally realizes through the yearbook (which once again gets her identity wrong) and all who signed it just how much she meant to everyone. It was a beautiful and heartwarming conclusion to “The Year of Sue,” and another reminder of how aggravating it is that Eden Sher has yet to be acknowledged by the Emmys—and how underappreciated this show still is in general.

That’s all for now, but remember that Ask Matt now appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays most weeks. Can’t do it without you, so please keep sending questions and comments to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter.