It’s time to get a little superficial up in here! Season three of Scandal is heating up and it’s not just because of all the fake deaths and creepy Papa Pope storylines. We’re guessing the show’s popularity lead to an increase in glam squad budget, because the Gladiators are looking hotter than ever. Leaving Olivia Pope out of this (because, come on...some people are in a class of their own), we’re ranking the amazing Gladiators based on what really matters — hotness.
4. Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes)
We don’t know who’s doing Quinn’s eyeliner this season, but they are killin’ the game. Unfortunately Quinn’s also been pissing a lot of people off this season, seeing as how she can’t stop thinking about that one time she tortured a guy, and it’s been getting her into all kinds of trouble. Get it together, Quinn! Your emotional issues and creepy B6-13 drama plots are affecting your hotness.
3. Huck (Guillermo Díaz)
For the record we are talking about beardless Huck, and normal Huck — not Homeless Huck or Huck after he’s been water boarded by the CIA and hasn’t showered for weeks (à la last season). Huck is always gonna be a cutie, but he’s also still one of the scariest characters on Scandal, which makes him less hot and more "cute guy you'd take a second look at if you saw him in a coffee shop but would quickly look away when you saw the darkness behind his eyes."
2. Harrison Wright (Columbus Short)
Nobody knows how to rock a three-piece suit like Harrison. NOBODY. That is all.
1. Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield)
Last season Harrison might have topped this list, but Abby’s glam squad has seriously changed the game. They put a curling iron to those banging red locks (and clearly added a few tracks), took the smoky eye to a whole ‘nother level, and put her in all of the right clothes. No wonder poor David Rosen can’t keep away! It also helps that Abby’s funky little attitude hasn’t changed. All her über-sarcastic quips + that hair (seriously) = a hotness the likes of which Scandal has never seen.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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