Love, One Minute, and Scandal
Sometimes, how we love is the most important thing. It’s not if you’re in love that matters, or even why, or even who. What matters is how. Are you honest? Kind? All in or dipping a toe in the water? Are you hiding it, fighting it, shouting about it? When the dust settles, morning breaks like eager chaos, what then?
Place two people in an impossible situation. These are two people with talent and passion. Fill their world with complications. Draw out the should and shouldn’ts, clearly. Draw lines. Create boundaries. Remember that one person is married, staying in a loveless marriage for [insert reason here: appearances, politics, the kids etc]. The other is strong, possibly brilliant person. Neither is looking for the other. Neither sets out to wreck or ruin anything or anyone.
Then, these two people? They fall in love. Not just a little bit of love. Not a crush, or a brushing glance. A drowning, starlight filled, aching kind of love. The kind that crawls inside every fiber of your being, trying to make its way out again. The kind of love blossoms in a look so powerful that one, or both, of you is shaking. Where standing too close to one another looks like someone threw a bonfire between you, and the air in the room is dwindling. Making eye contact changes everything. Holding hands? That opens up a path, and that path is full of grave beauty and hungry thorns.
You can see this, masterfully done, on ABC’s SCANDAL. Olivia Pope, a powerful political fixer, was once an adviser to the now-President’s (Fitz Grant) campaign. Working for him, working with him, she retooled his image – and basically got him elected, despite the fact that his marriage is truly about as warm as an ice bath in the arctic. From this week’s episode, his wife (Milly) develops beyond the spectrum of calculating. It was interesting to see her political aspirations moving beyond what might (personally speaking) make her happy. She does not love her husband. She loves what he can do FOR her. Hello, Lady Macbeth with an extra side of manipulation. (Beautifully portrayed role. I hated her, and loved to hate her.)
So, in a flashback, we see how Olivia and Fitz fall in love, slowly and with resistance from both sides. We see lines slow dissolve into memories. At one point, Fitz asks to stand near Olivia in the hallway, alone, for one minute – just one minute. She agrees. And that one minute? It’s like an entire world. When Olivia hears that Fitz’s wife faked a miscarriage on national tv, you can see her heart break for him. In the dark, on a campaign bus, they hold hands in this emotionally wrenching scene. He asks her, almost pleading, to say his name – not Governor Grant. When she does, it’s soft, like a prayer. As if it’s hard for her to say, because it’s another line, crossed. It’s another liberty taken. It’s another admission of both their hearts. There is always power in a name. Always.
In present day, Fitz comes to Olivia to ask for her help. You see, again, that these are two people very much in love, dangerously, heart-tearingly, soul-achingly so. Fitz looks at Olivia like nothing else I’ve seen. It is arresting. And Olivia? This is the only time where she’s laid bare, her heart beautifully revealed. Loving Fitz isn’t just complicated. It’s damn near impossible. And yet…what do you do in that situation? When one is trapped in circumstances beyond control or change? What, exactly, do you do with your heart? It’s not as if there’s an off-switch. A not now button. Or a way to make yourself feel nothing.
Love, wherever it’s found, is the most powerful force in the world. It will do what it wants, with whomever (whoever?) it wants. You best hang on. Buckle up. Ride it out as best as you can.
In the close of the episode, Fitz asks for one minute to sit near each other. Just one, harkening back to their previous time together. He sits down on Olivia’s couch. She sits down next to him, almost entirely still, until she fold herself into him – in this very pure moment of I love you and I miss you. Two people, in such love, unable to be together.
This episode both warmed and broke my heart. It’s fantastic tv, because it conveys real emotional depth. It made me root so hard for two fictional people that it’s almost silly, but it resonated with me. I’m a fool for a complicated love song. And SCANDAL? It’s perfectly, brilliantly just that.