Home > Scandal > all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players

all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players


In life, and in politics, perception can be everything. Smile the right smile. Have all the right friends. Wear the right dress. Say the right things. It’s all part of the game. How often do people get caught up in dating the right person, landing the right job, and adhering to all the things they’re supposed to do? As if this perceived happiness, or achievement, equals actual happiness? Or, if that’s irrelevant, that the image (not the reality, not the truth) is what matters.

But perception isn’t necessarily reality. And images fade. Smiles crack, dresses wrinkle, and friends can turn to enemies. The truth comes out. All those dirty little secrets scurry out into the light, heralded by circumstances often beyond a single person’s control. In this week’s Scandal (Defiance), we see a lot of decisions based on false fronts and a number of dirty little secrets are exposed.

For starters, Olivia hasn’t really opened up to Edison Davis. He talks about his personal past, people he’s dated, and she is walled off. She gives him nothing, except a professional suggest for his career, which is interesting. Is that Olivia working an angle for her client, or her trying to offer him something in exchange for his intimacy? Almost off-hand, he quips that the guy she dated must’ve really hurt her, and it’s clear that this wounds her, but it’s also clear that he doesn’t pick up on it. Interestingly, he takes the OPPOSITE of Liv’s advice, slams her client (who is resigning as majority leader), and uses that as a political stepping stone. Later, Olivia concedes that this is a brilliant political move, even though the move didn’t help her client at all. Tellingly, he speaks about stepping into the shoes of the majority leader using “we,” but Olivia replies with, “you.” The whole conversation, their entire interaction, doesn’t feel romantic at all. It feels like her advising a friend. And still, she refuses to go to the President’s birthday gala with him. The audience knows that this is for personal reasons, but Olivia presents it as being best for his career.

Elsewhere, James (Cyrus’s, the Chief of Staff, reporter husband) meets with David, who hands over all his research on potential voting fraud, which sends him on a wild hunt for the voting machines in a town called Defiance. A town, that we learn, turned the tide of the entire election. After a lot of digging, he finds the ONE voting machine that has a memory card in it, tests it, and discovers that it is rigged. We are, I suppose, meant to understand that Fitz has no knowledge of it, as he tells the story of Defiance at a birthday dinner party for a few of his friends. Those present who are part of the cabal of five look remarkably as if they’d like to crawl under the table, but they smile and nod in all the right places.

Fitz, newly returned from the G8 conference, looks constantly forlorn. He protested the birthday gala, but Mellie coldly quipped, “We can’t always get what we want.” And, interestingly, Cyrus seemed to be on her side. The only real emotion that Fitz shows is when he’s given surveillance pictures of Olivia, which include Senator Davis. Now, the surveillance was supposed to be stopped, and although rather creepy, this is also the only contact that Fitz has had with Olivia since they broke up in the restaurant. He says he let her go, but he also FROZE when he glimpsed half of her face on tv. But the pictures: I’ve never seen someone so emotionally devastated, flipping through evidence of their own grief. Jealousy, rage, hurt, frustration, and complete sadness are rife in his motions. There’s absolutely no doubting how his heart breaks, seeing what looks like a happy couple, seeing what looks like Liv has moved on. But again: this is perception, not reality. Every time Fitz’s name comes up, heartbreaks is alive and well on her face. These two are in the exact same position – heartbroken and missing each other – but pretending not to be. Later on, in order to ensure that Davis acquires the position he’s seeking, Fitz backs the other candidate – which is meant to signify that he’s totally over Liv. And that’s what she takes from that offered cue, finally relenting and agreeing to go to the gala with Davis.

Throughout the episode, Quinn is peppering Huck with suspicious questions about how to drug a person, how to best transport someone who is unconscious etc. Eventually, she confronts him, saying that either he or someone LIKE him was responsible for what happened to her, and MAN is she pissed. It’s pretty impressive, though, that she is beginning to unravel the loose ends of the story. There’s no telling how that’s going to play out, but it’ll be interesting to finally discover how she figures into the whole Cabal of Five dynamic.

Additionally, as the antithesis of the perception theme, is the case at the center of the episode: a respected CEO seems to have gone crazy, divorcing his wife for a younger woman, riding motorcycles in the house, and building a rollercoaster in the backyard. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and it could jepordize the company going public, which is what his son is trying to protect. In the end, it turns out that the son and the father were simply trying to protect each other – the father just wanted the son to be happy, but the son was running the company. The father say that the spent his whole life building that place, and now is when he finally having his fun. The father is ENJOYING himself, not doing what he is SUPPOSED to be doing. A lot of the characters on the show, I think, would benefit from that.

Lastly, we have President Fitz’s birthday gala. And I have questions. In the limo on the way there, Mellie seems panicky, she seems like she wants to bolt out of the limo, even though it’s still moving. When they pull up to the venue, she repeatedly grabs Fitz’s arm, pleading that she doesn’t want to go. Fitz confesses that Olivia and he broke up, that Mellie “won.” Again, she grabs his arm and says she doesn’t want to go. Just as coldly as Mellie earlier, Fitz replies, “We can’t always get what we want.” Then he exits the limo, with her behind him, waving and smiling like the picture of presidential happiness. He is then, promptly, shot. And I cannot help but wonder if Mellie knew. Because it certainly seems that way, doesn’t it? Then again, things are rarely – if ever – what they seem to be.

Categories: Scandal
  1. Lucy
    November 30, 2012 at 9:57 am

    LOL knew I’d get spoilers if I read this (I never watch the broadcast because it’s at my bedtime) but i couldn’t stop myself. Once again, excellent summary and analysis of the episode.

    Much as I like the show I disagree with its premise that those who are doing their duty, much as it might make them suffer, would somehow be better off doing what they feel like doing. I will probably never be in favor of a marriage breaking up (except of course in the case of abuse), even a loveless one like Fitz and Mellie’s, because if it does then what does that person’s word mean? If he did get together with the true love of his life what is to stop him leaving her too when he doesn’t feel it anymore? And if she breaks their marriage up what does that make her? As it is their motive for staying apart is purely political, which isn’t a truly honorable motive, but at least it forces them to do the right thing. Passion flames out, duty builds character. I’m old school.

    I don’t know what Rimes is like with follow-through on her stories (this is the first of her series that I’ve really watched) but I’m very interested in the buildup of events re Cabal of Five. I hope the payoff is worth it; the first season’s Overarching Theme seemed to fizzle out a bit.

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