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say you’ll wait for me

Everyone like the idea of a normal life. Because a normal life, supposedly, is a comfortable one. It’s an ideal dream, one born of long-dead television shows and impossible standards. The truth is – the one we often hide from – that normal is a) quite possibly a myth and b) highly overrated. To quote from Practical Magic, “it rather denotes a lack of courage.”

For a complicated, passionate person – one filled with verve, and wit, and piss and vinegar – normal is a concession. Normal is settling. It’s a picket fence, bland conversation, and matching chocolate labs. It’s easy. It’s expected. It is, most likely, unfulfilling. Especially if you are Olivia Pope, facing a choice between two men of vastly different caliber.

In last night’s episode of Scandal (Truth or Consequences), Olivia has a breakdown. She goes to bed and does not get out, until she is shocked out of her emotional coma by Huck. In the throes of this breakdown, she pushes everyone away, not because she doesn’t need them. No, it’s because she’s vulnerable. Olivia Pope is a gladiator in a suit. She is smart. She fixes the unfixable. She is not supposed to be vulnerable. Gladiators don’t flinch. And yet, Olivia is breaking down in such a way that even Cyrus looks worried. The weight of her past decisions – consenting to voter fraud to rig the presidential election for Fitz – has swallowed her up. Coupled with Edison’s proposal – a convenient, safe, normal way out – and Olivia is broken. Olivia has lost her compass, her sense of self. Because she wears the white hat. Only the white hat, as it turns out, isn’t white at all. It’s grey. And what do you do with things that are grey? They’re not so easy to parse out.

Fitz calls Liv, and she nearly doesn’t answer the phone. When she does, he tells her that he asked his wife for a divorce. She tells him that Edison proposed. He can hear, right from the start that something is very wrong, and he comforts her. He says listen to me, whatever’s wrong, we’ll fix it. Don’t say you’re marrying Edison. […] Say you’ll wait for me. Olivia hangs up the phone, unable to respond properly to the situation – although, the look on her face shows the audience a small flicker of surprise…and hope.

Say you’ll wait for me. Fitz finally knows what he wants and what he’s willing to do to get it. He’s not a coward anymore. He’s found strength and courage to be with the woman he loves, because he almost died. And that tends to put life into perspective. Cyrus, who is so used to handling Fitz, has lost control of him. He gives Fitz one of his pretty and powerful speeches ,complete with dominant posture and head tilts, and it does…nothing. Fitz has finally grown a pair.

No one, not even Mellie (for all her schemes and manipulations), knows to control Fitz, now. Cyrus and her conspire in this very Macbeth/Lady Macbeth scene, and I half-expected her to start monolouging about being unsexed (lit reference). She plays her last possible card, somehow convincing her doctor to induce her labor, even though it’s not medically necessary. Instead of going to see Liv as he intended, Fitz rushes to be by Mellie’s side, filling his role as coach and cheerleader. But that’s all it is: a role. It’s an expectation he filled, because he’s not an asshole who would leave his pregnant wife to have a baby ALONE. It is not where his heart lies, and Mellie has to understand that this desperate act won’t salvage her version of normal. It’s a life built on lies, not trust. On opportunity, not love. It is a thing of convenience, not happiness. And neither of them are truly, truly happy.

But then there’s still Liv, who only gets out of bed because Huck says that Cyrus is going to have Hollis murdered to keep their secret. Olivia may not feel like she deserves a White Hat anymore, but she sure as hell won’t voluntarily become a complacent villain either. She scrambles to help her team uncover the last shreds of truth about the election rigging – which the discovered together, while Olivia was in crisis. They traced Hollis’s payment for the election, trying to make a connection between Hollis and Becky, the woman who was hired to shoot the president. At the very end of the episode, we discover that it wasn’t Hollis who hired Becky. Someone else did. Concurrently, Cyrus’s hired assassin gets in the elevator with Hollis – and everything fades to black.

Olivia isn’t quite herself yet. She’s functioning, but just barely this side of emotional trauma. She has to get herself together and actually decide what she wants: if normal is the answer, or if it is just a Band-Aid covering a bullet hole made by a shotgun. If given the chance between an easy thing and passionate, crazy love – is it really a choice? Can you honor anything, if you don’t honor your own heart? Life is too short to play it safe, to settle for normal, to choose anything but everything. Fitz knows this, because his life nearly ended. Olivia has always been the one to pull away. And what if she finally does the opposite? What if she decides to stay, and not run? Forget normal. Be courageous. What if she decides to fight? I have a feeling that if Olivia Pope goes to battle for love, it’ll be one hell of a war.

Categories: Scandal
  1. Lucy
    February 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I am really looking forward to next week’s episode because it should be really interesting how things go down. Since I think this show going to keep Olivia and Fitz apart for as long as it can, I think the #gamechanger episode promised for next week is going to show some major relationship dynamics shifting once Fitz finds out about the election rigging and Olivia’s role in it. It might not destroy their “love” (I still have a very hard time calling a married man in love with a mistress no matter how sympathetic they are – reality isn’t like that), but it will definitely put a gigantic strain on it. I think it will pull her off the pedestal I think he has her on. It will make her closer to his scheming wife Mellie who he (and the show, apparently) keeps cast in the worst, most shrewish light.

    I can’t help but feel sympathy for Mellie. She’s a total climber, she’s nakedly ambitious – but it makes sense. She is, after all, a political wife. This is Washington. If Fitz didn’t like that aspect of public life, he should darn well have stayed out of politics. The smallest child knows Washington is a gladhanding cesspool. There is no place in there for a true idealist. When she made her speech about how “I created him” – that was meant to make her look evil but I found myself thinking, well, she’s right. By himself, Fitz is weak. Remember that elevator scene with Olivia? That was pathetic. With her prodding, he has made it all the way up to the highest office in the land. All wives and husbands “create” each other, in a sense, through years of work, pain, sweat and commitment. Sometimes it’s just as simple as companionship as love. Sometimes there’s a project involved, like being President. Fitz has become a powerful, stronger person in his life and Mellie is an integral part of that journey. And Olivia – who’s known him only two years – the interloper – is to reap all the benefits instead? I see why she’s enraged.

    But there are moments when I see on Mellie’s face (and seriously, serious props to Bellamy Young ) the terror of losing this person that she’s committed so much of her life to. She clearly feels like she’s lost her best friend. This man has taken his heart away from where it rightly belongs, and she has no safe place to go to show a more tender side to herself that her position will not allow. She falls back on her cold ambition because she has no soft place to fall.

    Now, if he sees Olivia as no better than Mellie in going after what she wants, Fitz is going to have to regard her as an imperfect being with qualities he won’t like. He’ll have to wake out of his dream of “true love” and look at the real human being he’s involved so completely in his world. It will be like getting married: you start getting to know the real person in all their error and ugliness as well as their beauty. Will be be able to handle that with Olivia as he clearly could not with his wife? That WILL be interesting to watch.

    Can you tell I can’t wait for the next ep?

    • February 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      I am SO looking forward to the next episode. I’m curious to see how everything goes down. I know that we differ in our opinions of Liv/Fitz (to me, it’s totally love, and I’m totally rooting for them), but I completely agree about Bellamy Young. She is freakin’ AMAZING. Totally stunning actress. Very self-contained, yet expressive. Perfect portrayal, really. I can’t say that I root for her, but something about her breaks my heart. You can see her realizing that she’s really losing Fitz, and there’s a painful panic on her face. I wonder what came first, though — the coldness in her or their marital distance? Chicken or the egg, I suppose. I think that no one on the show is a saint. That everyone is so perfectly flawed. They’re HUMAN. I don’t know that Fitz can throw any stones, when he discovers what Liv did. He has his own ghosts, his own demons. Love isn’t about perfection. It’s about connection, communication, flaws and fights. Friendship and respect, too. I think that, at the end of the day, love is greater than any mistake somebody made (rough paraphrase of a quote from the show).

  2. Lucy
    February 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

    *arg, I meant to say serious props to Bellamy Young (I looked her up). Silly non editable comments.

    • February 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

      You can’t edit it — but I can. I fixed it, Lucy! 🙂

  3. February 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Fitz isnt weak. He’s just a really good guy with a really bad temper. And I do feel for Mellie. Would Fitz have even gotten into politics and run 4 office if it wasnt 4 Mellie? Ok…idk…maybe he is weak. First his wife got the ball rolling and gave him the confidence to run 4 office, then his mistress sealed the deal. What would he be like alone, without iether women? I was thinking he’s more of a humanitarian, at heart, than a politician. Politics is 4 ambitious people, achievers. He’s not in it to win it, so to speak. He really just wants to make the world a better place. And-not that Olitz are going 2 end up together, obviously that will never happen-America wont accept a black women as FLOTUS. I understand how frustrating it must be 4 Mellie. Has Fitz actually ever done anything on his own without help? Im trying 2 think of previous episodes-I dont think so. And telling Mellie not to use her brain, when his own mistress is the smartest guy in the room, even when she’s with the president!

  4. February 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Fitz doesnt have the kind of ambitious personality to run 4 president. Ultimately Mellie’s ambition is the reason why he’s ran in the first place. Although, I dont believe Fitz wanted to be president, that was Mellie’s idea. If Fitz had it his way he’d probarly be feeding the hungry or giving out free vaccines somewhere in a villiage in Ethiopia or something.

  5. February 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Fitz doesnt have the kind of ambitious personality to run 4 president. Ultimately Mellie’s ambition is the reason why he’s ran in the first place. Although, I dont believe Fitz wanted to be president, that was Mellie’s idea. If Fitz had it his way he’d probarly be feeding the hungry or giving out free vaccines somewhere in a villiage in Ethiopia or India or something.

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