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Burden of Proof: Talking Scandal

November 30, 2013 1 comment

 

In life, there are two important, telling factors: what is said and what is done. Often, people talk a good talk, but it’s just empty words. People say, more frequently than is good or right, things that they don’t mean. It’s easy, isn’t it? To offer words and not deeds. It’s the easiest solution to a difficult moment, but it is a bandaid over a bullet hole, because words are useless if they aren’t backed up back actions. Without actions, words are just pretty, like putting curtains on the window of a house that nobody lives in. That doesn’t make it a home.

In the most recent episode of Scandal (Vermont Is For Lovers, Too), the entire episode revolved around actions and words, either in tandem or in disparity. First, there’s poor shanghaied Quinn, forced to spy on her friends and attempting to cover her own, accidentally murdering ass – because Charlie is still working for B613. Quinn, who cannot be nonchalant to save her bloody life, is trying to keep track of the surveillance footage in order to ascertain whether or not she’s on it. Of course, Huck is having none of that, because the tech shit is his domain, and I’m pretty sure he suspects something, because she’s acting about as cool as a fried egg on a summer sidewalk. But the horribly awesome thing is that, despite the fact that Charlie is an asshole, there is a bit of a spark between him and Quinn. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shipping that at least a little. Because, despite myself, I am. Give me a break. George Newbern has pretty eyes, guys.

Meanwhile, Momma Pope does the crafty, unspeakable (and OH MY GOD, hard to watch) thing and chews her own wrists in order to be transferred to a less secure medical facility. Whatever she did, whatever she’s playing at, Momma Pope is fucking CRAFTY. Because, and this is very important, she even plays a few notes on Poppa Pope. I mean, she just wanted to see her daughter. Then she settled for photos. Then, once everyone was all, “Oh, she’s harmless” – BAM. She overpowers the doctor and runs for Liv. Now, you would think that Poppa Pope would’ve stationed some extra guards, since we don’t know quite what she did to deserve prison, but it feels a little bit…Irina Derevko from Alias. So, at least until proven otherwise, I feel like she was some kind of spy. Whatever she is, she has mad skills, determination, and she has to be pretty smart for finding Olivia THAT quickly, because she’s been in there twenty years. She would have NO IDEA how to work the internet. I’m just sayin’. *cough*

Of course, there’s the whole Josie Marcus storyline, which was that Josie’s sister/daughter tries to chuck her competition under the bus, by staging a fake robbery of laptop, planting it at Governor Restin’s headquarters (or was it his home? I can’t remember), with the hopes of toppling his public image. Instead, sister/daughter basically tanked sister/mother’s image, because Josie fell on her Roman sword in order to protect her sister/kid – allowing Lisa Kudrow to basically dissolve back into the political nothingness of Montana – eliminating her from the presidential race. You see, she claimed to have concocted and executed that nutball scheme. That whole Josie Marcus storyline felt like a bit of a derailment and distraction, a bit of a buildup for a not a lot of payoff. But I’ll take it, because it means more Liv and Fitz. Don’t worry – we’ll get to that in a moment.

I want to talk about Cyrus and James. Because a) they are one of my favorite TV couples and b) somebody needs to SMACK Cyrus upside his fool head. And I volunteer as tribute. In order to get some dirt on Sally Langston, Mellie and Cy go full-on Machiavelli and set up Daniel (VP’s husband) and James, respectively, for a mothereffin’ DISASTER. You see, Cyrus conveniently gets James a job interviewing Danny Boy. Mellie informs him that Cy and James have an open marriage. James, poor trusting soul that he is, doesn’t smell anything rotten in Denmark when Cy suggests alcohol and a nice cozy interview at Daniel’s home, alone, when his wife is out of town. Because nothing says NOT A SEDUCTION like a hot little vneck shirt and BOOZE. *cough* Unfortunately, the truth hits James like a comet when Danny Boy kisses him, spills the open marriage line, and James…he knows the truth about Cyrus setting him up. And the devastation that washes over his face is a thing of brilliance. Kudos to Dan Bucatinsky, who is a total darling and stunning actor. Cyrus, who is so secure in James’ goodness, had assured Mellie that his marriage is not like hers – that it won’t matter or affect his relationship. Which pretty much tanks off of a cliff, because there are PHOTOS of naked things, after James slinks home, late, and in need of a post-sex shower. James has proof that Cyrus manipulated the hell out of him, breaking his heart. Because despite everything, James trusts and loves Cy. And Cy, bless his manipulative little heart, does love James – because he also overlooks the fact that he isn’t a pawn on a chess board. And, perhaps, if he had just asked James to play along, he would’ve. Instead, he used him. And honey, nobody likes being used. I’m rather looking forward to James and Cyrus’ eventual confrontation about that whole Danny Boy thing – because for Cy to get pissed, he has to admit what he did. And for James to confront Cy, he has to admit what he did. And you know, Fitz isn’t the only one embroiled in a Shakespearean drama, is he?

Now, speaking of Fitz, we’re going to talk about Liv and Fitz. And I’m not even going to promise not to fangirl. Because I am. Hardcore and without shame. Fitz calls Liv. Liv basically tells him to frak off, hangs up, freaks out, and smashes the Fitz phone. Jake pretty much rolls his eyes and tells Liv that a frantically smashed phone will not sever their communication. Which turns out to be true, because Fitz flies Liv out to Vermont. And they FINALLY have the argument they’ve been needing to have for a while. They don’t fight dirty, and if you’re paying careful attention, Liv gets vulnerable. Liv reveals her guilty over hurting Fitz in the past, claiming that he needs to be protected for her, which is why she never revealed her father’s identity. That was a raw, honest moment – because who hasn’t been a relationship where, when you’re feeling low and a strange combination of cowardly/noble, you don’t tell the other person I’m no good for you. If you knew the truth, you’d run? (For the record, if you try to protect me from myself, I will have none of that.) Fitz basically called Liv on her shit, and then reveals that this fantastic house that they’re standing in – complete with a piano and a Fitz hand-laid fireplace – was something he had built for him and Liv.

You know, back before everything exploded and they broke up for the billionth time.

It’s funny, in life, how words aren’t enough. How actions change everything. And that house? Man, that’s words turned into reality. That’s proof. Who, at one point or another, doesn’t want a tangible token of love? Fitz was planning for their future together, outside of the public eye. Fitz even had a gorgeous kitchen put in for Liv’s figurative jam making. This reality, this solid manifestation of his love for her, causes her to drop all her reservations and walls, cross the room, and kiss the hell of him.

The next scene is brilliant cross-cut with Mellie trying to get ahold of her husband, followed by Liv – neither of whom can be reached, because they’re busy doing the dirty. For Mellie, that is her proof that Liv might come back to the White House as well as where her husband’s heart really lies. As if there was ever any real doubt. But there was, I think, a moment where she thought things might be a little different, because he did defend her on national TV. With that unreachable moment, that little hope was completely snuffed out. And I did feel a touch bad for her.

The love scene between Liv and Fitz was, as usual, pretty hot. And in a completely fangirl moment, Tony Goldwyn looks damn fine in nothing but boxers. I can’t even. Everything about him is gorgeous, and I’m not above admitting that the view of his back left me a little slack jawed.

But the emotional component to that scene, the morning after where he asked her to stay even knowing that she couldn’t, was brilliantly done. These two absolutely cannot keep away from each other, because they love the hell out of each other. What I do find interesting is that Fitz is always the one verbalizing his affections. He has no problem telling her I love you, and there are times where Liv looks like she’s going to say it…but then doesn’t. And damn, who hasn’t been there, right? She does, of course, utter those sentiments in her own way, when she tells him not to sell the house just yet. That says that she wants to be with him too, and that not all hope is lost. For Liv, there’s a vulnerability in her eyes when she tells him that, before departing. For now, I suppose, that admission is enough. Eventually, she’s going to have to say the words again, no matter how hard it is. No matter how much it reveals her heart, her fears, and all her insecurities. Because there’s going to be a moment where she can’t keep in it anymore. Or maybe where she knows that Fitz needs to hear it. I’ll be interested to see in what circumstances she says it, again. And I have to get Scott Folely mad love for his character’s “I told you so” moment with Liv, post-Vermont booty call. Because he was partly jealous and partly like, “I KNEW IT.”

Of course, at the end of the episode two things are revealed: Momma Pope finds Liv. And Liv’s whole façade of calm and in control melts away. And Huck is waiting in Quinn’s apartment, with his Tools of Persuasion and absolutely no mercy. That…is going to be interesting as hell. Because who really wants to torture a friend? (A sentence I never thought I’d write.)

The interesting thing about this episode was its push and pull between what we think we know and what actually is true. There was a constant flow of discovery on nearly all sides, and the importance of words versus actions was expertly revealed. This show constantly walks the line between secrets and revelation. The funny thing is that no matter what gets revealed, there are always more things we don’t know – the ‘we’ meaning the audience as well as the characters. And I’m curious to see what is revealed about Momma Pope – even though something tells me that we probably shouldn’t trust her.

Trust, of course, begins when you can match up words and actions. That’s a solid foundation for any relationship. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see who is trustworthy in the end.

Categories: Scandal

Everyday magic

November 22, 2013 Leave a comment

            Sometimes, we forget to just slow down. Sometimes, we forget the importance of just talking. No expectations, just a conversation. Just communication. Because talking, man, is so important. So is seeing things from someone else’s perspective. And, you know, I’m guilty of getting stuck in my own head on occasion. Even when I might know it’s happening, that I’m doing it again, I can’t always reason with my idiot brain.

            It is so important not to be selfish. I can be just that, even though I’m not a selfish person by nature. I get too caught up in what I want, that I occasionally forget what someone else might need. This makes me an idiot at times, but I’m human. We’re all capable of idiocy.

            The truth is, though, that I caught myself doing this the other day. I had to be reminded to slow down and maybe focus somewhere else. That nothing gets done by throwing yourself into a wall, or a fire, or a den of wolves – no matter how cute those wolves seem. Of course, those are all metaphors.

            So, once I realized that, I realized what I needed to do – and that things just needed to be for a bit. In my effort toward slowing down in one respect, everything else has sped up. I’ve been working on projects, figuring out details, and making plans. There’s an art to everything, really. A kind of everyday magic.

            It’s times like this where I’m thankful for the people in my life. I’m grateful for my family and friends, crazy as they are. I’ve never claimed to be a paragon of reason and sanity, anyway. Life would be horribly boring if that were the case.

            Right now, out the window, the dimming sun’s light looks almost silver, as it’s peeking out between the clouds. The air, I know, is crisp. The leaves are nearly done falling off every tree. Things are changing. Sometimes, change doesn’t look so beautiful. But then there’s sunlight, moonlight, and the sky full of its soldier stars. Even when things aren’t exactly how I want them to be, they are exactly what they need to be.

            We’ll get there eventually, darlings. 

Categories: Uncategorized

Protecting Others Before Ourselves: “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” recap

November 20, 2013 Leave a comment

            There’s an old, somewhat trite saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The outside isn’t necessarily representative of the inside. In fact, it can be misleading almost entirely. What do you find on a book cover? The title of something and the name of who wrote it. Now, anyone who reads knows that a title will only make sense, truly, with the context of the novel. And the name of the person who wrote it, who crafted the story, isn’t really indicative of much hard fact. Both might catch an eye, but neither explain what you’d find inside.

            And it’s really the inside of everything that counts, isn’t it? What’s hidden without our pages, unavailable to the outside world, without a bit of effort and time? I’d say that this is the theme of last week’s episode of Scandal (Everything’s Coming Up Mellie), which revealed so much that, perhaps, we’d previously written off – judging by the outside.

            First, let’s talk about mothereffin’ Quinn. Huck has been ignoring her in a vain effort to protect her pretty much from herself. He sees the tendencies in her that lean toward murderous and crazy – and a “whiskey” addiction. He is, undoubtedly, trying to save her by not exposing her to his life, anymore. But like anyone who has been given a taste of something a bit untoward and morally questionable – and liked it – Quinn’s hungry for it. She can’t stop. She won’t stop. She – you get the picture. She is conveniently befriended by Charlie, Huck’s once upon a time friend and colleague. And, initially, it’s almost sweet. They bond at the shooting range, and he kind of becomes a surrogate Huck, with decidedly more overt romantic undertones. Because there’s a vibe there, too, between Quinn and Huck. But nothing’s ever happened. So, Charlie enlists Quinn’s help with a scheme, kisses her to get her more motivated, and then pretty much tricks her into killing someone…dragging her into B613, the very place that Huck was trying to protect her from. To make matters worse, Huck ignores her panicked phone call and the person that she killed was the only person who could shed any light (aside from Poppa Pope) on the plane that Fitz supposedly shot down.

            Meanwhile, Mellie is attempting to restore her public image with a media campaign. She’s pretty embarrassed when Fitz isn’t where he’d promised he’d be, missing out on a perfect camera op and kind of making her look like a moron. We get flashbacks to happy, relatively newly wed Fitz and Mellie, which is kind of jarring, given their usually tenuous détente. In this, we also get Flashback Cyrus, who was then married to a woman. Cy gives Mellile some free advice, basically telling her that she’d have to take a backseat to Fitz if she wanted to get him elected to Governor. And so we get the genesis of Mellie’s sacrificial modus operandi – past and present – shoving aside what she wants for the sake of Fitz and the glory that comes along with that position.

            But, here, we need to talk about the rape scene. Late one night, Douchebag Jerry Grant is three gallons into his scotch (which, by the way, not an excuse for his behavior, in case anyone was wondering – rape is not a crime of passion. No one becomes a rapist if the hit some kind of alcohol threshold. No, rape is a crime of anger and control.), he goes on and on about how he’s a good father, because Fitz doesn’t want to cow tail to his whims (doesn’t want to run for governor on the platform on his military record). Basically, he’s throwing a drunken hissy fit, pity party because he’s not in charge. He then tells Mellie that she’s pretty and rapes her. Now, first, Bellamy Young is so amazing in this scene. It was so hard to watch, because you can see (as the victim) so much going on in her eyes. And if you’re me, that’s when you started shouting at the tv screen, because WHERE THE FUCKING HELL WAS FITZ? *ahem* After the horrible scene, Mellie goes upstairs to Fitz, who has NO idea what just happened, because a) victims often feel like they can’t talk about a rape, because of a fear of being blamed, among other things (because this is the unfortunate, piss me the fuck off culture that we are entrenched in, sometimes) and b) somewhere in the back of her head, she knows what that would do to Fitz and that it would pretty much decimate the pathetic relationship that he does have with Douchebag. When Fitz pulls her close, and she flinches at his touch (contrast to earlier scene of them in bed and lovey), it broke my heart. I felt so bad for Mellie that I just wanted to hug her. We then, the next morning, see a frostier Mellie use Douchebag’s atrocious and unacceptable bullshit crime against him, like the Machiavellian Mellie that we all love to (sometimes) hate. I think we’re supposed to understand that this is what caused the rife between her and Fitz, this silent, unknown enemy of an event. And yet, while I wanted to applaud Mellie for pulling some good out of it (getting what Fitz wanted out of his father), it left me feeling somewhat…icky. That plot turn made me really uncomfortable, which was probably the point. But I’m also not sure that I bought it as a backstory/character development element. Something about it felt…off. 

            Now, this all brings up to the shark-shaped elephant in the room: little Jerry, Mellie’s son. We, the audience and perhaps Mellie, do not know if little Jerry is Fitz’s or Douchebag’s child. Honestly, I yelled, “Are you KIDDING me?” at the TV screen when that intimation happened. Because…really? That plot point felt a little…unworthy of Shonda Rimes. Not because women don’t conceive children from rape (like some idiots mistakenly sputter), but because it felt like it was merely there for the shock value.

            Speaking of shock value, Momma Pope isn’t dead. *throws confetti* SURPRISE! I mean, we all saw that coming, right? It was all a little too convenient with the Fitz-was-on-a-secret-mission storyline. But the look on his face when Liv revealed her mother was supposedly on that plane? That was total shock. You know, what you supposed to feel when it was revealed that Momma Pope isn’t dead. (Seriously, was I the only one who was a bit YAWN on that?) Elsewhere, Fitz figures out that Eli is Poppa Pope and the entanglements just seem to get more tangled, proving that just when you think you know everything, you really don’t.

            I’m curious to see the eventual confrontation between Liv and Poppa Pope. Because SERIOUSLY? Wrangling Quinn into committing murder? That isn’t going to make Sunday dinners any easier. I’m pretty much biding my time until she roasts him over a metaphorical spit.

            Final thoughts:

            1. Sally Langston’s husband seems a little bit bisexual.

            2. I really hope that Cyrus doesn’t ask James to be man bait.

            3. I’m not a huge fan of the deliberately contentious vibe between Fitz and Liv. It feels disingenuous, but I’m willing to see how it all pans out. Impatiently, of course. Because I need my Olitz.

            4. Even though, honestly, a part of me does like Jake, despite the fact that I don’t exact trust him, either. Given Poppa Pope’s use of people as pawns, it is reasonable to assume he’d place Jake there to keep an eye on Liv. Because he isn’t exactly father of the year.

            5. Why is Momma Pope in prison? And will she get to see Olivia? Um, yes, otherwise that’s a dead plot line. But I can’t help but wonder if Momma Pope is some kind of spy. Although, that might be a little too Alias. 

Categories: Uncategorized

bravery cannot be measured *

November 19, 2013 1 comment

“Just to be clear
I don’t want to get out
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life
so shattered
there’s going to have to be
a thousand separate heavens
for all my flying parts.” ~Andrea Gibson

The truth is this: sometimes, things hurt – but I don’t have words for the pain. I can’t parse it out, pull it limb from limb, or untie it like a knot. Sometimes, it sits in the middle of my stomach, undigested, like I’ve swallowed enough rocks for a mermaid to drown. When I dare to take a breath, it’s more water than air, and I remember everything I set on fire trying to conjure the rain.

My secret is made of red lace and love. It hangs in my closet, just like I promised. I don’t talk about it. I let the silence roam free, like a tiger holding its breath. It is a trigger for every insecurity I pretend I do not have. But, sometimes, I worry that I am a mistake. That I’m a building on fire, and you’re smart to run. When I’m vulnerable, my thoughts feel like a crime scene made of bees. Still, I try to pretend that the sting doesn’t hurt. More so, that I’m not cradling the pain.

When you’re surrounded by a hurricane, every clap of thunder is another excuse to run. But the truth is that my heart is fragile enough to shatter, if only to make stained glass out of an ugly world. I have no parachute. I’m always holding the matches. Sometimes, I cry so hard that the moon hides and the star bleed out – and I’m chasing music with deaf ears. 

But even without the promise of a song, I still need the music.

*title comes from a line from Andrea Gibson’s poem, “Royal Heart.” The same poem as the quote at the beginning.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

seasons

November 11, 2013 1 comment

 

 

the springtime

in your touch has swallowed

all my winters, and my heart paces

hungry as a sunbeam, hands looking

for a harvest, desire

climbing the walls

like ivy, while all the imaginings

tumble out softly, fiercely,

a slow fog in summer.

 

my heart

is still and infinite as twilight —

I crave your mouth,

your kiss sleek

as a fall leaf, burning

beautifully, as I prowl

like a wolf, sniffing at the memory.

 

this love is a river

and a mountain, a tree

made of fire and of rain,

a breath that slips out

between shadows, a sigh

that feels like an earthquake,

cherry blossoms surrendering

themselves, even though it isn’t the season –

 

we are beyond all that,

beyond all reason:

this is love,

born in an hour, an instant,

living past its own silhouette.

 

my heart runs together

with yours, and nothing

with ever be the same again.

the magic of small things

November 5, 2013 Leave a comment

            There’s something about fall that makes me think of magic. That makes me feel like everything is magic. If there’s something the world needs more of, it’s that. Even if it is the magic of small things, like kindness and hope. Emily Dickinson once described hope as a “thing with feathers, that sings that tune without the words and never stops at all.” The phrasing is correct, but the line breaks probably aren’t. I would have to agree with her, but I’d also say that hope is a leaf turned to fire, beauty just before transformation.

            Every morning when I’m in my car, I’m reminded of the power of change. I used to hate change. It used to terrify the hell out of me. It used to make me rebel, either internally or externally. I liked tradition. I like consistency. I like the safety that you can find in certainty. And then, things happened. Instances that change everything. I can number two. The specifics aren’t relevant. But think of a moment that turned everything inside out. Think of a person. Think of a kiss. Think of a leap you took, hands shaking. The good and the bad. Conjure it. Remember equal parts tears and laughter.

            I’ve gotten better about change. There are times where I even welcome it. I’ve become more flexible than I used to be. Not that I was some kind of rigid, unreasonable monster. But I often had to talk myself into things. Now, I’m more inclined to grin and say, “What the hell?” According to Marilyn Monroe, that’s always the right answer.

            There were things that used to scare me. They don’t anymore. I’ve never been one to be concerned about what people think. I know, and I’ve always known, that people are often quick to judge, condemn, and raise an eyebrow – without really stopping to listen or even try to understand. I’m the opposite: even if I don’t agree with something, I will do my damned best to try and understand it. I will listen. I will put myself where you are. I will try to see what you see. Maybe that’s because I’m a Libra. Maybe it’s because I always want to know. Either way, I am what I am. *quietly eats spinach*

            But fall. It’s here. The wind feels like the ghost of winter. It kiss with a chill. And yet, I don’t mind. I see the leaves, ranging from green to gold, from yellow to red, and I am not in mourning for the inevitable winter. Instead, I’m opening my heart to the magic that we often overlook. The power to say yes. The power to bend. The way everything makes sense, even when it shouldn’t. The way we often, inexplicably, know the depths of our hearts – dancing and bottomless, brave and vulnerable.

            Lately, life feels like a matter of when, not if. I can’t remember the last time I believe in so many things so feverishly and without doubt or hesitation. This is what comes of following your passion. This is what comes of looking into the face of a scary thing and diving off a cliff. Of, as I’ve often advised my friend Jessica, just doing The Thing, whatever it is. Because anyone who dares, knows. Anyone who tries, understands. Anyone who has been brave will tell you of the power of it.

            I’ve never lived a perfect life. I’ve never been one to live inside the lines. I’ve walked the line, crossed it, and never looked back. This is a thing you need to do if you’re going to be true to who you are. If you are going to create things, be it art or relationships.

            I tend to be neurotic. I’m low-key (not Loki. Although…), but I can be a total spaz. Sometimes, I babble and cannot shut up. Sometimes, I am entirely silly. I am smart, sometimes too smart. I am made of belief and good intentions, stitched together with absolute love. I am unconditional. I am never someone who runs. People need to be reminded of that, occasionally, because the world is full of people who do run. Those people are usually more lost than they know or admit. But I have never once looked up at the sky and not seen the stars. e.e. cummings once wrote, “Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.” There is nothing I trust more than my own heart, whether the sea is on fire or I am. 

Tell me, darlings, what do you trust? What do you put your faith in? How often do you chance to truly see the stars? 

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

Scandal: Revelation and Not Being Able to Hide

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Often, in life, we think we’re more clever than we actually are. We think that we’ve kept something hidden, only to find out – surprise! – we have all the stealthy skills of an epileptic water buffalo. That is to say…none. Personally speaking, I remember someone making an observation about me, once, that surprised me because of its accuracy. And, honestly, because that particular person was, generally, unobservant. If he saw it, then I REALLY wasn’t hiding it well.

The things we keep hidden, for good or not-so-good reasons, are tricky. Even if our intentions are pristine, things always come to light in one way or another. When that happens, we choose what comes next. We throw our lot in, one way or another. We disappear. We make a call. We cross lines. We find allies.

In this past Thursday’s Scandal (More Cattle, Less Bull), revelation runs rampant. Olivia has taken on Congresswoman Josephine Marcus, played by the lovely Lisa Kudrow. It turns that she had a child at 15, who she says was given up for adoption. Liv’s team flies out to the congresswoman’s hometown, only to learn that is a partial truth: Marcus’s mother raised the child as her sister…who also happens to have a large part in the congresswoman’s political life. And no idea that her sister is her mother. Oh, complications. They are plentiful.

Secretly, Huck and Jake are working together to uncover the information about an unknown mission that B613 (and, obviously, Poppa Pope) are desperate to keep secret. It was all kinds of fabulous to see these two bonding over covert opps and, interestingly enough, Liv. Huck at one point tells Jake that Liv should be happy, and that he can make her happy. Huck is, as always, worried about Liv – because of the president and all the difficulties that come with that, despite the fact that these two haven’t seen each other in a while.

In a moment of vulnerability, Liv and Jake have a conversation about Liv’s secret Fitz Phone, where she confesses that she keeps waiting for him to call, because she always vets his jokes for the White House Correspondents Dinner. At which point, we watch her chuck the phone into the trash. It seems like Jake might be able to turn Liv’s frown upside down, and yet Jake is no fool. Jake sees Liv for all her sly little secrets and sees through her façade. He never holds back and generally speaks his mind, which I find refreshing. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

David invites Abby to the dinner. She accepts, but then lies about being back in town on time. Understandably, David is hurt, and they have a fight. Only to reconcile later, when David realizes the truth – and Abby shows up at his apartment in a GORGEOUS dress. Abby’s abusive ex-husband (who is in politics, but I’m not quite sure we’ve ever learned in what capacity) was at the dinner. That is the real reason why Abby couldn’t go, even though she tried. She’d gotten dressed but couldn’t get out of the car. Abby’s tried to keep it to herself, because admitting something like that is hard. Sometimes, we try to keep that kind of secret as a defense mechanism. Because talking about it brings up the past, dredges up memories that never quite stop aching. And Abby’s ex was, by all accounts, a raging douchebag of the asshat parade. I assume we’ll get to meet him at some point. But this bit of revelation brings David and Abby closer together, because he gets it, and they’re able to talk it out.

Meanwhile, it comes out that the congresswoman had a child – she ended up confessing this on national television. She made the revelation with grace and aplomb, but it cost her. Her sister/daughter is not an idiot. She did the math, realized the truth, and stormed off. Which…is understandable, especially in the sense that it is not a country song, but real life. And someone you’ve loved your whole life has been lying to you. Your whole identify would be tossed on its head. In the aftermath, the congresswoman fires Liv, erroneously placing the blame for the situation on Liv’s shoulders. And that seems like it’s that.

Which brings us to the clandestine phone call between Liz and Fitz. Liv is alone in her office, presumably at night, and the phone in the trash begins to ring. And this happens:

Liv: You’re calling me.

Fitz: I’m calling you. I’m hiding from Mellie – in the bathroom.

Liv: I just dug the phone out of the trash.

The inflection during this conversation is almost as important as the words themselves. Repeatedly, during the episode, we hear Cyrus and Mellie talk about how Fitz looks…defeated. How he isn’t himself. Especially during a conversation with Leo Bergen, who Mellie and Cyrus want to hire for Fitz’s reelection campaign (and who flat-out turns them down, because of Fitz’s overall demeanor that portrays that of an already beaten man). We are to infer, again, that without Liv, Fitz is less. Because, let’s face it: some people make us better versions of ourselves. Some people make us braver and more awesome, because they help us to shine. Without Liv, Fitz has dulled like an old blade. An old blade will still cut, but it won’t be pretty. It won’t be as precise.

But Fitz on the phone with Liv? His face lights up. He’s relaxed. He’s himself. And he’s vulnerable, because he is able to talk about his fears and insecurities. He tells Liv things he hasn’t told Cy or Mellie. And Liv and Fitz both confess that they’re on the same page, emotionally, in the previously quote exchanged. Liv dug the phone out of the garbage. Fitz is hiding in the bathroom. They do what they can, when they can, to be there for each other. Liv confesses that she was fired. Fitz consoles her. He confesses his feelings about the dinner, and she rallies him. And makes him laugh. A real laugh. He is able to laugh at himself, with Liv’s help. That’s a pretty powerful thing.

Of course, the phone call is supposed to be a secret, but the secret has come out in its own way. In a brilliant bit of cinematography, we get a smidge of dramatic irony: Mellie hears Fitz’s conversation with Liv. She’s at the door. (Seriously, he couldn’t think to actually SHUT the door?) That was a beautifully done element, because it only serves to intensify a later scene. (We’ll get to it.)

Liv calls up Jake and asks him to take her to the dinner. Jake agrees, because he wants to make Liv happy, like Huck suggested. But he knows that Liv is only going there to see the president, and at the end of the evening, he confronts her about that, tells her that he’s done, and he won’t play second fiddle to anyone. Honestly, that made me kind of love him. Even as much as I root for Liv and Fitz, he had a damned good point. And I love that he calls Liv out on her bullshit, because he knows the truth: she seems so together, but she’s really not. Speaking of deceiving appearances, the vice president trying to snake Leo away in order for her run for president was deliciously devious and damned awesome. Sally Langston is tired of being a pawn, but she’s nowhere near able to be a queen. And Leo was basically, “Oh, honey no.” And I loved it.

Lastly, the scene between Mellie and Liv was the best thing about the episode. In a brilliant bit of deception, Tom (Fitz’s go-to guy) tricks Liv into meeting with not Fitz, but Mellie. Liv, dressed impeccably in black and white (symbolism ftw), and Mellie, dressed to draw eyes and attention beautifully, had a stunning exchange.

Mellie, in a heartbreaking turn, admits that without Liv, Fitz is less. He cannot win without her, and she asks Liv to come back and run his campaign. Because the congresswoman has just fired Liv, you can see her consider it. You can visually see that she’s persuaded by the honest appeal. And you begin, as a member of the audience, to imagine the Olitz of it all, if Liv returns to the White House to run Fitz’s campaign. The old gang back together again? They’d be unstoppable.

Which is, of course, why the next plot point happens. (Admittedly, I’m so not a fan of this particular storyline, because it feels woefully constructed and entirely too convenient.) The congresswoman wants to hire Liv back, and, to the absolute horror of Harrison, she turns it down. Because of the whole Fitz potential. Only to have Jake and Huck show up to explain that, hey, it is really possible that Fitz shot down the plane that Liv’s mother was on…resulting in her mother’s death. That plot point feels vaguely of shark-jumping shape, but I’m willing to see how it actually plays out. If it’s a temporary hurdle/misdirect, fine. If it turns that Fitz actually killed Liv’s mother, I think we’ve gone way past country song status and fallen into the Eternal Bog of WTF. (Obscure Labyrinth shout-out.)

Granted, Jake and Huck have Liv’s back. They’re looking out for her. And yet, this is the team up that gives me pause. It is awfully convenient that Jake just happens to befriend Huck, who Liv trusts implicitly, only to reveal that Fitz is response for Momma Pope’s demise (not her actual name – she never took Liv’s dad’s name). I mean, if Poppa Pop was looking to drive a giant wedge between Liv and Fitz (not the first time PP has done that – remember Edison’s mysterious car accident?), that would certainly do it. And I completely think that Eli/Rowan is capable of using that tragedy to his own strategic advantage.

Of course, as with all things, the actual truth with separate out from the lies, half-lies, and shadows. Poppa Pope is a clever, ruthless man. But even clever people run afoul of their own hubris at some point. His flaw is, perhaps, that he underestimates his own daughter. That he sees her for the easily manipulated, good little girl she perhaps once was. But Liv, though she carries that part of herself with, is not that girl anymore. I, for one, cannot wait until she Olivia Pope’s Poppa Pope. And I, of course, we bring the popcorn for that showdown.