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Scandal: Revelation and Not Being Able to Hide

 

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.

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