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Scandal: Characterization and Plot Problems

October 24, 2014 3 comments

So, Scandal, guys. For me, I’m having some problems with the show. It’s not as problematic as last season, but a lot of the carryover from that is affecting this season. Instead of a recap, I’m going to talk about things that are bugging me. Because, you know, it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. Wait…

I don’t know who to root for anymore – but not for the reason you might think. I’ve been a Liv and Fitz shipper from day one. I’ve loved the moderately dysfunctional Scooby Gang at OPA. But the dynamics between each character feels off, and not in a character growth/potentially-awesome-plot-point kind of way.

Last week’s episode finally had Liv and Fitz in the geographical region of the Feels. Their theme started to play, and it could’ve both been redemptive and romantic. Instead, it made me want to hurl things at the scream and yell obscenities. I DID yell obscenities, but I like my TV too much to wound it. Fitz, even wrapped in his grief, should never have used Liv as means to prove his manhood. He couched the entire conversation in terms of his rampant failure (pity party, Presidential party of one!) – and instead of it being about their reconciliation, about them as a couple, Fitz was one shade away from Drunk Elevator Fitz. He tried to use Liv as some kind of sex bandaid, and it was all kinds of wrong. This wasn’t some kind of emotional reunion moment. And while yes, they always have that spark – that physical chemistry – that scene made me cringe so hard. Because it wasn’t about them being together; it was about her filing a need. It undervalued her as a person AND their relationship on the whole. In summation: it was not motherfucking Vermont.

Additionally, there was Liv and her highly insensitive reveal about her Sex Vacation. I still have issues with her up and abandoning Fitz, right after his son died, regardless of ANY extenuating circumstances. Because you do not FLEE someone’s life who just lost a child. Immediately and without looking back or even trying to check in. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. So, she ran off with Jake, who seems to have been Fitz’s only friend. (Cyrus is not his friend. He’s everybody’s monster. Except for that thing that died on his head. That thing has managed to upstage him. Seriously: WHY?) Jake and Fitz have a history. And Jake went after Liv. That’s shitty. Then, Liv dashes off with Jake for MONTHS, and she then (with all the grace of a two-legged elephant) blurts out that Jake went on her escape with her. How is that even remotely sensitive? (Hint: it isn’t.) It was done purely for shock value, and I don’t like it. Liv is not that callous. And yet…

So, this week’s episode. Jake is being held in the Pentagon, because Shady Tom pegged him for the murder of Jerry Grant. He stops eating in an effort to force Fitz to show up. He eventually tells Fitz that it was Rowan. And knowing exactly how slim-tastic Rowan is, of course Fitz believes him. Oh, wait – no he doesn’t! Because we’re supposed to believe this far-fetched plot point that Fitz suddenly has  no understanding of how Rowan operates. Hi, believability? I’m going to need you to take a vacation, mmmkay?

I can’t root for Jake at all either. While I liked him when he first appeared, and he seemed like a relative white hat in a sea of grey hats at best, he’s well beyond being redeemable. And therein lies a big problem: nearly everyone on this show is a murderer. Once he killed James, that was it: he crossed the line. He also has the maturity of three-day-old roadkill, because of his constant nagging about Olivia not being his girlfriend/their relationship being only about booty calls/how amazing he is in bed – then bragging to Fitz about their sexcapades. Is he five? I mean, really.

That aside, let’s talk about Davey Crockett’s Raccoon Hair himself: Cyrus. He goes and tells Liv what’s going on with Jake. He gets his gloat on. And she tells him that no one should believe Rowan. Also, guys? THE EMEPEROR IS NAKED. Meanwhile, we had a previous scene were Rowan and Liv have a majorly awkward father/daughter chat, wherein he chides her for not spending a kidney on her wine. Speaking as someone whose wine has often come in a box, you’re on very thin ice, sir. Annnnnyway, Liv can tell CYRUS never to believe her father, and yet we’re supposed to swallow this tentative relationship between the two? I don’t think so. It is inconsistent at best. The fact that any of the characters believe anything Rowan says is infuriating.

Next up, let’s talk about Mellie. Now, I loved the hell out of Drunk Mellie. I felt like it was real and honest, plus an interesting character turn. You can identify with Mellie not giving an immaculate damn about anything, after losing her son. Except, she was getting better there for a hot minute. She had a good heart-to-heart with Karen last week. Put the pearls back on for personal appearance in the episode before that. And now, she’s back to swirling around her vodka cup. Um, NO.

The exchange between Fitz and Mellie about the death of their son…it rang hollow, to me. It felt false that Mellie would offer up that their son died for a reason, a cause, like a solider – and find solace in that. Because she doesn’t really believe in anything right now. And to think that she’d see Fitz’s election as a silver lining for Jerry’s death? Not buying it at all. Of course, when she gets in the shower toward the end of the episode (after learning the supposedly murderer is in custody), we’re now supposed to see that she’s on the upswing. As if knowing that his murderer was caught is somehow the key to her mental state. That implies that her mess has been tied to not knowing who killed Jerry, not necessarily the loss of Jerry. That seems problematic to me, given the nature of grief and Mellie’s character.

Lastly, I want to talk about Huck. Huck, who apparently confessed to his ex-wife everything that ever happened to him, is a flipping mess. Don’t get me wrong: Guillermo plays the hell out that character. I am constantly astounded by his facial expressions, which convey multiple layers of feelings. The fact that he isn’t believed feels like it’s nothing more than a plot device. Maybe it’s to set it up for him and Quinn to be together, again. Maybe it’s just to put him through the ringer with another tragedy. But all the crazy crap that’s gone on in his character’s life, this reunion/reconciliation going wrong, too? It’s too much. It’s also easily avoided if Huck asked Liv to speak with his ex. Or even Quinn. ANYONE to back up his story. Instead, he just plods along like the saddest trombone in comedy of errors in which NO ONE is laughing. His ex also comes off as an unfeeling bitch, so congratulations for making me NOT root for them to be together, ever.

That’s it. That’s my rant. There’s no eloquent ending, just my slowly fizzling displeasure.

Categories: Scandal, tv Tags: ,

Grief Has No Edges: Scandal and The State of the Union

October 5, 2014 1 comment

Poet Marty McConnell once wrote, “what no one tells you / about grief is that it has no edges.” That line kept rolling around in my head, while I was watching this past week’s episode of Scandal. Grief has no edges – therefore, it makes no visible cuts or marks. It’s rounded at the corners, meaning it’s violently smooth-edged ache. The kind that builds. The kind that extends – you can’t find its corners, because it has none. Grief is a bubble, and when it pops (when a person finally hits his/her breaking point) it spills out. And make no mistake, overt or not, in this episode – everyone is grieving.

“State of the Union” begins with Jake and Liv running. A bit of apt symbolism there, because those two are constantly using each other to run away from everything else. Talk about a door marked Exit. *ahem* Where was I? Right. Jake. He’s decided to take some kind of weird stand, getting himself a hotel room so that he and Liv can have booty calls, because he doesn’t want to hang around her apartment like a sex on demand. (Because, as far as the moral high ground goes, booty calls are somehow better? I don’t know, dude. That logic is pretty thin.)

That conversation dovetails into Liv meeting with Cyrus, whose hair still looks like someone murdered a raccoon and glue the remains to his head. (Please, for the love of coffee and kittens, someone make that stop.) Cy is pretty pissed that Liv didn’t reach out when she got home, and it is pretty shitty, as far as friendships go. Poor Cyrus, though. He’s now on a strict diet, meaning no more meat (and oh my god, oh my god – we’ll get to THAT symbolism later). Essential, Cy strong-arms her into taking a case for the White House, because he’s Cy and he’s not above a bit of manipulative blackmail. Which brings us the case-of-the-week, James and Lisa Elliot – they’re the public face of gun control for Fitz’s State of the Union address. He’s a decorated soldier, and she’s confined to a wheelchair, having been shot saving kids during a school shooting. But as we quickly learn, the state of THEIR union is cantankerous at best. The Hatfields and the Mcoys got along better, guys.

Elsewhere, we find Mellie deep in the midst of her I Don’t Give a Fuck trip, grieving her son, while eating potato chips on his grave. She’s still traipsing about in her Hugh Hefner-lite attire, which is her right. She lost a son. But unfortunately for her, she ends up in the papers, painted as a looney bird. There’s a great shot of Fitz looking agonized, glancing at Mellie across the cemetery. The state of their union is one of an odd armistice; their grief is what’s keeping them together, even though they’re living separate lives still.

Abby (Gabby!) is still masquerading as Olivia Pope-lit, which I really do not care for. Abby is a great character. To have her essentially mimicking a pale version of Liv (she even seems to be DRESSING like her), it’s strange. It would be one thing if she was killing it as the press secretary. She’s not. She’s playacting. She’s not being herself, and while her hair looks amazing, it feels weird and awkward – especially in light of the Liv-esque speech she later gives Mellie.

Quinn and Huck are still in the midst of this weird relationship limbo. And they get to babysit James and Lisa, which is hilarious. Huck and James end up drunkenly singing, and it’s pretty much the best.

Mellie is hanging around eating fried chicken (I feel you, woman. I eat my grief, too.). Fitz tries to talk her into attending the State of the Union address, which she laughs at. Cyrus tries to, and they end up measuring griefs like men measure penises. Because, lest we forget, Cy lost his husband not that long ago. “A broken heart is a broken heart. To take a measure is cruelty.” True words, Cyrus. But they don’t move Mellie one inch.

While Fitz is watching Liv’s interview (and James and Lisa) air, his grief over missing her is stark on his face. There’s a naked longing there. And simultaneously, Liv is sitting with her popcorn and wine, staring at her phone. Where she’d normally have called Fitz, she called Jake. They argue over having a booty call, and she says he should come back – that the hotel room is unnecessary. And he asks, “Are you summoning me?” That is an echo of Liv’s speech that she gave to Fitz (“You do NOT summon me.” “And you don’t walk away from ME.”). Except without any passion whatsoever. It’s like they’re arguing over what color of beige to paint the walls. Jake refuses to jump when Olivia says so, and they hang up the phone. He continues looking into the murder of Harrison and Adnan.

Meanwhile, Lizzie (Portia de Rossi) slinks in to try and get David Rosen’s nomination thrown out. (Are they purposefully styling her to look like Hillary Clinton?) Which flies about as well as Dumbo without his feather, because he realized he didn’t need it to fly. The evidence that Lizzie brings out about David is the fabricated domestic abuse story from a previous season. It’s rather genius that plot point was used to come back and bite him in the ass. Harrison supposedly buried it, but not deep enough. So, his nomination is tanked. Curiously, David spits out his opinion about how awful Olivia is, trying to get Abby to agree with him, because she doesn’t work there anymore. But she…does not. Is that loyalty I smell there? Why, yes. I think it is. In a later scene, David blackmails a Senator (he’s been in DC long enough to pick up a trick or two, apparently) with one of the B613 files. Which is both genius AND evil. If you’re wondering if anyone has a moral compass, the answer is yes – but it’s basically the compass from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and everyone is Jack Sparrow. “This is blackmail,” the senator says. “I like to think of it as winning,” David replies. Now, if someone could get me a jar of dirt, that’d be great.

Moving on, we find Cyrus at a bar. Because NOTHING says “good decision” like drinking with strangers, while you’re cranky from everything falling apart and your lack of meat. Which, of course, brings us to the hot dude who HAPPENS to hit on him. The hot dude who turns out to be a prostitute, whom we later find out was hired by Lizzie. Because apparently, she’s taken over the Machiavellian supervillain duties and Cyrus has turned into a pumpkin-patch born idiot. (Seriously, Cyrus. YOU ARE SMARTER THAN YOUR PENIS. Except he isn’t, is he? Because he’s vulnerable, still grieving James.)

Huck and Quinn finally have a fight that they needed to have for FOREVER. She confronts him about his perpetual icy attitude toward her, and then admits that they were never a normal couple. And then they argue about him having pulled out her teeth, which is truly the yardstick for a messed up relationship. He thinks that she should mind her own business, and gets in her face, which leads to them almost kissing. And…holy shit, I think I ship them now. When did THAT happen?

James and Lisa cannot get along. Liv talks to Huck about his relationship with Quinn. And Guillermo Diaz is so, so wonderfully nuanced as Huck. There’s a dangerous vulnerability to his facial expression and reactions, like an adorable fox who is half a second away from biting the hell out of anyone who gets too close. It’s a beautiful mix of aching and anger.

Abby freaks out at Cyrus, because Liv called – and the Elliots won’t be attending the State of the Union address – and there goes Fitz’s public face of gun control. Cy, however, says that Liv has never, ever let him down – and that she does her job, so he has confidence that the Elliots will, indeed, show up. Unlike Mellie, because Abby is not Liv. Honestly, seeing how desperately that Abby is playing dress up (not only in Liv’s clothes but through working at the White House), this is the PERFECT motivation for Abby. It pokes right at her vulnerable spots, compelling her to give Mellie her best Liv-esque speech, about being the public face of a grieving mother and then dragging up Jackie O and how she stood by LBJ, shortly after her husband was shot to death. Mellie ends up putting on the pearls again – in her best Jackie O outfit. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Liv delivers James and Lisa Elliot to the White House. However, when she tries to leave, an aid tells her no. Fitz strolls in with Abby, and then he clears the room. But it’s not for personal reasons (sort of…). He wants her opinion on his speech, making it clear to Abby that her opinions are second-string. (I laughed so hard when he referred to Abby as Gabby after she left the room.) Fitz appeals to Liv, saying that he needs to hear what she thinks about his remarks. This is not just a political question. This is him needing her. This is how their reconciliations always start – need. A question. A reason to speak alone in a room.

Fitz’s speech (before he delves into the anti-gun portion of it) touches on the loss of his son, Jerry. He goes off book at Liv’s advice. And while in public, Mellie holds it together like a champ. But as soon as she’s out of public view, she pulls her pearls apart, crumpling to the floor and finally SHOWING her grief through tears. Finally breaking down instead of deflecting and holding it in, as if she doesn’t give two damns. Because Mellie does give a damn. Mellie has lost herself in her grief by not really letting it out. So, by putting on that dress and pearls and assuming what has always been her role, she gets back in touch with herself. And thereby, her pain. And man, when she breaks down, we all (the audience) break down with her. Because there’s something so painfully true to life about that scene. And Bellamy Young shines in a way that there are no words for. Fitz comforts her as she cries curled in a ball on the rug. And it’s that grief that connects them both. That is the state of their union – connected by the thing that’s broken them both.

Meanwhile, Liv shows up to Jake’s hotel room, wearing nothing more than a trenchcoat and knee-high boots. And I’ve got to give it to the woman, that is 17 different kinds of hot. Of course, before disrobing, she admits that their relationship has changed, because they’re not on the island anymore. Things are different, because the circumstances are different. She is clear that her showing up for the horizontal mambo is NOT a booty call. But if it isn’t, I’m really not sure what it is. Because what it looks like to me is that Liv just saw the president and then reacted by caving into what Jake wanted.

Everyone in this episode is grieving something. Cyrus is grieving James. The Grants are grieving Jerry. Quinn is grieving the loss of the relationship with Huck. Huck…he might be grieving it, too. Abby should be grieving her loss of self, but instead is grieving her loss of power (she’ll always take a backseat to Liv and her political savvy). Jake is grieving his loss of power in his relationship with Liv (because they’re back in the shadow of the White House). And Liv is probably grieving the loss of her carefree life on the island. Because now, it’s back to reality. And reality means Fitz. Reality means picking up the pieces of OPA. It means the return to drinking wine and eating popcorn alone. Because aside from her not-booty-call booty call, Liv is either working or alone. Things are in disrepair, darlings – and it will interesting to see how they are cleaned up.

Navigating Relationships and Choosing Sides: Recapping Scandal’s The Fluffer

April 10, 2014 4 comments

 

 

All relationships are built on choices. We choose how vulnerable we allow ourselves to be. We choose how we reveal ourselves. We pick battles. We decide when to stay, when to trust, and when we walk away. Every relationship has its own unique dynamic. No relationship just happens to you. It’s not as if you’re crossing the street and, by no fault of your own, you get hit by a lover. Nope. No. In last week’s episode of Scandal, Olivia is (initially) nowhere to be found. She’s still smarting over Fitz biting her head off (albeit accidentally – he was having a moment. Who hasn’t snapped at the wrong person in a MOMENT? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’ll be over here in my glass house, too) and over the fact that Fitz seems jealous over Mellie’s relationship with Andrew. More on that later. I have THOUGHTS.

The episode opens with Abby (hilariously misreferred to as GABBY, by pretty much everyone) doing her best Olivia Pope impersonation, complete with a white coat. But Abby, as awesome as she is, is no Liv. Because she cannot command a room, at least not that room. And everyone from Fitz to Cyrus basically leave her standing alone, like the proverbial cheese. (Mmm, cheese.)

In possibly what might be the most ill-advised alliance in the history of what the fuck are you doing, Liv?, is Olivia taking advice from Papa Pope. Papa Pope who promises her that he will not touch a hair on Fitz’s head, when Liv asks him to swear he won’t harm Fitz. Notice the precise wording that he used. He said he wouldn’t physically harm Fitz. That is not the same thing as making sure no harm comes to Fitz. Papa Pope is clever. Papa Pope isn’t someone I’d trust, and here’s why: he is an opportunist. He’s someone who has been ousted from a position rife with power. He’s not simply going to shrug and say, “Ah, well. My life was B613. I think I’ll actually work at the Smithsonian now. Because a boring, easy life will suit me so.” HELL FREAKIN’ NO. So, as the audience, we have to assume that he’s up to no good. Worse yet, he’s manipulating his own daughter – and it’s not the first time. On the surface, it seems like Papa Pope is trying to help Liv shut down B613 by cutting off its funding. When Liv brings this ingenious plan to OPA, Huck is horrified. You don’t trust B613. And yet…

See, Liv is really off her game. She’s hurt. Her mother is apparently a terrorist. And she’s actively in pain over Fitz’s jealous reaction to Mellie doing the no-pants dance with his friend and VP candidate, Andrew. Hi, pot – I’m kettle. Because you don’t get jealous when you don’t care, right? Really? I’ve seen in happen. Someone you’re no longer with is suddenly with someone and happy – and there’s a pang of jealousy, because it’s not you making that person happy. Even though, logically, you know that the relationship was crap for whatever reason. Or, to offer a second reason, consider the devolution of the Grant Marriage: Mellie won’t let Fitz touch her. They stop being intimate (not just sex, people – they stop connecting). The audience knows why, but Fitz doesn’t. Fitz just knows Mellie won’t even look at him with warmth and that (at the time), she told him that having children changes you. That she just wasn’t into sex. And then it turns out, she just didn’t want FITZ to touch her. Andrew, on the other hand, is welcome to Sexy Town any time he wants. (For the record, Andrew and Mellie are TERRIBLE at covert sex, because they apparently have never heard of TACT, SECRECY, and LOCKING DOORS. But I digress.) It’s one thing if your wife tells you she doesn’t fancy anyone. It’s another if you come to find out that she doesn’t fancy you. Meanwhile, Andrew is sporting a shiner, Mellie won’t talk to him, and he basically tells her that he loves her in the middle of the White House hallway. Mellie actually looks shocked, because she’s spent so much time being ornamental and not functional, it doesn’t even occur to her that someone else might, or could, love her. So, yes, I’m rooting like hell for those two, because Mellie deserves to be loved, too. Don’t we all? Anyway…more on that later.

For Liv, she doesn’t know where she fits into Fitz’s life. She wears so many hats in their relationship, because she works for/with him, that it is hard to decipher where Work Liv and Lover Liv stop and start. I can’t call her a mistress, because she’s not some seedy little chippy. I can’t call her his girlfriend, because he’s never called her that. So, they’re lovers. Anyway, in a brilliant speech, Liv basically shows her vulnerability by admitting she doesn’t know who or what she is to Fitz. She doesn’t know where she belongs. She doesn’t know, exactly, how she fits into his life – she questions what role she’s really filling/playing. She wonders, like we all wonder sometimes, how important we really are to someone. She comes to the relationship at a disadvantage. It’s hard to assert yourself in a relationship where the other party has a spouse. Allowances have to be made for extenuating circumstances. Especially in this situation, where all parties involved want Fitz to get reelected.

 

 

Fitz reminds Liv that the relationship didn’t just happen to her – that he didn’t happen to her. Like I said before, you don’t cross the street and get hit by a passing relationship. It’s a choice. We choose. And they’re chosen each other. They each have to deal with the odd repercussions of the confining dynamics. Fitz is wearing so many hats, too. He said before in the Rose Garden speech that if he could, he’d run away with her. So, Fitz the man? He chooses Liv. Fitz the president? That’s more complicated. Does he choose Liv the Fixer or Liv the Woman? Can he choose both? Only time will tell.

The whole Mellie/Andrew thing is quite short lived, because Fitz finally admits to Liv that in order to win, he needs Mellie. Think what you want, but their public façade is not unconvincing. With a fake tell-all book about Fitz’s sordid fake affair with a former White House staffer, and Sally Langston playing the angles like an expert, Fitz needs to consider his career over his heart. Which, by the way, is basically what EVERYONE does in this episode. Especially when Liv seduces Jake for her own gains (prompted by Papa Pope), uses him to gain access to B613, and shuts it down. Honestly, that scene between Jake and Liv was horribly unconvincing in that Jake wakes up from a dead sleep to find Liv in his kitchen, nearing shooting her – but having sex with her is so narcotic that he doesn’t wake up when she untangles herself from his arms and plays spy? Does that make Jake the worst spy ever? Yes, yes it does.

Meanwhile, the Grant campaign eventually teams up with the Langston campaign, because Governor Reston is snaking votes away from both parties, due to his, “Look! I’m awesome! I visit my murderous wife in PRISON. Saint me, quick!” Except, we all know that his wife is in prison for a murder he committed. It was a delight to see Abby and Leo, Sally’s version of Cyrus, cozy up to each other. I kind of, maybe, ship them a bit.

The episode ends with B613 being shut down, just as Quinn and Charlie are staking out Momma Pope the Terrorist and her merry band of misfit bombers. (Lovely to see the angel Raphael from Supernatural, btw.) Momma Pope, honestly, feels like a one-trick pony, lately – she has one emotion, and it’s as if she’s stolen it from Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil. I hate how flat and one-dimensional she seems to be, and I feel like Adnan’s potential (as a character) is being wasted. There was such a set up with Harrison being horribly afraid of her. They knock boots and few times, and then she’s relegated to Hot Lacky, the minor sidekick of Momma Pope. It is strange. But I digress.

With Papa Pope’s prompting, Liv shuts the shit down out of B613, leaving the organization in the dark, just as Momma Pope acquires a bomb, presumably as part of a plan to kill Fitz. Which Jake kindly spits at Liv, right after her barges into OPA, chokeholding her across the room and into a wall. He then tells her, essentially, that Fitz is going to die and it’s all her fault. And that’s the episode’s ending note: a bewildered Liv, hearing the worst thing ever, while all the OPA folks (including Huck – where is his Super Spyness when we need it?) gaping in total shock in horror. Except for Harrison, whose face somehow seemed to express a feeling on what looked like mild constipation. But again, I digress.

Whenever Liv is emotionally distressed, she cannot function. She was compromised during the whole Amanda Tanner debacle. When Liv starts mistrusting her gut, she starts trusting the wrong people. Namely, HER FRAKKIN’ FATHER. I do like the fact that she’s started to express herself to Fitz, despite the mess it makes. But real relationships are messy. And if you don’t expose the fears, insecurities, and difficulties you’re grappling with, that’s when things start to fall apart. The fact that Fitz and Liv argue? It’s actually a good thing.

One final thing: Andrew and Mellie. In order to get Fitz what he needs (instead of what he wants), Liv shuts that down. She informs Andrew that he has to make a choice between banging Mellie and being VP. She pointedly tells him that Mellie wouldn’t want him if he wasn’t a political player. And he can either stop having sex with Mellie or she will ruin him. Andrew chooses the VP slot, and Mellie then goes and slaps the HELL out of Fitz. Which…he pretty much deserved. Because glass house, stones. Pots and kettles. And all that jazz. *does spirit fingers*

PS. If the title of this episode didn’t make you giggle like a 13 year old, you have no soul.

When the Fantasy Becomes Reality: Scandal Recap

March 9, 2014 1 comment

Have you ever been in a relationship where you were afraid to speak up for yourself – afraid to fight? Maybe the idea of shattering that perfect image held you back. Maybe you were afraid of the underside of a bad argument – one with hurled names and non-constructive barbs being thrown out. The trouble with being terrified, or unable, to fight (within reason) with someone you love is that sometimes fights are necessary. In order to hash things out and examine all sides, sometimes you must argue. I’ve said it before, and I believe it: when constructive communication stops, a relationship begins to die. You can fight, and have it not be easy or pretty, and still have it be beneficial to the relationship. While relationships are never entirely equal (someone always cares more, someone always have more ‘power’), it is vital to stand up for yourself – and to deal in reality.

This is where the latest episode of Scandal begins (We Do No Touch the First Ladies) – with Liv and Fitz throwing down, because guess what? This relationship was always a bit of a fantasy. It was always in the shadows and the sidelines – the open secret. Now, with Liv’s name in the news and Mellie in the know, the relationship between Liv and Fitz has become quite real. And real couples who love each other? They fight. Liv, for myriad reasons, has never quite been on equal footing with Fitz. But this fight, and a conversation later in the episode, puts them on level ground. Fitz is jealous about Jake being Liv’s fake boyfriend, trusting him to head B613, but knowing that Jake has feelings for Liv – and maybe worse yet, that Liv may have feelings for Jake – Mr. President is turning all shades of Green Eye’d Monster. Here’s the argument if you want a recap, because you know somebody’s in trouble when Liv starts counting. (Unlike the counting exchange with Edison, though, Fitz has the ability to interrupt her.)

Speaking of people with a complicated past history, this episode trots out not only Mellie’s backstory, but Andy’s – Fitz’s VP choice, because as we know, Sally Langston has gone full-on crazypants. (Seriously, few things sent more chills down my spine that Sally’s self-assured the devil killed Daniel proclamation. Girlfriend is seriously a few verses short of a psalm.) Andrew is, it turns out, charming, sweet, and a literal lifesaver. The show flashes back to a suicidal Mellie, who is wracked with grief/guilt/horror/self-blame/doubt over the fact that her father-in-law raped her…and she’s not sure whose child her son is. Does she tell this to Fitz? No. But after taking too many pills on purpose, and being saved by Andy who made her throw up and sat with her all night, she does tell Andy. While there was, certainly, a vibe between them, Mellie never cheated on Fitz, even though she and Andy clearly have kind of an amazing connection. And I’m not going to lie: once again, I’m rooting for adultery. Oops. My bad. Blame Shonda, the writers, and the damn fine actors. Because you cannot look at this situation and see black and white, there’s all kinds of grey, darlings. Because in the present day, Andrew was willing to throw himself on the media grenade in order to cover up Mellie’s drug use/attempted suicide. He didn’t even flinch or blink. He just tried like hell to protect her. And if that ain’t love, honey, I don’t know what is. Of course, Liv and OPA kill the story. But I don’t think I’m the only one who cheered when, in the present day, Andy and Mellie made out in front of Jackie Kennedy’s portrait (Ironic? Yes. Delightfully so).

Yet another relationship angle in this episode is Jake as Liv’s beard. Liv repeatedly uses him as a genie lamp, calling him to help her fix problems. While I can’t say I agree with Jake when he claimed that popcorn isn’t food (and wine isn’t beer…which is fine by me, because wine TRUMPS beer), I rather liked that he had some fake relationship demands for Liv. And if he made them while shirtless, that was basically a bonus (Scotty Folely is hot; if Felicity was on the air now, I’d be Team Noel – words my younger self never thought I’d say). Jake has consented to this fake relationship, but he’s not going to play within the lines. He constantly asserts himself, at least verbally – because has there been a time yet, where he hasn’t done with Liv asked? Nope. Because he’s not just being a patriotic Fake Boyfriend. Fitz is right to be jealous, in my humble opinion. Jake really does care for Liv.

Meanwhile, we’ve got David and Abby, who I honestly love together. David is busy helping out James (aka Publius), which almost leads to David being killed by Quinn’s main man, Charlie. (Side-note: I love/hate Quinn and Charlie together. More on that later.) Cyrus is desperately trying to quash the whole Daniel Douglas being murdered by Sally (oh, sorry – the devil inhabiting Sally)…and then covered up by Cyrus. David, however, is rescued by Abby, which was really kind of adorable. They have a really nice dynamic, and they’re adorable together.

But let’s talk about Huck for a minute. Huck is all kinds of sad, and he’s bringing Liv a cup of coffee every morning, despite the fact that Olivia doesn’t drink coffee. He just has sad, mournful puppy eyes and puts in on her desk. Eventually, she asks what’s up with the Starbucks delivery, and it comes out that he’s trying to apologize for the whole Quinn debacle…to a point. He wants Liv to forgive him, but he also points out that Liv gave him a responsibility (taking Quinn under his wing) when he isn’t a trained puppy. He’s a monster. (Apparently, everyone Liv’s monster. Cyrus used similar wording in an earlier episode. Kind of awesome, recurring theme.)

No, you went too far. You took in a wild monster, and you groomed me and petted me and trained me to sit at your feet. But that doesn’t make me a puppy, Liv. That just makes me a very loyal monster. So, I didn’t go too far. I went exactly as far as my leash allows. And you hold the leash. You ruined her life, and you made me save her. And you gave her to me, to take under my wing. You hold the leash. You went too far. You should’ve never given me something to love. Monsters eat people, Liv. It’s what we do.

Huck put a bit of the blame for Quinn’s situation squarely on Liv’s shoulders, because Huck wasn’t in a place to be someone’s mentor. He only knows how to make more monsters. And I think we can all agree that Quinn has certainly become a bit of a monster. Huck really needed to lay into Liv, here. Because he has a point. You don’t hand Hannibal Lector some fava beans and Chianti – and then ask him to babysit. Huck is mostly restrained, but that doesn’t exactly make him a good example.

Which is why Quinn is now psychotic. Initially, I assumed that Quinn was simply playing Charlie/B613 as some kind of mole. It made sense. She could skillfully go where no one else could. But now she’s pulling a gun on Liv, who was simply trying to make amends and bring her home…because Quinn was staking out Eli/Rowan (Poppa Pope). And Liv spotted her, proving how not exactly stealthy Quinn is. But Crazypants is not even remotely open to consider returning to the OPA fold. It makes me wonder if there’s some kind of angle we’re missing here. Liv looks genuinely terrified of Quinn when she pulled on gun on her. Whatever is happening, I kind of want it to stop. For one thing, I don’t think it’s entirely believable that Quinn, after only a brief time under Huck’s monster wing, is now suddenly this amazing hacker. Just as one does not simply walk in Mordor, one does not simply wake up with killer hacking skills. Or so I’m told. Anyway, we’ll see how that all shakes down, but I would like a less crazy Quinn, please – although, mad love to Katie Lowes, because she pretty much kicks ass.

I want to come full circle back to the end scene with Liv and Fitz. For the majority of this scene, Liv chooses not to look Fitz in the eye. But when she finally does, after Fitz speaks to her softly and is the side of Fitz we all know and love, he whispers, “There you are.” And it’s this oddly touching reminder that really seeing a person matters. Not just being in the same room with them, not just hearing the words coming out of their mouth – but really listening to them. Maintaining a relationship is about two things: communication and intimacy. Not just sexual intimacy, but emotional intimacy. Without it, things wither. You have to be able to be vulnerable with the person you love, just like you have to speak your mind. And Liv, in this scene, does just that. She fights not only for their relationship, but for herself. Because there is no relationship without individuality. Someone cannot be your whole world, your whole you. And that scene beautifully illustrates how far Fitz and Liv have truly come. Because this relationship is no longer a fantasy. She’s not a prize to be won at a fair. This is real. And real relationships? They’re messy. Beautifully so.

Lastly, we have to talk about Tom. The secret service agent who has been, up until this moment, unfailingly loyal to Fitz. He was the one who warned him about the Oval Office cameras. He took a bullet. He’s been the man. Except he’s fucking B613, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not okay with that. I’m also not exactly okay with the Creeper cam in the Oval being used as relationship recon by Jake. Because spying on someone is never anything less than really freaking invasive and awkward. But doing so does real that Liv isn’t exactly sure if she doesn’t have feelings for Jake. Which means she does, because it’s never really that you don’t know if you do – it’s that you don’t know how deep they are. But that’s a soapbox for another day.

Rounding out the episode and the theme of reality versus fantasy, we find that Harrison’s criminal, nefarious, but altogether stunning ex-girlfriend (boss? Who knows. Not me.) is working with Liv’s mom. Basically, we’ve got two supervillains teamed up, doing hell knows what. But I’m certainly that we’ll find out sometime soon. Nothing in this show is ever quite how it initially seems. But one thing is for certain: dirty little secrets always come out.

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

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.

Scandal recap: Everyone is a pawn when you think yourself a king.

October 12, 2013 6 comments

Some situations are more like a chess game. We all have choices, moves to make, and power struggles. Everyone wants to win. Everyone has a strategy. To an extent, everything is a power struggle, a continuous renegotiating of space, a tipping of the scales. All relationships have a power dynamic, where you make a move and see what happens. Some are on relatively equal footing, while others are a permanently offset see-saw. In others, one person cares more than the other – one bends more than the other. Some people are victims, others villains.

In this week’s Scandal (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), we flashed back between the past and present, getting a look at Olivia Pope’s father. For a relationship built on lies (she didn’t know he worked for the government until she figured it out, because of Huck) and a rigid dynamic bordering on abusive, it is no wonder that Liv has issues with authority and wants to save everyone. Liv, I think, rescues other people, saving them from the worst day(s) of their lives, because after her mother died – leaving her alone with a manipulative, unyielding father – no one rescued her. She endured it, made a life for herself. But sitting through Sunday night dinners, for Liv, was nothing more than a painful business arrangement. Rowan Pope sees himself as a king – someone whose orders are obeyed.

We get to see a very emotionally wounded, yet still adorable, flashback of Huck – Huck who save Liv from being mugged – or worse – revealing that he isn’t who she previously thought. He’s not just a homeless guy, sleeping in the metro. He’s had training – and perhaps, continuing the chess metaphor, is a knight. But this revelation of Huck’s skills comes at a price. More on that later.

Fast-forward to the present, and Liv has taken on Jeannine as a client. Jeannine, by the way, would be a pawn. Liv talks to Fitz, a somehow arranged phone baton toss with Tom. There’s a tenderness about this conversation, an easy ebb and flow of truths. She warns him of her intentions to fight for Jeannine. This is a king and queen who are currently on opposite sides through circumstance. As well, the audience gets a glimpse not only of the couple they are but of the couple they could’ve been. They have a very sweet conversation about what their lives would’ve been like in another time another place – and they both participate in this fantasy of Vermont, where he’s the mayor and she makes jam. This is a stark contrast to her revelation to Edison Davis, when she turned down his marriage proposal for the second time, last season:

“I could marry you. I could be a senator’s wife. I’d probably be happy. I could probably give all this up and live in a country house and have babies and be normal, I could. But I don’t want to. I’m not built for it. I don’t want normal and easy and simple. I want… I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.”

For Fitz, she would’ve been normal. She would’ve been happy. She would’ve been that woman and lived that life. There are a few great loves that you lie down and be still for. But it has to be with and for the right person. And in Liv’s case, the right person is Fitz. And the circumstances are what they are. What is interesting, though, is that in this phone conversation, we also witness that the power dynamic between them is one of equality. She warns him of her intentions, and he backs her up. This is a different Fitz from the wishy-washy, no backbone, face-in-his-scotch of yore. (Yes, I said yore. Deal with it.) His whole attitude has changed. His power dynamic with everyone from Mellie to Cyrus has shifted. This is Take No Shit Fitz. And I have to say, it’s a welcome sight.

“It’s funny…the things people forget. Things you think would be staring them smack in the face. Like the fact that I am the president of the United States, and I call the shots.”

Speaking of Cyrus (a rook, if ever there was one), the power dynamic between him and Rowan (Poppa Pope) is interesting. Rowan urges Cyrus to solidify the Jeannine lie – make the president confirm the affair. His entire tone is not that of someone used to hearing no or having his suggestions disobeyed. Rowan, as we see, operates outside the bounds of pretty much everything, especially pesky things like basic human decency and compassion. If Cyrus is a political monster, then Rowan is the thing that monsters are afraid of. Think Grendel, except invisible – which makes him even more dangerous. After all, as Huck can tell you, you can’t fight what you can’t see.

Flash back, again, Olivia (thinking her dad works for the Smithsonian – which, hi, Covert Affairs called: they’re like their plotline back) told her dad about the mugging and about Huck. Huck promptly vanishes, and Olivia goes hunting for the truth – only to discover her father is pretty much morally bankrupt and stricken with a slight case of EVIL. In a brilliant move, Olivia brings Edison to dinner, having accepted his proposal. We learn that Edison is in a position to basically ruin Rowan’s life – as the head of a special committee. There’s an undertone, here, that Liv is using Edison – that she accepted his proposal as a necessary move to back her father into a corner and get Huck back. To me, this speaks volumes about the true nature of Liv’s feelings for Edison, and that they were never really genuine enough to begin with. She just happened to accept his proposal when it would benefit her the most. Yeah, I’m calling bullshit with that. It was a manipulation of a piece on the board – a pawn. (Poor Edison.) No doubt, Liv learned from her father, but tends to use her powers for good, not evil.

We see Rowan’s manipulations, again, in the present – when Rowan visits Olivia at work (brilliant bit of dramatic irony, because the audience KNOWS that Huck is saying hello to the man who threw him in a HOLE, stole his life, and separated him from his face). Brilliantly orchestrated, this scene appears to be all smiles from the outside, but the words Liv and her dad exchange are anything but pleasant. Rowan tells Liv that either Jeannine takes the fall or Jake Ballard will vanish forever. Jake, once a knight, has become a pawn.

Liv calls Fitz for help in finding out if Jake is alive. For Olivia, Jake is like Huck: another soul in need of rescuing. Another victim, stitched together from a hero. He saved her life, and now she needs to save his. While Fitz previously stated that no one pushes him around, all Liv has to do is ask and he does what she requests. The circles around to the whole, “You give for what you love” revelation from last season. And Fitz does – he goes to Cyrus and does all he possibly can to get Jake released.

Meanwhile, Huck and Baby Huck (aka Quinn) have a poignant heart-to-heart moment in which Huck expresses his concern for Quinn – namely, that she is becoming too much like him, and that she should try to be more like Liv. This scene is brilliantly played by both Guillermo Diaz and Katie Lowes; their performances are nuanced perfectly, from wide-eyes to slightly shaky, obsessed gestures. Huck recognizes the slippery slope that Quinn is own, and while he cannot rescue her from herself, he is looking out for her.

Which brings us to someone who is only looking out for herself: Mellie. (While Mellie would be considered Fitz’s queen, there’s no hope of her sacrificing herself for Fitz or the greater good.) Mellie goes behind the scenes, in a fit of Minor Evil (if we’re comparing her to Poppa Pope), and bribes Jeannine to say that she did, indeed, sleep with Fitz. Jeannine is nothing more than a pawn who wishes to be otherwise. When Liv confronts her about her plans, it becomes clear that she’s trying to reap a benefit from a bad situation. Jeannine is a pawn who has accepted her fate, straining to at least get something out of the deal.

Concurrently, though, Fitz goes on live TV and confesses his (fictitious) affair with Jeanine. This is the only way he knows to get Jake back for Liv. This isn’t done to save his own ass. He’s giving for what he loves, even at the detriment of his own image. This is the move of a king, sacrificing himself for the other side. He’s tipped himself to end the game. While Sally Langston sure as shit doesn’t believe him, their exchange in the hallway was brilliant. Her freakin’ face when Fitz said, “I had her six ways to Sunday all over this White House,” was brilliant. Slow clap for Burton. Also, slow clap for Tony Goldwyn for the awesome delivery, “How presidential are my balls now, Cy?” I spit out my wine.

Unfortunately, Liv gets tricked back into Sunday night dinners with her father. Liv’s approach to this situation is exactly like when she rescued Huck. Jake has become her people. She protects her own. She especially protects them from her father. But Huck learns the truth about Liv’s dad and had a MOMENT. Notice, though, that Liv never ran away from him. Even after he choked her. Even after his poor broken face flooded with disbelief. She didn’t run. Huck knows the truth. And it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out, knowing that a) Liv is the daughter of a government sanctioned monster – and that she kept it from him. Although, I cannot blame her, because how do you tell someone that you love, who is your people, that your father ruined his life? Ummmm, awkward to say the least.

In the end, a bloody Jake appears on Liv’s doorstep. We will have to see how that plays out. There’s talk that Jake may have turned back, being locked in a hole, and subjected to hell knows what. But I think that wasn’t enough to turn Huck into an evil asshole. I don’t think that Jake will be a mole for Rowan, if that’s the thinking that some people had.

In the end, Liv and Fitz are playing a chess game – supposedly against each other. But it must be hard to strategize when you, in your heart, want the other side to win. Everyone has a different endgame, loyalties scattered and varied. But make no mistake: everyone is a pawn when you think yourself a king. Trouble is, I count at least three kings – and only two can own the board.

Categories: Scandal

Coming Apart to Come Back Together: Loyalty, Devotion, and Revelation

May 19, 2013 2 comments

In life, there are people who we’d take a bullet for, figurative or otherwise. People we risk for – people who we want, and need, to protect. More than, perhaps, we want to protect ourselves. We’ll go to great lengths just to do that. We take risks. We go over a cliff. Not just because we’re loyal. No, there’s something grander than that. It’s called devotion. You cannot be devoted to someone without being loyal to them, as well – but you can be loyal to someone without being devoted to them. It’s a distinction worth noting.

In the Scandal finale (White Hat’s Back On – SOMEONE please buy me that hat, btw. It’s perfect. Although, I’d adore it in grey, because I’m not fooling anyone with white.), loyalties were tested. Motivations were revealed. And we saw, exactly, who was devoted to whom. So much happened that I’m not sure where to begin, but let’s start with the Cabal Meeting in what I presume is the White House kitchen.

It’s revealed that the Cytron card is the issue, that Billy is the motherfrakkin’ mole, and Mellie nearly flees the table – until Fitz shows up. Fitz is involved. Fitz is present. Fitz isn’t pristine. We, as the audience, know that – because Verna. But his presence at the meeting signifies two things. The first is that he’s done letting people choose his fate for him, and he’s done being distanced from the dirty work. There’s something admirable about his Let’s FIX This attitude – and his swagger didn’t hurt either. In this scene, the conspiratorial, pleased glances that Liv and Fitz shared? Those were hints at the kind of power couple they’d be, if they’re ever given the chance. They’re perfectly in sync. They’re got each other’s back. They’re on the same page. (Never understand the power in that.) Plus, we got that whole Super Power scene, and good freakin’ grief. I needed a MOMENT to recover from that.

Next, let’s talk about Cyrus Beene. He’s not a bad guy. He does bad, questionable, murder-y things. But he’s not inhuman. He cares about Liv. He doesn’t want her hurt. He is utterly devoted to Fitz – which is basically why he always does what he does. Now, we saw him talking to head of B613, the covert ops group that frakked up Huck and that Jake is a part of. He was, basically, ordered to show Fitz the tape of Liv and Jake. Which…ew. There’s a whole level of creepy, there, that we’ll get to later. And yet, when Liv’s name is mentioned, he’s scared for Liv. He has feelings.

And then, Cyrus has a heart attack – just after Liv reveals that Governor Reston (from whom the election was stolen) is in contact with Billy, who supposedly has the Cytron card. Now, Cyrus’s entire scene in the ambulance was the most perfect thing ever. Cyrus is a like a perfect attack dog. His LEG could be hanging by a ligament, and he’d still being intent on what matter: Fitz. He is fiercely devoted to Fitz, and yet the moment he reveals that Liv slept with Jake, he’s not motivated out of friendship. His motivation is two-fold. First, the head of B613 told him to do it. We have to question what their relationship is, because we don’t know. Second, he is (in his twisted messed up way) trying his best to get Fitz reelected. It’s easier to win the election with Mellie, and while Liv came up with a brilliant plan to circumvent that problem, the audience still gets the feeling that Cy is not sold.

There is, of course, Fitz’s declaration to Mellie of how, exactly, she will be moved out of the White House. And Fitz, dammmmn, is not messing around. He’s clear. He’s forceful. He’s got a backbone. Mellie, visiting Cyrus in the hospital, is really blindsided by this monologue. You could tell, as her face falls, that she was still full of hope. She thought that they’d come back together, probably because of what Cyrus had told her – and the fake reports leaked to the media. It was, of course, a political angle that she was working. It wasn’t an emotional plea on her part. It was about approval ratings. To me, that harkened back to Fitz’s whole “you’re ornamental, not functional!” tirade way back.

I did LOVE the interaction between Cyrus and James, after the heart attack. Two people, in love, can be so mad at each other – but when the chips are down, man, that shows you a lot. It’s okay to fight. It’s okay to still be mad. But that doesn’t mean they love each other any less. It’s one thing to be pissed. It’s another to want the person you love dead. I absolutely adore them as a couple, and I want more Cyrus and James. Because they are such a REAL couple. They fight. They bicker. But dammmmn, if they aren’t totally devoted to each other, flaws and all.

Cyrus, completing his batshit craziness, check himself out of the hospital – tells Liv about Fitz killing Verna. Why? Because he’s had it with Liv and Fitz. They won’t get in line. They won’t do as he commands. And Cy likes his power. Cy likes people to take his advice. Fitz needs things to work out with Fitz, so that he can stay in the White House. You have to wonder, then, if Cyrus’ motivations are entirely…pure. Because if Fitz stays, he stays. Regardless, Liv nearly has an emotional cow, because this revelation isn’t tiny one. This is a big deal. And Cyrus knows that some things are impossible to forgive. But that isn’t exactly true. More on that later.

Jake protects Liv from an B613 assassin, which – um, not COOL on a certain person trying to kill Liv. We can, potentially, assume that Jake’s loyalty was being tested. Perhaps choosing Liv over B613 was a test. And he failed it. There are so many parallels to Huck and his family, there. Because any kind of deviation is seen as a weakness. As such, Jake is tossed in the Huck Hole, and that is going to leave all kinds of emotional scars. We can only hope that, next season, Olivia saves him. It’s only fair, since he saved her. He is, honestly, one of the good guys.

There is the matter of Huckleberry Quinn. Huck repeatedly admits to being worried about Quinn. She’s taking a little too well to the covert assassin lifestyle. It’s easy for her. She is, as Huck has previously said, a natural. And then when Huck’s hands are shaking while he’s about to torture Billy for information, she steps in – without so much as a hand tremor – and goes a bit all work and no play on Billy Chambers. It was flawlessly portrayed by Katie Lowes. There was a mad abandon in it, an enjoyment. And you have to wonder if a person can come back from that kind of wild joy, given its source (torture). Huck has a hard time grappling with it. And she’s acting like a kid on her first trip to Disneyland. I…*backs away slowly* would not want to push her.

We come to find that David Rosen is a brilliant manipulator – but he is not without loyalty. All this time, he’s been working with Billy Chambers who, oh my god, was perfectly insane. Wonderfully played. David stole the Cytron card, but gave a fake card to Billy. David taped Billy confessing to alllllll the murders pretty much ever. And yet, while he could’ve wrecked Olivia and OPA, he didn’t. He has loyalty for the Gladiators. Because you know what? He HANDLED that shit. David eventually hands over the Cytron card to Cyrus, gets a great job, and his name is cleared on national television by the mothereffin’ president. If that isn’t perfectly executed redemption, I don’t know what is.

Now, the Liv and Fitz of it all. Fitz is prepared to forgive Liv for Jake. Which, honestly, is kind of ridiculous. I mean, what did he expect? Liv to be some kind of nun? Um, dude. You’re married. You don’t get to be all Judge-y McJudgerson. Or, to quote Meredith Grey, “I make no apologies for how I chose to repair what you broke.” Liv keeps her physical distance in this scene, and you’ll notice that Fitz deliberately walks behind his desk, creating a barrier between himself and Liv. He can see what’s coming – the breakup – but not why.

The dialogue in this scene is well done. Liv doesn’t say that she can’t forgive him about Verna. She doesn’t say that it affected her love for him at all. She doesn’t say that. She says that she cannot leave her Gladiators. She cannot abandon them, because that’s what would happen if she was really with Fitz. She would have to be First Lady. She would become that role. And then what happens to the off-kilter, ragtag Scooby gang?

I think that Liv comes to this realization because of everything OPA does to get that Cytron card back. They all go over a cliff for Liv, without blinking. That’s devotion. It’s not just loyalty. Those are the people who would take a bullet for you. In that scene with Fitz, she took a bullet for them. Sure, Liv gave him the excuse that he needs to run with Mellie. Because, from a political standpoint, she is right. Cyrus is right. But Liv is very careful not to address her feeling for Fitz. It isn’t about loving him any less. That’s not a question.

Fitz goes back to Mellie. She’s sitting on a couch. And he lays his head in her lap. His heart is broken, again. Because he was willing to give up everything to be with Liv, and she walked away. Except, he wasn’t really willing to do that, was he? He was ready to obliterate his marriage, yes. But he expected Liv to fit into his life. Not a mutual melding of lives. He expected her to become, perhaps, more ornamental than functional. And that would’ve been a disservice to them both. Two people can only truly be together as partners with an even power dynamic. If Liv became First Lady, the balance would’ve been a bit skewed.

So, he goes to Mellie. There’s absolutely nothing romantic about that scene. It’s more like a child who is hurt, running to his mother. He wants comfort. It’s not about Mellie herself. It’s about Fitz and his pain, his rejection. He goes to Mellie because he has nowhere else to go, no other choice. Mellie accepts this. She sees it for what it is. A reunion of political allies, not two people in love. She is, you can tell by Bellamy Young’s brilliantly subtle facial expressions, relieved. And she treats him just as a mother would a wounded child, stroking his hair. That, guys, isn’t a marriage.

Of course, after that moment, Olivia’s world explodes. She is ready to go out for a run, steps outside of her apartment building all dressed in white – to a crowd of reporters asking her about her relationship with Fitz – asking if she is the president’s mistress. Holy HUCKING SHIT, people. WHAT? My jaw dropped on the floor. Because very few people knew about the relationship. Those who did? Are loyal to either Fitz or Liv, so they wouldn’t have leaked it to the press. So, the question becomes: who did?

Of course, my first thought is that it’s Liv’s dad. Oh, yeah. Liv’s dad is the head of B613. Liv’s dad possibly tried to have her murdered. Liv’s dad is kind of an asshole. But he does have her pulled out of the crowd and hidden away in his car. This raises a lot of questions. SO MANY. And, as you probably already know, the answers won’t be straightforward. And we have to WAIT for them.

But here’s what I think. I think that Sally Langston leaked the information about Fitz and Liv, because unlike Hank (the president’s dog) she isn’t loyal to Fitz at all. And if Fitz is disgraced, she can swoop in and run for president. She can, at least, vie for the Republican party’s bid. I think Sally has the clearest motivation here.

I’m curious, though, about what Liv really knows about her dad. Does she know what his job is? Does she know who he is, that he broke Huck? Talk about a potentially awkward family dinner. I can’t imagine Huck’s face if he sees Liv’s dad. Or his reaction.

Yes, things were completely blown up in the finale. But I’m looking forward to exactly how things will be reassembled. In a way, each character got a blank slate. All the chips are on the table. Fitz knows about Jake and Liv. Liv knows about Verna. They have no more secrets from each other. And that, honestly, is important. Because that kind of thing would’ve come back to bite them in the ass, later. It would’ve bred resentment. It would’ve bred mistrust. Now, yes, they’re apart. But as anyone knows, for two people in love? No matter what, that doesn’t last for long.

And the white hat’s back on, folks.

Categories: Scandal

do you love her? You Always Have to Choose

May 5, 2013 4 comments

Come back to me. Forgive me. I love you.

We all want to be chosen by someone. We want someone to pick up. This is not rocket science. It’s human nature. We want to choose and be chosen in return. And, sometimes, we want proof, tangible evidence. Sometimes—when our hearts have been broken, smashed, and set on fire—words are not evidence. We need more. We need actions. Because words are lovely. Words are pretty. Words have weight and meaning. But often in life, when we’re gunshy and emotionally bleeding, words are not enough.

On Thursday’s Scandal (A Woman Scorned), the whole episode was about actions. The words were sharp. The words were powerful. Everything said, unsaid, and between the lines – they counted. But when it comes down to it, most of the characters made choices and took stands. Some, perhaps, were forced. Some were unexpected. But each one will have epic fallout.

First, the gang at OPA learns that Charlie is the guy who broke into Liv’s apartment. Charlie is Cyrus’s guy, and there’s a brief moment where they think he might be the mole. But it’s discovered that Charlie has an unknown allegiance. I’m guessing that it’s to Jake’s boss, but I’m not willing to run out, say, Mellie. She does, after all, have a motive to want Liv dead. And what would offset her stunning confession about Fitz’s infidelity more than the revelation than – oops! The first lady has been plotting murder and betraying her country? That aside, there was minimal fallout from the revelation that OPA now knows about Liv’s affair with Fitz. Because of that, Huck reveals that Charlie killed Amanda Tanner on Cyrus’s orders – which was a sweet revelation on Huck’s part, because he was concerned for Liv. To paraphrase Abby, he shook off the crazy pretty damn well.

Then there’s Jake, whose loyalty is strangely split – between Huck’s old boss and Fitz. Jake isn’t a bad character. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I have concerns, because I feel like he’s probably more like Huck than we have seen. But when he cares about Liv. And I thought it was very interesting that he really did level with her. Because I didn’t know that you were the president’s girl. Whoops. Liv, of course, tries a tactic that worked well on Edison –which is not to answer and distract him with a kiss. But Jake isn’t Edison, he repeated his question of how deep are you in? And Olivia’s walls go right back up, because she lies to his face.

A good part of the episode was Olitz-related. Mellie has move out and issued an ultimatum. Fitz isn’t caving this time, and Cyrus is freaking out. Meanwhile, James has been offered a job, which turns out to be pretty fancy – with tailored suits – as an on-air anchor. Cyrus is too preoccupied, perhaps, to put two-and-two together. That the news channel that hired James is the same one that Mellie is granting an interview to. The revelation comes too late, because Mellie confesses Fitz’s extramarital mamboing to James on live tv. That was brilliantly orchestrated by the first lady, who PERSONALLY requested James, which explains his sudden job offer. Mellie may prove to be more than just a political animal. She may be sly like a fox, and a tad bit rabid. Because, um, remember the LAST person to cross Cyrus? AMANDA TANNER. *ahem*

But let’s tackle the Olitz of it all. Man, these two had some epic exchanges, teeming with raw emotions. They spent most of their interactions yelling at each other. Emotions run high, feelings pour out. This is stark contrast to the way Fitz just ignores Mellie. She’s about to blow up, and he’s focused on Liv. That, as Cyrus accidentally points out, is love. You give the person you love whatever they want. The moon. (Jimmy Stewart shoutout!) And that is exactly what Fitz eventually does. Because all Liv really wants is Fitz. Not the idea of Fitz. Not the possibility of Fitz. Not Theoretical Fitz (although, if that was a college course, sign me up!). Even when they were together, Fitz was still out of her reach. Not because of the presidency. Not because of his job. Because, in the eyes of everyone, he belonged to someone else. He wanted her. He loved her. He chased her. But he never truly chose her.

Until this episode.

At one point, Liv and Fitz are having a spat in the Oval Office. Liv yells, “You do not summon me.” And without even so much as a breath, Fitz counters, “YOU do not walk away from me.”

That, right there? Well, that’s the entire contention of their relationship. She doesn’t want to feel like an object, a toy – a fantasy. And Fitz would very much like her to stop fleeing. Which she does have a habit of doing, even under the guise of ‘fixing’ things. I’m not going to quote that entire scene, but it is rife with impassioned pleas on both their parts. Because, if you notice, Liv DID turn to leave – but she stayed and had that fight. And sometimes in relationship, darlings, fighting is important (as long as it’s clean fighting; no dredging up things that happened three year ago, name-calling, or low blows). Liv stayed. Liv told Fitz what she wanted/needed from him. And she wants to be earned. (Brilliant phrasing, btw, which harkened back to the flashback where Fitz asks if he has Liv’s vote. And she tells him that he has to earn it. There were great dialogue parallels throughout this episode. Namely, the “I can’t stop. I won’t stop.” lines. You know, the ones that previously happened before Oval Office Desk Sex.)

Fitz: How many times do I need to tell you that you’re more than [a mistress]? Come back to me. Forgive me. I love you.

Liv: Please stop. Please stop getting my hopes up. Just STOP.

Pay attention to exactly what Liv said. It wasn’t just please stop. It wasn’t just I’m done. It was stop getting my hopes up. Which is huge. Because it means she cares. It means she’s invested. It means she has been HOPING for something in relation to Fitz. It means she gives a damn. It means she wants things. It means she is in, despite all protesting to the contrary. It is everything.

Much to everyone’s surprise—except Fitz, who really does know exactly what he wants—the President chooses Olivia. He throws down for Liv. In a big, can’t be misconstrued way. Cyrus tells him, “You give for what you love. Give her the damn moon. Go to her.” Cy, of course, is talking about Mellie – about repairing his relationship to her, even if it’s for a superficial reason. Mellie isn’t acting like a political player. She is acting like a woman who is hurt. So, she cannot be reasoned with. Mellie, honestly, seemed just as surprised that Fitz didn’t cave. Because Fitz always has in the past. Instead, he went to Liv.

You can’t fix the fact that I love you. I have told you that I’d give it all up, again and again. And you know what I think? I think you don’t believe me. I think you believe that I will never choose you. So, this time, I’m fixing things. –Fitz

He went to give her proof that he is choosing her, that it’s not just words. That is not an empty promise. It’s real. It isn’t theoretical. You can’t fix the fact that I love you. A truer thing have never been spoken. Honestly, how often do we struggle, needlessly, with love? With the love that we feel, with the feelings that we may have? How often do we try and fix love by ignoring it? By turning our backs and running away? But love is not something you can bundle up and duct tape and leave in a corner. You cannot fix love, because it isn’t broken. It just is. It should be honored.

That’s what happens when Fitz chooses Liv, despite the mess it will make of everything. Despite the way it looks. Despite how crazy it may seem. When the clock literally runs out, Fitz has made a grand, big gesture. Fitz has cast the dice. It’s done. With his heart in his eyes, wants to know if Liv wants him. He is vulnerable. He has given her something she wants, something she has needed. Make no mistake, their back-and-forth history has taken a toll on her. It has left her wounded and wary. She is afraid. She is leery of trusting Fitz, because maybe he’s Lucy with the football. And she’s Charlie Brown. So, he gives her proof – and now he leaves their fate in her hands. He is trying to earn her.

He chose her. And then Liv? Liv chooses him right back. They kiss. They make love. They exchange HIs. And it’s real. It’s two people reunited, two people who have this beautifully powerful, ridiculous strong connection to each other. It’s everything that right about love, despite how it looks – or might seem – on paper. Despite the technicalities, their love is true. And they finally both choose each other at the same DAMN time. Because before, it was one or the other, and not quite on this scale. This was huge.

(Also, in the shower, was that the first time we’ve seen Olivia’s natural hair? Even when she was in the hospital, even when she went swimming, even when she was with Edison – we never saw her nature hair. Now, maybe I’m reading too much into things, but to me? That was Olivia being her truest, vulnerable self. It was just another way to convey the fact that these two are just wildly themselves with each other.)

Sit with me, and let’s run out the clock. Sit with me, and watch me choose you. Watch me earn you.

That, right there, is the beginning of everything. It’s a brave new world. These two have struggled and struggled with their own feelings – and each other – for a very long time. And there comes a moment in a relationship like this where you just have to choose the other person, despite everything else. Because no matter how complicated and insane it is, it’s the only true thing. It’s the only worthy thing. Love like that is rare. Love, with that kind of depth and connection. Love, where sex is simply a by-product of emotions – where even standing near each other is a powerful thing. Love.

There’s nothing truer than that.

“Do you love her?’ she asked him.
‘Always have,’ he said.
‘Then why in the world would you leave her alone?”
Suzanne Palmieri, The Witch of Little Italy

Categories: Scandal

in our darkest moments, forgiveness, and love

April 26, 2013 8 comments

 

 

“You left me all alone.”

Sometimes, that is the worst thing someone can do to another person: leave them along. Walk away. Turn his/her back. Disappear. We need people. And, at our core, we all want to be needed. Yet, we aren’t always rational creatures. We make poor decisions. We act out of hurt, out of fear.

Last night’s episode of Scandal (seven fifty-two) was a freakin’ tour-de-force of brilliance. Guillermo Diaz gave an amazingly nuanced, totally raw – entirely believable – performance as Huck. Huck’s backstory has been vague – with just enough details to keep us (the audience) engaged and interested. But last night’s episode was an old school origin story. Huck, who we knew was a killer, was an army guy. He was a man in love. He had a girl, who he later married. He had a kid.

And the guy who has been meeting with Jake? Well, that was Huck’s boss. Say it with me, now: WHAT THE HUCK? That was a nice twist. We learn that he’s a not nice guy at all. You see, in order to make a perfect killing machine – he has Huck locked in a hole, until he believes (or confesses to believing) that he doesn’t have a family. When he goes back to work – for the CIA – he hesitates. Charlie, good old basement cap himself, is supposed to kill him. But he’s a colleague of Huck’s. He shows mercy. Lies for him, tells him to disappear, and lets him go. Consider that for a second. He saved Huck’s life. So, it’s almost darkly amusing that Huck has no problem, on several occasions, torturing the hell out of Charlie when necessary.

Presumably, after Charlie lets Huck go, that’s when Olivia encounter Huck in the subway. Little does she know that the man with the sad eyes is simply waiting for a glimpse of the family he lost. We know that Huck stays away in order to protect them. This is all brought to the surface – the trauma he endured, only to shove down into his subconscious – being have been locked in a box (in the previous episode). He suffers a break, rocking back and forth, muttering seven fifty two, seven fifty two…over and over again. On Olivia’s advice, each of the Gladiators sits and talks to him. Each delivers one hell of a monologue, hoping to snap him out of his Rain Man-esque episode. They’re like a family. They may not know exactly what to do or say, but they do something. They step up.

Meanwhile, Liv and Fitz finally – FINALLY – have a conversation. It’s not an easy one. It’s one saturated in grief and hurt, confessions, admissions, passion, and pain. It’s honest, though, isn’t it? Both accuse and admit – and tell the truth. Liv is mad that Fitz had her watched, spitting, “That’s not love,” telling Fitz that he is not forgiven. She’s trying to wound him. Because he’s in pain. And Fitz takes it. He knows that he’s done wrong, but he doesn’t let her off the hook for her mistakes either (Defiance). They’ve both screwed up. They’re both done wrong. When shit goes bad, folks, it’s never just one person. It’s never just one thing.

Angry as all hell, Fitz spits, “You don’t fix me. You don’t handle me. THAT is not love. That’s control. I asked you to be a team. We should’ve been a team. It should’ve been you and me.” Pause for a second, ok? Fitz and Liv should’ve been a team. Not Fitz and Mellie. Not Fitz and Cyrus. Fitz and Liv. Liv and Fitz. Two people against the world. That’s what Fitz thought they were. And that’s what really bothered him about Defiance. Not that she did something illegal. It’s how it made him feel, and what it meant to him. He finally admits that it made him feel like she didn’t believe in him. She was trying to help him, but she didn’t think about what that help might ultimately DO to him.

 

Liv: You’re angry – then why are you here?

Fitz: I’m here because I love you.

Liv: And how does that change anything that has happened – what’s the point?

Fitz: Do you still love me? Do you…still love me?

Liv: Does it matter?

Fitz: It matters. Do you still love me? It’s a yes or no question.

Liv: I do. But I can’t do this anymore.

 

Liv is brokenhearted when she confesses that she still loves him. She can’t even LOOK at him, because she’s in such pain. She goes to leave (her response is always to flee), and what stops her? A one minute call – a thing that they both heed like a religion. “This past year, I have learned only one thing. That I cannot exist without you. That I cannot breathe without you. That the man I am, without you, is…I’m nothing. I’m nothing. And you are everything. And I need you to give me another chance. I demand another chance. We’re worth another chance.”

They kiss, and it’s an act with such raw emotion – with such pent up emotion: passion, love, pain, desire, despair – a cornucopia of feelings. Mid-makeout, she admits that he hurt her – and for her, that’s huge. She doesn’t let many people get close enough to hurt her. She loves. She fixes. She handles. But these are things that are always done with some measure of distance. Even though she tries, even though she ultimately runs out of the room (who hasn’t done THAT) – she knows how she feels. She knows how Fitz feels. You may leave the room, but you can never really leave someone you love like that – from the depths of your being. Liv needs time to collect herself, to reexamine the reimagined state of their relationship. Because, once again, everything changed. Fitz stayed by Olivia’s side until she was released from the hospital – because “that’s what you do when someone you love is in the hospital.” It’s true. (Great dialogue with Cyrus, whose face when he met Jake was priceless. Very suspicious Iago. I love it.)

And Mellie, bless her, knows it. “He hasn’t left her side,” she says to Hal, tears in her eyes. Notice the way she plays, almost absentminded, with her necklace as Hal talks to her. It’s a nervous tick. (One wonders if that necklace was a gift from Fitz, perhaps during happier times) She knows what that means that Fitz stayed at the hospital, especially because Fitz never made it to any of her dr’s appointments when she was pregnant with Teddy. And, once upon a time, she had Fitz by her side like that – she knows what it’s like when he rushes to be by the bedside. Once Fitz gets back to the White House, she tells him what’s going to happen. She’s moving across the street. She’s taking Teddy. And Fitz can either cave in and play his role, or she’s going to proclaim – to the world – that her husband is having an affair. Because nothing saves a marriage like a vicious ultimatum! Wait…

If you notice Fitz’s reaction, he doesn’t care that she’s leaving. He cares that she’s taking their son. She’s playing the only emotional card he might, possibly respond to: a guilt trip. But Fitz barely registers her outburst on his Richter scale of feelings. She doesn’t devastate him like Liv does. She doesn’t get to him like Liv. She doesn’t get under his skin like Liv. She walks out. And he doesn’t ask her to stay. He does nothing. He watches her go. That is pretty telling, no?

And then, we have Jake – who is overly emotionally attached to Liv, floating the idea that he might need to be reassigned past his (possibly very evil) boss. That went over like a lead balloon encased in concrete. Because, honey, once you’re in, you’re in. And they murder you when you fail to perform. Nothing says, “Thanks for serving you’re country!” like homicide.

In the end, Olivia gets back to OPA and talks to Huck. It turns out that seven fifty two was the time when he last saw his son. His son who didn’t know who he was, who just thought that he was a random homeless man in the subway station. Funny, sometimes, how a time can have such meaning. The time someone last called you. A date you first kissed someone. For Huck, his world exploded – because he had a son. And even that memory was taken away from him, ripped from his grasp. It is Olivia who saves him, who gets through to him. They save each other, as good friends do. No matter what, you step up. You get through. They have each other’s backs.

As a bookend the quote from the very beginning, Olivia tells Huck, “I had been all alone for a very long time. […] I need you.”

That, my dear hearts, makes all the difference in the world – romantic or not.

Categories: Scandal