Blogging Scandal, Season, 2; Episode 5: ‘All Roads Lead to Fitz.’

Stacia,

You and I talked some about the bits of the backstory that I wasn’t up on, and you said that last season the President  offered to give up the White House so he could be with Olivia Pope, his One True Love.1 Word? Really? This is not someone who should be trusted with the full military might of the United States, as he’s an idiot.

But how lucky are the people in Scandal’s universe are to have him as commander-in-chief, as opposed to the guy he beat out by 4,359 votes in Ohio? Reston, the Democratic governor or Maryland, hates him some  Olivia, who was working for the now-president’s campaign and torpedoed Reston’s bid by painting  him as soft on crime.2 (Why didn’t any of you tell me that Scandal takes place in 1991?) He’s shot and killed a man he says was raping his wife as he came home, and it’s Olivia’s job to fix…things.3

But because that revelation comes out before the title card, we know that something in this story isn’t going to add up. There’s a lot of contrived, telegraphed intrigue-ish stuff that happens, but the ultimate takeaway of this — after Olivia stumbles upon a folder full of photos atop his desk that may as well have been labeled “Secret Shit: Do Not Look” — is that he and his wife made up the whole rape story so he could kill her fake-rapist and get a bounce in the polls. Now he can win the next election! And Olivia, being his lawyer, is bound by attorney-client privilege and thus barred from blowing up his spot! And I’m still blown that people got heated with me last time because I called this show ridiculous!

There’s some other stuff about the Big Conspiracy that David Rosen is getting close to uncovering. Mellie, the First Lady, wants out. She will not be denied because as Cyrus says she is a political animal who will do anything including chewing off her own foot if it means she’d get ahead. Then she threatens him by way of a different metaphor — and she actually acknowledges that she’s mixing metaphors — before  ol’ boy retorts with this:

“You may be an animal, but I’m a monster.”

He probably said other things after that, but I didn’t hear them, because I was too busy yelling “geeeet the fuck outta here!” to no one in particular.  Has Shonda Rhimes been rifling through David Mamet‘s trash?

There was some other stuff. That senator guy who I’m pretty sure Whitley Gilbert ditched at the altar is trying to figure out whether he should stop pushing up on her. She tells him she likes that she pushes up on her, but she’s not ready to be pushed up on yet because of Her Secret Love, but he should keep on with the pushing up. This scene actually was done pretty well, but it may just seem familiar because Kerry Washington says this to me like once a week.

We don’t actually see Fitz this episode, which is probably for the best. You agreed with me that that there’s no way they can keep up that insane plot for too long, so maybe the only way they can keep it fresh is by not going to that well too often.

Oh, yeah. Huck’s new boo cakes has the worst taste in men and Cyrus’s husband is trying to trap him with a baby. Progressive!

1I empathize with him.  I, too,know the power of Kerry Washington. She’s been hounding me at home to give up this radio-controlled helicopter my mama got me for my birthday, and I almost did, before I was all like, “you ain’t going to clip my wings, babygirl! A bird gots ta FLY!”

2Since I’m  getting into the weeds about the plausibility of this show’s politics: if you lose by a margin that small, there are literally countless things to which you could attribute that lost. Maybe your GOTV game sucks. Maybe there was bad weather. Maybe they saw that you’re really a mustache-twirling supervillain who fake-rapes his wife for political gain. None of that’s Olivia’s fault, homie.

3Obligatory: what is it that Olivia does? As far as I can tell, this show is about a professional extortionist who employs a bunch of ex-cons and a serial killer. 

G.D.,

Yes. Everything you said. Implausible as ever. Corny dialogue in abundance (complete with meta acknowledgment of metaphor mixing). Huck wears his stalker status like a neon, blinking Superman — on a first date — which, in the Scandal universe makes him irresistible.

But let’s switch gears for a sec. Riddle me this, long-time viewers. How many episodes of Scandal don’t include any of the following: a woman murdered by a more powerful man; a mistress whose plight resonates with our heroine; a “powerful” woman (read: Mellie or Liv) being loudly, rudely, scarily dressed down by a more powerful man; someone undermining Liv and pretty much getting away with it; or the President ignoring the fact that no means no (and then being rewarded for that, with continued conversation, longing, apology, or physical contact)?

I’ll wait.

Last night’s Scandal could’ve been used as a drinking game: chug when you see misogynistic overtones! The continued use of the term “cried rape?” Drink! Cyrus frighteningly trumping Mellie’s attempt to flex her FLOTUS power, thereby reaffirming Fitz’s earlier claim that she’s merely ornamental? Drink! A mistress who’s “punished” with jail time and her governor husband riding her rape claims to a renewed sense of success? DRINK.

Good thing Fitz was out of town this week or else none of us would’ve made it into work this morning.

We’ve seen enough Scandal at this point to be able to mark a pattern. And this is it: women in power on this show are only as empowered as the men around them allow. Unless this entire series is a subversive send-up of that notion — and I doubt it is — now’s the time to start asking ourselves the same question Liv’s old, wise, bad-advice-giving Supreme Court Justice friend asked her: what are we (women) getting out of this?

Also: how much do we hate Abby? It can’t just be me.

Other Notes on a Scandal:

  •  Did Josh Malina rock spectacles last season? Man, is he hot in them.
  • … Still waiting for Columbus Short’s presence to have a point. I want so much more for him than making observations about other people’s sex lives aloud.
  •  Liv and Cyrus sure are cozy when the president’s out of the picture. Their scene seemed meant to yet again underscore the differences between Liv and Mellie (and how Liv is usually the preferred woman of the two). But didn’t Cyrus hate Liv for a while there? Now that she and the President have broken up, are they square again? Remember how hurt she was when he told her they weren’t friends? If he weren’t Chief of Staff, I’d love to see him working for her firm. He’d be better at it than everyone she’s currently employing–including Huck who, God love him, is not gonna be able to pretend he isn’t besotted with bloodlust for much longer.
  •  And because G.D. loves our sartorial-aside tweets so: I was HERE for Liv’s off-the-shoulder white sweater last night!
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Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs about race and ethnicity for National Public Radio. He is a native of South Philly and reads and writes and runs and rants. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook.

21 comments to Blogging Scandal, Season, 2; Episode 5: ‘All Roads Lead to Fitz.’

  • Shani

    “he and his wife made up the whole rape story so he could kill her fake-rapist and get a bounce in the polls.”

    It doesn’t seem like the wife was in on this grand plan. She “cried rape” at the worst time for her freedom since her husband got mad enough at her affair to let her go to prison for his benefit.

    • Okay. Now i’m confused.

      Didn’t Reston know about his wife’s affair?

      • k.

        He did, but he was planning to kill her, the boyfriend and himself originally. Then she “cried rape” when he showed up and apparently this guy’s Machiavelli-on-amphetamine brain came up with a scheme whereby he shoots the guy, gets his wife sent to prison and sets himself up for the presidency. In less than a second. Totally plausible.

        (Also, yes, Abby is the worst.)

        • Wow, that’s even worse than I thought. Thanks for this.

          • I didn’t get that Reston planned for his wife to go to prison. I thought he just saw a moment when he could be the hero rather than just leaving a trail of death. But once he saw prison was on the table, he let her take the fall.

            • slb

              I read it that way, too. Prison was icing.

            • k.

              You’re right, I was probably giving him too much credit about his wife taking a hit for it.

              From what he said about the shooting, though, it sounded like it wasn’t just that he saw a moment to be a hero; he was thinking of his political career. And I think a split-second switch from “I’m going to kill myself” to “I’m going to be President” still tests the bounds of plausibility.

              Then again, Scandal’s not really about gritty realism. It’s about Kerry Washington killing it in flattering neutrals every week.

  • Lindywasp

    Olivia and Huck have the most interesting relationship on the show. Much of her success depends on enabling his sociopathy and she knows it. Exploring her culpability as he spirals could be interesting. Frankly, Olivia’s exploitation of broken people (her staff) in service of wealthy, privileged patrons/clients would be a compelling narrative. Means it will probably never happen.

    • That’s a great observation.

      The show positions her as its ostensible hero, even though she doesn’t seem to have any redeemable qualities — she really is just a well-paid extortionist with a bunch of ex-cons and a serial killer on her payroll who are all indebted to her. Your critique actually shows her to be worse than even that description.

  • slb

    That’s so astute. Liv’s success is predicated, in part, on being able to control her staff — and what better way to ensure loyalty/control than to hire people you’ve “rescued” or “fixed?” They all seem like chess pieces to her. I *am* interested in seeing how she handle’s Abby’s mutiny. She’s always seemed like the least “grateful” for Liv’s intervention in her past. She probably also has the least at stake if she walks away from the firm. No one else can leave and readily find employment, protection (from themselves), or insulation from their pasts.

  • Lindywasp

    Yeah. Olivia’s relationship with her staff is framed as one of benevolence. She collected society’s discards, saw their worth and refashioned their lives, but to what purpose? Who benefits? Who is inevitably harmed? Is her business the best repurposing of lives in need of 2nd chances and why is the staff so gung-ho to help those symbolic of the society that disregarded them?

  • T.

    Listen,

    See I knew, I KNEW once GD got his hands on this show there would be slander and malarkey. But that’s fine, because most of the points you make above are true, and thought provoking (esp. the piece about women only being as powerful as they are allowed to be, that’s actually pretty troublesome). So instead of trying to fight Scandal-hate that I feel is being propagated, I’ll just talk about what I still enjoy about the show, implausible though it may be:

    1. I am here for Olivia Pope’s white/eccru/creme torso attire. Every week she finds a way to rock a white shirt in a new way, and I respect it. She’s like Bougie Lisa Raye.

    2. Columbus Short is my boo in my head. He was in Stomp the Yard and This Christmas. He’s cute. He needs to stay on television.

    3. The reads. Yes, melodramatic, blah blah blah. But Cyrus and the rest of the Scandal crew STAY getting in somebody’s hindparts verbally, and it’s fun to watch. It appeals to my ignorant side, but ITS FUN. It’s messy. And sometimes after a long day in the cube-farm, you want a little release.
    I could ramble more. But those are just some of the reasons I love this fast-talking, terribly implausible show.

    T.

  • I never want this (the recapping) to end. I vote for an extended season, just to see how G.D. handles it. My bet is that you can’t last the whole season with this ridiculousness, G.D.

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