I’d like to introduce all of you to our newest NGN Contributor, Laura! She is a talented novelist, blogger, and passionate fangirl who runs the excellent site Fangirl Forum. I’m very excited to have her as part of our awesome NGN Team, and I hope all of you make her feel wonderfully welcome and check out her site, too!
I love the writing on Scandal. As a writer myself, I need to start this post by acknowledging the incredible team who writes for Scandal. Thank you, as always, for such great entertainment! We finished the “Rowan/taking down Command” story arc, and without delay (except for the summer break) moved straight into the political storm of Olitz, a divorce, a new chief of staff, lies between friends, and Huck coming apart.
Now, let me say straight off, I’m Team Jake all the way, so I was really disappointed in the Season 4 finale. I’m sick of the Liv and Fitz relationship, and personally I think Jake is better for her. I know this will upset some of you diehard Olitz fans, but please hear me out before you stop reading. Because having said that, I did enjoy the season premiere.
Team Fitz or Team Jake?
Olivia Pope is an amazing woman. She’s formidable, brilliant, compassionate, and confident but with human foibles and vulnerabilities. She deserves a man who appreciates and respects all of that about her, which I will grant you both Jake and Fitz do. But, in my opinion, Jake is more honest about the man he is now and the man he’s been in the past. There’s no duplicity about him anymore. He owns the horrible things he’s done, whereas Fitz will condemn others (like Mellie) for actions similar to ones he’s done himself. (But more on Fitz and Mellie in a minute.)
People feel passionately about Olivia’s relationship with both men, and I respect the opinions of those who are Team Olitz—and I’d love to hear why you favor Fitz over Jake. On the flip side, here are my reasons for hoping Jake comes back into Liz’s life. First, let’s take a quick look back at the last two episodes of Season 4. Jake understands the effect Rowan has had on Olivia, which is shown in a great scene in Episode 4.21 when Jake is talking with Russell. As he explains to Russell, “Olivia is supposed to catch you. That’s part of it. For Rowan, that’s the best part of it, how he exerts his control over her. Where’s the power in it, for him, if she never knows you belong to him? He needs her to know that she is never safe from him, never out of his grasp. When her guard is up, he waits. He waits… and he waits… until she starts to believe he’s gone. And she relaxes. And then he sends us in. But she has to know. That’s how he lets her know Papa Pope is in charge.” Russell, having worked for Rowan himself and studied Olivia for his assignment, puts into words what Jake and those who know Olivia best have all realized, “She never had a chance, did she.”
Now, in the Season 5 premiere, we have Olivia’s own acknowledgment that her damaged past has led her to where she is—and that includes her relationship with Fitz. As she says to Huck “If I could fix people on the inside, I’d be running a bake sale in Ohio right now instead of…” She doesn’t finish the thought, but do we really need her to? And in her final conversation with Fitz at the end of the episode, she expresses her worries to him that they might be broken.
Second, while both men would do anything for Liv, Jake never tries to change her. He lets her make decisions and supports her in whatever she wants to do. If she’d told him not to testify against Fitz in order to bring down B613, he wouldn’t have. If she wanted to escape her life again and run away, he would have gone with her. In the season finale, he told her, “You want to get out of here just say the word. Any part of the globe is yours. I go where you go.” Fitz, in this week’s episode, threatened to prosecute Liv if she jeopardized his naval base. In his defense, he does have a country to run, and he has to do what’s best for America rather than what’s best for Olivia. But that’s part of why I think she’s better with Jake. He can put her first. Fitz, by the very nature of his job, can’t.
Finally, Jake will do selfless things for other people that have no benefit to him whatsoever. He shared the beer with Russell at the end of season 4. He took in Huck this week without a moment’s hesitation or any questions. He listens to people without condemning them. For all those reasons, I’m 100% Team Jake.
What do you think? If you’re team Fitz, I’d honestly love to hear why. And if you’re Team Jake like me, feel free to chime in with your thoughts and reasons for it too.
Fitz and Mellie
Another reason I hesitate to support Fitz and Liv is that I like his marriage to Mellie. No, they don’t share a romantic love at this point, but for most of Season 4 they made a great team.
More relevant to this week’s episode is one question I have for all of you: Is Fitz hypocritical for being so harsh with Mellie for her actions? I honestly have mixed feelings on this. Obviously her actions were deplorable, but she doesn’t know Rowan is the man who murdered her son and she had no idea what he was going to do with the list of names, although she’s intelligent enough to have known it wouldn’t be anything good. Fitz, on the other hand, knowingly shot down a plane of 329 innocent civilians and murdered that Supreme Court justice with his bare hands. Yet in Fitz’s favor, he has shown remorse and tried to change, while Mellie doesn’t seem to feel any sense of responsibility for the deaths of those jurors or regret over her actions. She only regrets Fitz found out and that she now has to suffer those consequences.
One of the best scenes in episode occurred between Fitz and Mellie:
Mellie: I wanted to apologize…. But I’m glad you came around. I think about what I did every day. Those jurors…. What I did, uh, those jurors, I … I will never forgive myself. And maybe you won’t either. I guess we add it to the list of the awful things we’ve done, the things we spend our future together trying to repent for. But I can face it, because we’ll be together. I know without a doubt that you and I together, a team, is what’s best for us, for the country, for our beautiful children. And I’m so glad you see it too.
Fitz: I’m divorcing you.
Mellie: I’ll never sign.
Fitz: You will. You have so many qualities I despise, but I do admire your brilliance. So do the math, Mel. Fighting this, fighting me, will mean both of us deploy every weapon in our arsenals. Every lie, every secret, every juror on that bus. Mutually assured destruction. We’ll be ruined. Now me, hey, I’m a war hero, governor, two-term president, my bucket list is done. You? Your biggest accomplishment so far is waving and smile. It’s your first day pitching in the major leagues. You’ll sign.
Each of their speeches, their expressions, the pace of the conversation, everything about that scene was fantastic.
Scandal of the Week – A Reflection of Fitz and Liv
It’s clear throughout the episode that Olivia sees parallels between her potential life with Fitz and the life of the princess: the lack of privacy, the fact that people say what they want without considering they’re hurting a real person, the constant presence of the paparazzi.
When Fitz tells Olivia he’s divorcing Mellie, she doesn’t look happy, probably because she realizes that, like the princess, she’d stop being viewed as a person if she made her relationship with Fitz public. She, too, would be famous for who she loved, not for who she is. The ending of the episode hammered home the point when the queen told Olivia, “Not all fairy tales have happy endings my dear.” Yet Liv, being Olivia Pope, still had the last word and her own triumph—not necessarily with her relationship turning into a fairy tale, but with her continuous fight to get justice for those who deserve it. She told the queen, in a great line, “You were right. Not all fairy tales have happy endings. But evil queens? They tend to go down.”
Her plea to Fitz to slow things down also comes from her knowledge of how the princess’s life transformed after her marriage:
Olivia: You aren’t thinking. Do you honestly believe this is the answer? Divorce papers? Going public?
Fitz: Yes! … We put this into the light, we make this real.
Olivia: How can we possibly do that? The minute the world finds out about us, we stop being you and me and we become a spectacle. All that scrutiny, a billion eyes on us, we wouldn’t have a chance. How can we make it work in public when we can barely make it work in private? It’s not a solution, Fitz. It’s just another complication.
Fitz: So tell me how we do this.
Olivia: I want you. I want us. But I want to slow down. I want our business. I want our problems fixed. I want to be ready… Before the world is watching. Because once it is, once we’re in that spotlight, being picked at and scrubbed and stretched in every direction, we will never get the chance to make things right. If we are broken going in we are not getting out. Not together. They will destroy us. That’s reality, Fitz.
Of course, the cliffhanger at the end of the episode showed they won’t get the chance to stay out of the spotlight, when Sally broadcasted photos of them in quiet, intimate moments together.
Jake and Cyrus Aren’t Gone!
Many of us wondered what would happen to both Jake and Cyrus after the Season 4 finale. Fortunately, we weren’t left hanging. Jake made a brief but meaningful appearance toward the end of the episode. When Huck turned to him for help, Jake immediately took him in. Cyrus also shared a poignant scene with Mellie as witness to her breaking down sobbing when she finally admitted out loud, “[Fitz] hates us.”
The Dynamic Cast
I have to take one moment away from the story to praise the cast that brings it to life. There were several incredible scenes in the season premiere between strong female characters. When Mellie and Liz face off, it’s a tremendous battle of wills between two phenomenal actresses, Bellamy Young and Portia de Rossi. De Rossi also shared some great moments with Darby Stanchfield (Abby) as they feel out their new working relationship.
Apart from the women, Tony Goldwyn (Fitz) also held his own in the scene mentioned earlier between him and Young, and in his fight with Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope) in the Oval Office. Washington, of course, was her usual impressive self. She should have won the Emmy this past Sunday. I still can’t believe she wasn’t even nominated.
Sorry for the super-long post this week, but the season premiere covered a lot of ground! Can’t wait for next week, and I look forward to hearing all your comments!