It’s time for Laura’s take on the latest episode of Scandal!
I have to start off by complimenting the writing of this episode, because it was brilliant. The speech that Olivia Pope gave during her talk show appearance, magnificently delivered by Kerry Washington, was beautiful. And the final scene between Fitz and Cyrus—at turns dramatic, heartbreaking, and somehow even weirdly heartwarming—also had award-caliber writing and acting. The realism of a mother sending her son books with index cards that completely spoil the entire story make me wonder if someone in the writer’s room has a mother who actually did that for them.
I now want to touch on one of the more serious aspects of the episode: the lax rules surrounding impeachment. In the episode, David quoted President Gerald Ford as saying, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of Congress considers it to be at a given moment in history.” Considering President Clinton essentially got impeached for lying about engaging in a sexual act with an intern, that seems to be 100% accurate. Shouldn’t our constitution have a more strict law regarding what constitutes an impeachable offense? I realize our Founding Fathers probably never foresaw the mockery our current batch of lawmakers would make of the institution, preferring to close down the government rather than reach across the aisle to compromise, but it seems a president’s political enemies could find almost any reason to impeach him. David’s absolutely right when he told Fitz that “Congress is prosecutor and judge and jury.” That’s the way our system currently works. Anyone else have a major problem with that?
Okay, now that I’m done with the rant, let’s get back to the much more pleasant topic of Scandal, where the president did in fact commit the very impeachable offense of going to war to save his mistress. Not only could it ruin his presidency, it could send him straight to jail, no passing “Go,” no collecting $200. That’s where the phenomenal scene between Fitz and Cyrus comes in. In exchange for once again being made Chief of Staff (along with various other demands like Fitz firing Elizabeth North), Cyrus will return to work at the White House and keep silent about the fact Fitz saw the tape of Olivia while she was a hostage.
The bulk of the episode, however, was devoted to the question of how to fix Olivia’s reputation in front of the world. At first, things didn’t exactly go as planned. As Cyrus said, “I don’t even know how the hell they found out about that ring. But she’s managed to go from being a slut, to an Everywoman, to your sister-wife in under 48 hours. I didn’t even know that was possible.”
We did get a great scene of Olivia wearing clothes from the mall shopping at the grocery store, complete with a package of corn dogs (which I personally didn’t notice, but there were plenty of tweets about it so I assume she had corn dogs in her shopping cart). With or without the corn dogs, simply seeing Olivia shopping for her own groceries was fantastic. The Everywoman image worked until the media, thanks to Mellie’s bitterness over getting kicked off the judiciary committee, learned about the diamond ring Fitz gave her.
Edison, Olivia’s ex-fiancé, certainly helped with creating the brief Everywoman image, but boy did he make Olivia work for his help. What did you think of his calling her “a criminal, a whore, an idiot, and a liar”? Did she call him that first, as he said? I honestly don’t remember, although he had a valid point that she used him and never had any intention of marrying him. Was he fair considering how she treated him, or did he go too far? After calling her a hypocrite, though, he did as she asked and raved about her on TV.
I also loved Mellie’s and Cyrus’s reactions to Edison’s description of Olivia’s fine moral character. Mellie had an interesting expression, a mixture of despair and heartbreak. Cyrus gleefully loves the drama. And how about the scene of the two of them getting drunk together once Mellie turned to him in despair? Do you agree with him that her telling the press about the ring is “a real big-girl move”? I’m sure we’ve all wanted vengeance on exes who have hurt us. In Mellie’s case, however, she can do more damage than most of us could ever dream. Later in the episode, the two of them also shared the sweet moment when Cyrus apologized to Mellie for introducing them in the first place, saying “for that I am deeply sorry.” Do those two bring out the best or the worst in each other—or a mixture of both?
After that ring scandal came the other highlight of the episode, Washington’s formidable scene as she spoke to the TV reporter. But first, she had to resolve for herself how she wanted to handle this, and as usual when she has a problem, she turned to Jake. As an outspoken member of “Team Jake,” I loved that scene. He gets her so completely, hitting the nail on the head when he clarifies why she has an issue with going on national TV to talk about her love for Fitz: “I don’t see the problem. Unless… you’re the problem… All of your exits become walled off. You’ll be tied to the White House–and him–for the rest of your life. And that is absolutely terrifying to you.”
Jake’s advice? “Tell the truth. Tell your story, Olivia. Tell the world how you really feel about him.” Personally, I think that’s the best advice of the episode.
Then there’s the speech, which was so well written I have to include some of it here:
“I wish I’d never laid eyes on him. I wish we’d never met.… I’ve worked very hard to build a business, a business whose only aim is to help people become the best version of themselves, to stand in their truths and face the consequences of their actions so they can gain forgiveness and move past their mistakes. Building that business was hard work. I didn’t do it alone, but I built that business and it’s something I’m proud of, something that could all go away because I laid eyes on that man. That married man. If I never laid eyes on him, then I wouldn’t have fallen in love, and he wouldn’t have fallen in love. That may have made for two more lonely people in the world, but also a lot less pain and heartache for many, many others…. If it were a choice, who would choose this kind of love? So I wish we never met. But we did. And I tried. I tried and failed and tried and… failed again to hide, to stop loving him, but I couldn’t. I was weak. I hated myself. I wore this ring to remind me of my weakness. And when our affair was exposed, I had to follow my own advice and stand in my truth to own who I am, to accept my faults. And I won’t ask for forgiveness. Just don’t ask me to undo the past, don’t ask me to fall out of love with Fitzgerald Grant, because if I could I would.”
My other favorite moment of the episode (along with that speech and the final Fitz and Cyrus scene) was the simple dinner scene between Olivia and Jake. He can make her laugh in the midst of this crisis and all the drama surrounding her. He can tease her about his wife being a lot like her, and that she has a type: “married guys.” I know the focus of this season so far is the Olivia and Fitz love story and what it takes for them to be together, but am I wrong to still hold out hope for Olivia and Jake to find their way back to each other?
Finally, I have two questions to leave you with. First, as I remember, Mellie also knows Fitz saw the tape. Is she allowed to testify against him, or does marital privilege prevent that? Can’t she also come forward, though? Nothing could stop her from telling the media about the tape even if that isn’t officially evidence. Do you think she will?
Second, what do you think of Cyrus’s demands and his decision to take his job back? At first I admired Cyrus for turning Fitz down and holding onto his pride, but I also felt Fitz was sincere in his apology, so I can understand Cyrus then accepting that and taking back the job he loves. How about you?
What did you think of this episode? As always, I welcome all your thoughts and opinions!