Scandal 5.18: “Till Death Do Us Part”

It’s time to welcome back Laura, who’s returned with her thoughts on the latest episode of Scandal!

I think that was one of the most painful episodes of Scandal that has ever aired, and there have definitely been some tragic storylines before. As a member of Team Jake, though, that episode truly broke my heart.

Here’s my main question: Jake knows Rowan, and he knows Rowan would do absolutely anything to see his plan succeed. Yet the things Olivia said to him at the church were so brutal, and they played on his every fear about the two of them together and all his insecurities that she could never truly love him and choose him. So would he be able to see past her act and figure out that Rowan was behind this? I wish he would, but I don’t know if any of us could see clearly after an assault like that. Still, I found myself hoping, even though he said “I do” to Vanessa, that deep down a part of him knew Olivia would never treat him like that. I desperately hope he knows she does love him and that she only said what she did to save his life. He has to know Rowan got to her somehow, right? What do you think? Is he too blinded by his broken heart to realize the truth?

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Scandal 5.17: “Thwack!”

It’s my pleasure to welcome Laura back for this week’s look at the world of Scandal!

Certain lines, once crossed, change everything. Olivia went to a place in this week’s episode that she can never come back from. For the first time, she has blood on her own hands—and face and clothes, for that matter. In this particular case, though, I found myself siding with Olivia. Her kidnapping ordeal knocked her white hat off. It’s hard to fathom the psychological repercussions of being abducted from your home, locked in a cell without knowing if you’ll live or die, and sold to the highest bidder. If someone did that to me, I’d probably want to bash his head in with a chair too, especially if he insulted me as horribly as Andrew insulted Olivia.

The things that struck me most in this episode, though, were the role Abby played and Olivia’s actions after she killed Andrew.

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Scandal 5.16: “The Miseducation of Susan Ross”

Let’s all welcome back Laura, who’s returned to NGN to offer her take on Scandal as the show heads into the home stretch!

Hi folks! Sorry for the long hiatus from these Scandal posts; I’ve been dealing with some health issues. But I’m back now, and boy do I have a lot to say about where this show has been going in the second half of the season!

White hats came and went and came back again in this episode of Scandal. For a while, I thought my headline for this post would be “Olivia’s White Hat Gone for Good.” I’m thrilled the episode proved me wrong, although it did it in a way that took some of the choice out of Olivia’s hands. She fully intended to expose Susan’s secret and go ahead with her baby daddy’s interview until the moment she learned he’d hanged himself in prison. It wouldn’t be as much of a story without Ronny there to back up the paternity claims, which, in some ways, made it a lot easier for Olivia to put the white hat back on. Still, she deserves some credit; she plans to keep that hat on moving forward so she can end the campaign “with dignity.”

When Fitz and Huck are on the same side and have the moral high ground, telling you that you’re crossing a line, you know it’s time to rethink your actions. Olivia crossing that line did cause Ronny’s suicide—a fact that gets glossed over in her final conversation and drink with Fitz. She didn’t put the white hat back on in time to prevent that tragedy. Hopefully that fact will stick with her.

Speaking of Fitz, he seems to have undergone a profound transformation. I’ve always been a vocal supporter of Team Jake, but now that Jake’s working with Papa Pope, he’s starting to bring out the worst in Olivia instead of the best like before. And Fitz, who I originally thought brought out all of Olivia’s least desirable traits (not to mention I hated how he controlled her), is now pushing her to be a better person. Not sure I’m entirely ready to give up on Jake and join the Olitz fans, but that may change if this trend continues.

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Scandal 5.8: Is Olivia Now Fitz’s Personal Prisoner?

It’s time once again for Laura’s weekly rundown of all things Scandal!

There’s one big question throughout this episode: Should Olivia (and others) trust her gut, or has it started to fail her?

When a translator from Bandar asked to defect to the U.S., Liv’s gut told her he was afraid to return home and honest about having intel. Navid Turani offered up a soda factory that isn’t what it seems. When Olivia’s team told her there was no uranium at the facility, she thought her gut got it wrong and took out her frustration on Navid. She was furious she might have misjudged such an important situation when she relies on her gut so heavily.

Jake also made Olivia question herself in their brilliant scene in the Oval Office. There was some fantastic writing and acting in that scene! It started when Olivia summoned Jake to the White House, letting him believe the president himself issued the summons. Naturally, Jake was livid to find out the truth. When Olivia said she needed to talk to him, he told her, “Do you understand how much I do not care about what you need?” That was especially true when she said she thinks her father might now be an innocent victim, and she hinted that she wants Jake’s help to protect him:

Jake: Have you ever lied to someone’s face when your back was completely against the wall to get what you wanted? Have you ever looked someone in the eye and made them think you loved them? Really truly loved them? So you could take whatever is it you needed from them?
Olivia: I believe him. My gut says he’s telling the truth.
Jake: Of course… Otherwise you’d be a fool with daddy issues who just got played by a mass murderer.
Olivia: What if he is innocent and someone really is trying to kill him?
Jake: Honestly, Liv, I just hope I get to him before they do. … What did you think, that I’d come here and spoon you? Give you a shoulder to cry on? Listen to you talk about all the dark places built inside of you? That train has left the station, and you do not get to ride this anymore. If you want someone to talk to, tell your boyfriend that you just let his son’s killer out of prison. See how that works out.
Olivia: Jake, I am going to tell him.
Jake: You are? That I’d like to see.
Olivia: I was supposed to choose you… When you told me Fitz loved me and that I should go to him, what you meant was that you wanted me to say I didn’t love him and that… I was supposed to choose you.
Jake: No. You were supposed to be too good for me. It never crossed my mind that I would be too good for you.
Olivia: The crimes, the violence I have forgiven you for, and you won’t even consider that I might be….

That’s when Fitz came in and interrupted them. Personally, I found that scene brilliant and emblematic of this season so fare as a whole. Jake used to be the one who needed forgiveness, who made mistakes and needed Olivia to pull him back into the sun. Now, she hasn’t yet realized she needs him to do the same thing for her. She isn’t wearing the white hat anymore. Sometimes I think Jake’s more upset about that than he is over her choosing Fitz, like he said in this scene.

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Scandal 5.7: Does the Devil Really Deserve a Second Chance?

It’s time once again for Laura’s weekly Scandal recap!

This week’s episode of Scandal, called “Even the Devil Deserves a Second Chance,” dealt with the darker side of human nature and the lies we tell ourselves about the evil inside both us and others. The case of the week tackled a world-renowned feminist who’s been raping women for years with his wife’s help, while Olivia had to face the repercussions of her own selfish decision to free her father from prison to avoid marrying Fitz. Both surround themselves in a web of lies while fighting for truth and justice. The parallels are unsettling, to say the least, even though I think many of us viewers do feel for Olivia while fully despising the actions of the rapist.

The episode began with one of the best lines of the night, as Fitz celebrated the end of the impeachment hearings. He raised a glass and toasted, “To Congress: May their heads one day depart from their asses.” Yes, please! Can we give our own Congress the same toast and hope maybe they’ll listen? Fitz and Olivia have also smoothed things over. He’s not upset she returned the ring and ran out on the wedding, since getting married in that way wasn’t what either of them wanted. Fitz joked that Liv still “gets to date the most powerful man in the world.” How right he is, even as he cedes that power to his beloved girlfriend. Even Olivia and Abby are back to their close friendship. When Abby asked Liv about a rumor she heard that Congress was blackmailed into ending the hearings, Olivia told Abby she doesn’t want to have to lie to her so she can’t answer. Finally, the festivities turned to Vice President Susan Ross flirting with David as she offered to give him a ride to an event at the National Association of the Chiefs of Police the following day.

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Scandal 5.6: Weddings, Escapes, and Betrayal, Oh My!

It’s time once again for Laura’s rundown of this week’s episode of Scandal!

Fitz and Mellie finally got divorced, Fitz and Olivia almost got married, Jake once again lost a woman he loved, and Papa Pope returned. Sounds like a Thursday! The Scandal crew also had to contend with a Senate hearing and walking the fine line between truth and perjury, while keeping Fitz and Liv safe. So let’s dive into all this, shall we?

To Say I Do or Not to Say I Do?
A good portion of the episode dealt with whether or not Fitz and Olivia should get married. Cyrus essentially proposes to Olivia on Fitz’s behalf as the three of them talked in the Oval Office, explaining that if they’re married she can’t testify against him. Olivia, as we might expect, reacted in horror: “A shotgun wedding on the heels of a quickie divorce? You may as well turn the Oval Office into a drive-thru wedding chapel.” Of course, that’s not her main issue with the entire situation.

She confided in Abby, who characteristically rambled on without thinking as she freaked out over being in the president’s bedroom. She speculated about how hellish being First Lady must be until Liv told her that Fitz wants to get married. Liv, naturally, feels the same way Abby does, hence part of her hesitation in getting married. So instead of a wedding, she’s decided to lie on the stand, “because otherwise Fitz will be impeached and I love him too much to let that happen.” Abby, thankfully, asked the question on many viewers’ minds: If you love him, then why not just get married?

Olivia: We’re not ready to get married. It would just be a last minute get out of jail free card. I don’t want that for us.
Abby: If you take the stand, you could end up going to jail.
Olivia: And if I get married? What in the hell do you think this is?

She clarified her point by looking around the president’s bedroom, as did Abby. It’s lavish, but as First Lady, it would be a kind of elegant prison, just as Mellie told her.

Fitz thought if he redid the proposal in a more romantic way then he’d get Olivia to say yes—that it was simply the circumstances of Cyrus discussing their marriage like a business transaction that got in the way. He put together a romantic setting—rose petals, candles, him in a tuxedo, and getting down on one knee. But Olivia stopped him; that’s not what she wants. Since he admitted he didn’t want to do the elaborate proposal thing either, she asked why he bothered.

Fitz: Because I love you. Because you are what I want. But obviously you don’t feel the same.
Olivia: We’re not ready.
Fitz: You’re not ready. And you know what I think? You never will be.
Olivia: That’s not fair.
Fitz: Then answer the question, Olivia. What is it that you want? (She doesn’t say anything, just looks at him) That’s what I thought.

Poor Fitz. Even though I don’t think the two of them should get married, I felt for him in that scene. His actions later in the episode made me less sympathetic, but we’ll get to that. Eventually, Liv agreed to marry him, but she clearly started regretting her decision in the moments before the wedding when her new Secret Service detail explained how her life will now work. She was saved at the last minute by Mellie and her father, although instead of telling Fitz directly, she had Abby return the ring to him.

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Scandal 5.5: Lessons on How to Fix a Fixer

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.”

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Scandal 5.3 & 5.4: Attacking America’s Mistress, Jake’s Not Jake, and Papa Pope Returns!

NGN Team member Laura is back today with her thoughts on the last two episodes of Scandal!

Thanks to a bout of strep throat, you get two episodes of Scandal in one blog post: both last week’s episode “Paris is Burning” and this week’s “Dog-Whistle Politics.”

By far one of the funniest dialogue exchanges occurred in last week’s episode, when Quinn asked Huck, “You were gonna turn off the Internet?” And he calmly replied, “Well, no, I was going to erase the Internet.” If only dealing with a scandal like being the president’s mistress was that easy.

So let’s take a look at how Olivia’s simple “Yes” has changed things for everyone, and what this might mean for the upcoming season.

Olivia Pope and Associates Has a New Member
Jake forced Quinn and Huck to face reality with his brilliant arrival at O.P.A. last week, reminding her two associates of exactly who Olivia is and always has been: “Liv did not ask for your help. She does not want your help. She did this. You know why you don’t know about any plan? Because you are not part of any plan. The plan already happened. The plan was Olivia Pope standing on that sidewalk and with one word obliterating any life she’s ever known. The plan was Liv requiring the same thing of herself that she requires of her clients. Standing by the one thing, following the only rule that matters to her, and what is that? Do not lie. That was it. That was her plan. The plan is done. Liv finally stood on her own, and we are done.” When they ask him what he plans to do next, he says with his usual calm demeanor, “My plan is to sit here and drink the majority of this vodka and get remarkably wasted and watch the world end. Care to join me?”

This also led to one of the cutest moments in the two episodes, when Quinn confessed to her love for martinis, and Jake reassured her, “Every new spy does it. I did it.” It’s always nice when the super spies show their human side, especially after some of the more violent rampages we’ve seen them all embark on.

This week, with Jake off fighting a different battle, Quinn and Huck tried a different tack: hiring a new gladiator in a beautiful mirror of the pilot when Quinn first joined the team. Only instead of eagerly accepting the job like Quinn did, Marcus Walker adamantly refused and walked away, at least at first.

Fortunately, Marcus proved his worth before the end of the episode, refusing to listen to marching orders and instead fighting back with his “dog-whistle politics” strategy, leading to…

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Scandal 5.2: Deeper Into the Scandal of “America’s Mistress”

Let’s all welcome back our newest NGN Team member, Laura, who returns this week with thoughts on the latest episode of Scandal!

Source: ABC/Eric McCandless

Source: ABC/Eric McCandless

As a member of Team Jake, this episode was the ultimate tease! And I don’t mean that in a good way. Still, I have to give Scandal credit—it was compelling TV, as always. The photos stir up the predictable media madness. While Fitz wants Olivia to stand by his side to make a statement, Olivia would rather get the hell out of town. And Liv usually gets her way, as her friends in lighter moments at various times point out. Abby explains to Elizabeth North, “The president’s about to get Poped,” and Quinn (when answering to Jake why she let Olivia take a case) said, “You don’t say no to Liv. And, besides, she took my car keys.”

Mellie Grant
Mellie has, by far, the best speech of the episode when she goes to see Fitz in the Oval Office. Her take on living in the spotlight that is the White House is a brilliant piece of both writing and acting:

“You placed Olivia in a dangerous position. You outed her. You thought by throwing me out of the White House and moving her in you’d be making this grand gesture. Finally she wouldn’t be just a mistress anymore. But the minute she stepped through these doors, the minute she moved in here, she became what we all become when we live here. And what is that? Yes. A statue, inhuman, viewed from every angle, discussed, exposed. She’s not just a mistress now. She’s America’s mistress. History will preserve her as such. Oh, honey, you made a horrible miscalculation, an error in judgment. You didn’t realize, which is why I’m here. You can apologize, I can accept, and then I’ll take care of everything.”

Mellie probably could have put all the rumors to bed, if Fitz (and then Olivia) had let her. Whether she should is an entirely different question.

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Scandal Season 5 Premiere: Setting Up Another Intense Storyline

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.)

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