Scandal: A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot, and a Liar

“This is my office. I’m the president. They can shoot me if they want to, but I’m not going anywhere.”

So, we had to come down at some point right? The episode was decent, but it definitely lacked the awesomesauce the writers had been pouring over the past four episodes.

For the second time in five episodes, Scandal falls back on the flashback format. I understand they have a lot of pre-Season 1 story to get out there, but they need to cool it with the flashbacks for a bit. They’ve been overdoing them and each flashback episode has been slightly worse than the one before.

I feel like many of the flashbacks were unnecessary or perhaps just unfocused. In previous episodes, the flashbacks have told a single story, reinforced a single point. In “The Trail,” we saw Liv and Fitz meet and fall hopelessly in love. In “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” we saw what led Olivia to leave the White House and her presidential lover. Here, it was a mishmash of themes which ranged from ‘Fitz has daddy issues,’ to ‘Fitz can’t connect with voters,’ and ‘Olivia decides to rig the election.’ I suppose they’re all related, but I still felt like they could have been more deliberate.

I am relieved to finally get to see how and why our conspirators agreed to Hollis’s plan, although we still don’t have a real reason for him to instigate said plan. He claimed he was doing it so they would owe him a favor, but the man just tried to have the sitting President of the United States of America assassinated. Why do I think his motivations in getting Fitz elected were a little more macabre?

Some aspects of the flashbacks just did not click with me. I’m onboard with Fitz having issues with his father, but Fitzgerald Thomas Grant II (Spin City’s Barry Bostwick) came across as a bit cartoonish at times. His character did have little quirks I found realistic: his clearly oft-repeated anecdotes and his constant referring to Olivia as “sweetheart,” “honey,” or “darling.” On the other hand, he tells his son “I’m a winner, and that’s something you’ll never be.” Really? What sort of father would actually say that and in language that blunt? It’s not as if Fitz isn’t already successful. He was elected and served as the governor of the most populous state in the union. How much of a loser does that make him?

While I’m not a fan of our romantic male lead sexually harassing our romantic female lead, the scene in the elevator leant a certain consistency to Fitz’s character. In “Sweet Baby” and “Hunting Season,” we’ve seen Fitz be a little too aggressive with Olivia. Here, as Liv points out, he’s drunk and sad. It stands to reason he would become too...whatever he was here.

The writers really wrote themselves into a corner by having Olivia rig this election. The episode leads us to believe that she was persuaded to join in on the conspiracy because Fitz is such a good, inspirational leader and because his daddy was oh so mean to him. That’s just not good enough, I’m sorry. Governor Reston is not a nice guy (if you’ll remember, he murdered his wife’s lover a few episodes back), but Liv knew nothing at the time of the election that would lead her to believe he wouldn’t make a good president. Cyrus wants Liv and the audience to believe that the will of the people is the equivalent of the will of the people working for/sleeping with Fitz. The will of the people means the will of ALL the people and there’s really nothing the writers of Scandal can do to make me think that rigging an election is anything less than a subversion of what the United States of America is supposed to stand for. ‘Oh, but he’d make such a good president,’ is the weakest justification I have ever heard. Rant concluded.

Returning to the present for a while, the opening scene sees Edison calling Olivia, as the title of the episode reminds us, “A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot, and a Liar.” The penultimate real time scene of the episode shows Edison proposing to Olivia. Edison made his rude and, lest we forget, correct allegations because he’s jealous of Fitz. He has a right to be. Olivia’s been cold, distant, and withdrawn with Edison, her so-called boyfriend. It’s unfair to him that she began dating him in the first place. She’s still majorly hung up on Fitz. He’s the love of her life, whereas Edison is just...available. Still, Olivia is a proud, strong woman, and quite the politician in her own right. He should not have talked to her like that, particularly if he wanted her to marry him. If she accepts him (which I seriously doubt) I will lose a great deal of respect for her.

I can’t figure out Sally at the end. Was she actually sincere in what she said to Fitz or was she being political? Fitz was unconscious for an entire week; of course the VP would have to take the reins. She should have been reluctant to hand them back. Fitz is truly in no condition to be running the country, and is only doing so to keep Mellie from being charged with treason. I think it would be interesting if Sally realized how difficult being president was and that quelled her political fire, but I do enjoy her as a villain.

Bits and Pieces:

There is no Oxford comma in the actual title of the episode. I am inserting one because I am stubborn that way.

Olivia’s flashback bangs are better.

Ten points down a month away from the election? In real life, there would be no coming back from that.

During campaigns, candidates provide transportation to the reporters assigned to cover them, whether that be on a bus (as seen in “The Trail”) or on a plane, as shown here. Thus Hollis and co. are discussing a massive conspiracy to rig the election not ten feet from serious journalists.

Anyone else find Fitz’s miraculous recovery far too miraculous?

It seems like most presidents (fictional and real) have daddy issues. Jed Bartlet had an abusive father, Barack Obama was abandoned by his father and Bill Clinton’s stepfather was an abusive alcoholic.

I love the subtle changes to the Oval Office since Sally’s been in charge: all the flowers, that weird ornate egg thing on the desk.

Quotes:

“Five: that’s sexist and insulting. You’d never suggest Scooter Libby was screwing Dick Cheney. Four: the lengths you’re going to try to twist into a conspiracy are a cause for concern. You should speak to someone about that. Three: the president is awake and talking, and the suggestion that he isn’t is partisan political crap that I thought you had enough integrity to rise above. Two: In the past three minutes, you’ve called me a criminal, a whore, an idiot, and a liar, so this is pretty much the last time we’ll be speaking, so one: who I am or am not screwing, what I am or am not doing is no longer any of your damn business.”
The awesome of this dressing-down is slightly tempered by the fact that Olivia in fact did everything Edison accused her of.

“Have I thanked you for that, by the way? For forging my signature and forcing me out of the hospital before my stitches had healed to save you from jail and keep my job? Thank you.”
Good to see the bullet hasn’t damaged the sarcasm center of the brain.

“Dad’s giving me advice. I’m just wondering if it’s from his vast experience running for president. Oh wait, you never ran, did you? ‘Cause men who get caught sleeping with prostitutes don’t get to be leader of the free world. Right? What was her name? Charity? No, it was Hope. Hard to forget that name. You really kept hope alive, didn’t you, dad? No, Hope is alive. Mom’s dead, though.”

“That’s your problem. You’re always trying to say what you think everyone wants to hear, be what you think everyone wants you to be, and I should have caught it before. I would have, if we weren’t...”
A politician who tries to say what people want to hear? Gasp. How shocking.

“You almost died.”
“Yes.”
“Don’t do it again.”
“Okay.”

two and a half out of four weird ornate egg things

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It was flawed, I agree. But it was cool to finally see the conspiracy come together in real time.

Barry Bostwick will forever live for me as Brad in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, wearing the biggest high heels I've ever seen in my life. :)

Unfortunately, I totally believed Fitz Senior would say things like that to his son. It absolutely happens.

sunbunny said...

I think it's the "I'm a winner" part that throws me. I've always found it a weird turn of phrase. Plus, I think saying you're a winner negates your winner-dom.

Billie Doux said...

Fitz senior was probably accustomed to being the star in the family and was thrown by the possibility that his son might upstage him. Can't have that.

And toxic parents hit my buttons, which is probably obvious. :)

Nadim said...

I'm surprised by you guys! I just reviewed this episode and I gave it an A+ which I rarely do. This season has just been a spectacular achievement in storytelling as far as I'm concerned and these last few episodes have been just magnificent!
The layered characters, the fascinating conspiracies, I absolutely can not wait to see where they will go next.

PlatinumRosebud said...

Nice review, Sunbunny.

There was really no doubt on why Livvy went with the election rigging.
It was not just for the love of Fitz but that she knows that he will be a good president.
It would be interesting to know how Fitz will take that fact later when he gets to know about it.

I nearly fell from my seat laughing in the elevator scene after Millie caught Fitz and Livvy.
The expression on Livvy's face was so funny. :)

No whining James this time. Goody!

Barry Bostwick was great!
A shame that his character got "killed" early.

I love the Livvy/Edison scenes.
Man, that Livvy really has guts like stone with matching deadpan expression. Hahaha.

Sally? Way out there, this lady is one opportunistic evil bitch.

ChrisB said...

I agree completely with your rant about the election rigging. To be fair, it is hard to imagine a good reason to rig an election and the writers had to come up with something. But, "my boyfriend has daddy issues" isn't nearly strong enough. I'll be interested to see how they get out of this.

I was very intrigued by the conversation at the end. Does Fitz really want a divorce or is this going to be shown as a manifestation of his injury? Can't wait to see.