At Doux Reviews, we typically try to keep this lead-in paragraph spoiler free. So, I will say only this: we found out who the mole is. And OH MY GOD. I did NOT see that coming.
Scandal has often shocked me. Olivia was sleeping with the president. Fitz got shot in the head. The election that won him his presidency was fixed. Fitz killed Verna Thornton. But never before has the show provided me with the kind of moment this episode of Alias did. When I saw “Phase One,” I shook my television so hard it actually unplugged itself. I did not do this with “Any Questions?” (my TV is nicer now). Instead I screamed and jumped up so suddenly I nearly knocked over my coffee table, sent my dog running from the room, and quite possibly woke up my neighbors.
The reveal of Billy Chambers was nicely done. Very nicely done. The past episode dredged up Cyrus’s past and his involvement with Amanda Tanner’s death. It made perfect sense at the time–it reminded the audience of what Cyrus was capable without being at all intrusive. Shonda Rhimes, in all her sudsy wisdom, was playing the long game here. With Season 1’s Amanda hubbub fresh in our minds, she brings back the big bad I assumed was dead. I had clearly forgotten one of Billie’s Ten Rules of Television: “If you don’t see a body, don’t believe anyone is dead.” I like that the show quickly dismissed the two suspects they had laid out last week (the Secretary of Defense and Sally Langston). It left our minds free to wander for about an hour until the blow hit. I went through everyone, even people that made no sense. I spent ten minutes convinced it was Harrison.
As awesome as Billy Chambers being Albatross is, the best part of that final scene was the reveal of his sidekick: the goofy, lovable, and totally trustworthy David Rosen. I’m willing to bet that Chambers got David on Team Evil by offering to expose Defiance and get the poor man a little revenge on the people who completely destroyed his career. I had so hoped David would join Pope and Associates, but this is much better. Much better. Joshua Malina almost always plays the same kind of character: nice, funny, ambitious but not to a horrible point. It will be nice to get to see him stretch his legs.
We finally got some clarity in who is employing Charlie. We all knew Cyrus was using Charlie as his errand boy and that Charlie had worked for B6-13 in the past. I had assumed he was working for Albatross and now we know he must be. My question, though, is did Billy become Albatross after he convinced Charlie not to kill him, or was Billy Albatross throughout Season 1? I’m thinking that it couldn’t have been that long of a con. As was helpfully pointed out to us this week, Sally would suffer just as much as Fitz if Defiance became public knowledge and last season, he was all about Sally Langston becoming president.
On to Olivia and Fitz: I’m not totally clear on the way things ended in this episode. Fitz is running for a second term, yes, but does this mean recommitting to Mellie? I wouldn’t have thought so, but Cyrus did tell Liv that he knew what she gave up. I hope we don’t go that route. That’s exactly how last season ended.
All credit needs to be given to Tony Goldwyn for Fitz’s speech to Olivia where he asks her to stand down and do nothing about the rapid crumbling of his political career. Coming from a different actor, it might have seemed misogynist and condescending, but Goldwyn played it perfectly. He’s not asking Liv to let the man deal with everything in order to put himself above her, he’s asking her not to handle him to put their relationship on even footing. He’s had enough of being manipulated by her and I can hardly blame him.
Harrison, on the other hand. Ug. I am getting so tired of him. I really don’t like the way he was attempting to control Olivia. It wasn’t exactly sexist, but it did feel insanely condescending and rude. She’s his boss and she can handle herself. She doesn’t need him to clean up her messes. She’s a big girl. Her setting him straight was awesome.
Bits and Pieces:
I really enjoyed our ‘normally scheduled programming’ being interrupted by Cyrus sweating at the press conference.
Cyrus walking in on Fitz and Liv was amazing. Fitz was all ‘yeah, I’m sleeping with my girlfriend, so what?’ and Olivia covered her face like an embarrassed teenager. It was adorable.
I thought it was a little mean of the gang not to clue David in about Olivia and the president. Of course, by the end of the episode, I was insanely grateful for that fact. No telling what Billy would do with that information.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive Cyrus for the way he treated James. Cyrus is definitely a fan favorite and James is not, but no one should be spoken to like that, least of all by their husband. Cyrus does not deal with stress well. He always lashes out at others in the cruelest possible way. I hope James leaves him for good.
I like how David was able to pick out the meanest girl in school just from her picture.
Towards the end of the episode, I was out and out terrified that they would leave the identity of the mole and whether or not Fitz decided to run for a second term as a dual cliffhanger. Thank God they didn’t.
This show has a crazy amount of villains with innocuous sounding names: Billy, Charlie, Sally. Charlie and Sally are both Peanuts characters. I don’t remember them having a Billy, though.
“This woman, the one he’s having the affair with...they haven’t released her name yet, but you know it’s coming. And when it does, let’s just say I hope she has Olivia Pope on her team.”
“I was surprised to be called. I know Olivia Pope usually handles your needs.”
“Olivia Pope handles my husband.”
I love that he spent the entire episode trying to get Mellie to tell him the name of Fitz’s girlfriend and it was one of the first things she said to him.
“I am in love with a woman who is not my wife.”
“You know what the Bible says?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
“That’s not from the Bible. Not everything is from the Bible, Sally.”
Made me laugh.
“You think this was your lucky break? Isn’t that adorable. That’s what you’re telling yourself? And I’m genuinely asking, because I never thought of you as naïve. Which is both surprising and unsettling, because that’s certainly not a trait any respectable journalist would want to possess. And that’s what you call yourself, right? a respectable journalist. So now, now, I’m starting to think of you as just plain stupid. Are you stupid, James? It was Mellie, you...Mellie got you the job. BNC would never have called you if she didn’t make it happen. The first lady wanted you for that interview so she could hit both me and Fitz at the same time. It wasn’t a lucky break, it was a chess move and you’re too...stupid to see it.”
“Are you saying I’m not good enough?”
“I’m saying you have no business in this job. Come on! James Novak? I mean, of all the other professional television journalists, the ones with actual experience, Peabodys and Pulitzers, those that aren’t approaching 50 or the least bit doughy on camera, you want to stand there and tell me Mellie chose James Novak? Forget about Anderson Cooper, who’s a frigging Vanderbilt, by the way, or even Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer. Maybe they were all busy. So let’s go with James Novak! He’s the guy America wants to see. He’s got a face for TV. Your lucky break? You have no business in this job.”
That was so hard to watch.
“Mistress? That’s reaching. It’s unconfirmed rantings of an emotional wife.”
“It’s Olivia Pope.”
“I want a lot of things that he gets to have first.”
“I can’t do this. If I have to say the word ‘mole’ one more time...”
“Need I remind you, you stole this ride? At least we got some mileage out of it.”
“True. And the backseat did see some action.”
four out of four Cytron cards that have been stolen (by my count) four times now