Scandal: A Door Marked Exit

President Fitzgerald Grant III is unimpressed.
“The devil came in. The devil came in. The devil came in.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen out of love with a show so quickly. (contains Alias spoilers)

I am sick of this show. I honestly am. We’ll see where I am in February, but right now, I’m fed up with Shonda Rhimes and what she’s done to my beautiful Scandal. What’s even more infuriating is I feel like I’m the only one pissed off, the only one seeing what’s wrong. Fans of the show keep reacting the same way as ever “This show is awesome!!!! What a twist!!!” and I’m sitting here like, do people see what’s going on? Am I alone? Have I just become hyper-sensitized or are my complaints legitimate?

Cyrus really pissed me off this week and not in the I-love-to-hate-him way. He was completely torn up by what Sally did to Daniel Douglas. When he saw what had happened he became physically ill. He described it to Mellie as the worst thing they’ve ever done. He felt it made him the devil. It might have been decent character development except for one thing. Amanda Tanner. Cyrus was indirectly responsible for Daniel Douglas’s death, there is no doubt, but he was DIRECTLY responsible for the murder of a young, pregnant woman in season one. Have the writers totally forgotten this? Where was Cyrus’s crisis of conscience back then?

Then he spent the remainder of the episode trying to convince James to stay with him and threatening James into staying with him. ‘I love you. You’ll never get custody of Ella because my political connections can run laps around you. Also, I love you.’ Plus, he actually had the gall to be shocked when James suggested he might’ve murdered Daniel Douglas, despite Cyrus telling Mellie in the previous scene that he feels like he’s responsible for Daniel Douglas’s death.

Rowan and Fitz finally got the face-off we’ve been building towards. It started off awesome. Rowan shouted at Fitz (who, frankly, deserves a good shouting at). Joe Morton delivered a hell of a performance. It was enough to make you stand up and cheer, as long as you weren’t listening to what was being said.

It wasn’t just the dialogue that was disturbing, it was the fact that we were supposed to be siding with Rowan, despite that what he was saying was disgusting and insupportable. Fitz was completely out of line in objectifying Olivia, but Rowan’s reaction to this was even worse. In the space of about ten seconds, Rowan takes complete credit for Olivia and everything she has accomplished and achieved. She’s his ‘creation.’ He is a “man” because he worked hard and became successful. Olivia has done the same, but she is still Rowan’s possession, presumably because of her sex. Disgusting. Rowan’s ideas about fathers and daughters are antiquated. “You disappoint me as a suitor for my daughter’s hand.” Sure, the language might have been ironic but Rowan meant what he said. He thinks of Olivia as his to give away. Once again I must ask: this show is seriously written by women?

If the Marie Wallace/Maya Pope storyline proves anything, it is that Shonda Rhimes most definitely owns the Alias box set. Seriously? Talk about a recycled plot. Mama Pope married Rowan in order to rob him of state secrets and sell him to the highest bidder? Olivia thought she was dead for decades while her father knew otherwise? Maya reappears, quickly ditches her daughter, and is set up to wreak all sorts of havoc? For God’s sake, her wardrobe is even similar to Irina Derevko’s. I half expected her to tell Olivia “Truth takes time” in their final phone conversation. Please take this some place different, writers. I’ve seen Alias. This is supposed to be Scandal.

Gold acting stars for Kate Burton, who knocked it out of the park as the wife done wrong/newly minted murderer/vice president. The opening scene was a standout. I really liked the cutting between her argument with Daniel Douglas and her actions immediately after the murder. I do have to complain about the camerawork, however. They were trying to mirror the spirit of the argument with creative camerawork, but when you have a performer as powerful as Kate Burton, you really don’t need any bells and whistles. It ended up distracting me and actually making me a bit dizzy.

Bits and Pieces:

The fact that Maya manipulated Rowan into killing over three hundred people just to destroy some evidence is extremely upsetting.

Quinn would not have looked great with highlights.

Mellie gets an award for ‘Best Passive Aggressive Threatening.’

I’m not thrilled with Jake taking over as Command, or I wasn’t, until his collusion with Fitz was revealed. I have my fingers crossed that they’re working in tandem to dismantle B6-13 from the inside.

Quotes:

Cyrus: “Hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband is screwing another man.”

Rowan: “You spoiled, entitled, ungrateful little brat!”

Huck: “You’re not a gladiator anymore.”

Leo: “You kill somebody, you call me.”

two out of four murder weapons (it would’ve been less without Kate Burton and Joe Morton)

21 comments:

Billie Doux said...

If the Marie Wallace/Maya Pope storyline proves anything, it is that Shonda Rhimes most definitely owns the Alias box set. Yeah, I was thinking much the same thing. Alias often ripped off La Femme Nikita, too.

I thought Joe Morton was awesome at first, but -- yes, what he was actually saying was too much.

Maybe Cyrus threw up because he hadn't actually seen the results of his evil the previous time?

ChrisB said...

This show has moved from the one I most looked forward to every week to the one I put off watching because I know it is going to infuriate me. I’m not sure what Shonda Rhimes is trying to accomplish, other than to have the most tweets during a show. Her portrayal of women continues to be repulsive.

Sally is the Vice President, yet here we see her as less than. Whether or not she married her husband knowing who he was, or whether or not she married him as a piece of arm candy, is immaterial. But, the insinuation is there. If it hadn’t been for a man, she would never have made it to the White House.

So, when said man pushes her too far and she commits murder (now, both the President and the Vice President have committed murder), she turns to a man for help. It is fascinating to me that Cyrus takes the responsibility for this action on himself. Of course he is involved, but it was not he who plunged the knife into Daniel’s back. Once the deed is done, Sally is portrayed as incapable of action. Cyrus and Leo take over, both telling her what her actions will be.

This plot, however, was nothing compared to the conversation between Olivia’s lover and her father. Fitz’s words were horrible to listen to and were, perhaps, the most disrespectful thing we have heard during this series -- and that’s saying something.

Her father, however, was no better. “She is my child. Mine. What I made. What I created.” “You disappoint me as a suitor for my daughter’s hand.” In other words, she is my creation and I will give her to whomever I choose. Good Lord!

The horrible irony of this scene is that some of what Rowan was saying was spot on and, as you so rightly pointed out, needed to be said. Fitz does see Olivia as his exit, his ticket to the idyllic life in Vermont making jam. And, I believe that there is an element of Fitz who sees Olivia as the woman who will “make [him] into a man.” Sadly, however, the message is lost among the misogynistic noise.

The one part of this episode that I thought worked really well was the coup at the end. As I watched the episode a second time, the signs are there. During the conversation between Fitz and Rowan, while Rowan is shouting and emoting, Fitz is sitting coldly, with an odd little smile on his face. Jake has a new found confidence, shown first when he tells Olivia cut Huck some slack and then when he says goodbye to her.

To answer your question, you are not alone, my friend. I, too, am sick of this show and genuinely don’t know if I’ll come back in February.

Enid said...

Sunbunny,

I can understand where you are coming from. But I like the changes that are happening on Scandal this season. I’m not going to say everything works because some things are not quite coming together. However, I liked Olivia’s fall from grace after the news broke about the affair. I also like how the show is exploring power and the choices people make when in power. It kind of reminds me of why I still watch The Walking Dead. Both shows suffer from lapses and plot holes yet they speak at least to me about the choices we make and the consequences that come from said choices. I posted here before about my dislike of the Olivia-Fitz affair. I don’t root for them because I don’t think they love one another. I think they think they love one another. This is why I loved Rowan/Eli’s speech. At the heart of the matter, Liv is “a door marked exit” for Fitz. Mellie only reminds him of being the man he didn’t really want to become. So he looked for someone who pushed him away from his reality. The only realistic thing about their affair is it has had long reaching consequences not just for them but also for the people in their lives.

Has Shonda pushed the envelope one too many times with the twists? Yes. Has Shonda pushed the boundaries with the violence directed towards the female characters on the show? Maybe. I read your last review and I think this is just TV reflecting the horrors of reality. Amanda Tanner being murdered while pregnant is something that happens more often to pregnant women in real life. I read an article in The Washington Post a few years ago talking about the rising percentage of women being killed during pregnancy either through domestic situations or just random acts of violence. The rape storyline highlights the inner working of Mellie and how she has become who she is. It might not be my favorite storyline but I did think the episode worked.

As for Fitz baiting Rowan seeming out of character, I think it isn’t totally out of line for him. He is a manipulative character. He killed Verna. He leaked Olivia’s name without thought to what it would do to her. And then, my favorite thing was his using the house to woo Olivia back to him. I agree with Billie about Cyrus. This is the first time he’s seen his dirty work up close and personal. With Amanda Tanner, Cyrus was removed from a situation both personally and emotionally. The Daniel Douglas murder and James’ revenge affair is different because the consequences hit him directly.

This show is filled with characters that do or have done despicable and deplorable things. It’s funny to me how people go I just love Huck but he went too far with Quinn. This is a man who got off on killing and torturing people. Yet when he tortures a woman he had feelings for this suddenly becomes too much. Everyone on this show has blood on their hands in some way, shape, or form.

In some ways, it seems like the ultimate Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. Maybe that’s why I’m still watching in spite of its flaws. Because I want to know what everyone’s end game will be.

Billie Doux said...

Terrific, well-thought-out comments, Chris and Enid. I love our site. :)

I'm sort of in the middle with this. There are things about the show I'm finding frustrating, but I'm not ready to stop watching. I like Kerry Washington and her character a lot, and I like her love affair with Fitz, even though he's far from perfect. Actually, possibly because he's far from perfect. What Fitz did -- talking about her the way he did with her father -- I sort of get it. He wanted to hurt Rowan, and he did. And the way Rowan talked about Liv as if she was his possession made sense for the character.

They both want to own Olivia, and neither of them do. They both keep trying to buy her, but only get bits of her time and a small portion of her love that she is constantly taking away from them. Olivia actually does have the power in both of these relationships, and I think they both know it.

sunbunny said...

Enid - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I love it when people challenge me on my opinions, especially when it's done in such a respectful, thoughtful manner. Here, have a cookie.

I also liked Olivia's fall from grace, it felt very realistic. She couldn't continue to be some sort of political folk hero after all that.

I'm on the fence about whether Fitz really does love Liv or if she's just an exit strategy. It really hadn't occurred to me before Rowan's speech. I'd like to believe that their love is the big time, forever deal, just because I'm such a romantic and like to think of things that way, but I don't know anymore.

As for the violence against women being a sadly realistic depiction of society, the official statistic is that 1 in 3 women will be domestically/sexually abused in their lifetimes. Now it's almost every female character on the show. It feels like they're representing it as some sort of rite of passage, as if, in order to become a strong, empowered woman, you must have a man do something awful to you at some point. From a writing standpoint, it's just lazy. They could find other terrible, character-defining things to do to their characters but they've found one that 'works' and are just reusing it and reusing it. Aside from the feminist implications of it, it's just bad writing. Find something new.

I'm afraid I'm one of those who loved Huck and now thinks of him as an absolute monster. And yeah, I do realize how hypocritical it is of me. Not to beat a dead horse, but I think it was the licking that sent me over the edge. If they hadn't sexualized the torture, it would've been...not okay, but better.

As for your comment about murder of pregnant women being common, homicide is actually the number one cause of death for pregnant women. Well done, society! Ugh.

sunbunny said...

Chris - Totally with you. I'm going to keep watching and I'll definitely review at least the first episode post-hiatus, but I'm getting to the

Billie - Yeah, it's (presumably) Cyrus's first time seeing the body of a murder victim, I just get pissed off that the writers seem to have forgotten about Amanda Tanner completely. She's rarely mentioned and the fact that Cyrus had her killed is brought up even less frequently.

Enid said...

Sunbunny,

You are most welcome. I love snickerdoodle and butter cookies especially around this time of year ☺ I didn’t want to dip into my personal life but I’ve been on the betrayed side of infidelity in my marriage and I guess I see things differently about Fitz and Olivia. Affair look like romance but they aren’t. They are quite selfish and hurtful to everyone involved. I try not to get on a soapbox but I guess I see shows relying on infidelity way too much. Scandal does look at the consequences but at the same time they romanticize adultery. While Mellie can be a bit much, I could see her pain (God, I just turned into Bill Clinton) from the affair and also the catch-22 it puts her in. I loved the comment she made to Cyrus after he set James up with DDL. It’s so true once you go through that door there is no turning back.

Yet somehow I felt there was more to how Mellie acts than just Fitz’s affairs. I get maybe rape wasn’t the way to go. I don’t know if it’s lazy writing or somewhat a way Shonda uses to give you a deeper look or perspective of a character as she did with Charlotte King in “Private Practice.” Like Mellie, Charlotte was a polarizing character for some people. There are some who will say it’s a way to soften them but I think it’s more about seeing what kind of trauma can someone go through and how will it change them. The thing that bothered me with the storyline is the Dynasty approach of Mellie’s pregnancy. I get Scandal has nighttime soap opera qualities. But come on, that seemed like it should happen to Fallon Carrington and not Mellie Grant.

Huck licking Quinn’s face and Charlie having sex with her was over the top. It’s one of those Shonda twists, which I’ve come to see as her Achilles heel. There is this upping the ante thing about it that comes across as having an M. Night Shyamalan-like quality. She keeps doing that and the audience will turn on her fast. I’m still in but I know there may come a point when I’m out. This happened for me with Revenge. This happened with Sons of Anarchy.

At this point, I’m fighting this feeling with OUAT and TVD. The other thing that occurs to me with Scandal is it can’t stay full throttle like this forever. Its longevity seems quite fleeting. I’m wondering if it has two more seasons in it or will it die out. To me, Grey’s should be over.

I don’t want to Scandal go on for ten or more seasons. I’ll be tuning in to the show after the winter hiatus and also will come back here to read your and everyone else’s viewpoint. P.S. I love your reviews and your name too.

Enid said...

Billie – Reading your response, I don’t know why but I keep thinking about Buffy’s speech to Quentin Travers in “Checkpoint” during season 5 of BTVS. It’s about power. Liv has it and they want it. I did see the Rowan and Fitz showdown as a pissing contest. It made me wonder if deep down perhaps both men see Olivia as a possession.

I also stay with the show because of Kerry Washington. She is the reason I tuned in other than to see the short-lived role for Henry Ian Cusick.

I don’t know if you remember when you did Lost Reviews for Yahoo and there was a show about Michael and someone from another country talked about the N-word. I made a comment as archergirl about the diversity aspect of Lost.

I watch Scandal in part because I like seeing a smart Black female in charge. She doesn’t have completely together but she’s not the stereotypical black woman who is sassy or loud. It’s like with my other favorite TV show, Sleepy Hollow.

As a Black woman, I love to see this kind of well-rounded portrayal of Black women. It’s too rare. I hope both shows can continue to offer storylines that won’t become overly stale or excessive.

Billie Doux said...

Enid -- I remember that incident with the Lost group. Hard to forget that one.

I'm into Sleepy Hollow too (which you probably already know) and even though it's no secret that I think Tom Mison is the coolest new leading man on television, I am also really liking Nicole Beharie's Abbie.

ChrisB said...

Enid -- I love your comments! They certainly made me sit up and think about how I am approaching the show.

Interestingly, I read another article recently that talked about the constant twists on the show. The author made the point that, as storytellers, Rhimes & Co. can only up the ante so many times. Finally, there will be nowhere for them to go and the stories will become so absurd that people will stop watching.

The shows you mention, Revenge, OUAT, and TVD have all been favorites of mine in the past. However, each has devolved into such nonsense and inanity that I no longer watch any of them. Scandal is, I'm afraid, very close to the brink.

sunbunny said...

Enid - Snickerdoodles it is! And thank you so much for what you said about my reviews! I've never been married or had to deal with infidelity in a relationship, so I can find it hard to look at Olivia/Fitz in that way. There's an interesting article here (http://tvline.com/2013/08/28/scandal-season-3-preview-olivia-fitz-romance/#!1/kerrywashington/) where Shonda talks about not wanting to make adultery 'okay.'

If you like shows that feature strong Black women (and who doesn't), you should really give Person of Interest a try. Taraji P. Henson's character Carter is amazing. There's not a lot of her in the first part of the first season, but she becomes more and more central to the plot (and more and more awesome) as time goes on.

Enid and Chris - To chime in on the OUAT discussion, it was a great show the first season. Then it got ridiculous and I stopped watching. Over the summer I caught up and I'm watching again with extremely low expections, just enjoying the sheer silliness and Lana Parrilla. I also play a game called 'pause the show at an awkward moment to see if Lana's face ever looks anything besides stunning.' It doesn't. I think she might be a witch or something. It's just not normal.

Enid said...

Billie – I love Tom Mison too. I’m a sucker for a British accent. BTW, I love the site too. I’ve been reading you ever since you wrote at TV Tome.

Chris B –Thank you. I got pulled back into OUAT during this season. I kept saying after last season I was done. I did like bit and pieces here and there. However, I think I’m staying put just to see how they will resolve everything. Same thing with TVD. I groan sometimes when I watch both shows as my daughter laughs at me. She stopped watching both of them.

As for what both you and Sunbunny said about Scandal, I do see what you are saying and I know if things become too crazy or outlandish I’ll stop watching. This especially true if I no longer feel invested in seeing what happens to Olivia.

Sunbunny –Doing a Snoopy dance for getting snickerdoodles. One of my favorite things about OUAT is the fairybacks with Lana Parilla. I love her outfits when she became the evil queen. I’m not a flashy kind of girl but they have such a flamboyant and dramatic flair. I just love them.

Thanks for the article link. I read it. While I don’t think it’s her intention to make Liv and Fitz’s affair comes off as glamorous, somehow it does. I saw so many tweets from women swooning about Fitz building Liv a house or about their possible children.

I know it’s not real life however when shows don’t look at infidelity from a rounded viewpoint; adultery comes off as romantic and fun. Shonda does rely on infidelity with her other shows so I knew this going in. It doesn’t keep me from watching though. I guess because I see it’s not just about their affair.

I just never got into Person of Interest. I think it’s on when I watch another show. I heard about Taraji’s character getting killed off which made me wonder if I was missing out on a good show. I might just check it out anyway. Besides, I love Taraji P. Henson. She’s from the DC/MD area. As a native and current Maryland resident, I love to see actors and actresses from the DMV succeed on the big and small screen.

Sooze said...

I don't watch this show...I know nothing about it....yet I really enjoyed reading this whole exchange.
Love this site!

sunbunny said...

Enid - Watch Person of Interest! It's so good. I takes a few episodes to get going and even when it does it's still fairly formulaic, but the characters are great. Plus, if you make it to season two, there's a dog! It's darker and better than I'm making it sound.

ChrisB said...

TV Guide named Kerry Washington the TV Star of the Year.

I was struck by the irony of the title of this episode, especially if I choose not to come back in February.

Luce said...

I'm...not quite at the breaking-up-with-the-show point yet. However, my frustration with where Scandal is going this season keeps growing with every new episode.

Some context: I marathoned the first two seasons in about a week and a half and then caught up to S3. So, in a way, my perspective on what made the show so addictive is different from someone who watched the show from the beginning and/or watched the show from week to week.

To me, S1 was a prequel: all set-up as to who the characters are and how they relate to each other. S2 has been the standout (for me) in terms of plot and characterization. There were twists happening but they made sense.

S3 has been bumpier and (even worse imho) redundant. As for the later, I'm tipping my hat to your quote:

If the Marie Wallace/Maya Pope storyline proves anything, it is that Shonda Rhimes most definitely owns the Alias box set.

because a LOT of the story arcs in S3 have been by-the-numbers Alias plots. Mind you, I wasn't a fan of Alias to begin with (though my roommates were and so I did tune in for the first 2 seasons.)

I understand the need to deconstruct the characters in this season: Cyrus growing a conscience, Olivia really not having any answers, etc. But the work's been sloppy and so characters I used to cheer for (like Huck) have begun to become somewhat repellent.

FWIW, I sided with Rowan (despite his self-aggrandizing at the cost of Olivia's power) during his confrontation with Fitz. In addition, Fitz was disgusting in his efforts to rile up Rowan and so I can't really get enthused about wanting to see him with Olivia. He is not worthy of her.

I really don't care about Quinn. Wished she'd disappeared into the night since B613 is no place for her and Huck (and, by extension, Olivia and her crew) have rejected her after her betrayal.

One thing I don't understand is how come Jake could become Command now versus before? And why him in particular? Why not bring a new character? It was such a bad move for Shonda and her team of writers.

Finally, one thing I've thoroughly enjoyed this season has been Sally.

At this point, I'm hoping that TPTB take a look at where the show is going because this reheated Alias thing is a wet blanket on what had become one of my favourite (new to me) shows this year.

Heather said...

Yes yes to everything said here, review and comments. Love everyone's points. I loathe the model of TV that makes a show juicy, pulpy, tawdry because, eventually, it's unwatchable. It's House of Cards, Revenge...so many dramas that have been conceived in the last 3-4 years. One of the major problems with this model is that the characters are forced to forget what they've done to each other. And that is an unforgivable thing to do to your audience! There's also a difference, although it's a fine line, between unfolding a storyline with tension and suspense and retro storytelling! S1/2 were so good because they told the history of the characters with love, subtleties, with care. But what's been revealed about them in S3 feels like a trick being played for our sympathy and forgiveness for who they now are.
Having said all that, producing 18-22 episodes a season for network TV while maintaining quality is practically impossible. It's a fool's errand really so kudos for what Shondaland achieved particularly in S2.
Finally, I've been slamming these episodes so it's quite possible I missed it but I didn't see where Quinn had a choice to become an asset. I may have La Femme Nikita'ed out there but I thought she was tricked into killing that security guard then blackmailed. Someone fill me in what I missed!

sunbunny said...

I would say it's when she left Charlie to go back to Pope & Associates but was rebuked by Huck et al. and then went back to Charlie.

Panda said...

I'm still enjoying this season a lot, recycled plots and all.

I understand all your comments, sunbunny. It's a sexist show. But wasn't it always? A few weeks ago, Fitz was still a controlling ass, Cyrus was a murderer (by association), and Liv's father treated her like something he owned (and she let him half the time).

I'm just overlooking it because this is just shameless fun for me.

Panda said...

NOT the sexism! I should have clarified, just the twists and craziness. Sorry....!

sunbunny said...

Panda - That made me laugh. Quite a lot. :)