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Scandal Review: We The People

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The life of Scandal President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III is full of parallels. He earned his presidency on the back of a scandal. And earned back his presidency with a scandal. And while he knows about the latter, he's still in the dark on the former.

Through the skillful use of flashbacks, "A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot and a Liar" revealed the inner workings of Olivia's deal with the Devil Hollis, while bringing together Pope and Associates for the first time and also complicating Olivia's life in the present day.

Election Flashback

While the jury's still out on whether or not Hollis is solely responsible for Fitz' attempted assassination, tonight made it appear that he set the wheels in motion on the election rigging. He had the plan in place as an ace up his sleeve, ready to pull it out and play it when the time was right. After losing yet another debate, and subsequently points in the electoral race, it became clear that an intervention would be necessary if Fitz would take the White House.

The first attempt at helping him gain necessary ground was to call in Fitz' father, a politician with a penchant for pretty women. Hmm, sound familiar to anyone? While Papa Fitz was a garden variety philanderer and our Fitz prefers a monogamous mistress, the apple didn't fall very far from that tree. Seeing Fitz' disdain for his father's cheating ways was interesting because it's always seemed that while Olivia is the one thing he seems truly to love, his relationship with her - or perhaps the lack of a relationship - is something he seems to hate.

Maybe that's where his anger and frustration comes from in his dealings with her. It's not Olivia; it's their role as star-crossed lovers. But I digress.

Fitz intended to run a clean campaign, and as far as he knows, he did. It was his "people" who got their hands dirty, all for the sake of the Once In A Lifetime King.

Hollis: I may be a son of a bitch, but Fitz is clean as a whistle. Am I right, Cyrus?
Cyrus: He's the real deal. A patriot. A bleeder.
Hollis: How rare is that? How often does that come along?
Verna: Once in a generation, if you're lucky. | permalink

Everyone kept talking about how good Fitz is, how clean he is, how Messiah-like, and all I could think was "he's cheating on his wife." Which is, of course, his secret sin, and part of what gave Olivia pause in going through with the election rigging. She knows him and knows that he is a good man. She knows that he deserves to be President, but due to what she probably perceives to be her fault, he cannot get there on his own. And so she compromised herself, and him in the process, for the sake of his future.

Olivia knows his strengths, but she also knows his weaknesses. And as he said, weaknesses are strengths.

And I'm suddenly all conflicted about my thoughts on Fitzgerald Grant. He's good yet flawed. In a word, human.

Olivia is his weakness and the source of his strength. No one spurs him to be a better man like she does. But does their relationship in its current state make her better? I can't say yes.

Edison doesn't make her better, that's for sure. Unless we define "better" as "delivering verbal smackdowns" because she was certainly able to do that tonight.

Olivia: [to Edison] 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 this into a conspiracy are 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 have 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. | permalink

And there must have been something about that little speech of hers that spoke to Edison because he came back and proposed. Of course she shouldn't marry him. There's no love there for her. (And there's no chemistry there for the viewers!)

But Fitz telling Mellie he wants a divorce doesn't mean that he and Olivia can be together. So these two are still stuck. Apart. And I'm suddenly rather desperate for them to be together because of it. 

Fitz and Olivia's opposing revelations to one another when the show returns in two weeks should be interesting.

Other tidbits of tonight's episode that are worth a mention:

  • We saw the formation of Pope and Associates as Papa Fitz asked for dirt on Reston. Olivia called in her people to do the digging, introducing them for the first time. Too bad Stephen couldn't make a guest appearance because it's clear from Scandal season 1 that he predates Huck, Abby, and Harrison.
  • I want to believe that Sally was genuine when she said she hadn't slept since taking over the office, was only thinking of the country, and didn't want Fitz to die. Their exchange (which is on the Scandal quotes page) was nice.
  • Mellie was a bit insufferable. Sure, she was excited that he was alive and awake, but for the love, woman, let him rest.
  • I posited last week whether Mellie had retracted the letter before Fitz woke up. Tonight we got our answer: No, she didn't.
  • Hollis and Verna still had the most to gain from rigging the election and while it appears Hollis thought this up on his own, I wouldn't put it past Verna to have been in on putting the idea together somehow.
  • The parallels between Fitz at the press conference and Fitz at the debate were seamless. In both, Olivia's direction helped him overcome and triumph.
What did you think of tonight's Scandal? Do you like the flashback episodes, or do you prefer the show stick to present day?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (292 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Charminglychandler

The speech that Olivia gave Edison may be the best of the season. Those lines were on fire and on point. I maybe fist bumped her in my mind for that. He has been such a bore, and the fact he just keeps letting himself in to her home is absolutely out of line. I wanted him to be a good man, but he's just another man who wants what he wants with no regard to what she wants. Olivia clearly has a type. I get more and more nervous week by week about the election rigging coming out. Clearly we are headed there. And I hate it. I don't want to watch an impeachment or a drawn out arc where Fitz loses everything he thought he learned because the people who were his people did the unspeakable. But where does the show go? Something is coming of it, but do with have a Scandal with out Fitz as president? Do we have a Scandal without Olivia sleeping with him (and thus being the biggest Scandal of all?). I just get more nervous and it's getting hard to watch it come to a head!

Charminglychandler

You know I've hated this infidelity aspect for many reasons. But it's so hard to hate it when it's clear that time and time again one woman was making choices purely about how much they care about him. Even the actions of late have been selfish. If Fitz had woken up and not been president? I don't think he would have cared nearly as much as Mellie cared. And he had to push himself further than he should have simply to keep those he cares about out of prison. Mellie's dealings with him were more about how everything effects the presidency and her stances as First Lady though his as President. It's gross. And I hate seeing it. Him asking for a divorce was so less than shocking, but the fact remains that over Mellie's dead body will she give up her hold as First Lady. Not after what she's done to get there.

Charminglychandler

I think that Olivia made that choice because of her overwhelming guilt over their actions. That when his "people" asked her what she wanted, each stating what they would get out of his presidency, she wasn't being selfish. The only thing she got out of it was the love of her life achieving his dream. Olivia made/makes wrong choices every time it concerns Fitz. She's intelligent enough to know that. I am always interested to see where her internal battle takes her.

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There's too much rationalising and justifying for Olivia. She did a bad thing for a personal reason. That's it. She made the decision, time to own it. Fitz is no angel and has some huge issues himself, but he is called out for every single one. I'd love to see the same scrutiny for Olivia. Fitz may be having an affair but he's not having one by himself. For all that people claim this relationship is a bad thing, it would be good to remember Olivia is the one in the WH kissing Fitz.

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Miranda, sorry but that's on Olivia. Olivia did not have to start sleeping with Fitz. She did not have to participate in a coverup. Those were her choices. I feel like some people are trying to shift any kind of responsibility for her choices to anyone BUT Olivia. These are HER choices. She hasn't owned them and that's why she struggles and that's why she's in pain and is miserable. People are hard on Fitz but no one can accuse him of not confronting his reality and he's now actively trying to do something about. Can we say the same about Olivia?

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here's my problem with Edison, he let himself in her house twice when it was clear last week she dumped his behind. Maybe that gave me bad vibes because I actually had an experience when my mom's ex used his key to come in our house to vandalize it so me seeing her pretty much coming into her crib unannounced really rub me the wrong way. I also for one minute don't believe Edison is as upstanding as he tries to make himself out to be.
Also on the rigging thing, Hollis stated he was going to do it with or without consent. The last meeting when they agree to it he was pretty much doing it so they would be in his debt and has people to just pin it on as out of the 5 of them he would be least suspect.

Blu

@Marcus. She's flawed. She's human. I can write an essay on why I like Olivia Pope. I can go dissect the sexist response some viewers have in response to her character because I guarantee you a great deal of the naysayers wouldn't detest her or many of her actions so much if she were a man. Case in point being the disdain you exhibit over Olivia's infidelity but no mention of the same disdain for the married man cheating on his wife (who has also cheated on him because the irony of the sanctity of marriage being crapped on is that the Grant marriage is a orchestrated business deal more then anything) . I could discuss the realistic portrayal of a strong woman who is also vulnerable and successfully manages to break free of some of the stereotypes women and African Americans are pigeon holed into. But it'll all come down to her being flawed and human. And no matter what anyone says your mind won't be changed so why bother asking? :)

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I really REALLY start to despise Olivias character. As if being a homewrecker issnt bad enough she also goes along with treason and rigging an election ? Only because she cant keep it in her pants over a guy ? For someone who ats so righteous her actions are anything but. Shes the biggest hypocrite i have ssen on TV in a long time. Who did annoit her GOD ? And all of her actual crimes are justified because Fitz is such a good man ? As if there arent any other good men out there who might just be faithful to their wifes.
I would like to know from people who love Olivias character just what it is that makes her so olveable ? That she actually struggles before making the most hideous decisions like rigging an election , cheating with a married man, lying to just about everyone especially to people have her back no matter what ( remember how she destroyed Davis and his relationship and he is actually a stand up good guy ).

Blu

I found the angst Olivia went through in this episode flashbacks and present day fascinating. It's so true that she does these things, fixes problems, and takes part in this stuff and it is like she's sacrificing little pieces of herself. The angst was long overdue because she always has to be so strong. I love that we see a more vulnerable and scarred Olivia this season. Its beautiful to watch.
Oh Edison, chap doesn't stand a chance. He was a forceful little something but the reason it comes across so irritating is because as a viewer it is easy to forget about their history. I loved the first meeting of pope and associates but it kinda sucks that they forgot about Stephen. He used to be her best friend. Well crafted episode. Loved it. I feel like there is this inconsistency with Mellies portrayal in the flashbacks though. Sometimes she's overly ambitious cold mellie and other times she's happy Susie homemaker. She's already both deliciously evil and also sympathetic, they needn't work so hard to balance it out.

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Edison does not make Olivia better and while I don't care for him, I don't understand why everyone is taken aback at the way he spoke to her. They were together for four years and in the process engaged. Certainly he knows when she's lying and all of the evidence pointed in that direction. Secondly, Mellie cares about Mellie. There is not one thing that she does for Fitz that does not include some little nugget for herself. She must have seen this Fitz/Jerry thing play out for what, more than 20 years, yet she couldn't resist the need to call him and watch the takedown of her husband. Not one thing could she say directly to Fitz about how he was feeling after the shooting--not one question, statement or anything. Political gain is her only interest. Mellie should have married Jerry, not Fitz. Oh, and watch the speed at which Karen and Little Jerry are home and enrolled at Sidwell Friends. Infant doesn't stand a chance--mama will do anything to be sure that Fitz doesn't leave. Yep, she's real catch, his wife.