101 sweet baby

Strawberry candy

Street racers!AU

warnings: strong language, theft, friends beating up each other over a girl, and car crashing.

You pushed back the rearview mirror of your victim’s car before throwing the loaded bag at the backseat. Pulling your hair into a ponytail, you started the engine thus pulled on the handbrake. It was midnight so you didn’t want the car to roar in the road as you pushed on the pedal, rather you dragged the car towards the farthest streetlight.

When you were finally a few meters away from your village, you started the engine and kicked on the pedal. You increased the speed of the automobile roughly stirring the wheel to your right until another car caught up beside you. You had to take a strong turn before you ended up in the venue with the car beside you. You could faintly recognize the model through your car’s tinted glass, but believed it was owned by a boy.

You got out of the car with the bag in your hand dropping it in front of the organizer, “Fifteen percent of it is yours, help yourself.”

The sound of diamonds hitting the floor caught your attention, your eyes turning to the boy standing next to you. He turned to you for a moment, then you finally recognized him as Lai Guanlin, the half-son of a mafia. He fixed his gaze back on the organizer, a small frown appearing on his face.

“Why do you keep coming back.” He said as he brushed his hair away from his face. You licked your lips slightly before replying, “I don’t remember there being a rule where you forcefully kick one of your opponents out of the race.”

He was about to speak up once again, but was interrupted by another man–Kang Dongho. Both were part of the gang around these quarters, they called themselves the 101, which you find very much stupid. Dongho showed his offer with a smirk, he asked, “How much did you put?”

“Just enough to steal those from both of you,” you gestured.

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Olitzologist Musing #69: Let’s talk about Olitz-interrupted (101 vs. 501)

Olivia and Fitz have had their intimate moments interrupted several times since the start of the series. In addition to the ones pictured above, we can recall Olivia and Fitz’s coitus interruptus by Cyrus (221), and Mellie’s intrusion upon Olitz’s morning make-out in the Oval (311). It is not the disturbance of their privacy that I find most interesting. No. Meaningful to me is the relationship between the Olitz and disturber; the context in which the disturbance happens; as well as how Olivia and Fitz reaction tell a story about the state of their relationship. For those reasons Sweet Baby (101) and Heavy Is The Head (501) are worth discussing because of the parallels and progress they present.

Then: Sweet Baby (101)

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Scandal Writers Episode list...updated.

Scandal writing Staff: Shonda Rhimes is the show runner/Head writer. The other writers are Jenna Bans, Matt Byrne, Severiano Canales, Mark Fish, Zahir McGhee, Heather Mitchell, Raamla Mohamed, Peter Noah, Miguel Nolla, Mark Wilding, Chris Van Dusen, Allan Heinberg, Richard Robbins (left show in season one), and Peter Nowalk (working as HTGAWM creator).

The writing process works this way… All the writers, including Shonda, discuss the breakdown of an episode first and they come up with an outline together. Then one person will write the dialogue from that outline. Draft one is written by that one writer who has been chosen to write that particular episode. Then Shonda helps with rewrites, add her own written scenes at her discretion, and over sees the final draft before it is presented at a table read. Small revisions of scripts are made throughout the filming process. The writer of the episode is always present on set during filming of the episode he or she has written.

Here is an outline of what episode each writer has written. Shonda, with the exception of 201, tends to write the premiere episodes and the finales. Heather Mitchell and Matt Byrne have written the most episodes. The source of my info comes from the Scandal writers twitter page, IMDB, ABC media, Wikipedia, and T.V. Guide

Shonda Rhimes

101 – Sweet Baby

107 – Grant for the People

208 – Happy Birthday, Mr. President

222 – White Hat’s back On

301 – Its Handled

318 – The Price of Free and Fair Election

401 – Randy, Red, Superfreak, and Julia

409 - Run

Heather Mitchell  - an American television writer and producer for ABC’s Scandal. She has written for many TV series including Grey’s Anatomy, The Chicago Code, Medium, Eleventh Hour, Ace of Cakes, My First Home and Desire. Her producing credits include Grey’s Anatomy and Ace of Cakes. She also worked as a Story Editor for Medium for its sixth season.

 102 – Dirty Little Secrets

202 – The Other Woman

210 – One for the Dog

216 – Top of the Hour

302 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

312 – We Do Not Touch the First Ladies

402 – The State of the Union

 Matt Byrne - is known for his work on Scandal (2012), Paper Anchor (2013)

103 – Hell Hath No Fury

203 – Hunting Season

214 – Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

221 – Any Questions

303 – Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington

313 – No Sun on the Horizon

403 – Inside the Bubble

 Jenna Bans  - is an American Writers Guild of America Award nominated screenwriter. Originally hired as a staff writer for Jerry Bruckheimer’s cancelled action series Fearless, Bans became a part of the crew of Desperate Housewives in 2004. In 2006 she was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for the screenplay to the Desperate Housewives episode “Next” and in 2007 she received another nomination for the episode “It Takes Two”. Bans is a producer and writer on Grey’s Anatomy, and is the creator and the co-producer (along with Shonda Rhimes) of Off the Map, a series which premiered on ABC in January 2011, and was cancelled on May 13, 2011. She is currently a writer on another Shonda Rhimes created drama, Scandal on ABC.

 106 – The Trail (…bless you)

201 – White Hat’s Off

215 – Boom Goes the Dynamite

305 – More Cattle, Less Bull

406 – Baby Made A Mess

 Mark Fish - an American television producer and writer and actor. Fish has appeared in bit part roles on shows including The O.C., Ed, Law & Order and The Sopranos. He was an actor in the TV show Trinity, and a supporting actor in the film “Paging Emma”. Fish was story editor for Damages and has also written episodes for television shows The O.C., The Inside, and Scandal.

 204 – Beltway Unbuckled

211 – A Criminal, A whore, an idiot, and a Liar (Bless you)

219 – Seven Fifty two

304 – Say Hello to my little Friend

314 – Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

404A – Like Father, Like Daughter

 Zahir McGhee  - a story editor and writer for Private Practice and Scandal.

 220 – A Woman Scorned

310 – A Door Marked Exit

315 – Mama Said Knock You Out

405 – An Innocent Man

Raamla Mohamed - a member of the production staff on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal writer.

 205 – All Roads Lead to Fitz

217 – Snake in the Garden

311 – Ride, Sally, Ride

316 – The Fluffer

410 - Where’s the black lady?

  Peter Noah - an American television writer and producer. He served as an executive producer and regular writer for the NBC drama The West Wing. He continued in this role for the sixth season before becoming an executive producer for the seventh and final season. Currently writing for Scandal.

 207 – Defiance

212 – Truth and Consequences

306 – Icarus

 Richard E. Robbins

104 – Enemy of the State

 Chris Van Dusen – Writer on Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal

 206 – Spies like Us

218 – Molly, You in Danger girl

309 – YOLO

316 – The Fluffer

404B – The Key

 Mark Wilding - an American television producer and screenwriter. He was nominated for two Emmys for his work as executive producer on the series Grey’s Anatomy, and won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series as a writer on the same show. He has also worked on Private Practice and Charmed.

 105 – Crash and Burn

209 – Blown Away

213 – Nobody Likes Babies

308 – Vermont is for Lovers too

318 – The Price of a Free and Fair Election…co-writer

408 – Where the Sun don’t Shine

Peter Nowalk   - He co-wrote The Hollywood Assistants Handbook, published by Workman Books in 2008.[2] In same year he began working in the Shonda Rhimes medical drama series, Grey’s Anatomy as recurring writer and later executive story editor and supervising producer.  Nowalk is the creator and executive producer of the ABC drama series, How to Get Away with Murder.

 307 – Everything’s coming up Mellie

Severiano Canales - Writer for Off the Map, Grey’s Anatomy, and Scandal.

317 – Flesh and Blood

 Miguel Nolla - Grey Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal

317 – Flesh and Blood

 Allan Heinberg - is an American film screenwriter and comic book writer, who wrote Young Avengers for Marvel Comics, and has been a writer and producer on The Naked Truth, Party of Five, Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, The O.C., and Grey’s Anatomy.

 407 - The Last Supper

#Scandal 402: Life, Loss and Leaving (commentary)

NB: I’ve made brevity a goal this season. Today, however, is a fail. 

The summary: Every union has to come to some hard, painful truths about life, loss and leaving.

The Extended Version:

State of the Union (#Scandal 402) gave us an update on the state of many unions on the show, and not just the romantic ones.

Cyrus and Olivia: Phone a Friend

Technically we start with Olivia and Jake, but I’ll get to the substance they lack later. Let’s get into the political booty call of Scandal’s Best Frenemies Forever: Cylivia.  

I watched that scene again. The surface of the conversation is about them, but the subtext isn’t. It’s about Fitz, but then it becomes explicitly about Fitz. It’s not my Fitz coloured glasses. Cyrus’s language isn’t first person until he says he needs a favour:

Cyrus: “You could let a person know you’re back in town”

Olivia: “You knew I was here”

Cyrus: “You could phone a friend”

Olivia: “Are we? Still friends?”

Cyrus: “I need a favor.”

Olivia: “I don’t do favours for the White House anymore.”

I couldn’t help but compare this conversation to the first Cylivia political booty call in Sweet Baby (101):

Cyrus: “He needs a favor.”

Olivia: “I don’t work for him anymore”

Cyrus: “He trusts you”

Olivia: “I don’t work for him anymore.”

Cyrus:  “And yet you came when I called.”

Olivia [acquiescing]: “What.”

In the present, Cyrus proceeds to threaten emotional blackmail with Fitz, which proves more effective than Cyrus’ financial blackmail with the IRS—a ubiquitous American institution of which Olivia is not afraid. But don’t stir up emotional drama with her and her Boo! That puts the fear of God into her. In Scandal’s inaugural episode, one could say that Cyrus, still in the dark about the true nature of Olitz’s bond, used Olivia’s loyalty to Fitz to bend her arm on helping the White House. This, of course, means helping Fitz—something she actually started doing indirectly in last week’s episode with the Equal Pay Act, and again this week with talking about gun legislation. Their political idealism intertwines.

Speaking of the favour Olivia was doing for the White House, let me get into the case of the week because it’s actually important.

James and Lisa Elliott: They Want the D…

The case of the week involves Olivia, corralling and delivering to the SOTU, James and Lisa Elliott, a couple whose lives lend meaning to Fitz’s central piece of legislation. The Elliotts: a couple who model a fairytale union in public, but have grown privately dysfunctional over the years, yet remain together.  For James and Lisa, their livelihoods are intertwined and depend upon the public perception of the state of their union. They hate each other as “husband of” and “wife of”, but actually, on reflection, have fond things to say about each other’s individual qualities.

James is a “real life war hero” where Fitz is a pretend one (Remington is a lie, remember?). He met Lisa two years before the shooting at Red Hawk Elementary. Lisa is a heroine in her own right. She saved at least 50 kids from a crazed gunman before she was hit by a bullet in her spine, causing significant impairment and paralysis below the waist. Let’s not even mention the emotional changes that would result from such a life-altering event. Their marriage was one of politics and love, as they told reporters that they dedicated their lives to getting guns off the streets…and to each other. (Look which one is mentioned first.) They even wrote a book about it:

 

For all intents and purposes, they are perfect. Even Quinn loves them. Olivia knows better. There is no perfect couple. Her suspicions prove correct.   

James: “I’m sick and tired of making sure the lady in the wheelchair gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants it.”

Lisa:“Oh here we go again! I love this wheelchair. I can’t get enough of this wheelchair. I’m the bitch who, somehow, came up with the crazy idea to get shot in the spine.”

 

As I said last week, Olivia has learned that you can’t fix people, only their Scandals. So she doesn’t’ try to fix the Elliotts because they need to do that.  Olivia knows this kind of couple. She’s seen them before. She’s worked to fix the public perception of their marriage before. She’s in love with one half of that kind of couple. But in this professional instance, Olivia suggests divorce for what she sees is a couple of people whose un-abiding hatred for each other as a public entity obscures any genuine appreciation for the one another.

Olivia: “What you need is a divorce…You can. Get out before this kills you both. It’ll be hard. You’ll have to pay back the advance for your second book, sell the house, take the loss…But I will spin this for you.”

Again, very eerily similar to a couple I know who live in a big, white house, espcially their fight in The Trail (106). I actually wonder if, when she was called in to work for The Grant campaign, she felt then that the Grants needed a divorce. But since it was an inopportune time and she ended up falling in love with the man who’s marriage she was supposed to fix, she created band-aids for a couple who so very clearly hate each other. And that hate is none of Olivia’s business.

 

Quinn and Huck

Huck extracted Quinn’s teeth to teach her a lesson about minding her business. The Scandalverse is so perverse sometimes, you really have to laugh. Like, what?!

Let’s have a recap of their relationship in the last year, shall we. Huck, true to his word, is still not speaking to Quinn (318). If I were Quinn, I would be thankful. Huck tried to shut you out before, Quinn. Remember in season 3 when he realized how “interested” you were in why he was humming and vibrating for another kill, he decided to stop sharing information with you. He felt responsible for the monster mini-me that you were becoming. And when your interest led you down a path to be exploited by B6-13, thus making OPA vulnerable, Huck went from shutting you out to trying to shut you down. But you ended up finding yourself, Quinn, and relied on Charlie as a comfort while you did so. You never really wanted him, but he was the only one there and that was good enough. Lick, lick. Spit, spit. You get back at Huck for what he did to you. Cue torn fishnets on the hood of a car and doggie style next to a pool of your boss’s father’s blood. Lovely. 

But your inquisitiveness didn’t die with your extracted molars, Quinn. You used your skills to dig up Huck’s family, thinking that you were Santa Claus. But you know that Huck is the one that taught you everything you know, which means he has always possessed the tools to find his family. There’s a reason why he didn’t. But you wanted to be Santa Claus and here you are. Huck is being really cold to you, and it sucks.

Quinn: “You don’t have to treat me this way.”

Huck: “Yes, I do.”

Don’t let him disrespect you, but don’t try to push him either.


Abby and Olivia

 

I love this little scene about this particular union for a number of reasons. First, as I said last week, the Abby and Olivia conversation is not over. There’s going to be an on-going source of tension between them until they are forced to work together on something for the White House, or Abby can be a resource for Olivia in a case she’s working on that is also relevant to Abby in some way. Or vice-versa. When’s the last time Olivia came to Abby’s aid since she took a tire iron to Charles’ knee caps and moved Abby into her apartment so she could re-start her life? Their relationship has undergone a lot of changes since then, from betrayal to loyalty and everything in between.

Abby: “You don’t work here anymore, Liv. I do. And guess what, you don’t know everything. YOU don’t know anything. Harrison dies. The firm falls apart. Huck and Quinn were incesting all over the office for God knows how long and you had no idea.”

Olivia looks at the OPA strategy table like

Abby has learned so very much under Olivia’s tutelage, and she seems very eager to prove that on her own terms. No more apparent was that than when Abby tried to Pope Mellie into going to the SOTU. Cyrus told Abby that he had unfailing faith in Olivia’s ability to deliver, which prompted Abby to prove that she, too, can deliver in Olivia Pope fashion. 

Also of note is the fact that not working at/for the White House has never stopped Olivia’s influence from running all through the halls of the West Wing…or the East Wing, for that matter. Indeed, though it is Abby who works there and not Liv, it is Gabby who is dismissed with the others from the room so that he can ask his “closest advisor” (301) for her opinion on his speech. So no, Abby, Olivia doesn’t know everything, but on some matters what she does know is tops. Ask your new boss.

Mellie and Cyrus: Measure of Cruelty

This, too, is a union of a sort. These two have relied on one another to get Fitz to perform in the presidential ways they need him to perform. They have plotted, tag-teamed and schemed too many times to relay here. And now they have something in common other than getting Fitzgerald Grant to act right. They have their grief and the loss of a great love in common. The most interesting aspect of this is that neither of these two people behaved in “model” ways towards the love they have lost. At the same time they don’t need to “earn” their grief through exemplary behavior as partner or parent.

I won’t mention the numerous occasions upon which Cyrus has insulted James, or that he tried to bribe him with a baby (S2), almost had him killed once to save his own skin over Defiance(213), and of course the kicker, pimp him out to Daniel Douglass in order to blackmail Sally Langston (S3). Cyrus is indeed a bastard, as he called himself earlier in the episode. He did some awful things to James. But I will not blame him directly for James’s death, nor deny him the right to grieve the love he lost. James ended up dead because of the manner in which he chose to retaliate against Cyrus’s abuse of their marriage: by becoming Publius so he could expose Cyrus’s involvement in the DD murder cover-up. On more than one occasion James tried to stomp with the big dogs, but he was only a puppy. An actual divorce, like he threatened, would have left his life intact. Mellie for her part has admitted that she was a cold and distant mother to Jerry (318) because she was always fearful of what he might be: a ridiculous soap opera cliche the child of her husband’s father—her rapist.  It is true, too, that Mellie has expressed having children as a sacrifice, playing the role in helping her branch of the Grant dynasty ascend the political ladder.

Mellie: “They’re not the same. My child, your husband…it’s not the same.”

Cyrus: “I keep hearing that: the loss of a child is greater. I resent that, having never lost a child. I resent having to feel like losing the love of my life—the only someone who ever made me feel like, truly me—is less of a loss; is smaller than your loss. I am now broken. I am not me. I am now forever changed; I’m undone. A broken heart is a broken heart. To take a measure is cruelty.”

God damn it, Shonda Rhimes. I know you wrote that, even though the episode was written by Heather Mitchell. I know the hallmarks and rhythm of your dialogue. What Cyrus just said?

Also, is this the balcony of truth, or what? So far I have been like

over every scene that has taken place on the Truman balcony. It must be something about being outdoors that lets people feel compelled to air out their truth.

Back to the scene. This is one of the arenas in which Scandal shines. Many people are all too eager to pick a team, a side, or assign hierarchies of pain to which some people are entitled and others are not. But when I watch this show, I don’t often feel like I’m being asked to choose because the narrative presents itself in such a way that I can see multiple sides to an impossible situation. For instance, in this scene with Mellie and Cyrus, I feel where they are both coming from, but I also scoff at both of them. I’m going Plessy V. Ferguson on Mellie and Cyrus’s grief. They are separate, but equal. 

Fitz and Mellie: A Piece of Chicken Runs Through It

 

Fitz tries to appeal to Mellie’s sense of vanity (not far off the tail end of Abby’s appeal to Mellie), by telling her that her absence would shift the focus away from the SOTU and toward her mental frame of mind. Mellie 1.0 would have cared very much about this, and there’s plenty of evidence to back this up. When Mellie learned in 222 that going on television to out her husband’s affair in 220 backfired on her approval ratings, she rushed to Cyrus’ bedside at the hospital for photo ops with both him and Fitz. And let’s not forget that Mellie did not go along with Olitz’s bunker plan in 301 because she would look like a fool when the American people realized she aided and abetted her husband’s affair for years.

The Mellie that showed up in the Oval as Fitz waited was uncomfortable and unsure in the costume of her old self. 

Mellie’s in a lacuna at the moment. As we see later in the episode, donning her wardrobe of pretense nearly suffocated her once she was done performing at the SOTU. It’s no accident that the moment she crossed over the threshold of the Vermeil Room (Gold Room), with its haunting portraits of former First Ladies, Mellie collapses, literally clutching at the pearls of her life that are suffocating her neck. She collapses into a puddle of grief on the floor, crying “leave me be.” It feels like her hitting bottom. It feels like she’s finally let her grief out—not just for her son, but for all that her life has become. I’ve criticized Mellie in the past for relying on a man and a marriage (for which she’s shown disdain long before Olivia Pope was on the scene) as a pathway to achieve political standing. So I’m watching to see what kind of Mellie 2.0 emerges from the chrysalis.

Let me get back to Fitz’s current role in this union.

Mellie:  “Oh, honey, baby…! Do you actually think I give a damn what anyone thinks of me anymore? And for you to actually come here and pretend that this is all about me, when—let’s face it, baby—this is all about you. This is the Fitzgerald Grant show, staring Fitzgerald Grant. And you just want me to play my part, the co-star, the dutiful wife who smiles, and applauds and looks so proud of you. And doesn’t eat chicken, or wear sweatpants, or hang out on graves…[cackle]”

It is true that, in many ways, Mellie would be a kind of prop at the SOTU. As all First Ladies tend to be because that’s the designated role devised for them; the role the American people like to see them playing. Fitz didn’t invent that, but he does depend on it when it suits him.  Fitz’s plea for her to be there in order to deflect gossip about her mental state was both about wanting to keep the media focused on his focus (because he’s all about his job right now), but also about preventing Mellie’s current state of undone-ness from being exploited by the media. Look at the headlines that popped up in just one day!

Here’s what’s going on with Fitz in this marriage right now:

Fitzgerald: “You think I don’t want to be a better man? You think that I don’t want to dedicate myself to my marriage? You don’t think I want to be honorable? To be the man you voted for?”—Happy Birthday, Mr. President (208)

What I’m seeing right now is a man who is trying to do and be all of those things upon concluding that he can’t (nor should he) rely on Olivia as  his salvation. That he’s got to figure out this life of his because he’s the only one living it. He’s being a dutiful care-taker to Mellie, who’s in a delicate wilderness that he doesn’t completely understand, but he is by her side nonetheless. The day before the SOTU speech, Mellie visits Jerry’s grave (we have no idea how frequently she does this). Fitz is laser focused on his work—both as a way of proving his mettle in a job he didn’t earn the first time around and questionably the second, and as a means of emotional avoidance. Where Mellie has let it all go; Fitz has tucked it all in. The point is, Fitz did not have to be there with her at the grave site. Yet he was there working on the speech while watching over her, just in case, with a bag of Mellie’s favourite snacks and magazines.

These people do not like being married to each other, but they know how to support each other in the best way they know how when no one else is there. They will be divorced soon enough, but as I have said before, Mellie and Fitz will always be in each other’s orbit because they will always be a family.



Fitz and Olivia:

It’s interesting that we see other strained unions working together for the greater good before we get to Fitz and Olivia:

James and Lisa Elliott are encouraged to work together one last time for the sake of the SOTU, and Fitz’s landmark piece of legislation: gun control—a cause to which they had supposedly devoted their lives.

Quinn and Huck are forced to work together to ensure safe delivery of the Elliotts to the SOTU

Abby and David are exes with issues who come together in a professional capacity to prep David for his Senate confirmation hearing as Attorney General. Which…

David: “Michael Jordan left the Bulls to play minor league baseball. These things happen”

Senator: “You’re comparing yourself to Michael Jordan?!”

David: “I’m comparing myself to anyone who’s ever followed a dream, Senator.”

And then we my faves. This scene put me in the feels of my favourite Scandal episode: A Criminal, A Whore, an Idiot and A Liar (211) while drawing additional parallels with Happy Birthday, Mr. President (208).  Given the professional capacity in which the above listed unions worked in this episode, it makes sense that the same would be true of Olivia and Fitz. There’s just always more subtext with the two of them. Before I get into this scene, I need you to remember that the beautiful moment at the end of 401 was a shared moment for the audience, not Fitz and Olivia. They don’t know that the other’s finger reached out to connect; they don’t know that time slowed down for the other; they don’t know that they both got their entire lives after passing one another. Each of them think they are the only ones. We know differently.

 I’m gonna say ‘I told you so’ about the tenor of this scene. I knew there would be no explosive anger, nor would there be any attempt at reconciliation. Why is that? This episode is called The State of the Union, meaning what is the lie of the land between these two people? What we can assess once Olivia and Fitz are face to face, looking each other in the eye with nowhere to hide, is a profound sense of loss (for both of them), regret, resentment, disappointment—all covered with a performative, professional indifference. That’s about right for the two of them. I’ve already expressed that I don’t want them to be together romantically right now. In my fantasy, they can re-establish communication as trusted advisor and friend. You guys, I really want them to re-discover what they love about each other: their shared political idealism, the fact that with each other they are more themselves than with anyone else, make each other smile. I want Fitz to consider Olivia’s life, not just the professional excellence she projects. I want Olivia to be honest about why she left, and that Fitz was hurt by her inexplicable disappearance. Is that too much to ask?

Fitz: “I need to hear what you think. Before I go out there and talk to the country, I need to know what you think.”

Olivia: “No.”

Fitz: “Don’t you think you owe me at least this much?”

Olivia: “It’s fine.”

Fitz: “I know you. ‘it’s fine’ never means it’s fine.”

Fitz’s “you owe me” appeal to Olivia is language of entitlement, but it’s also one that is very familiar to us coming from Fitz. It’s language that indicates a desire for teamwork with Olivia. When all else breaks down between them, she is still his most trusted advisor. Olivia is a bundle of contradictions. She wants Fitz to be the better man she deserves, but she also depends upon him needing her. When this proves not to be the case, it creates anxiety and fear in her. Recall how she felt in 305 about Fitz’s jokes for the WHCD. Teamwork. The fact that Fitz only interacted with her in a professional capacity with no mention of the elephant in the room scared her in a way that recalls 204-207. This time I don’t think a tragedy it will be a tragedy that brings them together. They need more than that.

 

Fitz did not have to dismiss the room in order to solicit Olivia’s advice on his speech. But he wanted a moment alone with her so he could gauge her reaction to seeing him alone, after absconding for two and a half months. So he could soak up her presence. This is the man who stared at her face (on mute) on his television the night before. The man who was entranced by half her face on TV in Defiance (207).  But neither one of them gave an inch in that room, keeping their cards close to their vests.

Olivia: “That’s your problem. You’re always trying to say what you think everyone wants you to say, be what everyone wants you to be. And I should have caught it before!  I would have, if we weren’t…I know you because you let me know you. But America has no idea who you are because you’ve never let them know who you are. Nobody can tell you how to do that.”—A Criminal, A Whore, An Idiot and a Liar (211)

Olivia gives Fitz the sage advice she’s been giving him for years: show them who you are. Emboldened with that confidence, he does an absolutely stellar job. My hat’s off to both Tony Goldwyn for the performance and my darling Fitzgerald for being the only Republican President I would actually vote for.

I told you that Fitz wouldn’t allow himself to be vulnerable with Mellie. That as his pain festers, it would not be because of Mellie that it would ooze out. That it would be Olivia who would get to him. Fitz performed brilliantly in the SOTU speech, mixing just enough patriotism with heartfelt vulnerability to appeal to the American public’s better angels (too bad his party is filled with bastards).  I was moved, Mellie was moved, the nation was moved. All of that was because Olivia, still his most trusted advisor, gave him permission to, once again, show the American people who he is because weakness is [his] strength; it’s what makes him human. And that’s what the American public wanted to see in the wake of his personal tragedy; it’s why Rowan knew for certain that Fitz would be elected by manufacturing Jerry’s death. Damn this show!

Fitz: “Do you think I’ll make a good president?”

Olivia: “I think you’ll make a great president.”

 

Fitz: “Watching a little girl take her last breath. Watching the light go out of her eyes. That…that is when the argument ends. That is when the debate is over.”

Just like in Happy Birthday, Mr. President (208), we see Olivia preparing her exit from a government building as Fitz delivers the SOTU (where are the side by side gifs!). . Olivia leaves because…why? Because she knew he hit it out of the park and her ‘job’ was done? Because “end” and “over” were resounding in her head? Listening to him talk about what he and his family have been through is too much? Now that she’s actually had to face him she feels guilty? Guilty because she believes her mother killed Jerry, and guilty for leaving Fitz to his grief without saying good bye? She’s no longer on that island, and she’s no longer standing in the sun. Olivia slays me because she is at once quick to extricate herself from a situation if her presence is a distraction or threat to the success of other people’s lives, yet she is reluctant to acknowledge the emotional consequences of her departure on others.  Of course she’s a grown ass woman, but decisions have consequences—both intended and unintended and we all have to deal with those.

 

Gone are the halcyon days of writing the first SOTU in the midst of foreplay up at Camp David. That strange work-life balance that Olivia briefly achieved, caused her to give a closeted Cyrus this advice:

Cyrus: “I’m a leader of the Republican party. It’s complicated.”

Olivia: “No it’s not. You wanna be with the man you love. Be with him”

The state of the union is far from that simple now, as painful reminder after reminder has shown her that Fitz doesn’t belong to her, and she doesn’t’ belong to him. For all the rapturous intensity of their coupling, neither of them can afford to feel complacent in their feelings for one another so long as the status quo is maintained.

Jake and Olivia:

Right. Back to these two. At the start of this commentary I referenced “Some hard truths” because many of the characters had to deal with difficult truths about themselves and their various relationships. In the middle of the night, I came to one, too. Olivia and Jake are forging ahead with an arrangement unworthy of remark.  I say “arrangement” because it’s clear that Jake knows that his relationship with Olivia is a three-some. When I say there is no there there, I mean substance. This relationship is one of mutual coping, not true desire (I’m gonna write something on ‘need vs. want’ because it’s been on my mind).

Jake: “We’re not standing in the sun anymore. I’m not gonna live in your apartment, waiting to service you. I have things to do. I am busy, but I did book a nice hotel suite for booty calls.”

Though I have real problems with their relationship (just as some people have valid reasons for not liking the way Fitz sometimes treats Olivia), I can see that Jake is a convenience that functions for her needs. This character, Jake, literally has no home in the narrative (did B6-13 own his sick-ass loft? I know he didn’t have time to sell it before leaving) except by Olivia’s side. And we have heard Ms. Fuck Me Boots tell Fitzgerald that Jake being by her side is for her (312). Because Fitz, as an absentee boyfriend, isn’t by her side. Not when she wakes up, not when she comes home. For all the ways in which Fitz makes her feel like herself, it’s the absence of the little everyday things that start to add up.

In Sweet Baby, one of the first things we learn about Olivia is that she is not normal. And again, in Nobody Likes Babies (hmmm, with those two titles. There’s a persistent thread about Olivia and babies), she rejects Edison because she doesn’t want “normal and easy.” When actually, she’s afraid of normal and easy—to such an extent that I believe she fetishizes normalcy. What’s her ultimate fantasy? To escape to the country, make jam and have babies (212). She wants it so badly that she is afraid of her own wanting. She had the nerve to harbor this fantasy with a man who is already married and has children. She has only pictured that fantasy with him because Edison offered her this exact thing and she said:

She wouldn’t even do it for the Vine. Though the house exists to contain that fantasy life, it remains a fantasy until there is a clear way forward for Olivia and Fitz. Fitz has real baggage and Olivia has emotional baggage over which she was re-traumatized last season . Olivia will not allow herself to rely on promises because they, too, do not exist:

Fitz:  I’m sorry. I don’t think about how hard this is for you.

Olivia: [as Fitz tries to comfort her and assuage his own guilt]: No! No, no no no don’t touch me.

Fitz:  Some day—

Olivia:No! Please don’t. Don’t make promises…

 

In the meantime, Olivia lives in reality. In that reality, she has some pretty normal needs that Jake is willing and able to service.  We see him literally jogging by her side in the opening, telling her that he’s here for her needs. In some ways, it’s the dream thing she wants to hear, just not from this guy. We all remember Olivia telling Fitz near the end of 312:

Olivia: I have to take care of myself. I have to protect my people. I can’t spend all my time worrying about you. This whole house worries about you: what you want, what you need. It has to be about what I want and what I need.


Subsequently, Olivia’s wants and needs were never met by Fitz for the rest of the season. What we saw at the end of 318 and now is Olivia’s attempt to take care of herself and her needs. Everyone recognized the low point that was Fitz’s life while failing to recognize the various emotional traumas Olivia suffered through last season. She was at a low point, too, when she left.  Indeed this is a selfish thing, but every individual is in charge of making sure their needs are met. If we don’t take care of us, who is going to do that? And not all of our emotional and physical needs are met in isolation. Why should Olivia be lonely when someone who knows she is in love with the POTUS has offered himself as her meantime plan B (albeit with benefit to himself)? Someone who can jog in the open with her. Someone she can actually pick up the phone and call directly. Someone who can instantly make themselves available to her for whatever. Someone she can summon instead of always being summoned by them (203, 220, 308, etc). Someone that allows her to feel a sense of control in her personal life. She knows she’s not in love with Jake, and so does he.

There is a storied history of Olivia using sex with both Edison and Jake to quash her pain over Fitz. This time, we see Olivia insisting on what she wants from Jake without pretense. Literally, she strips bare (save for the boots! I’ll refrain from making a crass joke) and ordered Jake to bring it. All of that has to do with the pain, the regret and the sense of loss she experienced from seeing Fitz and watching him be the President for whom she voted. He’s doing it all without her, without so much as a peep about the state of their union.

We hear Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park play over Olivia’s sex scene with Jake as well as the one with Cyrus and Mr. Ed Mike, a sex worker. The song is about someone who has lost the love of a lifetime. Their love is compared to a cake into which a lot of time and energy was poured, but the cake is now melting in the rain because “someone” left it out. The narrator cannot take this site of melting destruction because they know the cake was a one-time love:

“I don’t think I can take it

‘cause it took so long to bake it

And I’ll never have that recipe again”

Cyrus and Olivia have this in common, as they are both mourning the loss of a loved one. They proceed, for the time being, in the best way they know how: sex. Cyrus, of course, denies himself the meat he was craving (he’s a vegetarian now). What’s interesting is that both Olivia and Cyrus’s partners explicitly make themselves available for sex in this episode, but only one of them is getting shamed or it on the Internet. As Fitz said,  “…[W]e are—all of us—dealing with our loss in the best way we know how.”