[Apologies for no post for last week’s episode, I had some other stuff distracting my brain, making me unable to write a post][This might be my longest Scandal post yet!]
Last night’s Scandal Winter Finale left me at a peak during Papa Pope’s EPIC speech (which I will of course get to later, probably in the most detail of any other plot point) and then kind of rolled down to the end of a roller-coaster. The end wasn’t shocking like last week’s (though that’s typical of a penultimate episode–a shocker ending to get you into the finale) but neither did the episode really have those BIG moments we expect from Shondaland. Last season’s mid-season finale was the Defiance arc–those five major moments in that episode: from Cyrus almost getting James sniped, to Fitz killing Verna–but we didn’t get nay moments that big. Some jobs switched around, and Mama Pope came back (which is not really a surprise), and ugh Quinn. Nothing really big happened, so I was left a tad disappointed. But perhaps it’s better this way! We don’t get another episode until February 27 (which is basically March), so I’m kind of glad this was an episode that wouldn’t have me going through MAJOR Scandal withdrawal. Just minor withdrawal will happen now. 😉
Starting with the Sally/Cyrus arc, as the episode does, I really enjoyed the direction of the fight at the beginning of the episode: the fight overlapping quiet moments of introspection between them. I don’t know that I am sold that Sally would kill him in this moment–he merely threatens to leave her and tell her story on national TV? I am not sold that that would be the push to send her over.
“The devil came in.”
Cyrus seeing that his actions have negative consequences if very important. Usually, his awful actions have no negative consequences for him; but now it’s affected his marriage and killed a man (hope you weren’t eating during the vomit shot).
“Give me your sin. Let me clean this up.”
Quinn needs to get her life together. She needs to pick a side and stick with it. She’s a gladiator, then she betrays them, then she agrees to kill Command for Huck, then can’t do it so she takes her tracker out and sticks with Charlie, then in middle of the night goes BACK to OPA, and is SURPRISED when she is rejected! Then back to B6-13. SMH. GET IT TOGETHER GIRL.
Fitz really wants to be in charge. He tries to use his power to control Rowan and gets in a tizzy when it backfires. So he calls up Jake to take over B6-13. I don’t understand how this happened. Rowan constantly says that B6-13 is above the president, so how does Fitz have the power to have him removed? Has Rowan been wrong this whole time? And Fitz allowing that power dynamic to seem like it’s out of his favor until this moment? Or did he call someone else to have that change made? I don’t get it. And choosing Jake? That’s going to go sour real quick, since they have rival affections for the same woman. What will Jake do with this position? I feel like he would have to eventually make the same choices Rowan did, the choices that he and Huck are scarred over. There must be more to Jake accepting this position; does he plan to destroy B6-13 with his new power? Or will he eventually put Charlie/Quinn in the hole like he was?
Now onto the Fitz/Rowan scene. As I mentioned before, Fitz is trying so hard to play grown. He decides to rub it in Rowan’s face that he is sleeping with his daughter. That’s never a good idea, fool, regardless of whose father you are speaking to.
“Here’s the thing about power, Rowan. It’s always hard to accept when you’ve lost it.” “But you realize you never had any at all.”
Fitz clearly takes this as a challenge. But then why hasn’t he done anything about Rowan before all of this?? If he had the power to do anything about it, it should’ve been done. And Fitz clearly isn’t the type to do anything unless prompted. He didn’t want to get into politics but he was prompted by Mellie and challenged by his father. Just recently, Cyrus questioned his balls, so Fitz made a counter-move to say “How presidential are my balls now, Cy?” He only did what he did in response to someone calling him out on how weak he is. All the signs of a “boy,” as Rowan says.
Watch the moment when Fitz tells Rowan about him and Olivia. The direction is brilliant here: Rowan in the chair, center of the screen coming at him from below, with Fitz dominating the left half of the screen behind him. The angle makes him look large as he hovers over Rowan to tell him about Liv. Fitz wants to have the power, but Rowan out plays him in this moment.
Rowan calling Fitz a “boy” has so many levels. Obviously, one is that it’s true. Fitz has suffered from his father’s influence on him, as well as his wealthy status, and in turn has never grown up. He gets things handed to him, but throws a fit when he finds out about it. But not enough to do anything on his own.
But Rowan calling Fitz “boy” also has some historical connotations as well. To have a black man call a white man [who is in power, but that wasn’t even usually the case] “boy” speaks to centuries of racism. Rowan’s character is probably the most racial context we’ve gotten on this show, between this moment and his “you have to work twice as hard” speech from the premiere.
“For you, it’s always summertime and the living is easy and daddy is rich and your momma’s good looking!”
Excellent delivery of this well known lyric. Really, the whole scene is fantastically executed. Joe Morton wasn’t playing around when he delivered these lines, and that’s all while being tied down in a chair. I don’t know if Season 3 is eligible for any of those TV awards, but I really hope Joe Morton gets some sort of recognition for this role, because right now, he’s the most interesting character on the show for me.
“You have everything handed to you on a silver platter and you squander it!”
Someone on twitter mentioned that this monologue should be every black actor’s audition piece. It really is fantastically performed.
“So you decided the one thing you wanted was my daughter. My child. Mine. What I made. What I created.”
It’s a problem that they are talking about Olivia like she has no autonomy of her own, but that’s built into these characters. They are both characters who possess things. Fitz has things handed to him, Rowan works for them, but they are both still men who believe they deserve power and the things that come with power.
“You love that she is a door marked exit.”
This has been it from day one. Fitz wanted to get caught with Olivia, he’s the one who leaked her name. He built a house in the country they could never live in, they talk about making jam, he constantly wants to run away with her. He is, as Rowan says, using her to fuel his escape fantasies from this life that was 1. handed to him 2. designed by his father.
“She is always going to be the formidable Olivia Pope.”
Said right after he says the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Papa makes Olivia formidable, so he can imply he is even greater than that.
“Don’t use the person that I made to make you into a man. You are a boy.”
“You disappoint me as a suitor for my daughter’s hand.”
I was lightheaded from that speech. It was so well delivered and hit some great points about Fitz and Liv’s relationships.
After this moment, the episode left me kind of meh. Mellie is ruthless, Quinn is dumb and can’t pick a side, James wants to file charges against Sally or Cyrus, Maya used Rowan to kill 300+ people… for fun? As an act of terror that lies on the side of the government rather than a terror organization? Rowan is released but then fired as Command in favor of Jake. James decides to stay with Cyrus and play some power games of his own to get White House Press Secretary. Leo, Sally’s wanna be Chief of Staff, also doesn’t bat an eye to Sally murdering her husband, he wishes he’d been called. Definitely Cyrus-light. Rowan continues to evade Olivia’s questions, but I’m not sure why at the moment.
And Maya escapes from the plane only to still be in DC, looking like Olivia Pope’s mother (hair, fly jacket, GLOVES), outside the White House with her burner phone. What is she planning? Has she already done it? Is she going after Rowan? What has she been planning for the last 20+ years? But I couldn’t help but feel this moment wasn’t enough for what we expect to end on in a Shondaland episode. But like I said earlier, it’s for the best, so that my withdrawal isn’t as strong.
Oh, another moment that I loved was the one between Eli and Olivia. When Liv lip quivers and realizes the truth in front of her dad, he doesn’t even move. but his acting is still impeccable?! How does he do it? He literally just stares into space, but you can see his jaw clench and the tears in his eyes and that speaks so much. So much about his love for his daughter, which I’ve seen all along, and about being played by his wife, and the effects his job has on other people and himself. Maybe he needs this break from being command.
ALSO, when Eli flashes back to the night Maya “dies,” we see him crying in front of the TV. We’ve been showed this before and assumed it was because he loved his wife. But now we see that it was because of all those people he had to shoot down. When he said in the last episode that he got no pleasure in taking a life, we scoffed, but deep down, it’s true. He didn’t cry for Maya (or perhaps he cried for knowing she betrayed him all those years), but he cried for the plane crash victims and he cried for what he was about to do to Olivia. Again, Eli/Rowan/Papa Pope is (clearly) my favorite character and it’s moments like these that cement that opinion.
“Your father, he is not our hero. He is our demon.”
“You’re not a gladiator anymore.”
“I’ll see you real soon.” –> Shonda’s words to us fans.
I can’t wait to see how they continue to hide Kerry’s Washington’s pregnancy!
We won’t get another episode until February 27, so hang in there, gladiators! We can do this! If anything, we’ll still make Scandal trend on Twitter on Thursdays.
See you real soon, gladiators!