Scandal Recap 2.11: “A Criminal, A Whore, An Idiot, And A Liar”

By Kendra James

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Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on “Scandal.”

It’s Scandal Thursday! A brief reminder of the drill: Each week, Joe and Kendra will provide a Friday Scandal recap the day after the newest episode airs. The next Thursday a longer roundtable discussion of the episode is posted featuring Joe, Kendra, and a variety of guests commenters. This week’s recap is provided by me, Kendra, who, in full disclosure, enjoys the show but has a little less tolerance for some of its more outlandish situations.

Like how characters seemingly up and change personalities at the drop of a hat.

Spoilers for Scandal 2.11 “A Criminal, A Whore, An Idiot, And A Liar” are below the cut!


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We start with Edison casually letting himself into Olivia‘s apartment to take her to task for a litany of illegal and immoral activities, including high treason and sexual escapades with the married president. Liv’s subsequent kissoff of Edison begins with the worst face of denial I’ve ever seen and is rather remarkable, given that she’s guilty of pretty much everything he’s accusing her of. Remember this scene for the next forty minutes, because the 180° switch Edison does by the time we get to the end is stunning. Not good stunning, more like heck-of-a-job-Brownie stunning.

Anyway, cue a  flashbach, which we’re going to be relying on heavily tonight for our plot juxtapositions. This one takes us to a town hall debate moderated by someone who is not Gwen Ifill and that doesn’t look anywhere near as good as anything The West Wing ever gave us. There’s not much of substance in this first flashback aside from our first introduction to Hollis (and Hollis’ accent) and the revelation that TV President Fitzgerald, like TV President Bartlett, has daddy issues. Because I can’t help but compare this show to The West Wing at every turn, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of a snarky-yet-dedicated-and-discrete psychiatrist to help Fitz work through said daddy issues along with the trauma of an assassination attempt.

Speaking of that assassination attempt? Back in the present Fitz is recovering rather remarkably from a bullet to the brain. “Walking across the room will feel like a marathon,” his doctor tells the President and First Lady…thirty seconds before Fitz walks into the Oval Office under his own power. We’re meant to fist pump this triumphant return–and I’m sure some of us did–but I find it hard to forget that Fitz is weird and controlling and maybe only one step below that guy who tried to kill Demi Moore in Ghost. As if I could forget, watching him almost immediately tear into his pregnant wife as he demands a clean shirt between bouts of wallowing in righteous self-pity.

Before Fitz gets his shirt we return to about a month before the election to meet his father (whose lengthy resume went in one ear and out the other). Dad’s there to give their numbers a boost in Florida and to help Fitz prep for the next town hall debate. The “prep” involved a mock debate answer that I suspect was supposed to be Sorkin-esque, followed by an immediate dive into oppositional research. Showing that he’s not an entirely bad guy, Fitz objects to the idea of swift-boating his opponent. Showing that he’s actually the worst, Fitz gets drunk and angry at dinner and proceeds to sexually assault Liv in an elevator.

In front of Mellie. Oops.

Honestly, I thought Mellie was going to pop him a quick one in the jaw. Instead Fitz runs out of the elevator and pre-FLOTUS immediately starts apologizing to Liv on his behalf. It’s the usual excuses: ‘he’s not really like this; he’s stressed; his father drives him to these extremes. The scene works on multiple levels, I think. Most importantly, I believe Mellie. The show doesn’t often let us remember why Mellie and Fitz bothered getting married in the first place. It’s nice to have reminders here and there that she wasn’t always scheming.

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It’s onward and upward for Olivia as she gathers her crack team of gladiators–featuring a truly bad Hagrid cosplay–to do some opposition research on Fitz’s opponent. I found it to be a fairly unnecessary scene, since we already know they bought the election for him anyway. Judging from the attention given to Huck’s getup, Scandal’s crew agreed with me. The Gladiators’ work (admittedly it’s nice to finally see them together again, and doing that pin-on-the-wall procedural thing from Season One!) yields a bottle of illegally obtained prescription pills that Fitz’s father insists he whip out during the final debate. He’s still seven points down twenty-six days before the election, so maybe this isn’t the worst idea because, barring a national incident, how exactly does one come back from that? And if one did come back from that–say, one Fitzgerald Grant–wouldn’t they be suspicious? Wouldn’t they wonder how those numbers turned so quickly? Especially if you’re a barely a Republican like Fitz, who I have to assume would have had a hard time getting “Real ‘Murica” to come out to the polls.

From here on in we’re doing some rapid present-to-past flips. First it’s four days to the election, then suddenly we’re back at the press conference Fitz has stubbornly insisted on having so that he can prove his ability to walk and talk to the world. A reporter asks if there’s any chance that Fitz might be dealing with some impaired brain function or damage that would hamper his ability to lead. All together now…. yes! But, to be fair, they’re all suffering from some sort of long-term memory loss because no one thinks to point out that Fitz’s answer is the same one that he pulled out at a presidential debate less than four years ago.

Edison, on the other hand, is suffering from a complete personality transplant. Shonda does love her last-minute plot twists, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when Edison turned up in Liv’s home again (she says she’s going to change the locks; I’m holding her to it, because she has some invasive men in her life). Except instead of calling her a whore (Liv’s words, not mine), he drops that and the charge of treason to…ask for her hand in marriage. You see, he’s in love.

Meanwhile, Fitz? Not so much. He tells Mellie he wants a divorce while she’s fluffing his pillows.

I see what you did there, Shonda.

  • Foxessa

    ” … with the worst face of denial I’ve ever seen and is rather remarkable, given that she’s guilty of pretty much everything he’s accusing her of. ”

    Yes, indeedy.

    It’s really bad when I’m not liking anybody — and starting to like Mellie.

    Fitz — I really don’t like him. I really don’t want him to be POTUS.

    But then, this is politics and politics maketh monsters of them all.

    And way too many flashbacks. Like dreams, flashbacks tend to signal writerly confusion, both on screen or in print.

    As in that flashback in which Olivia accuses Fitz of playing Thomas Jefferson to her Sally Hemmings, and then they bond over looking at the ‘real’ Constitution — without mentioning how the Constitution was written in order to protect slave holders and slavery.

  • Beth_in_Mpls

    Kendra, that was a brilliant write-up. Absolutely spot on. And can I just say I try not to laugh too hard every time they show Huck in that obviously fake wig/beard/mustache? (I don’t want to miss a line of dialogue while I’m cracking up.) I guess the show’s makeup budget is a lot smaller than the costume one!