The Scandal Roundtable 2.12: “Truth Or Consequences”

Hosted by Joseph Lamour

Instead of an intro I think we should look at a preview for the next episode because, I mean, Good Lord.

Fitz, calm down.

Let’s get to talking about the events (first discussed in last week’s recap) that led up to Fitz hating his First Lady so much even though he cheated on her. T.F., I’m definitely sailing slowly towards Team Mellie. I mean, all that’s keeping me on Team Olitz at this point are…you know…abs.

Loree Lamour, Johnathan Fields, Jordan St. John, T.F. Charlton, and Zach Stafford join me to dissect the issues.

Loree:  Well, yesterday’s episode answered some of my questions. It was interesting to see how Quinn’s boyfriend had a hand in the switching of the poll machines and how Becky (Huck’s assassin ex/current girlfriend) played a role in the in the framing of Quinn.

One thing though that stuck out to me was when Cyrus was talking to Fitz about how Fitz is leaving Mellie for Olivia. The many reasons which I would tend to agree with Cyrus’ reason that this is a bad idea since, once a politician admits an extramarital affair their political career is over, but that comment Cyrus made that Olivia is the wrong “hue” for the Republicans’ taste I didn’t appreciate (I had to rewind that phrase twice to make sure I heard him correctly).

Joe: Like I said in my recap, I shouted “Oh, snap!”

Loree: Sadly, what Cyrus said does ring kind of true, as racist as it is. I know that he had to point that out instead of ignoring the ongoing racism with interracial coupling. It made me think: are there any high-ranking politicians who are in an interracial relationship marriage, particularly African American and Caucasian couples?

Joe: I’ve thought about this before. A gay friend of a gay friend was running for Congress, and while I was watching his video, I thought of being a Congressman’s spouse…we all know the fantasies one has…I was wearing pearls in mine. LOL.

Anyway, I thought to myself, how strange it would be, not that two men were married in politics, but that the two men would be of different races. I honestly think that would just be too much for voters to handle. The Root had an interesting article last year about how rare interracial political couples are, and in that article they covered Bill de Blasio, New York City’s public advocate who is now running for Mayor.  Also, I feel it necessary to mention that I’m not forgetting the First Family. In this case, they do share the same “hue” which pretty much made their interracial marriage a non-issue during the election. SMH.

Johnathan: Joe, I’m so glad you mentioned the First Family. When we talk about interracial couples, there is almost always an automatic assumption that one of the people in the relationship is white. People of color dating other people of color–say, a Black man and a Latino–is often ignored in the conversations. Furthermore, people who are multiracial always find themselves in interracial relationships but virtue of their identity.

Jordan: I love when Cyrus says, “He’s not my guy–he’s our guy. We share custody.” That seems like the heart of all of the relationships Mellie, Fitz, Liv, and Cyrus have with each other and the other people in their lives. Each relationship is shared and leveraged against the others, and each decision affects all of them. I found it particularly interesting because, although Cyrus was being dismissive and half-joking, the minute Mel started talking divorce and Fitz wanting to do “whatever he wants,” you see how true it is. They are all in it together, and their relationship is stronger than his love or lack thereof. They are all married, and he can’t split up with them.

T.F.: Great point. It reminds me of the comment in the last roundtable about Mellie’s (grudging) acceptance of Olivia as part of her marriage and relationship with Fitz. You could see that as one piece of this larger dynamic where a whole bunch of people have so much invested in Fitz and his success. They’re doing all this work, not just politically, but also emotionally and psychologically, to make sure he pulls it off–and they’re willing to do whatever it takes. It’s a really disturbing, if necessary, sort of marriage/parenting arrangement (Cyrus calling it “custody” is both apropos and creepy). It’s not so much about Fitz’s well-being as it is about maintaining power they can only access vicariously through Fitz.

Of course, Fitz needs them, too; it’s impossible to do the job he does without this kind of family centered around him–an odd little family where he’s both the leader and has to be babied and hand-held and lied to all at once. The vote-rigging and Mellie’s reliance on Olivia to keep Fitz happy is all a product of this dysfunctional dynamic.

Honestly, I wonder if this isn’t the most realistic part of Scandal’s portrayal of the White House. Having a fleet of largely invisible staffers centered on one super-public figure must make for a strange little world.

Jordan: I was struck by the question of “wife of a senator” or “husband of Olivia Pope?” In the larger question of how their relationship looks to outsiders, how are their power dynamics viewed? The show doesn’t let us see enough of the outside world to be sure. My guess–to DC insiders (who know Liv’s rep) he would be the husband of Olivia Pope to the masses and she’s the wife of the senator.

Jordan: I love Cyrus and his speeches on other people’s delusions. He’s always in fine form when he is laying into Fitz. I was pleased that he called out her “hue.” Sometimes it’s easy to forget we are talking about a Republican president but Cyrus does not pull punches and dumping Mellie and marrying Liv all while staying in the White House as a Republican president is career suicide. Also, can we remember America’s Baby.

Joe: As much as I was all:

at the end of Cyrus’s “this is exactly what is wrong with you” speech, I definitely begrudgingly agreed with him.

Loree:   I think it all depends on what your definition of “Fitz getting better” is. I think Fitz’ brain injury has affected him to the point where he doesn’t see the big picture…he sees the here and now, like when he was talking to Cyrus how almost dying really put what’s most important to him into perspective. I completely agree with that statement that human beings should look at life like tomorrow could be your last, but in politics that won’t work. The big picture is what is important in politics. Sacrifices of the heart are a necessary evil.

Jordan: Since when did Fitz start calling her Livvie? Also, this is a question I had last week: does Fitz know Liv? Really know her? Edison goes to her work family to fix things. What does Fitz do?

T.F.: Does Fitz even know or care about Olivia’s work family? I mean, I’m not really that fond of Edison, either, but…when you put it that way, it speaks volumes. Not just to Fitz’s awareness of who else is part of Olivia’s life besides him (and the boyfriend he was spying on), but also to how Olivia has to keep the guy who’s supposedly her great love totally sealed off from the work she does and the people she works with.

Loree:  Edison going to Olivia’s work family to fix things may mean he knows how to take care of Liv more than Fitz, but it’s just a different type of relationship. I think bottom line is Olivia’s love for Fitz is obviously deeper than her love for Edison. Edison could turn lead into gold but if those emotions aren’t there…well, there would be more couples than singles and less divorce out there if all we did was look for the right guy instead of listening to our desires. Sigh. How life would be so much easier!

Joe: Preaching to the choir. I would have been married to a nice man from New Bedford, MA, for eight years now. I hope he isn’t reading this. LOL.

Jordan: So, where the hell did Fitz’s kids go?

Zach: I always just assumed boarding school.

Johnathan: I think that’s the question on everyone’s minds. Until that ultrasound, I thought this was their first child.

Joe: Dear television: If you don’t have the budget (or patience) for child actors, do not make your characters have children.

Jordan: I would rip that damn coat of Liv’s off her back if I could.

Joe: Jordan, her coats are the business. All of her coats are the business.

Jordan: Huck looks odd in a suit. Also, how is it that Huck still looks like battered, bruised crap and the President’s stitches have magically disappeared?

Joe: This. His hair is totally back, too. Did they keep the clippings from an old haircut and make a merkin? (I know that’s the wrong word; I just think it’s a hilarious idea.)

Jordan: I love Mellie’s speech about her mistress-hate and her anger at Fitz. It reminds me why she’s one of my faves on this show. Damn straight she’s not going to let this woman who has been with her husband less than two years take the position in the White House that she fought for and claim a place next to the man that she built (and, if there is one thing this show supports, it’s that Fitz is nothing if not for the people who prop him up). She’s earned a place next to him at the top. I love Liv but, I gotta side with Mellie: it’s her husband and her place. Mellie doesn’t disappoint. That card wasn’t up her sleeve though.

Joe: Could you see Olivia picking china patterns or choosing an issue, like childhood obesity, to care about or giving up her job? No. No. Definitely no.

Johnathan: I don’t know if it was the roundtable discussions or this new episode but I finally came around to Mellie this episode. During the ultrasound when she talks about past pregnancies, she says that “both times we were a team.” and I got a little sad for her.

T.F.: Yea, I think Mellie is in an awkward and unenviable position. Her role and abilities are super-undervalued, and her work constantly goes unrecognized (FLOTUS in a nutshell, I guess.)

Zach: Wait, I am sorry, but this episode made me dislike her even more. I am assuming she had her doctor go ahead and prematurely send her into labor so she could save her marriage? Come. On. That’s absurd. Because we all know she really doesn’t care about the marriage, but it is really more about her maintaining the power she has as First Lady. We have evidence for this in her discussion with Cyrus about how she “made Fitz” and all that mess. She isn’t mourning the potential of being a divorcee and losing her marriage–she is mourning a potential loss of power. And she will even put her child at risk for that.

Johnathan: I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive, Zach. Do I think she induced labor? Yes. But her first scene in the doctor’s office was sincere. She was missing her teammate.

Joe: I mean, we are often shown the shrill side of Mellie and not the side that actually fell in love with a pretty great catch. I mean before the cheating and threatening to destroy her with his eyes every time he looks at her.

Johnathan: There was also a powerful lesson in accountability this episode. Olivia wanted to come clean for what she felt she’d done wrong. She assessed the impact of her actions and did the right thing. When her and Cyrus are walking down the street, she makes the distinction between vengeance and justice. She doesn’t believe anyone is outside the scope of being held accountable, not with connections, not with power. It only reaffirmed my love for Ms. Pope.

Loree:  Yes, to be a human being is to have a conscience. Those who hurt people are basically sociopaths or just have become an expert at lying to themselves.

Joe: Yes… hello, Cyrus. I maintain that he is ultimately a villain on this show, as much as the Evil Southerner Brigade. I think that “discussion” with Olivia made that ever clearer.

  • Felise

    “Could you see Olivia picking china patterns or choosing an
    issue, like childhood obesity, to care about or giving up her job? No. No.
    Definitely not.”

    A Scandal Roundtable?!? If only I could participate! I may try doing something similar
    with my friends; thank you for the idea. As for the quote above, I find the
    comparison between Olivia Pope (possible Senator’s wife) and First Lady
    Michelle Obama an interesting one. On paper Michelle Robinson (pre-Obama) didn’t read as the china picking type either: Princeton University for undergrad,
    Harvard Law School graduate, Barack Obama’s boss at a major Chicago law firm.
    No. No. Definitely not the makings of a garden planting, childhood obesity
    champion, right? Wrong. Not only is she planting gardens and getting kids to
    move with Beyoncé, but she is fashionable while doing
    it!

    So what does this mean for young, ambitious women (like me) who see themselves as the next Olivia Pope or as the President as opposed to the First Lady? Is there power in picking out the china
    patterns? Is there strength, intelligence, and integrity exhibited in those tasks as well. Perhaps Mellie
    would have the answer for me or maybe Olivia will if she gives into “normal”…. I hope not.

  • Felise

    “Could you see Olivia picking china patterns or choosing an
    issue, like childhood obesity, to care about or giving up her job? No. No.
    Definitely not.”

    A Scandal Roundtable?!? If only I could participate! I may try doing something similar
    with my friends; thank you for the idea. As for the quote above, I find the comparison
    between Olivia Pope (possible Senator’s wife) and First Lady Michelle Obama an
    interesting one. On paper Michelle Robinson (pre-Obama) didn’t read as the china picking type either: Princeton University for undergrad, Harvard Law School graduate, Barack Obama’s boss at a
    major Chicago law firm. No. No. Definitely not the makings of a garden planting, childhood obesity champion, right? Wrong. Not only is she planting gardens and getting kids to move with Beyoncé, but she is fashionable while doing it!

    So what does this mean for young, ambitious women (like me) who see themselves as the next Olivia Pope or as the President as opposed to the First Lady? Is there power in picking out the china patterns?
    Is there strength, intelligence, and integrity exhibited in those tasks as well. Perhaps Mellie would have the answer for me or maybe Olivia will if she gives into “normal”…. I hope not.

  • Foxessa

    Could you see Olivia picking china patterns or choosing an issue, like childhood obesity, to care about or giving up her job? No. No. Definitely not.

    I disagree. I can see Olivia doing it very well, as well as our current Flotus, whom, well, let’s be honest here, I admire from the bottom of my heart, think is the best Flotus we ever had, at least in the years I’ve been alive to be aware of First Ladies at all, and the only one with whom I feel that both of us might enjoy our time together, if we ever had any — and I’m not being romantic or anything like that, just to be on the record. What I’m meaning is that our current First Lady is as close to the women I know and my friends as there ever has been in the White House.

    Olivia, though — hmmmm. I don’t have friends like Olivia who are professional fixers who navigate grey verging on black ops areas. Unless they are so good I’ve never noticed!

  • http://wifeyjd.wordpress.com/ Brownbelle

    I love that y’all are doing this, btw. There’s such rich discussion material and it’s nice to see the show discussed where you can criticize all the characters w/o getting shouted down. Anyway, this was one of the best episodes so far in terms of character development so far IMO.

    Fitz just makes me angrier every week. He cheats on his wife, flaunts his affair and then has the nerve to hesitate before he offers his hand to support her through labor? However bitter their relationship has become, a) he CHOSE to marry Mellie (she’s certainly not the type to propose to a man) and b) he should at least give her some modicum of respect out of human decency, and the fact that she is the mother of your children. Also- so you’re going to divorce your wife and assume that Liv will be waiting for you to scoop her up? Oh, okay -_-

    Olivia restored my faith in her by deciding to come clean about the election, no matter the consequences. Fitz may be her achilles heel but when it comes to work her moral compass points true north.

    Ah, Mellie…clearly she’s made some bad decisions. I would even agree that she’s probably not a good person. But so many people demonize her while ignoring the part Fitz played in all of this- from the flashbacks, there was a time when part of her loved him for himself. And obviously still does, or his behavior would not make her lash out.

    And I wish they’d let David Rosen put somebody in jail who actually *stays* there for once. The writers let him talk so much crap but he never gets to act on it!