Welcome to the first TLF Scandal Chat. Much like our Game of Thrones roundtables earlier in the year, we will gather together a diverse group of Scandal fans to chat about the Week in CRAY. We’ve got TLF Grand Poobahs Keidra Chaney and Raizel Liebler both Scandal viewers from Season 1, TLF regular Vivian Obarski, and our latest additions to Team TLF: Laura Nash, and Lauriean Davis. Viv, Laura, and Lauriean all binged on Scandal over the summer. Welcome to the Scandal fandom, ladies! Also, this is a gonna be a spoiler zone, so if you are all skittish about getting spoiled don’t read this until you’re caught up. – KDC
Back In The Saddle/The Daddy Pope School of Parental Manipulation
KDC: So as someone who’s been to the Shonda Rhimes rodeo a few times and always come away disappointed, I just have to mention that Scandal is the best work she’s consistently done. There was a point with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice where I just started to hate everyone because their quirks and neuroses just become intolerable. Not so with Scandal, the more sociopathic the characters get, the further down the rabbit hole I go and I LOVE IT. I was so pleased with the season premiere and I am kind of surprised at it but I am in for the season and can’t wait to see how things go.
RL: I agree that this is the best thing Shonda Rhimes has written. Partially because it is a soap and not bound by the need to be realistic. Seriously, if aliens show up, it wouldn’t interrupt the flow of the show.
VO: I’m new to the whole Shonda Rhimes thing, but Scandal is turning into my thing. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the nightly soaps like Dallas and Falcon Crest, but this is some good stuff. And not surprisingly for me, it’s not about Fitz and Olivia (because FITZ IS THE WOOOORRRSSSTTT! /Jean Ralphio), but everyone else.
Such as Darth Huxtable (h/t to @gfrancie on Twitter for coming up with that one), who apparently doesn’t want her daughter dating ANYONE judging by the lengths he will go to to separate her and Fitz.
LDD: (Cliff Huxtable) sans horrible sweaters.
VO: Also, as a mom, I’m saving the “Come hell or high water and I am the hell and high water,” line for when I have to force the kid to do something she doesn’t want to do.
But I found it funny that he gave her the same speech that Olivia gave Amanda Tanner back at the start of the first season. It’s like her advice is coming around, but from her not rehearsed lips.
LN: Dad is bringing the A game. An intelligent and invasive takedown. I’m not going to touch the black parent stuff because the rest of you can do it better. So instead I’ll talk about how I’m unsettled by the constant, explicit references to his daughter’s body. Her legs, her stomach – all called out and turned against her. He cuts Olivia up into pieces.
RL: What I appreciate about the writing is that it is *very* obvious that he is referring to the shared experiences of Olivia and Daddy Pope as African-Americans specifically. I can’t imagine anything like this happening on any show run by a straight white man, though it should occur. (And when it does, we get the “Is this because I’m a lesbian?” randomness of original flavor Law & Order)
LDD: There were so many juicy nibbles in this opener but the one that I couldn’t get past is the “work twice as hard to get half of what they have.” I was surprised and delighted that Shonda put in this nugget of universal black experience. It was a masterstroke of bringing race into the show and reflecting an aspect of African-American reality. I think that’s why it hit me so hard.
KC: So Daddy Pope was the first thing that made me realize that Scandal is Shonda’s “Alias” and I can’t wait to see just how fucked up the Pope family is (Because come on, do we really believe that Mom Pope died in a “plane crash” because, hell no.) Right out of the gate with the parental shame and bullying, even down to every Type-A POC parent’s theme song for their children: “You have to work twice as hard to get half as much!!!” I laughed and shuddered. But straight up, I kinda love him. We now see where Olivia gets her hard ass persona from and we get a glimpse of where her Daddy Kink comes from. Looking forward to seeing more about how much of a lying loser Fitz is based on the info he has.
LDD: I’m annoyed with the idea of Liv’s mom still being alive. That just sounds like some tired Dallas shit. But, BUT, if they do decide to bring Liv’s mom back from the dead, can we PLEASE find a black actress who is not Lynn Whitfield, Phylicia Rashad, or Dianne Carroll? Personally, I’d like to see the mother character be foreign born.
(True story: I brought this up, about making Liv’s mom be foreign-born to a friend and their response was, “I don’t think Liv could pass for mixed race though…” So yeah, looks like some Scandal fans can use a lesson on the diaspora…)
VO: I’d love to see Jasmine Guy as Olivia’s mom, simply for the fact that in some alternative universe, because that means that Whitley and Byron actually did get married. But I’m the crossover queen when it comes to my fandoms. Talk to me later about my huge Parks and
Recreation/Scandal crossover I’ve been writing in my head.
Cyrus…He’s Our Monster
LN: Interesting framing here, during the phone call on the plane. There’s a bright light on Olivia’s face from the plane window, while Cyrus is in a dark office with closed blinds. Two windows, one open, one closed. The longer she talks about escaping, the brighter the light on her face becomes, until her features are almost entirely obscured. Turns the whole “don’t run” conversation into a “don’t walk towards the light” plea.
KDC: Olivia’s instincts are of course dead on about Cy, we all know he’s a duplicitous snake, but when he’s on your side there’s no one better. Sadly, he’s on no one’s side very long except his own and I honestly don’t think he even realizes he’s double crossing Olivia when he’s making a “kill folder” for her 20 minutes after saying “he’s [her] monster.” One of the reasons I love his character is the complete embrace of the morally gray zone.
VO: I love how Cy is all “We won’t burn you,” the audience starts laughing hilariously. And seriously, Cy can’t have a conversation anymore without bringing up murder as an option anymore — seriously, it’s like he has Charlie on retainer and needs to use him once a month or something or else the money goes to waste.
LN: Heh, every conversation with Cyrus turns to murder. “Enough to play the ambitious slut card. Good work.” Aw. I’m sad. I like it when Cyrus and Olivia are best friends.
KC: I think Cy really does think he’s Liv’s BFF. That’s what makes him so fucked up.
RL: Does Olivia have any friends that have not tried to kill her at least once or are on her payroll? Seriously?
KC: Nope, she has serious trust issues and seeing her dad, I am thinking that comes from somewhere.
VO: *Sings the “Someone has Daddy Issues” song*
RL: Olivia, girl, you need a friend. Hmm, don’t meet cute at the coffeehouse either … you were in lots of boarding schools, so there must be someone.
KDC: You don’t MAKE FRIENDS in boarding school! Only lifelong enemies. Trust me, I watched a lot of soaps.
RL: Does this mean she met Mellie in boarding school? If so, that would be EPIC!
Team Mellie? Hell Yeah Team Mellie!
KDC: The awesome thing about Mellie and Liv’s relationship is how much in sync they are with each other, actually MORE than Liv and Fitz. I didn’t even blink when she came into the bunker because of course, Liv would call Mellie to fix this. I appreciate the fact that we are seeing some cracks in the steely Southern Belle ; she is tired now, beyond anger, and she just wants this settled. She’s already plotting a post-Fitz life, I think, she just wants her piece of what she’s invested. Part of the reason I am #teammellie is because she’s one of the few people in the show to be straight up about her expectations and whose side she’s on. She will certainly tell Liv about Fitz leaking her name when it benefits her most, she is keeping that shit in her back pocket.
VO: MELLIE! MY FAVORITE CRAZY SCHEMING WOMAN! I still don’t understand why Mellie wouldn’t name Olivia, but in my crazy little shipper heart (SS Melliva, a tiny little floatie boat with decent, but waterlogged canape, as captain I wear a fabulous white trench coat and eyelashes of doom to honor my duo), I think she didn’t want to completely destroy Olivia.
Thank you Mellie for bringing the voice of fed-upness, because that’s how I’d feel too if I was going to burn down the house. Bring your Julia Sugarbaker because she totally deserves this speech because I feel like she’s deserved this for two seasons. And as a married woman, if I was her, I would burn everything down (but I would’ve done that earlier). I would’ve made a deal with Rosen on Defiance, I would’ve named Olivia, I would’ve torched every connection, then opened up a bed and breakfast in Vermont after selling my tell-all memoir and talking to Oprah. Oh, and I’d pay through the nose to have Olivia Pope help walk me through all of this, because while I might not like Olivia, I know she’s the best around. Hell, she worked with Hollis who is also THE WORST!
RL: Something that I don’t think the show has addressed is how the audience is supposed to believe that it makes sense that Mellie conceived “America’s baby” post-start of Liv-Fitz and after all of intern-Fitz. Did he only cheat with the two of them? And Mellie really didn’t know — or is it that he has been a frequent cheater? Either way, Mellie’s anger seems spot-on, considering that she thought relatively recently that Fitz actually was repairing their marriage.
I am Team Mellie generally, though I really want Olivia to at least not be with Fitz. Did she really learn nothing from all of those months of swimming?
VO: I think that would’ve been something that would’ve come out as the time went on, had they gone with that plan. And I really don’t think anyone wants Olivia or Mellie to be with Fitz. He’s just a big selfish, waffling baby.
LDD: For the first time, I’m not liking Fitz. I’m actually ok if they never get back together. Mellie had her damn moment when she clapped at Fitz saying she knew he was the one to out Olivia. But before that, remember how she went off saying that she was too smart to be first lady, that she should have been chief of staff or something. Remember the father-daughter chat at the beginning of the show? Ummhmm… But I loved when Fitz clapped back at Mellie letting her know he had her number a long time ago. “We are at war…” GURL.
VO: I hope, HOPE, Mellie tells Olivia. Please do it. Fitz leaking is a huge breach of trust between those two.
RL: What I found so sad for Olivia is it seemed like Fitz leaked her name not to free her — but himself. Fitz is such a hypocrite that I actually like Sally better because she owns her racism and homophobia!
KC: YES, that bitch only thinks of himself. He’s not trying to free her at all. He’s a coward and he think’s it’s an easy out, even if her ruins her life in the process.
RL: When you hate someone (Fitz) on a show not for killing someone on her deathbed, but for being a whiny brat who cheats on both women in his life (usually with the other) … Grr, Fitz.
LN: Leaking her name was a huge betrayal. Mellie may not have Olivia’s name in her back pocket anymore, but there’s no way she’s not using this information. I thought murdering a Supreme Court Justice was relationship suicide, but he’s somehow done one better. Yay?
The Band’s Back together!
VO: What I also liked was seeing some of our favorite faces again — Charlie, the other B613 operative who apparently works with EVERYDAMNBODY in the city (seriously, does he advertise?). Quinn really likes murder now and Harrison is sliding down that slippery grey slope of morality.
KC: Harrison is going there and I think, like Cy, he’s gonna be deep in some shit and not even realize how fucked up he is as he’s doing it. YAY. I am actually excited to see Harrison reach out to Cy in an unholy alliance and I would actually love to see that alliance get weird and twisty with Harrison unwittingly selling out his hero/big sister Olivia at every turn. AH THE TWISTY! I am putting them together in this recap because in S3, they are the pair to watch.
RL: Don’t forget that Harrison has been to jail. We’ve only really seen him as a lawyer/fixer type. This at least gives him something to do.
KC: Oh yeah, we know very little about his background and I think it is on purpose, I think we are about to see the real Harrison and it’s not gonna be pretty.
LN: Oh, the stakes! A gangbuster premiere. They put a band aid on the sex scandal, set up the next episode, and we get a glimpse of the big arc for the season. Over/under on how many episodes till we know the contents of that folder?
So what did we learn today? We learned that there are endless iterations of Fitz/Olivia/Mellie confrontations. It is the golden goose that will never stop laying plot-eggs.