I begin with an apology: my laptop’s internal keyboard died last Wednesday night, leaving me unable to recap Scandal for quite a while. I and my technology are back in business now. Good thing, too: Fitzgerald Grant’s America moves at a much faster pace than our own.
All is not well once again in Scandal’s America, that magical place where everyone is attractive and busy and young Black men don’t get shot just for walking in the street. Mellie is still grieving for her son, and now the press has a photo of her being a normal human being in pain. This will never do. Fitz is preparing to deliver the State of the Union address; he expects his wife to get out of her Uggs for that, at least.
It’s a dark time: so much so that Lookin’-Good Cyrus Beene (“I’m a vegeTARian”) drops his guard, eats some of Mellie’s fried chicken, and muses bitterly about how his grief is theoretically smaller than hers.
A broken heart is a broken heart. To take a measure is cruelty. – Cyrus
For all his eloquent diet-breaking, Cyrus’s chicken gambit doesn’t work on Mellie. Nothing does, until Abby steps in to help. Hers is a terrible loss, Abby reminds Mellie — but in the United States, it’s hardly unusual:
Three days, three weeks to grieve: that’s what other people get when they lose their children. And they do lose their children. – Abby
In Fitzmerica, as in our own country, mass shootings are a terrible fact of public life. Red Hawk Elementary, site of the fictional mass shooting, stands in this week for our own Sandy Hook Elementary. The difference: Fitz gets to make the fictional mass shooting the big deal it obviously is, while Barack does not get to do the same with the real thing. Priorities!
As there is every week, a thorny issue emerges that Olivia has to resolve. A husband and wife, combat veterans, have turned from fighting the enemy to deciding the enemy is each other. I hope you will forgive me for not wasting time on this plot thread; to be honest, it bored the hell out of me.
Get a divorce. I will spin this for you. – Olivia
What she said, you two. The problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Let’s move on, shall we?
Just moments before the State of the Union, Fitz asks his team to let “Miss Pope and I [sic] have the room.” No, this is not the right time for Olitz to return to makin’ luuuuuuh. Instead, Fitz wants Olivia to read his speech.
Alone. Right there in front of him. Seriously, this guy.
Don’t you think you owe me at least this much? – Fitz
He actually says that to her — to the woman who gave him the Presidency — as Twitter explodes in outrage, asking how this man can fix his mouth to say Olivia owes him anything. Good question!
That said, it’s a good speech. Olivia tells Fitz that it’ll be even better if he opens the kimono a little, and lets the nation see the toll his son’s death is taking on him. He follows her advice.
The right to bear arms seems indisputable. Until the shooter comes. … My son is dead. and I ask you: How many other people’s children are we going to let die before we put a stop to this? – Fitz
It’s an impressive speech. Among other things, Fitz draws a line between the American burdens of gun violence and slavery. There are very few things that Americans can correctly compare to the open wound of slavery, but gun violence is one of them: an issue just as old a slavery, just as fraught, just as deadly in its freight of lives long lost and lives still at risk. In Fitz’s SOTU speech, the comparison between the two feels right and true.
What feels a bit less right is the use of “Macarthur Park” as the soundtrack for the coupling (and almost-coupling) of two pairs of would-be lovers. As Donna Summer tears into the old disco hit, Olivia watches the SOTU, makes a wine-fueled booty call, and goes to town on stand-in boyfriend Jake — while Cyrus, alone with a hot guy, seems close to getting over his dead husband. Almost!
That hot guy is the handpicked power tool of none other than Cyrus’s archrival of the moment, Portia de Bossy. “You were right,” reports Power Tool to Portia, after failing to bed the Chief of Staff despite some impressive disrobing. “He’s lonely.”
Not quite lonely enough, Portia! It’s gonna take more than a smile and a six-pack to make our trusty Cyrus take his hand off the wheel of the great ship of state!
Final notes on this episode:
- Fitz is having a decent-guy week. Aside from that “you owe me” business, he’s hitting all the right notes, onstage and off. Rushing to the side of his wife seconds after her post-speech backstage collapse: that was a nice touch.
- Cyrus seems to prefer careful enunciation over ranting these days. It’s not just the way he spits out the word “vegetarian,” either: “I am NE-ver con-CERNED that Oli-via Pope will FAIL.” That’s so catchy, I half expected him to tap-dance to it.
- The ghosts of dead kids haunted this episode. I am not talking about Fitzmellie the Elder: I’m speaking of the children of Sandy Hook, as well as young Mike Brown, dead two months this week. The creators of Scandal want us to remember these children. I am grateful to them for that.