Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sistas are Doin It For Themselves

Lord have mercy Lord have mercy!

I’ll just get right to it.

This week was Mellie’s back story. And you knew she had to have a compelling story. Because ShondaGirl writes strong female characters, and Mellie is kind of a mess. And she can’t just be THIS fractured without a story. My friend Debbie and I have endless debates about whether or not Mellie is a respectable character. She says no woman would allow her husband to be IN LOVE with another woman and stay married. That her cold bed is what she gets for sacrificing love for power. I say – Mellie’s Achilles’ Heel and the reason she can’t do any of that is that she actually loves Fitz.

Or at least she did. The back story picks up about 15 years ago. Flat-haired Mellie (seriously – her flashback hair involves about 20% of the product First Lady Mellie uses) and Fitz are newly married, and they are shaking the sheets in hopes of her getting pregnant (that little throwaway nugget becomes very important). They are living, I guess, in Fitz’ childhood home, and his father Gerry (Barry Bostwick nails this role. He is an unmitigated SOB) bellows up the stairs. They canoodle as newlyweds do (and DAMN! Tony Goldwyn is in hella shape), and when they go downstairs, it’s to meet Gerry’s “King Maker”, namely, one bearded, married (to a woman) Cyrus Beene. Gerry wants to start working on his governor candidacy, a surprise to Fitz as he wasn’t planning this for another 3 years. He is ADAMANT they will not use his military career to further his political career, which causes Gerry to be all...awful.

Present day, Olivia is still a broken mess (but ROCKIN’ a black and white tuxedo swing coat). The Super Fitz Phone (SFP) rings, but she can’t talk to him. She can’t get past the fact he killed her Mom. Fitz is worried about her (as he should be – after all, by her own words, she’s “surrounded by murderers. I’m surrounded by men with a body count. I’m standing in a graveyard made by people she thought she loved”. And I could see how that could make for a rough day. Fitz is broken up about this, but he can’t discuss it. Since I’m TOTALLY team Fitz, this conversation broke my heart. She’s not just reeling from the fact that he shot this plane out of the sky, but there’s something she doesn’t know about Fitz. But when she drops the name Rowan, he realizes there more to her story too.

Olivia has decided her client (besides Phoebe, who’s off camera this week) is getting to the bottom of this plane crash. Their client is her Mom. They want to know what happened to this plane. [side note: is Jake a gladiator now? I say no. Still not sure he wears a white hat.] She knows by asking them to do this, they could be in danger too, because her Dad is Super Assassin, but you know the gladiators – “over a cliff”. Even Abby is like...”damn girl”, and in what is probably one of my favorite scenes ever, she goes into Liv’s office and warns her that “she’s about to hug her and she (Liv) just need to stand there and take it. So here’s what we know on this plane crash so far:
- Flight was delayed, but not listed as delayed
- Flight was overbooked, but the flight manifest is missing a name
- A federal marshall takes someone off the plane (Omar Dresden)
- The subcommittee that headed up the investigation into this crash was Gerry Grant.
- The guy driving the plane stairs (you know the ones) is still in DC and probably saw Omar Dresden.

Oh – and also in present day – it would seem that CrazyQuinn has a new friend and admirer in Charlie (the OTHER assassin. We know this is not going to end well, but WOW) Huck is giving her (Quinn) about 450 different pounds of shade, and that’s not helping her infatuation with Charlie. She ends up tailing Charlie (and what IS IT with people trailing ASSASSINS?) She and Charlie lip lock and he invites her to hang out. Which she does. But I’m not speaking to Quinn. Keep reading, you’ll see why.

Other present day action – Mellie is trying to rebuild her image (and that of the president’s) by a documentary of Mellie’s days in the White House. She pretends she loves it, but to Cyrus she admits what we all know: the role of docile wife does not suit her. She hates it, and is more interested in helping Cyrus pick out an escort to derail Sally’s husband (we know more and more that Sally’s husband is not the faithful type). She picks a good one, leading Cyrus to note she’s “way better at picking out hookers than China Patterns.” And. Ha. Cyrus successfully gets Madame Vice President away from this dinner, and asks him to remember his promise to her. [Turns out – the big secret the VP is hiding – it’s not his love of women. It appears to be his love of men. A fact that tickles Mellie. And me.]

Back to Flat-Haired Mellie and Gerry’s house. I love this scene- Cyrus running down politics, Fitz in a black turtleneck, Cyrus calling Fitz and Mellie “Richie Rich and Snow White”, Fitz in a black turtleneck (that was my favorite part) Fitz is all – if I can’t win without my military career, I won’t win at all. I had to laugh – when Fitz told his Dad no, his dad was one step from a spit take. He looked like I’m sure I do when Alex says if to say – I don’t understand that word coming out of your mouth. Gerry and Fitz have a knock down fight that highlights just how jacked up their relationship is. Gerry alludes to getting Fitz out of the jam of shooting down the plane and how he now owns him and that without him, he’s nothing. He actually says “I made you. I can destroy you. So you’ll do what you’re told and that’s an order”. Fitz gets off a line, but it’s still an incredibly hurtful scene to have to watch. Up until now, whenever Gerry was in the story – he wasn’t kind, but Fitz didn’t make it easy on him. The second time I watched this it hit me: we are not just getting Mellie’s backstory, we’re getting Fitz’ too. In the mist of this melee, Mellie runs in to say Cyrus is leaving. Cyrus is all – I can’t help this boy and rolls out. Mellie tries to stop him, but he tells her it’s not his job to take care of this guy, it’s Mellie’s job. Mellie is genuinely confused, as she has a pedigree of her own, and big plans for her own career. Cyrus plays the role of foreteller here telling her that she will not be able to have a career, for being “the woman behind the man” will become her career. Mellie, on the spot, makes a decision (and you know – Bellamy Young is one HELL of an actress to get this across her face as quickly as it happens), she’s going to make Fitz her full time job and promises that he’ll be ready to work.

Present day – Mellie and her documentary cameras are headed to the oval office so he can say good night to Teddy, and he’s not there. She lights into Fitz that she’s doing the best she can, but he has to help. He has to be there, seeing as she’s the one America hates even though he had the affair. [side note – she is KILLING this red dress]. She admits she’s tired of having to do everything herself, and that he’s a lousy partner. She foreshadows the next scene, saying, as much to herself as to him, that he had no idea of the things she’s given up, the sacrifices, only to be treated like sh!t. I must quote here because the words Shonda put into Bellamy Young’s mouth here are damn near poetic and I wish I had written them: ‘You declare war on me, and you shame me, and you make me beg for scraps when I have done nothing but fight for you. You don’t have to love me, but we’re here in this hell together and the flames are burning both of us with equal intensity, baby, so the least you can do is be my friend. Just a little bit. The least you can do is show up. Show up for me, Fitz.” And I got nothing. She killed this scene. Fitz doesn’t have anything either, but shame, because he shows up for the next interview, and it’s a good thing – because he saves her from a disasterous line of questioning. Fitz saves her from the attack, and you see they are in this together. And...awww....

15 years ago, a drunken Gerry tells Mellie more of what we know as the Remington Story. What we learn:
- Gerry confirms that Fitz shot the plane down, because of a dirty bomb that was supposedly on board. Gerry fixed Fitz’ military record so he’s nowhere near the plane.

What happens next is awful. Fitz’s dad rapes Mellie.

Editorial rant: I’m so conflicted about this scene. I detest rape as a story line. I find it cheap, and easy, and usually beneath the writers. It’s far too easy to victimize a woman. Here’s the thing – I could not begin to fathom what it’s like to come back from such an attack, a brutal theft of what you hold most dear – what no one should be able to take from you. And I’m not just talking about sexuality. So do we really need a rape scene to make Mellie sympathetic? Should this ever be a story line? It absolutely happens – I don’t say that, but should we EVER use it in ficitional television? I don’t know. Scandal doesn’t flinch, but I admit, watching this scene, I did.

Mellie goes upstairs, where Fitz pulls her into bed, and tells her all he wants is for his father to be kind. He wants him to, just once, apologize and be on his side, noting if he’d just admit that, he thinks he’d be a great governor. But as of now, he just wants to pack it in. It’s really messed up. And in the dark, Mellie makes her next decision. The next morning, shades of big haired First Lady Mellie surface as she tells Gerry they will never speak on it again, and he’ll tell Fitz exactly what he wants to hear. Which he does, and the next flashback shows them celebrating his election to government. She also whispers in his ear she’s pregnant, but when he hugs her, her face is not joyous. In fact, it’s terrified. Remember – that assault happened when Fitz was trying to get her pregnant. A smart girl like Mellie probably knows when she’s ovulating. That was the first DAMN!

And THEN!! CrazyQuinn is hanging with Charlie, and between making out, he dangles the carrot of helping him, allegedly by knocking out the guard to get some information. But no – what she injects into his hand is a lethal something because he dies. She’s otherworldly freaked out (because she’s a nut) and trying to dial Huck – and Charlie tells her that’s a bad idea, and welcomes her to B6-13. DAMN! DAMN!

And THEN!! Turns out, the guy Quinn killed? That was the guy driving the stairs the night the plane crashed! The lone link to Omar Dresden! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

BUT THEN!!!!!! Fitz is looking into a file on Liv’s Mom, trying to figure out how his life got so batsh!t crazy. He sees that the Mom is survived by a daughter, and a husband who is a curator at the Smithsonian. He puts together that Rowan is the husband is the dad! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

AND THEN!! What we all know! Rowan goes through a building, down a hall, into a basement and says “your daughter has been looking for you” OMAR DRESDEN WAS LIV’S MOM!!


So – Rowan obviously knew the plane was going to be shut down, so he saved her, but why take her from Liv. What will Fitz do now that he knows Super Assassin is Liv’s Dad? And just who the hell fathered Fitz’ oldest child?

Whew child. I’m grateful that next week has to be a repeat. It’ll take me some time to digest all this!

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