Administering justice without the White Hat…
While the biggest question of the episode maybe be why Olivia is even acting as though Senator Edison Davis’s marriage proposal is relevant, there are bigger fish to fry. Oh yes, the plot thickens! Scandal has been in rare form in the last few episodes, and this one is absolutely no different! This is the big one in which everyone’s backs are up against a wall and their true colors shine through. No one is safe or to be trusted as the DC5 loses control of this disaster of monstrous proportions. Lives are put on the line and everyone’s faith in justice by the people and for the people will be tested. The walls are closing in on Olivia Pope and her associates. And for the first time ever, this might be a problem that the great crisis management queen cannot fix. Written as the penultimate installment before the series got picked up for a full twenty-two episode season, “Truth or Consequences” is another stunner in a long list of them.
David Rosen, the one who wears the White Hat, finally makes his ambitious and maybe slightly naive move to shed light on the election rigging scandal that has all of the big wigs of D.C. up in a corner. David’s consistent chase to uncover the ugly truths and bring those responsible to justice is just a catalyst for everything that follows. Of course David has only zeroed in on Hollis Doyle at the moment, but he knows that there are others that he is in cahoots with. David may be “the law” and justice personified, but his ambition is only ripping open old wounds that have yet to fully heal. His digging and judicial grandstanding is a bit naive. Justice in the world of the DC5 is very different from David Rosen’s definition. It’s nothing but trite foolishness and a game to be played for face value. There is a real ugliness to the justice our characters are willing to go to when the going gets tough. Take Cyrus for example…
Cyrus has never been a wearer of the White Hat. He’s quite a shark. A political monster really. He will do whatever he has to do to keep his baby, President Fitzgerald Grant, in line and in order. All of Cyrus’s monstrous tactics have kept his West Wing simplicity intact. So what does a political monster do when his baby is extremely adamant in sabotaging his own presidency and a co-conspirator threatens to relinquish some very incriminating information that will bring down the White House like a stack of cards? That monster administers justice in the way he sees fit. No White Hat, no trial, no interrogation--murder and manipulation. Cyrus’s own personal assassin/spy, Charlie is still his secret weapon. When Olivia comes to Cyrus about the continued David Rosen and Hollis Doyle problem, Cyrus promises to take care of it. Why? Because Olivia Pope, the great problem solver of the century has fallen. Never would we have thought Olivia would admit to being tired and scared out of her mind with a case. She’s the tough as nails, whip smart, innovative crisis manager who wears the White Hat. Olivia always has an answer. But not this time.
Olivia Pope falls apart before our very eyes, slowly but surely and it's surprisingly sad. Olivia has spent so much of her time attempting to right the wrongs she’s done by incidentally doing more wrongs. This season alone Olivia has at least put into action eight different things that have affected those around her in some way, shape, or form. And it is all to cover up one big mistake she and four fellow D.C. big wigs made two years ago. There’s that, and the fact that Olivia did it all for love. A love that is just barely out of her reach. Last installment, we found that Olivia’s involvement in the election rigging was brought on by her undying love and appreciation for Fitz. That was Olivia’s stake in it all. Everyone else had a less than admirable motive, but that doesn’t excuse Olivia from this crime or the shame. As the wearer of the White Hat, the guilt, crimes, and lies on top of lies have been eating at Olivia for quite sometime. Everyone in her life has been affected by this, simply because she happened to fall in love with the leader of the free world. It doesn’t help that Edison’s incessant presence is putting Liv in an even worse head space.
After Cyrus promises to take this load off of Olivia’s shoulders, Liv crawls into bed, sunken into a soul-crushing depression brought on by guilt and shame. Not only have Olivia’s actions and problem solving affected others, but she realizes that her judgment has been clouded by something as seemingly foolish as love--forbidden love, at that! Olivia’s gut is non-existent when her love of Fitz comes into the picture. It is why all of this is happening--why karma is so brutally battering her with this harsh reality. And when you get right down to it, Olivia has in a way betrayed Fitz in her attempt to give him the ultimate gift, which is why she dismisses Fitz when he rings her with the news of his and Mellie’s impending divorce. It’s painful, but true. Fitz is totally clueless about this side of Olivia and if/when he finds out, his reaction could very well be less than ecstatic. It is all too easy for Olivia to just marry Edison. He’s simple, he doesn’t have a wife, he isn’t the President of the United States, and he’s a rather good man, contrary to everyone’s dislike of him. Olivia has his ring, which must indicate to Edison that she almost has to say yes. However, when it all boils down to it, not even Edison can get Olivia out of this new funk and goes to her family--her associates for help. And they have find their new client…Olivia Pope, herself.
In a few imperative flashbacks, we finally view the entire story involving Quinn’s misplacement in the election rigging drama that has put her in the very intense position that she is in. And in all honesty, that same undesirable situation is what pushes Quinn to step up and deal with the issue at hand. Never has Quinn been more deserving of applause than here, when she digs for answers even by poking and prodding her fellow associates to help Olivia. Quinn notices how Abby, Harrison, and Huck all blindly follow Olivia. It’s an intense loyalty, but when is it appropriate to ask questions in a relationship like that? We have seen the repercussions of that and how it has hurt each and every one of them. Which leads to one of my favorite scenes of the episode, where the associates band together and reveal vital tidbits of information to help piece this crisis together. It’s amazing to watch the group tackle the issue without Olivia there to lead them for once. And although Harrison never reveals anything, Abby, Huck and Quinn are able to piece together enough of it all and to realize what is causing Olivia’s bad patch, as well as revealing the last bits leading to the explosion at Cytron that sent this whole investigation into motion.
After piecing it all together, Huck is the one to step up and pull Olivia out of her depression to deal with the crisis at hand. In doing so, Huck has to remind Olivia that her friends may not be the good guys in this scenario. Huck knows bad when he sees it and Cyrus, while not inherently evil, has never been above getting his hands dirty or bloody to solve a problem. That Hollis Doyle problem that he promises to solve is not going to be dealt with by bringing the man to justice, but rather to his grave. Olivia tips David Rosen off about the cellphone Hollis used to contact assassin Becky and David bring him in. However, Hollis has nothing to fear, apparently. And Olivia calls in David way too soon. Olivia returns to her associates ready to spill the beans and get this immeasurable guilt off of her chest, that is until Harrison, arguably the second closest associate to Olivia, disregards the truth in order to fix the much bigger crisis at hand. Is that the right choice?
This shameful weight is still hovering over Olivia. She’s still tired, but she’s not out. Not yet. And while her strides to take down Hollis are admirable, they are also foolish. Olivia, while a very strong and intelligent woman, has some naive concepts tied to ideals of justice for the people and by the people. Justice is not the same when one adds conspiracy into the scenario. Let us just remember Huck being tortured at the Pentagon a few episodes back. Justice, even in this great nation held together by the president’s Chief of Staff, is full of its own horrors and contradictions. Cyrus reminds Olivia that her childish notions of justice and White Hat toting vigilantes is what destroys great nations. Cyrus shows his true colors in this crisis and they are less than admirable. Will Olivia really risk taking down all five of the DC5 by proving a point about being a wearer of the White Hat?
While planning an assassination, Cyrus also deals with President Grant’s insane ideas of divorcing Mellie, the First Lady who is nine-months pregnant with America’s baby. If President Obama were to divorce Michelle and kick her out of the White House and move his mistress of two years in named, Olivia…America would flip out! The thought itself is not only political suicide, but personal suicide. If Fitz were to, in all reality, go through with this divorce, his life would be full of judgmental stares, gossip and other hellish realities. His life, and his life with Olivia would be a living hell, even if Mellie weren’t adamant on making it one. The American people, the media, Fitz’s fellow Republican constituents and more, would all look down on them. Fitz and Olivia would not be the happy, adorable couple. They’d be the world’s most hated couple ever and then some. Plus it would totally destroy both Fitz and Olivia’s separate legacies.
These are all things which Cyrus attempts to convince Fitz of, even by wondering if the recent attempt on his life has affected his judgment and has given him delusional impulses. Except President Grant counters by insisting he is on a high that he can’t come down from. A high that one can only experience after surviving an attempt on their life. It’s not everyday one survives a bullet to the head. That high is exhilarating, but also extremely dangerous. Fitz feels like he can do anything now. And he’s the leader of the free world, which kind of means he can if he really wanted to. This new found impulsiveness of his will only make things much worse. While Cyrus fails to solve this issue, Mellie takes things into her own hands and rushes along the birth of America’s baby, forcing Fitz to snap back into being the President she and the rest of them all need. It’s a cold thing to do, but for now it seems to work…But at what cost?
That is the question that gives everyone great pause in this installment: At what cost will everyone go to when their backed up against a wall? It seems that most are willing to do away with the White Hat and fight dirty, get their hands bloody and maybe even burn a few bridges. Huck goes so far as to reveal his real name to Becky in exchange for vital information. That’s a huge deal (and risk) for someone in Huck’s position. It also shows that Huck did have and may still carry feelings for this mystery woman. Olivia is willing to go down in flames with the White Hat, even if she burns in it. A slowly perishing Verna insists that Olivia redeem herself. But is it Olivia who needs redemption? As it turns out Hollis Doyle is actually not the one who called in the attempt on President Grant’s life. Then who was it? I’ve still had my suspicious eye on both Mellie and Verna this entire time, as they do share some advantages in removing the leader of the free world from his position.
This is certainly a game-changer. One that twists an already complex mystery full of lies, murder, secrets and scandalous revelations. The political sharks and monsters reveal the true nature of justice and it does not sport a White Hat. It’s ugly, drenched in blood, shadowed in manipulation, and crippled by deceit. Justice without the White Hate is full of interesting plot turns and moments in which characters show their real selves and motives, most of which are not very admirable. Scandal is on fire at the moment and it doesn’t show any signs of cooling down! It just does not disappoint and is full of constant surprises that no one can predict. As this particular story heads to an explosive close in the next episode, it would be wise to remind ourselves of the shock that’s coming our way when the big reveals are finally unveiled and the consequences are dealt. “Truth or Consequences” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013