Ten months later…
Just as intense as ever, the thrilling drama continues with an intricate new darkness and a great whirlwind of fresh storylines. This installment of Scandal feels like a new whole season. Probably because the last episode was meant to be the end of Season 2 before it got nine more episodes added on. Putting the Defiance scandal to bed once and for all is a messy pursuit, but hey, someone’s gotta do it. But who? And even at the expense of David Rosen? “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a clever little euphemism--an expression of shock. An utter WTF sense of being completely taken aback and genuinely caught off guard. In many ways, this episode is indicative that there is more of that to come in the remainder of the season. And even in that bewildered state, everyone is becoming desperate and undeniably broken.
In this episode, we return to the scandalous world in its recent alterations and the disruptions of certain relationships. Things have changed, but this setting is still recognizable, still full of dirty little secrets. Small transformations in character bring about new storylines. There is desperation, coldness and underlining personal destruction. Olivia is swimming. Fitz is drinking. Both of these people, for the past ten months have been conflicted, no doubt going back and forth on the crushing end of their forbidden relationship. However, one of them is better at cloaking their bad patch than the other. Olivia has continued going about her life, still heartbroken and disappointed at the fact that she betrayed herself, but she’s not completely down and out. Pope & Associates is still in business and everything, for better or worse, is moving rather smoothly. Fitz, the President of the United States has however, become this cold, destructive alcoholic zombie with a devastating mean steak. Both Olivia and Fitz have numbed themselves throughout this entire time span. What else has changed in the past ten months?
David Rosen has really fallen far from his beloved White Hat. He’s been fired from his ambitious position as U.S. attorney, can barely pay his rent, and finds himself teaching Government classes to uninterested youth. I’d never thought I would say this, but I do feel a bit bad for David. All of the intense fighting to prove that being a wearer of the White Hat is principal and a vital part of America has only destroyed him and whatever legacy he once had. And now someone else is sitting in the seat he use to find comfort in. David can trust no one, even and especially not Olivia Pope and her band of problem solving misfits. However, given his new troubling predicament, he is forced back into alliance with them. But only in desperation. Arguably, David’s life is now settled in desperation that he’s unable to crawl out of. It’s sad to see that the Defiance scandal has crushed him so thoroughly, even though he’s been asking for it for quite sometime now. In reality, David’s ambition outweighed his talent and his naive parading about being the one true law has left him in a new mess, waking up next to his dead one-night fling, with the bloody knife in his hand, framed for murder.
Olivia and her team quickly deal with the situation in the only way they can, but the crisis in not averted yet. Huck and Quinn share an interesting and rather moment together in the process of moving the body--a moment that might be the seeding of more intriguing interaction between them to come. The woman in David’s bed is Wendy, a young woman who has been digging up dirty scandals and exposing some huge secrets for money. It’s a profession that often leads to death, and here she is. But who would frame David for her death and why? Wendy was attempting to sale the Defiance scandal to someone. It doesn’t make this crisis easier to solve seeing as how everyone Wendy has double-crossed is a suspect, and she’s crossed a lot of people. One road leads to Olivia’s possible new love interest, Jake Ballard (Scott Foley).
Previously, Olivia Pope meets the adorable captain Jake Ballard at her favorite coffee shop, and I don’t think that meeting was a happy little coincidence. This meeting was planned and something is immediately off about Jake. Sure, he’s a nice little new love interest for our lonely and conflicted protagonist; however, we’ve seen how new love interests can cause big problems down the line (Huck and Becky/Abby and David). Olivia runs into Jake at the Pentagon to ask some questions about her latest case with David Rosen, and it’s almost frustrating how Olivia is charmed out of recognizing the Jake as a very possible suspect and a danger to not only David but to her and the rest of the DC5. But again, I think desperation has hit Olivia in a way the has disrupted her gut and is making her a weaker gladiator. And because of that, all roads lead back to Fitz, the man who has destroyed Olivia’s gut and is slowly changing her into an emotional wreck. Let’s not forget the Olivia is still young and occasionally naive. She still holds the White Hat to some high standards, even though she doesn’t feel completely worthy of it anymore. It’s why she is becoming distracted by this charming, pretty face.
Olivia may have helped David avoid a crisis which could have destroyed any semblance of dignity he has left, but this is still an open case. As it seems the darkness of the Defiance scandal will never truly be over. It is such a huge part in what has shaped a lot of the relationships and dynamics of the series, but also what is destroying them. Abby pays David a brief visit and the hate David has for her is still lit. David essentially gets himself out of being taken in by opening his mouth and taking a huge risk in defying the threats being thrown at him. David was a U.S attorney after all. He knows how to play the game probably better than we give him credit for, and he’s not one to shut up and keep his mouth shut. So in his speech--a speech that leaves even the smooth-talking Harrison speechless--David realizes he has nothing left to lose and climbs himself out of an impossible hole. David’s anguish at everything he’s lost--all the previous desperation is gone, because his legacy is gone. In all honest, David has free reign to do and say almost anything he wants now. It is a shaky confidence, but also a dangerous one that could lead him down a whole new road of trouble. David and Olivia’s friendship is momentarily mended for now, as they fight for a thing they both have in common: Fighting for justice and the White Hat. And there is even a glimmer of desperation and naivety in that too…
Speaking of desperation, Mellie is at a loss of what to do about Fitz’s current position. He’s sulking, literally stuck in a horrid mood for the past ten months and he’s not getting any better. I think it is safe to say that Fitz is turning into his father, Jerry. An alcoholic, cold bastard who is actually becoming a tough as nails politician and president. This episode is the most presidential we’ve seen Fitz in a while, as he tends to an abroad kidnapping of CIA spies. A mission that goes wrong, which means there is a mole in the White House. A storyline that I’m sure we’ll see more of later. But more to the point, Fitz isn’t the charming, suave president he was in previous installments, but instead this brutal politician doing his job. It doesn’t help that he is also a murderer now. Adulterer and murderer are to separate scandals. They change a person. Completely. A recurring theme in this series is the choice of maintaining a glorious legacy or having a normal life. Fitz is shining as president now, yet his personal life is shot. Olivia is stuck in between trying to uphold her own legacy and wanting to live a normal life. Gladiators and the leader of the free world cannot have normal lives and when they try, the end result is usually disaster. It creates a simmering desperation. Fitz was desperate for a normal life before Verna informed him of the betrayal the DC5--that the love of his life committed. That desperation has turned into anger and sadness, and Fitz is acting out on it. And that leaves Mellie and Cyrus desperate.
Mellie’s act in the shower with Fitz is a strategic move out of desperation to get some sort of reaction from Fitz and keep his political future bound to hers. Literally getting on her knees to pleasure Fitz. It shows how desperate Mellie is at the moment. And she’s still as strategic and manipulative as ever. Mellie looks at Fitz’s sulking and drinking as a direct result of something Olivia must have done to him. She doesn’t’ know that Fitz is aware of the betrayal she and the DC5 committed, not until Cyrus figures it out and informs her that if they do not get Fitz to look at them as his allies anymore then he will look to someone else and their collective political futures will be over. Realizing that their futures are hanging on the line, Mellie makes another diabolical move by telling Fitz that the ringleader of the Defiance scandal was Cyrus. It is a brilliant move because Mellie weaves in bits of truth to make this lie seem completely worth believing.
However, the first question Mellie should have addressed is how Fitz even knows about Defiance at all. It is her one slip up. It’s everyone’s slip up. No one asks Fitz how he came about this information. So in a sense, Fitz is still in control of everything. He’s been literally holding onto this painful secret of betrayal strategically using it to his advantage, and it’s working. It has Cyrus shook up and nervous. We never really see Cyrus nervous and more often than not, Cyrus is the one that President Grant usually comes to. But now the tables have turned at Cyrus isn’t able to manipulate his baby anymore. His baby has become a rebellious young adult throwing formidable temper tantrums and blocking him and Mellie out. The only one Fitz can spend his time with and trust is his and Mellie’s ten month old baby, because he’s the only one that hasn’t been corrupted yet. And that is just sad. Mellie’s manipulative lie that sets Fitz against Cyrus might end up being a real crisis. Everyone is throwing each other under the bus to save their own asses and the White House might suffer from that.
Ten months with no interaction and Olivia and Fitz finally come face-to-face with one another at Cyrus and James’ adopted baby’s crimsoning. Baby Ella is celebrated by DC big wigs! Olivia Pope is Ella’s godmother! She’s growing up with a lot of power around her, which could either be a good or bad thing. Power corrupts, as we’ve seen it do so many times on this series. It also makes people desperate. The longing, the tension between Olivia and Fitz is palpable and even Mellie takes definite notice of it. Things totally escalate when at the crimsoning reception, Olivia and Fitz finally have their first bit of real one-on-one interaction. It’s quite a sequence really. Olivia picks the right moment to storm out with Fitz following right behind her. It’s intense, heated--like a predator stalking its prey ready to pounce. There’s also something very “caveman” about the whole situation. Letting one’s passions and emotions let loose after an extended amount of time away from each other. This desperation for one another has been amounting for some time now and it explodes in an aggressive fire contained in a dim closet, with Stevie Wonder’s “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” (very befitting of Olivia and Fitz’s current situation) blaring in the background. Oh, yes it is very hot and steamy, but also very sad and self-destructive for both Olivia and Fitz. This is the first time Olivia Pope is the mistress of the President of the United States.
After this “exchange of passions”, Olivia makes an apology about her participation in the Defiance scandal. Fitz promised that her mistake was an earth-shattering betrayal for him. If Fitz had the choice, he wouldn’t have become president at all. He would have loved to leave politics as a whole to have a normal life and grow old with Olivia Pope. Fitz is harshest with Olivia in his cold shoulder because he always set her at a high standard. He always loved her for the fact that she wore the White Hat and that she fell in love with him, which made him believe he was worthy of something more--and in his mind--greater than being President of the United States of America. So when Fitz degrades Olivia by insisting “I may not be able to control my erections around you…” it is tantamount to spitting in her face and throwing her to the ground. However, Liv did admit that she wants an “painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love”. Is this what she’s been asking for?
Olivia’s desperation and longing for Fitz’s love may have given her a brief hope that he would forgive her. But she was wrong. Painful. Fitz isn’t the man she once knew. Difficult. Olivia can’t be the wearer of the White Hat and live a normal loving life with the man she loves. Devastating. Life-changing and extraordinary seem like things of the past. Or did they ever really exist? Olivia isn’t the only one still hanging on though. Fitz is only attempting to convince himself that he doesn’t still love Olivia anymore, even though his current state and his body says otherwise. Let’s not just belittle an erection as nothing more than sexual. Arousal can move a person in many ways, more than one. It seems silly to think that way; however, one would be surprised! Desperation is a powerful thing, and it sometimes makes one undeniably weak. Olivia and Fitz are lonely and therefore quite desperate. Numbing themselves with swimming and alcohol can only do so much…
Which leads to the last scene of the installment which is a frustrating and surprising development. The charming Jake Ballard distracts a desperate and growing more and more, naive Olivia into agreeing to go on a date with him. Then there is the twisted, troubling reveal that Jake definitely has ulterior motives seeing as how he has Liv’s place on highly altering surveillance. He wasn’t lying, Jake really loves people watching. See where desperation and trying to live two separate lives can lead you? Into the hands of…well, we don’t really know what we’re dealing with concerning Jake. I'm not sure if he's just creepy in love with Olivia or spying for a more sinister reason. But we'll soon find out. Scandal continues with the jaw-dropping moments and complicated character dynamics, pulling us further into its world full of new storylines which are sure to surprise. While this episode is noticeably slow, in taking its good time reintroducing us back to the scandals taking place involving Olivia Pope and those around her, it does set up more intriguing developments that will leave us all in a WTF state. “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013