Thursday, October 1, 2015

REVIEW: 'Scandal' - Olivia and Fitz Figure Out What They Want as the Public Speculates About Them in 'Yes'

ABC's Scandal - Episode 5.02 "Yes"

The Pope and Associates team dives into a new case that takes Olivia out of D.C. and away from the President. Back at the White House, Fitz is determined to find who's responsible for causing the latest turn of events. Abby receives unexpected guidance from a master of damage control as she struggles to catch a break.

The American public knowing about Olivia and Fitz's love affair offered Season 5 a strong narrative direction. The premiere was able to enjoy the comfort of the two of them in this relationship again. But that relative happiness wasn't sustainable. But conflict behind closed doors wasn't an exciting option either because it has been played out over four seasons already. Something drastic needed to happen. And that happened at the end of last week's episode. Sally exposed their affair on her show. She had actually proof too in several leaked photos. That meant Fitz and Olivia had to deal with this new scandal. That gave a ton of excitement and anticipation for "Yes."

However, this episode really isn't interesting until the final two seconds that gives this episode it's name. The action is largely centered around Olivia and Fitz separately going back-and-forth over what to do. It's an exhausting setup meant to prop up Olivia's big decision in the end. However, it's just not interesting at all. The show has had this very discussion before - many times in fact. The White House staff evade questions by the press as Fitz whines about finally just telling the truth and not backing down when it comes to pushing Mellie away. This time in fact he's pretty determined with it too because he gave Mellie divorce papers. Plus, he is certain that Mellie was the person who leaked the photos to Sally in the first place. And yet, who released the photos isn't really important to the dramatic structure of the episode. It's very low priority for the staff - except for David. The big discussion is figuring out how to best handle this situation when Olivia disappears and Fitz doesn't want to do or hear anything until he talks to her.

It's a very good thing that the characters on this show openly refer to Fitz as a baby. He complains and yells when he doesn't get his way. He acts irrationally. He thinks he can get away with all of these things because he is a flawed human being. But he is more than that though. He is the President of the United States. He is held to a much higher standard by the American people. He can't hide around that defense forever. He can't do what's best for him. He chooses himself and love over the country so many times. He only chooses protecting the country when others force him to. That's essentially what Abby and Cyrus do here. They manipulate things behind the scenes in order to get the President to address the problem and make their lives easier. And yet, Fitz and Mellie showing a united front to the press isn't anything new. Shouldn't the journalists in the room make note that the President has been in this exact situation before? Everyone is treating this more seriously. But are they really just forgetting all the other alleged sexual misconducts that have been directed towards Fitz? This part of the episode just doesn't feel fresh or original. It's the show going through the steps because Fitz would realistically have a reaction to all of this.

The true focus belongs on Olivia. And yet, she's in this weird limbo state where she has fled the city to work on a new case. She is running from her problems because she has never wanted to be in this position. She has never wanted to be outed as the President's mistress even though she desperately wants to be in love with Fitz. Just last week she wanted the two of them to take it slow to truly figure things out. She is not afforded that chance. She is forced to determine what she wants now. She is put in this awkward position where everyone wants to pull out a camera and catch her every move. She is in hiding and trying to work out these complex feelings. She's also trying to distract herself with this case of a guy fleeing while on bail for allegedly killing his father. It's not very subtle at all in being a case completely similar to Olivia's mental state at the moment. It got to the point where she only stood up and took action after learning that this guy did the exact same thing - though hers is confirming to the press that she is the President's mistress and not killing her father.

It's an awkward story for Olivia though because Jake is also along for the ride. He is supportive of her and willing to do whatever she needs. He has apparently fixed Huck of his problems and wants to be there to help Olivia deal with hers. Everyone knows that this is not want Olivia wanted. Everyone except Fitz apparently. She once had a plan for how the American public could find out about their relationship and be okay with it. The show basically has forgotten that. It doesn't matter anyway because their affair has been exposed and they have to pick up the pieces. They just have to figure out if they'll tell the truth or keep up the charade. Fortunately, the show chose the much more dramatically interesting route. Olivia stood proudly in front of her office and told the press that yes she is the President's mistress. That will have major repercussions for the entire administration. That sounds like a juicy and complicated story that could severely change up the politics of the show. But it's still just a lot of talk. The premiere ended with the big outing only for this episode to mostly squander the aftereffect. Will the next episode do the same now that Olivia has confirmed it?

Some more thoughts:
  • "Yes" was written by Heather Mitchell and directed by Tony Goldwyn.
  • Jake really didn't fix Huck at all. He just gave him some breathing techniques to control his anger and got him to come back to work. That's progress? But not really. Huck and Quinn are stuck in the same character moment over and over again. It's meaningful that they both recognize that they are messed up. But what is going to be done about it?
  • Mellie unfortunately has a point about the American people not being confident in voting for a woman who can't "get laid." She had smart reasons why she wasn't the person responsible for the leak. Fitz just didn't want to hear them.
  • Apparently, Mellie has some pretty scandalous emails that now David and Abby have seen. That might be important later on.
  • Wasn't the partnership between Abby and Liz something established in the premiere? They felt they were more effective at their jobs if they communicated everything with each other. And yet, that's basically restated here as Abby has to use the fact that Liz was the one who leaked the photos in order to obtain equality.
  • Susan really is the best. First, she barges into the presidential meeting to complain about the photos being poorly put together and then learning the truth. And later, she got to tell the President that he can't be a flawed human being who fell in love.