Rulers of Terabithia
Scandal Season 3 Episode 9 recap
Good God. This episode was supposed to be wrenching and nauseous and all the things, and it was, beginning wherever you choose. Maybe for you it began when Huck (are we over the jump yet?) pulls out Quinn’s first tooth. Or when Harrison blanches at hearing the name he’s so feared. When Olivia’s mother starts telling her about the dreams she had of what grown-up Olivia was going to be like and Olivia hasn’t measured up to any of them – all of these are early entry points to start feeling nauseated.
But for me, the angst started before that. In the flashback, when we see what twelve-year-old Olivia is reading: Bridge To Terabithia. Yeah, no kidding. What was wrong with kids’ books in the 80s? They were all kind of depressing and warning you that a little bit of happiness was going to be followed quickly with tragedy and disaster. No wonder Olivia thinks this is how her life goes. I wonder if she finished the story before she got the call about her mother? Because it would kind of be a kick in the teeth if she went back to it afterward. (God. Sob. Now I need to go read that book again.)
So, the show moves faster than ever as Olivia spends (a little) time with her mother, acts about as traumatized and afraid as you might expect for someone who, in Lainey’s words, is talking to a ghost – and ultimately ships her off to safety.
Well. Not before getting Fitz to expunge any record of her on the no-fly list and extraditing her safely to Hong Kong. And then realizing that was a terrible mistake.
So Olivia’s mother was/is a terrorist? A monster? Let’s see here. She was on her way to meet someone. Her cover name was Marie. She was removed from the plane, and assumedly her co-conspirator was also on board, because why else would Fitz need to have shot it down if the terrorist threat was removed? It does add layers, because even if Olivia’s father was trying to protect her, he’s still the keeper of the keys of B613. He’s still awful.
And this is what was most interesting about the episode. They play a bit with it in terms of Olivia’s mother wondering what happened to her and being disappointed. But we haven’t gotten the full throttle of it. In fact, it’s not really Scandal’s bag to lean on the emotional moments. But if both of Olivia’s parents are awful in one way or another, it would be reasonable to believe that she has inherited some of the potential to be awful as well.
I really believe this is what keeps Olivia so tied to Fitz. If she stays with him and he loves her, then she can’t be tinged with any of the darkness her father (and now her mother) embodies. Fitz is bland and boring, and we’ve never seen him be even remotely presidential, but he is not cruel or bad. He is central to Olivia’s idea of being a white hat – and so come the talks of Vermont and jam and kids.
(Did you like that scene, them on the phone? Did it feel “realer” than other Olivia & Fitz conversations? Apparently Tony Goldwyn was really on the phone for Kerry Washington to help her get there emotionally. I love when I hear about actors being good to one another.)
I was all set to complain that we barely get a chance to process Olivia having a mother back and now she has to deal with said mother being a monster – but I’ve decided that it’s actually not a detriment. That’s how Olivia lives – everything faster, faster, faster so she doesn’t have to think or feel or process. Just move and go and if something didn’t constantly unfold to steal her attention she’d have to actually deal and we can’t have that. Not before May sweeps. So the timeline is preposterous, but it actually works.
Where I didn’t feel like the accelerated timeline worked was with Huck and Quinn. My issue isn’t that he tortured her, nor is it that he took some pleasure in doing it. My issue is we didn’t see him get there. It was all maniacal devilish pleasure all the time. Big giddy eyes. Sure, he said “you didn’t just betray me, you betrayed Liv” as a reason for why he was following through on hurting her, but we didn’t get to see any sorrow at being betrayed, nor any wonder at why she’d actually done it. It was 100% crazy-eyed glee, and I kind of expected better from Guillermo Diaz. Or a little more explanation for why Huck used it as an opportunity to cut loose?
Similarly, I could have used more time to acclimatize to why Quinn is so anxious to get in bed with Charlie, in all the senses of the phrase. Sure, she may have nobody else left, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t need time to process what happened to her. I believe that’s how Olivia processes things and I believe the other gladiators are meant to be in her image, but not that they all deal in this way.
And…? I’m not so sure Quinn is compelling enough to carry this story. She doesn’t scream “inner depths” in the same way all the others do. That’s not entirely fair – I think she’s fine, and Abby seems to have the depth of a turtle pool but I still want to watch her and David Rosen in everything they do, including getting groceries – but I’m not sure she’s going to be the breakout star of the season.
Another thing I’m not sure I want to watch is Cyrus and James. They’re big and blowsy and over-the-top, and the scenes are good, but the manipulative marriage is really hard to watch. Cyrus is so dismissive of James that I don’t feel any respect for their relationship and I can’t believe I’m supposed to. When Cyrus sniffs to James “you won’t leave – you never do” and then he doesn’t? Ouch. Points too for pointing out that Cyrus is either hypocritical or self-hating or both if his weapon of choice against Sally is outing her husband as a gay man. From a storytelling perspective though it’s marvelously pragmatic and modern. Still, it feels gross, and not necessarily in the way where I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Mostly this episode was about setpieces – moving them into place before next week’s midseason finale. When the breakneck pace is good, it’s very, very good. But when it’s skating over people we feel we know and barely giving them a chance to breathe? We’re owed some catchup time, soon.