Suppose Fitzgerald Grant had never been elected president. Can you imagine how things might have turned out for Fitz and Olivia and the rest of the crew? Well, you don’t have to think about it, Scandal has done the imagining for you.
This week, Liv ponders an alternate reality where Fitz is just an also-ran, and Olitz can pursue a relationship outside the harsh glare of the Beltway. When Fitz’s election team decided to go rogue and fix some voting machines, it set off a whole chain of events, altering lives forever. What if those events had never taken place and those lives never altered? This storyline has been dragged out and added to so many times, it’s hard to remember what all the implications of what came to be known as Defiance are. This episode reminds us.
The setup. In the present day, Liv, Fitz and Jake are in the Oval Office, discussing the whole debacle that is the Vargas situation. Jake thinks it’s simple: he neutralizes Boris and Natasha, and many of their problems are solved, just like that. There’s no problem a strategically placed bullet can’t solve, eh Jake? Liv and Fitz aren’t crazy about that option. Jake says there is another, which is, doing nothing. Cyrus is in prison, and Mellie is in position to be the next president, why not just let things take their course? Fitz says that would make them complicit in rigging another election, and they’re not going to do that again. Jake just shrugs at that. H’e asks why they shouldn’t do it again, since it turned out pretty well the last time. He asks if Fitz thinks it would have been better had Samuel Reston won the election and Fitz had never become president. Fitz doesn’t answer but says he’s going to clear Cy and get him free and in the White House where he belongs. Liv and Jake can help him or not, but that’s what’s going to happen. He says they have to decide whether they’re in or out and leaves the room.
Jake is adamant that things turned out for the best. Defiance worked. Had Fitz never been elected, things would have been so much worse for him. He’s better off for the election rigging, and so is Liv and the country, for that matter. Maybe Fitz won’t acknowledge it, but, Jake insists Defiance worked.
Bizarro Scandal. That gets Liv thinking: What if the past eight years had been different? She flashes all the way back to that fateful meeting on the campaign trail, when Defiance was hatched. Hollis Doyle is meeting with Liv, Cy, Mellie and Verna and telling them of his idea to rig the voting machines in Defiance, Ohio, which is seen as key to a Fitz victory. In real life, the other four were all for the plot, with Liv being the only holdout before finally changing her mind and voting yes. In this version of the flashback, however, she imagines that she stood her ground and told them she wouldn’t go along with election rigging. They might lose, she says, but they’ll lose with their souls intact. And come election night, that’s exactly what happens. Defiance goes to Reston, as does the presidency.
For some reason, it’s flashed on the screen that this is election night 2010. So there was a presidential election in 2010 and then again in 2016? Why wasn’t this shown to be 2008, so it would make sense? Another example of Scandalogic.
In Liv’s alternate reality where Fitz loses, Liv is checking out of a hotel. With the election over, she’s leaving California. Fitz runs up to her. He asks why she’s leaving without saying goodbye, and she says she sent him an email. Hee! Nice, Liv. She says that in it, she apologizes for letting him down. He tells her what a good job she did and that she shouldn’t feel responsible. He asks if she’s going back to DC, and she says yes. There’s a community organizer there, Marcus Walker, who’s trying to get a criminal justice reform bill passed, and she wants to help. He wishes her luck. She says likewise before adding cryptically “with Mellie.” She leaves him silently watching her go.
This retro casting of Marcus as a major figure in Liv’s life feels more than a bit forced. It’s also weird that Harrison was totally erased. His character was killed off rather unceremoniously at the end of S3, but he was a regular for three years and an original Gladiator. I know he’s gone, but making like he never existed is just strange.
The gang’s all here…sort of. All of our favorite characters turn up eventually, though with the Fitz administration never having been a reality, they’re not as we’ve come to know them.
Now it’s two months after the election. Liv is talking over the reform bill with David Rosen. She’s in a small office, nothing like the OPA digs we’re used to seeing her in. Her whole gang is there with her, though, as Marcus and Abby listen in. A very shaggy Huck works on the computer system. Liv’s business is quite different from the fixer service that OPA is. There’s also the fact that in this alternate universe, Abby and David are again a couple. And when Liv says she has to get ready for a date, Abby chides her for going out with Leo Bergen. Oleovia lives!
Later, Liv is at home, ready for her date with the Dustbuster (in this reality, does Leo even have that nickname? Questions, questions…). She opens the door to leave, and standing in the hall is Fitz. He tells her he left Mel. Liv plays it cool, congratulates him, and pushes past him toward the elevator. She says she has a date. He says he didn’t just come cross country to be blown off by her. She says she has no time right now, and in the future he should call ahead and make an appointment. Ouch. Even that doesn’t put him off, though, as he proposes. Liv looks kind of shocked and confused as the elevator doors close. After a moment they open again, and now Liv is smiling. She gets out, and they kiss their way into her apartment. I think the Dustbuster is being stood up.
Cy is stuffed back in the closet. There are more surprises on the way. Now it’s six months later. Cy and James are standing in front of a church, having a disagreement. Aw, dear, departed, dead James. With Fitz never having been president and thus Cy never chief of staff, James is still with us. They’re a couple, but instead of being married, they’re still closeted. It turns out, the wedding of Liv and Fitz is about to take place in the church, and James wants to sit with Cy, who’s not ready to make their relationship public. James tells him to grow up and stalks inside.
Cy is surprised to see Mel in the distance. He goes up to her, and she’s in bad shape. Instead of going into the church, Cy takes her back to his place for a stiff drink. Mel lets loose about the messy breakup of her marriage. Cy gives her a pep talk and tells her how wonderful she is and how she’s still young and desirable and will find someone new. Mel really appreciates the flattery. She appreciates it so much, she leans in and kisses a slightly stunned Cy.
Back at the church, Liv is ready for her close-up, looking gorgeous in a beautiful and doubtlessly expensive white dress. Huck, slightly cleaned up but not nearly enough, walks her down the aisle. Papa Pope is there, but he’s in no frame of mind to give his daughter away. He obviously doesn’t approve of the marriage and basically rolls his eyes through the ceremony and leaves as soon as the ‘I do’s’ are exchanged.
Happy domesticity. Now it’s a year later. Liv and Fitz are living in wedded bliss in her apartment. He wants to get a house, but she’s happy with things as they are. At work, Liv is still trying to get that reform bill passed but is frustrated. David advises her to make friends at the White House. Yes, in this alternate reality, Liv is a stranger to the Oval, instead of it being her regular hangout. David and Marcus chide Liv into turning on the TV, so she does, and who should appear but her dear hubby. This is Fitz’s job now. He has a show called The Grant Report. He’s traded in politics to be a TV talking head.
Liv and friends aren’t the only ones watching. Cy is at home on the couch and calls out “Honey, get in here, it’s on.” ‘Honey’ walks in, and it’s Mel! She and Cy are married. Mel watches Fitz’s program, which appears to be slightly on the sensational and cheesy side rather than a straight politics show, and she shakes her head. “Imagine a lightweight like him as president,” she says. “What was he thinking?” Cy says if Fitz had been elected, Mel would have been the brains behind the administration. She would have been the real president. Then he tells her it’s not too late, if she’s interested.
Lindsay’s back. Fitz and Jake are having dinner. Jake asks how things are going. Fitz says good, but Jake says he’s holding back. Then Jake asks if he’ll run for president again, and Fitz just smiles and changes the subject.
At home, Liv opens her door to Abby and David, who’ve come over to help her work on a mailing. Huck is there, entranced by what’s on Liv’s TV, which is a Bachelor-type show. So, this incarnation of Huck isn’t an intense, brooding loner, but a fan of brainless, shallow reality television! And even though it’s another dimension, he’s also a fan of Quinn. One of the bachelorettes is introduced as Lindsay, the very same Lindsay who Quinn was before Liv changed her name and gave her a new life. If Defiance never happened, then Liv never met Lindsay, so Quinn never happened, either. Huck has obviously taken a shine to bachelorette Lindsay, who appears to be a total airhead, concerned with nothing other than finding the right guy.
Liv and Abby make small talk. Abby asks about the future for her and Fitz and whether Fitz still has political ambitions. Liv says he isn’t interested in running for president again. Funny, that’s not the impression he gave Jake. Seems there’s a bit of miscommunication at chez Grant/Pope.
Not so much domestic bliss. That becomes even clearer later when Liv and Marcus are seen touring the space that became the OPA office. Her little business is successful, and she needs a bigger place. Fitz is less than happy about this development. He wonders why she’s so ready to commit to a new office space when she won’t get a house with him. He thinks it’s humiliating, being married and still living in his girlfriend’s apartment. Over at the Cy/Mel abode, it seems Cy has persuaded Mel to test out her presidential ambitions. He’s strategizing, wondering how they should roll out the campaign. But Mel is one step ahead of him. She says she’s already chosen a reporter to break the news to. And then who shows up but…James!
James starts a joint interview with Mel and Cy. It’s laden with double entendres from the jilted and obviously miffed James, something Cy is hearing loud and clear, though Mel seems blissfully unaware. After enduring a few minutes of this, Cy says James would probably enjoy looking at their wedding album, which gets Mel out of the room. Alone with Cy, James wastes no time calling their marriage a sham and Cy a pathetic closet case. Cy says his marriage isn’t as phony as it may appear. He and Mel are well-matched; they’re kindred spirits who want many of the same things. Sure, he’s gay and would rather be with James, but he and Mel make a great Washington power couple. They’re both ambitious and suit each other well and are getting things they need from each other, so this is how it has to be. Mel, clutching the wedding album, is at the top of the stairs and has heard all of this. She doesn’t show much reaction, as if deep down she probably already knew.
What I’m wondering is how Mel is considered a viable candidate. In real-life Scandal, she was able to run for Senate after years of being first lady, with the experience and clout that gave her. She then parlayed success in the Senate into a run for president. But this Mel was never first lady. She’s just the ex-wife of the ex-governor of California, a guy who ran for president and lost. How does that automatically qualify her for a political career? Cy talks like this is something she deserves, and I’m not sure why.
Liv gets Poped. To show how much not a power player this version of Olivia Pope is, she’s all excited to have arranged a meeting for herself and Marcus to talk about the criminal justice bill with President Reston. She and Marcus are excited to the point of being giddy to be in the White House. They’re shown to a room and told that the president will be with them shortly. But this Liv has no pull in this WH. Four hours later, the two are still waiting. An aide comes in and apologizes for the president, who she says is just too busy to meet with them. They want to reschedule, but the aide stammers that someone made a mistake; they shouldn’t have gotten the meeting to begin with. Not such a surprise since Liv ran Reston’s opponent’s campaign. But still a shitty and kind of small thing to do, jerking them around like that.
Liv is in a foul mood when she gets home, and she’s matched by Fitz, who’s drowning his sorrows in scotch. He tells her Mel is running for president. He complains that she’s doing it to spite him. An annoyed Liv says it’s not always about him. She adds that maybe America could use Mel. He guesses the meeting with Reston didn’t go well. Liv says the only reason he doesn’t want Mel to run is because he thinks it makes him look weak. She says she’s tired of seeing him this way, feeling sorry for himself and pickling his liver. He says he let her down by not getting the White House. Liv says she let him down, and it looks like she’s about to tell him about Defiance, but she stops short.
He refills his drink and complains about how much time her job takes up, then asks if she’s screwing Marcus. Fitz is just spoiling for a fight, evidently. And he gets one. Liv says there’s no way he could have ever been president, not unless she put him there. He couldn’t do it by himself, and he proved that. Then she tells him about how the election could have been rigged for him, but she wouldn’t go along with it. She could have made him president, but said no. He’s silent for a moment then says she should have gone ahead and done it. She tells him he wouldn’t want to win that way, and besides, it would have destroyed them. It looks like they’re destroyed, anyway. Fitz is probably thinking that when he says that at least then, he would have been president.
Another setup. Fast forward to five months later. Cy is showing Mel photos of Daniel Douglas, Sally Langston’s husband, having a romp with another man. Sally is considered a serious possible presidential contender, and Cy sees no reason not to use these pictures against her. The super religious Sally has a base of voters she’s counting on for support. They no doubt wouldn’t like to find out she’s basically been lying to them about her gay husband for her entire career. And look who else is there advising Mel to use the photos for all they’re worth: Pa, going by that ridiculous phony name of Damascus Bainbridge. Cy has hired him to work for the campaign, and he tells Mel to leave this kind of thing to them. They know what they’re doing. Mel asks ‘Damascus’ to leave her and Cy alone to talk.
Mel tells him she doesn’t like any of this. She has no intention of outing another woman’s husband. She says Cy of all people should be sensitive to the implications of that. She adds that she doesn’t like Damascus, either. He gives her the creeps, and she wants him gone.
The end of Olitz? At the office, Liv gets off the phone and turns to Marcus. She tells him it’s going to the floor. The bill they’ve worked so hard to get passed for so long is about to become a law. They celebrate with a bit of spontaneous, and very awkward, dancing. Neither of these people can dance at all. It’s a little uncomfortable to watch, but fortunately it doesn’t last long. Abby walks in and asks Liv for a moment. She’s brought divorce papers for Liv to sign. While Liv looks them over, Abby says she thinks Liv might be acting irrationally. Liv says it’s been two years, but Abby says she never gave Fitz a chance. She never forgave him for not winning the election, and she never forgave herself for not helping him do so. She urges Liv to think it over before signing the papers.
Fitz is also at work, interviewing Lindsay on The Grant Report. He fought against having her as a guest but was overruled. She comes across just as silly and dim with him as she did as a bachelorette. He obviously doesn’t enjoy talking to her and also appears somewhat tipsy. After the show, Fitz is in his dressing room swigging from a flask. Lindsay, passing by his open door, walks in and asks him for a belt. She lets him know that as a TV host and former governor and presidential candidate, he has enough gravitas to satisfy her shallow requirements, and soon, they’re furiously making out. She gets on her knees and unzips his pants. It’s at that point that he snaps back to reality and tells her to stop. She does so only reluctantly. As he’s zipping up, she disgustedly calls him a dumb old drunk and leaves. She may have a point, but someone like Lindsay shouldn’t be throwing around words like ‘dumb’; you know, glass houses and all.
Cy reads the riot act. Things aren’t any better with Mel and Cy. Over at their place, Mel is very upset. She wants to know how those photos of Daniel Douglas ended up getting published, and Cy breezily says it’s because he leaked them. He doesn’t even hesitate admitting to doing what Mel specifically told him not to. He takes this opportunity to spell their relationship out to Mel, in case she’s not clear on a few things. He says she shouldn’t be surprised, because she knew what he was when she married him. She knew it was an arrangement, and she went along with it, because she wanted to be president. She says she doesn’t want it this way, and he says that’s too bad. She’d never survive another divorce, not politically, anyway. If she divorces him, her political career is over. Then Cy gets pragmatic; he says though they’ll never love each other, they understand each other and make a great Washington power couple. They could achieve a lot together. And, he adds, unlike with Fitz, another woman will never come between them. She’ll never have to worry about that messing things up.
This leads Mel to drop by Liv’s office. Liv is surprised to see her and even more surprised when Mel says she’s come to apologize. Liv was right not to go along with Defiance, and it would have ended up destroying Fitz. Somehow Liv knew that and Mel didn’t, so Mel thanks her for stepping up. Because of what Liv did, Fitz is free now, and so is Liv. Mel seems to equate the leaking of the DD photos with the possible election rigging when she says she’s in a similar situation; she went along with something because she thought she had to, and now she’s trapped. She’s not free, but Fitz is because Liv saved him.
Happily ever after. Fitz himself, however, isn’t feeling all that saved right now. He’s on his show, addressing the Daniel Douglas matter. He doesn’t look happy. He starts to talk about pretending, and it looks like he’s about to give a scolding, when he stops. He says he’s sorry to his audience for not being able to go on and gets up and walks off.
Later at home, Fitz says he owes Liv an apology. Apparently it’s apologize to Liv day. Well, it’s her fantasy, if she wants everyone in it to kiss her ass, that’s her prerogative. He says he lost the election, because he didn’t want it bad enough. He says he never really wanted anything, until he met her. Saying no to Defiance was the right thing to do. She made the right decision, and he thanks her for it. Then he says he still wants her if that’s what she wants. She answers by handing him an envelope. But it doesn’t contain those divorce papers. Instead, it’s information on a townhouse in Georgetown she has her eye on. She’s finally ready to commit to buying a place with him.
So things end happily in Liv’s fantasy land.
She snaps back to present day in the Oval Office. Just how long did that whole trip to bizarro Scandal take, anyway? Was she sitting there dreaming for hours? It looks like it was only supposed to be a few minutes, as she gets up and leaves the room. She’s obviously made up her mind and is looking for Fitz. She finds him brooding on a balcony. He asks if she’s come to a decision. She smiles and says “I’m in.” I assume that means she’ll help Fitz clear Cyrus of murder charges and set him up to take the presidency in Frankie Vargas’s place. We’ve yet to hear if Jake is also on board, but Liv’s little fantasy excursion apparently convinced her to fully back Fitz. After all that’s happened between them, does Liv still harbor some desire for Fitz and Vermont and jam? Judging from his recent actions, it appears he’s still thinking about it.
That’s where it ends, in present day, with Fitz knowing all about the Vargas conspiracy, and making it his first bit of business to get Cy cleared and out of prison. Remember Cy? He’s been cooling his heels in the big house all this time. If Fitz has his way, he’ll be going from the big house to the White House. As usual with this show, however, that won’t be a smooth transition. A preview of 06.11, “Trojan Horse”:
Olivia and the team are determined to bring down Peus, but as the Electoral College vote nears, the fight for power claims another victim.
Yet another victim! Will it be one of the bad guys, Boris (Peus) or Natasha (Sarah/Marjorie/Samantha), or someone closer to home? Huck should have been bumped off last episode, but he miraculously and highly improbably survived. The guy has more lives then a feral alley cat. He basically is a feral alley cat. But I digres
Look out world, Cyrus Beene is getting sprung! Do you suppose he’ll be wanting any revenge against those who beat him up and spat on him when he was in the joint? Nah, he doesn’t seem the type to carry a grudge…