NB: This really isn’t that long (looking at you, Specs). It’s just the dialogue taking up space, but I like to have it there.
Finally! I’m writing this. You guys know that I couldn’t function for at least three days after Vermont is For Lovers, Too (308) aired. Basically, this was me:
There was so much to love about this episode. I felt completely #Poped afterwards (like Fitzgerald, heh), and not just because of the slow burn of the sexually sexified sexytime. Everybody brought it, especially Mama Pope, for whom I’m already developing an obsession. Gotdamn Pope family needs a spin-off. I’m so here for their drama. But all of that is for another day. I couldn’t let this episode pass by without indulging in major feels-filled commentary of the three main Olitz scenes. Let’s get into it.
Fitz: “It’s a beautiful house. New, but built to last. The ceilings are built from local wood—Vermont pine. The fieldstone fireplace, they did that by hand.”
New, but built to last. That’s them in a nutshell. And you will last, damnit!
Olivia: “Is this where you’re staying?”
Fitz: “No, It’s not ready to live in. [takes off piano cover, runs hand over keys] It needs a good cleaning.”
It’s not ready to live in because that house just ain’t no home when she’s gone. Ain’t no sunshine when she’s not there. But seriously, let’s pause for a moment. There’s a piano. You know who owns a piano? Olivia. It’s to the right of her door when you enter her apartment. We’ve never seen her play it but we presume she knows how to play it, and that it has some significance for her. Fitzgerald knows that, so he got her a piano for #LivviesDreamHouse. Fuck you, Barbie ^_^.
Olivia: “Fitz, what are we doing here? You’re not even supposed to be in Vermont. You’re supposed to be in New Hampshire.”
Fitz: “You wanna see the upstairs? There’s a skylight made of stained glass by this amazing local artist.”
They both pause to look at each other for a moment, knowing they need to get to the point. Is it wrong to say I’m kinda mad that I didn’t see the ‘amazing’ skylight?
Olivia: [crossed arms, closed off body language. Fitz mirrors her.] “My father is not a subject I discuss. Ever. When I met you, at that point in my life, I didn’t feel like I had a father. And how would I have told you? What are the right words? ‘Nice to meet you, Governor Grant. My father runs the nation’s top secret government spy organization.’”
Fitz: “That’s exactly what you were supposed to tell me because I was going to be President. And that was information I needed to know.”
Olivia: “I didn’t know you were going to be President.”
Fitz hasn’t seen Rowan in over twenty years. Not since the whole Operation Remington fiasco, presumably. He said as much when he imposed on Rowan at the end of Say Hello to My Little Friend (304). When that conversation was continued in the next episode, Fitz said, “You’re exactly where I left you—standing in the shadows, pulling my strings.” So he knows what Rowan is capable of. The issue isn’t about Rowan. The issue is Rowan as Olivia’s father. Indeed if Olivia had introduced herself as she facetiously says above, I think Fitzgerald would not have fallen for her in quite the way he did. Not with what he knows about Rowan. Perhaps he would have been a little more afraid of getting too close to her rather than saying he would have protected her. In retrospect, Fitzgerald can say whatever he wants but that doesn’t mean that’s what he would have actually done. Knowing up front that Rowan is Olivia’s father would have been one of those tiny pieces of information that would have changed everything about Olitz. A sort of butterfly effect.
Fitz: “That’s right, you didn’t even believe I was gonna win. Well how ‘bout after you knew. How about after you fixed the election? You could have told me then? Or how about after I told you I was in love with you? How about after I tried to give up the White House for you? You know who I am, Liv. You know everything—“
Olivia: “Not everything—“
I want to be all existential here and question how much we can really know a person because I’m of the belief that we can’t completely know anyone. According to some cognitive theory this is true. Who we are is not based on a single, static objective narrative that we create. It’s heavily influenced by each social relationship that we form and the context in which that relationship exists. So when Olivia says to Fitz, “I thought I knew you. I thought I knew everything about you,” (Everything’s Coming Up Mellie), she’s accusing him of being a stranger: having unknown qualities, or displaying unknown behaviour that make him foreign to her. And indeed he is and has to remain so at times, just as she has had to do the same in the past. Hello? Defiance. As Cyrus said to Fitz in Molly You in Danger, Girl (218):
“There are things we don’t tell them. Things we never tell them. Things we bury. Things we hide. That’s the job. You did something, sir. It doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be happy.”
He was talking about Verna then, but it still applies.
The other more pertinent thing is that Olivia’s had so much deception in her life from the people closest to her. Her parents almost didn’t belong to her. They belonged to the State. The reason she doesn’t have an affectionate relationship with her father, and a gaping wound left by the absence of her mother is the State. Then she dared to fall in love with a man who IS the fucking State: President of the United States. She made him. A young Olivia was quoted in the Academic Achievers newspaper saying, “I see my role as helping people achieve their life’s mission” (Vermont is For Lovers, Too).
Fitz was to be President. He wanted it. Others wanted it to be so. She made it so. Then she finds out that the man to whom she feels so irrevocably tied shot down the plane that her mother died on (remember she doesn’t know Maya is alive)? How would you feel? And yes, she’s being a little hypocritical by leaving her father out of the equation of her relationship, and holding Fitz responsible for doing something he had no idea about, but I also can’t blame her. She feels justified in her anger. And Fitz gets it, even though his point is also valid. Let’s just celebrate that it didn’t take ten months in an alcoholic stupor and endless swimming in a pool for them to finally communicate about this issue. Actually, their whole communication game has been MUCH better this season. Shall we celebrate that? Baby steps for our knuckle-headed babies.
Fitz: “Everything I could legally tell you. You know who I am, and you’re just this bundle of dirty little secrets.”
Interesting term. That was the tagline for season two, in which the news about Defiance and Daddy Pope came out to the audience. Is this also Fitz’s way of hurling the ‘stranger’ accusation back at Olivia, as she did to him in the previous episode?
Olivia: [she shakes her head as if he doesn’t get it] “If I told you about him…If you knew who I was, you would have run in the other direction.”
Fitz: “I wouldn’t have run. I would have protected you.”
Olivia: “I don’t need protecting. I am not the girl you save. I am fine. My father runs the nation’s top secret government spy organization. One order and you shot down a plane with 329 people on it. You’re the one who needs protecting! I fixed the election. He’s my father. I ruined you.”
She doesn’t need protecting. She does sometimes need help. Mostly, she needs loving through all of her fears and concerns. She’s got a few. Olivia says, “If I told you about him…If you knew who I was, you would have run in the other direction,”. Olivia’s statement is not really about Rowan. That’s why she follows it up with talk about fixed elections and ruination. That statement is about who Olivia thinks she is because of Rowan. She’s referencing all the ugly parts of herself that can’t be reconciled with the narrative of herself that she wants to believe. What she said instantly reminded me of one by my favourite, flawed TV heroines, Bette Porter (The L Word). After having been left by her lover for her destructive behavior, her friends, in an attempt to cheer her up, play a game of “Would You Date Yourself,” to which Bette responds:
“If I saw myself in a bar, I would go running in the opposite direction.” (Loneliest Number, 203)
But, like Bette, all of those contradictory parts live within Olivia. How many of us, like Olivia, think that we can’t be all that we are AND be loved for all of it? Olivia doesn’t need to change herself. She needs to accept herself and that fact that she can be loved for all of it. She’s got a good man in Fitzgerald: “There’s nothing you could do that I wouldn’t forgive. We both know that. We learned that the hard way.” (Icarus).
Now a word about ‘protection’. I wrote in a previous essay about the Scandal season 3 poster that, “Ms. Pope is the proverbial ‘white’ knight to Washington DC’s many damsels in distress, including one Fitzgerald Grant.” Here she is reinforcing that idea. At least since her college days, Olivia has been describing herself as a ‘protector’: “I am a protector. When I see people in need, I feel it is my duty to assist them.” (Vermont is For Lovers, Too). She’s The Protector. You might roll your eyes at that, but that is Olivia’s perception of herself. Did her mother teach her that? Or was this persona developed as a means of taking charge of coping with her own grief brought on by her mother’s absence? I don’t know, but she feels strongly tied to that identity and it’s not something that developed over night. By the time she met Fitz, she was fully cloaked in the pristine white of that transformative narrative. It’s deeply embedded in her marrow.
It’s really funny to me how Fitz wants to know everything, even when he can’t. He expects Olivia to tell him everything. Yes, I know that she’s a civilian and he’s Commander in Chief. But this brings up just one of many concerns of their relationship. Olivia, in theory, knows that there are things she can’t know due to Fitz’s position, but it doesn’t mean she accepts it. We saw this play out at the end of Icarus (306).
The other thing here is… Olivia, you said you were ruined too, remember? Ugh, that fucking epic phone call inTop of the Hour (216) that destroyed my ability to can? Yeah, remember that? I’ll refresh your memory. He said you ruined him. You said you were ruined, too. He gave no fucks. But now he does. You don’t have to always take the blame. You don’t always have to be the strong one. Maybe at OPA, but not when you’re off the clock. Or is your problem that OPA isn’t a job for you, it’s a cover for who you are. But you need some relief from being OLIVIA POPE™ sometimes.
Fitz: [point taken and wanting to move on to why he really brought her out there] “The house has orchards. Thirty acres. An incredible greenhouse off the kitchen. You should see the kitchen. These marble countertops, which are from a quarry up the road—“
Olivia: “Stop talking about the house!”
Fitz: “I just…I wanted you to see it at least once.”
I think he was going to sell it because he thought she would never forgive him for allegedly (picture, or it didn’t happen) shooting down that aircraft, especially since she had a deep personal connection to that event, the consequences of which made her who she is today. Fitz wanted her to see just how sin-serious he is about his commitment to the promise of their future. Whereas it is murky for Olivia, who is constantly wading through the morass of shit as she tries to fix other people’s lives, for Fitzgerald it’s always been clear. He has the luxury of clarity as the single-minded, more privileged party in the Olitz relationship.
Obviously the house is gorgeous, but it’s more than just the look of it. The care, the patience, the materials: all of it reflects everything he feels about her, about them. He was being such a good Republican President by supporting the local economy and local businesses. You know how Republicans loooooove to talk about small businesses. It was all about locally-sourced, using indigenous industries and employing the local population (stained glass artist). Yes, I Googled everything he said about that house (the marble, the fieldstone, the artist, the floors, etc.) to make sure it was legit in Vermont.
Olivia: “What is this place? Why am I here? Why the hell are we out here in the middle of nowhere?”
Fitz: “This house is yours. Ours. I had it built for us. When it looked like there was a chance for us, I bought the land and I had it built. I couldn’t really be mayor, but you can make jam. And there are bedrooms for lots of kids. [Starts to tear up] This was going to be you and me getting old and raising a family together in this house. It was supposed to be our house, Livvie. And I just wanted you to see it at least once. At least once before I sell it. I wanted you to see the dream.”
Immediately after I got back up off the floor, I started to question, when did Fitzgerald do this? When did he think there was a chance for them? Could it have been when Olivia was still at the White House? Maybe. What makes more sense is for him to have done in the interval of his recovery from the attempted assassination. In Truth and Consequences (212), after asking a 16 month-pregnant Mellie to divorce him, Fitz was ballin’ so hard and daring muthafuckas to fine him. That is until life threw a bunch of womp womps in his direction. That period of time was at least a year ago from where we are now in the Scandalverse. In Nobody Likes Babies (213), he tells Olivia, “Wait for me. This isn’t pretend anymore. This is real.” So this is what he meant by real. Obviously things went to shit after that, but that’s not inconsistent with Fitz allowing the house to go ahead. We know how he does. Fitz re-living the Vermont dream on the phone with Olivia in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (302), could have been him getting hyped that the house was near completion. Squeeeeeeee!
Fitzgerald built a home for their love to live, y’all. That home is in the middle of nowhere so that their love has space. So it can breathe. So it can spill out and be extended, if need be. That home is protected by mountains. So that no one encroaches on that love after all this time of everybody and their mama (please not you, too, Maya) trying to destroy it. That home is new, but it is built to last. Just like their love. Their love transcends the ever complex circumstances of their relationship, no matter what State/state it’s in.
Return of “The Light”
[not my gifs]
This marks the first time since Seven Fifty-Two (219) that we’ve heard “The Light” being played. I have previously argued that this piece of music is more than an Olitz theme song. It is specifically about the light (truth) that Olivia represents in Fitzgerald’s life, whether that light is coming or going. For instance, the music was played when Olivia walked away from Fitz in Grant: For the People (107) and when Fitz learned about Olivia’s role in Defiance and his subsequent decision to dump her (Nobody Likes Babies).
The light Olivia brings is not about romance; it’s about a feeling of one-ness with another person. It’s no wonder we get this song after the episode in which Fitz emphatically and desperately insists to Olivia, “Livvie…we’re not strangers. We’re not” (Everything’s Coming Up Mellie). Olivia hung up on him, and he knew he had to get her in front of him in order convince her that the mystery around the plane crash that caused her mother’s death (according to Olivia) should not undo everything they have, the dreams that that they conjured during pillow talk, everything that they want to be. As a friend of mine likes to say, Fitzgerald doesn’t listen. I’m glad he doesn’t. I think Olivia secretly likes it, too. Sometimes. So “The Light” is about Fitzgerald connecting and disconnecting with Olivia. In this scene the opening chords start to play while Fitz is explaining, “I just…I wanted you to see it at least once.” The house is a physical manifestation of their future possibility.
We’ve have seen time and time again that Fitz can declare a thousand ‘I love you’s, but Olivia is a woman of action, not of promises. Remember in A Woman Scorned (220), she told Fitz, “If you want me, earn me!” He had to go to her and show her what he meant by ‘I love you’. As much as she knows that his love for her exists, she’s a very lonely woman. Brilliant and successful, but lonely. She needs reassurances because deep down, Olivia wants #AllOfTheThings.
“I don’t want much. I just want more. Ask what I want and I will sing, ‘I want everything. Everything.’…Give me the man who’s gonna bring more of everything. Then I’ll have everything. Everything.” —(Barbra Streisand, “Everything”)
Don’t most of us want every facet of our lives to be served? We want to be valued in our work, in our friendships, in our communities, in our romantic relationships, etc. Olivia has so much, but she is still wanting. Her forced time away from Fitz and the larger stresses of her life leave her feeling emotionally empty sometimes. I am not saying that Olivia needs a man to complete her. She feels seen and understood by one man in particular, whom when they are in any way connected, delights her beyond reason. When with him, she sees herself reflected back at her and the picture is good.
Upon hearing Fitzgerald wax emotional (stop comparing him to Drake! Let the man have his feelings) taking their dream from pillow talk to reality, Olivia takes leaps to reach him as he stands firm, until she has finally embraced him and brings his lips to hers. They kiss with a measured hunger full of emotion, but thankfully lacking desperation. Finally, these oppositely charged atoms of destiny look at each other. The light is back in his arms. This is reinforced in their love scene as Bill Withers croons, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. It’s not warm when she goes away.” No Olivia, no light.
Lost Inside of You: The Best Scandal Love Scene EVER
Where do I begin with the perfection that is this scene?
Every time these lovers connect sexually, the manner in which they…connect is meant to reflect the current state of their relationship—good or bad (hello? #Closetgate). Obviously, the positions have to be TV appropriate and aesthetically pleasing for the viewer to look at. So, there’s plenty of consideration that goes on. It’s also no accident that Olivia and Fitz expressed their love on the very foundation of their new home: the floor. Remember, there were furnishings and bedrooms available. All this against the backdrop of a song that is about a man who is utterly addicted to the woman he is singing about. He wishes she didn’t affect every fiber of his being, but alas, she does.
I have seen people fixated on the lack of tongues being thrust down throats. Tongue enthusiast that I am, I didn’t need it in this scene. The nature of Fitz and Olivia’s relationship is one of stolen moments, which can produce frenzied and desperate love-making or fucking. In those moments they are just trying to fit it all in (zing). They’re trying to release all the pent up emotions: anger, lust, insecurity, etc. I didn’t get that in this scene. Instead, I was blessed with something from Olivia and Fitz’s love-making that I’ve never seen before. It is the intimacy of two people being afforded something they so very rarely have: time. This is the most intimate and tender we’ve seen them since their first time in The Trail (106). They had time. More importantly, their love had a place to call its own. Even the Vermont pine floor had orgasms that night.
[not my grab]
One of the markers of intimacy between a connected couple is sustained eye contact. Olitz gave it to each other in droves in this scene. There is no escape in that amount of eye contact; one has to be fully present in mind, body and spirit. They were fully present in this scene with each other. Olivia showered Fitzgerald with her love that night (including oral sex!), which is also new to us as the audience. We’re used to seeing him dominate her in ways she very much enjoys. This time their kisses were languid, almost as if their mouths were just grazing against each others, breathing life-affirming breaths into the other. The positions they chose showed two people fully enveloped in each other. And for all the naked backs, gentle thrusts and rocking, the absolute sexiest part of that entire scene was their faces: particularly Olivia’s. We’ve never seen her like this before in an extended moment of pleasure. Laying half on top of Fitzgerald, slowly kissing and admiring him in the process; surrendering her entire body to him as she gently rocked up and down in the lotus position; swiveling her head back to show him how his Cobra makes her feel transformed. They were completely un-tethered in their home. In. Their. Home.
Clear Light of Day:
Fitz: “Stay another day. We could hang out here.”
Olivia: “I have to go. I have work. And you have to go. You have a world to run.”
She’s always reminding him of his duty as President. She did it the night before when she said, “What are you even doing in Vermont? You’re supposed to be in New Hampshire.” Of course she reminds him. She sacrificed her integrity to help him fulfil that mission.
But really, can we talk about how the President of the United States wants to ‘hang out’ at their new home all day? You know jam-making wouldn’t be on the list of activities, unless it’s a euphemism. To quotelitnerdlovestv, “Fitz, you’re doing too much.” So Olivia has to remind him to go be the fucking President.
Fitz: “I love you.”
Olivia: “Fitz, I really do have to go.”
When she caressed his chest, she was actually leaning in to give what looked like a goodbye kiss. Go back and watch. Olivia’s retort to Fitz’s declaration of love wasn’t her being evasive. That was her trying to nip his feels in the bud because once he gets started, she can’t resist him. I mean…look at him! We’ve seen this woman literally have to back away from this man just so she can focus and think clearly. He is intoxicating. But she has lives and careers to save.
Fitz: “No, I’m saying…Your father has to be stopped. And I want you to know before I stop him. I want you to hear me when I say that I love you no matter what happens. Because I need answers. I need to know why I was ordered to shoot down the plane. After I get those answers—“
Olivia: “Do what you have to do.”
Pause. I love the speech about the house and the ‘I love you’s and faces of ecstasy, but that single line said by Olivia was my favorite part of the Olitz sequences . Why? Fitz was telling her that he had a mission to fulfill. That he needed to get to the bottom of things, but that she might get hurt in the process. That sometimes his mission as President is at odds with not just her work, but her personal liberty and happiness. He’s not doing anything to spite her, but it is his duty to rein in Rowan. So Olivia is giving Fitz her blessing to do what he thinks is best. She’s not advising him. She’s not giving caveats based on their relationship. She’s putting her faith in him to do the right thing, and that she, likely, won’t judge him harshly for it. She knows that whatever he does will be for the greater good. Isn’t that what the entire season has been about? The sacrifice of the innocent for the greater good. It seems their personal relationship has been put upon the sacrificial pyre so many times. Will they ever get back to Vermont?
Fitz: “You sure? He’s your father.”
Olivia: “He’s the head of B613. He knows what he signed up for. Do what you have to do…because I’m not gonna stop until I have answers either.“
Super Olitz, activate!!!!!! It’s. About. To. Go. Down.
But I can barely enjoy this triumph before poignant and painful instrumental chords remind us that alas, these lovers must part. They never want to, but they must. They have a world to run and answers to find. But I can enjoy Olivia looking at Fitz as if she really does want to hang out there all day. Duty calls, however.
Olivia looks out at the light, the expanse of mountains protecting their dream, back at the dream itself and the man who made it possible. It’s a dream she so desperately wants to let herself believe can become their reality. It’s not pretend anymore. It’s real.
Olivia: “Don’t sell the house. Not yet.”
A tenuous, and very Olivia-like reassurance letting Fitzgerald know that he’s done a very good thing. She hasn’t given up on their dream…for now. Hearing her declaration, Fitz is at first reassured that they are in this together. But it’s fleeting because when Olivia adds the ‘yet’ caveat, Fitz’s face reflects a ‘that was too good to be true’ sentiment. With all the ‘stranger’ accusations that have been hurled back and forth out of hurt, Fitz knows Olivia. He knows her fears and her insecurities. Olivia, like most people when faced with a major decision, tends to think about what’s at stake to be lost rather than what’s to be gained. The glaring exception to this cognitive normality is: addicts. For addicts, the benefits always outweigh the consequences. Fitzgerald is an Olivia Pope addict. Having her will always outweigh any potential losses. So he will keep that hope alive, burning inside of him.
Olivia came, she saw, she came again, she #Poped, she gave her permission to depose her father, took Fitzgerald’s whip and went to work after a job well done. #LikeABoss. Fitz, the President of the United States, is left in the house, looking like a puppy watching Olivia go off to work. He watches her walk away knowing that she is worth it all. She is everything, remember (Seven Fifty-Two)? And he wants more of everything.
Olivia and Fitz are not ageless, but to me, their love is Evergreen. My personal belief system will not allow me to entertain a pessimistic denouement for their love, even as their relationship is put through the ringer. Call it a delusion—a fantasy even. I don’t care if Shonda Rhimes, content in knowing how Scandal will end, is sitting back cackling, ‘Mwahaahaha I’ll get you, my pretty!’. I’m in this with them. They built it. I came, and I’m not leaving.
THIS JUST BLEW ME AWAY
Devin’s first day of 6th grade! In the same class as his best friend Kenny. #ismelltrouble #TransfigurationCatholicSchool #my11yroldhasamustache (at Transfiguration Catholic School)
I write this as I sit in the Florida office of Governor Rick Scott, live from the capitol. It is 4am and I am writing to the sound of a sleeping giant. I decided to spend the night here with the Dream Defenders, a student based activist group that organized around the George Zimmerman trial and…