scandal

Political TV Fever!

I seem to be gaining a growing interest in politics…well at least TV politics. What started as a mild curiosity last summer, has quickly turned into a full fledged political TV addition. I’ve increasingly found myself drawn to political dramas and dramadies (dramatic comedies), and keep my radar on high alert at the sign of a potential new series.


The West Wing
: I’ve just finished the second season; I know, I know I’m about 7 years too  late. But in my defence I was about to turn 8 when the series originally aired so I’m going to say I wasn’t exactly in their target demographic! This show has been really refreshing to watch. Its definitely more of an adult drama through its tone and writing and I appreciate the lack of love triangles, the use of older actors (not old!) and the focus on politics as the source of drama. I know the series has been highly praised by political science professors and critics alike and its really not hard to see why, the show comes off as a smart drama with intellectual ideals. I will admit there are times when the show comes off as a bit preachy however I commend Sorkin for using a devout religious democrat (President Bartlet) and a smart, eloquent republican (Ainsley Hayes) rather than resorting to common stereotypes. I also commend Sorkin for not resorting to stereotypes against the Middle East, the original run was during 9/11, or cheap republican comebacks against George Bush, the entire series took place during his presidency. I’ll likely do a more in depth post on the series (just started season 4!), so expect that in the near future.

Scandal: If you’ve read my most recent entries, you’ll notice that many of them seem to be Scandal related. The protagonist of the series is Olivia Pope, a crisis manager, and her complicated love triangle with the first family. Because Olivia works in crisis management, the show deals with more salacious events rather than the seemingly everyday events portrayed in The West Wing.  While I appreciate that Shonda has chosen a republican as her presidential protagonist, he seems to have some very democratic views. Fitz was a governor from California, a state which is recent years has been more on the democratic side, his chief of staff is an openly gay male, and he hasn’t appeared to have a deep sense of faith by any means. Really the only republican sense we’ve had from him is his connection to ‘Big Oil’ (Hollis Doyle). I seem to have a love/hate annoyed relationship with this show. In my opinion the writing has vastly improved from the long winded repititious soliloquy filled pilot episode. The show has a stronger focus on the personal rather than the workplace (which is completely fine!) however there is a growing amount of drama for dramas sake rather than to extend the storyline. For instance take the revelation of Olivia’s father; while part of my weekly must-see television the series is quickly venturing into soap opera territory.


Political Animals:
A 6 episode mini-series that originally aired last summer on USA. I did a previous post on my thoughts on the pilot episode.  The series follows  Elaine Barrisch (Sigourney Weaver), a once presidential candidate, who is now Secretary of State, trying to make a name for herself in politics away from her promiscuous husband Bud Hammond(Ciarán Hinds). Bud just so happens to be a former president himself (Hilary and Bill Clinton anyone?). Sigourney Weaver and Ciarán Hinds are just a drop in the bucket in naming the well known actors involved with the series. While I do wish the series had been renewed for a second season, with the heavy hitting cast I wouldn’t be surprised if funding or scheduling were the issue. The main focus of the show is the turmoil surrounding the Hammond family, however we do get to see a fair bit of politics when Elaine Barrisch is in her element.

VeepAn HBO comedy series I started watching a couple weeks ago. Veep follows Selena Myer (Julia Louis- Dryfus) a fictions vice president and her senior staff. I find the series to be a refreshing take on politics, most likely due to the lighter nature of a comedy vs an hour long drama. While the entire cast is well portrayed, in my opinion the scene stealer is Gary Walsh, the vice president’s personal aide, portrayed by Tony Hale. Gary is extremely loyal, Selena’s confidante and carries a briefcase which he nicknames Leviathan! The series currently airs Sunday at 10 and its in its second season.

The Newsroom: Another series I began watching last summer (the new season begins airing on July 14th!). The series revolves around the fictional news network Atlanta Cable News (ACN) and their attempt to change the way the news is presented. After a very public tirade, Will McAvoy (a news anchor played by Jeff Daniels) returns to work to find a new executive producer, his ex-girlfriend MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) who criticizes the way he had previously been anchoring the news. She tells Will (who is currently leading in the ratings), that instead of reporting the actual facts he is just trying not to step on anyone’s toes. The changes they have made to the fictional station are brilliant. Will acts as both an educator and as judicator, both educating the public on real news issues while holding politicians and big-wigs to the words that they’ve promised. While this isn’t a show about politicians per say, given the setting at a cable news station its almost impossible NOT to mix politics and the news. The show is quite different from the West Wing, while the tone is very much the same, we don’t see any representation of the White House. Similarly to Political Animals, I did a post last summer on my thoughts for the complete first season; you can read it here.

Scandal: White Hat’s Back On

Dad

And season 2 has come to an end! Let me start off by saying that I basically jumped up and down in front of my screen when Olivia said that last eventful word. If you read my previous Scandal post, you would have read about my suspicions on Rowen’s identity being Olivia’s father. Now many seem to be unsure why Olivia’s own father would try to have her killed. The other common question seems to be who ousted Olivia as the President’s mistress? I have a couple theories for each so lets get right into the thick of things!

First off I loved how David Rosen was redeemed in this episode. Just a couple days ago I was watching an episode from Season 1 and found myself missing the dynamic between Olivia ‘the fixer’ and David ‘the attorney,’ it was a complex mix between friendship and obstacle with each carrying such an excellent rapport. I knew David had always had good intentions; at his core he always wears that metaphorical White Hat. However Pope and associates did ultimately ruin his career and completely embarrassed him. Its not surprising that he would experience  feelings of distain. One scenario I found odd was that it was never addressed that Olivia had opened the safe in front of David, I mean she didn’t try to hide the combination at all. If David hadn’t been talking to Billy Chambers, Charlie could have easily ousted the combination from him through threat alone. I also have a hard time believing Olivia doesn’t lock her office door at night. Considering the amount of confidential information she likely stores, it seems unlikely she would be that careless. On the other hand is no one else curious why the safe didn’t automatically lock up after that many failed attempts? You only get about 5 attempts to get the correct password for an email address, I would hope a safe would be a bit more secure!

Ok; onto my first theory! Why would Olivia’s own father try to have her killed!? Again I think this is a complicated scenario. On the one hand while in the hospital we see Cyrus questioning what Rowan will do to Olivia. Now Cyrus knows about B613, he knows the extents to which Rowan is willing to go; I mean if you’re willing to train individuals to drill into someones limb in order to get information theres no stopping what you might do. On the other hand we don’t know how many people know that Olivia is Rowen’s daughter. Considering his livelihood it doesn’t safe to have that information be public. I have a couple theories on the female assassin who was sent to Olivia’s house.

1. She was sent by Rowan to shoot Jake instead of Olivia. He knew Jake was going to disobey his orders and wanted to prevent any escape of confidential information

2. The gun she was going to shoot was more of a stun gun, releasing a sedative (rather than bullets) so she could bring Olivia to meet with her father without resistanceScreen Shot 2013-05-17 at 1.43.28 PM

I really have a hard time believing Rowan actually tried to kill his daughter. Considering Jake’s next task was to bring Olivia to him (to talk) it seems unlikely that he would suddenly go to such an extreme. I still believe that Rowan is doing all of this to, in his own way, protect Olivia and look out for her best interests. By having his agents available to safely move Olivia into his car after the release of her name as the Presidents mistress, he shows that in his own way he still cares.

I strongly believe that Rowan is sabotaging Olitz because he:
a) doesn’t believe Fitz is good enough for Olivia

b) doesn’t see the relationship ending well for his daughter

Consider what Jake said, his mission was to sleep with Olivia. Clearly Rowan has been gathering intel this whole time to sabotage the relationship; its lucky for him that Fitz killed Verna, adding more ammunition to his supply. As I said in my last post, this is a very soap opera-like turn for the series; but a Shonda show typically follows the extreme drama with unrealistic circumstances so its not too far off from something she would do.

Next: Who ousted Olivia as the Presidents mistress!? Again a lot of fingers seem to be pointing towards Mellie Grant Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 1.47.20 PMbut once again I don’t see her being involved here. It was evident during the second meeting between Hollis, Cyrus, Mellie, Fitz and Olivia that something was wrong between Olitz. They could barely look at each other! Mellie is power-hungry and if theres the slightest chance of a rift between Olitz, allowing her to swoop in and remain first lady, I can’t NOT see her taking that opportunity. She has the most to lose, in terms of her political career, through the divorce. Her public political views have been dormant at this time, and as the show mentioned by airing her dirty laundry to the public her approval ratings seem to be dropping. By airing your dirty laundry so publicly, there is no chance for an amicable divorce. Now that the public is involved and have their opinion on the matter its bound to become messy.

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 1.49.44 PMIn my mind the two main suspects are Cyrus Beene and Rowan. Cyrus has a lot to lose by letting the secret out. If he was ever revealed to be the source, he would lose both Fitz and Olivia while at the same time almost single-handedly ruining Olivia’s reputation. However something he said in the episode struck a chord; he mentioned he was the only adult in the room. Mind you sneaking statements to the press isn’t really a mature tactic, but this relationship has been a thorn in his side for too long. He heard Olivia’s plan and this was his way to take back control, prevent public acceptance of Olivia. Leaving Fitz with no choice but to run for re-election with Mellie by his side. Lets not forget that James kept searching for information throughout the episode, it would be easy to ‘accidentally’ let Olivia’s name slip in front of him and let the cards fall where they may. By destroying the Cytron card Cyrus destroys the one thing that can bring down his political career, and while he does care for both Olivia and Fitz, Rowan’s words may have had an effect on him.

Rowan on the other hand is another very possible target. He seems invested in ruining Olitz and this way he is able to stop it Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 1.52.04 PMfrom ever coming out publicly. By painting the picture of Olivia as a home wrecker, she will never be accepted by the public if and when Fitz marries her. Yes its an extreme tactic to do to your own daughter, but as I previously mentioned its clear that Rowan has no bounds. The fact that he was waiting outside for Olivia with agents ready is another strike against him. Not that I would put it past him to have her followed, he is looking more and more suspicious.

Of course there is always the option that Rowan and Cyrus worked together to orchestrate this bombshell. And while I wouldn’t put it past Shonda to come up with something so shock-worthy this would be a completely different level of betrayal against Olivia.

General Thoughts on the Episode

1. Anyone else HATE the scene where Fitz crawls back to Mellie? He looked so spineless shuffling into that room. Hate seeing him that way

2. I’m suspicious at how fast Quinn picked up hacking. Huck has been trained for years so I don’t see how Quinn would be able to surpass his hacking skills in a matter of months.

3. I’m both curious and worried about the Dexter-like turn Quinn has made. I can understand why they are trying to develop this storyline; you can only write about a naive and confused girl for so long. But again it just seems SO sudden. While Huck did end up enjoying his torture methods and saw them as art, Quinn seems to be enjoying it much too quickly

4. Looks like Jake is getting the same treatment Huck had to ‘forget his family.’ Guessing Jake will need to ‘forget his relationship with Olivia.’

5. With the news of Billy Chambers being the White House mole, Fitz has stopped Sally Langston’s election bid in its tracks. Who would elect someone whose former chief of staff committed government treason?! Doesn’t exactly show the best of character. However with that baggage under her belt, will Fitz want her by his side once again as VP? With his own affair coming to light the pair are surrounded by a lot of drama.

6. So is Billy Chambers finally dead!?!

Scandal: Any Questions? (i.e. We have the mole!!)

To say yesturday’s episode of Scandal was smooth sailing would be an understatement. In the penultimate episode of season 2, the mole was finally revealed to be none other than Billy Chambers. Now if you read my previous post, where I gave my thoughts on potential mole candidates I had mentioned Billy would be on my list of suspects however there needed to many assumptions in order for this to be possible. Since Billy is in fact the mole we can deduce the following:

1. Charlie did not kill Billy Chambers that eventful episode at the end of season 1

2. Charlie has potentially been working for Billy in addition to Cyrus

Note:

Season 2 episode 6 Spies Like Us — we see Charlie making a call mentioning that he is back in town Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 2.10.10 PMand is thinking of staying a while. While the audience assumes he is talking to Cyrus we are now given the idea that he may have been calling Billy or the bench man instead

Season 1 episode 7 Grant: For the People — we see Charlie going into an elevator with Billy where it is presumed that he Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 1.30.59 PMkills him, we then later see Charlie in Cyrus’s garden saying that he will be leaving town and to wire him the rest of the money. While it is assumed that Charlie was in the elevator to kill Billy, he may have been giving him the same ‘i’m leaving town’ spiel he gave Cyrus, given they are both his benefactors

It makes sense for Billy to want to destroy the Grant administration. He doesn’t feel like Fitz deserves to be president; the administration basically called him a lunatic and took away all his credibility (but apparently not all of his political power). While Billy argued every misdeed, every wrongdoing in the name of Sally Langston, once she virtually turned her back on him, he became out for blood. As I stated in my previous post, jealousy and revenge are both powerful emotions. As Sally Langston’s former Chief of Staff, Billy is well connected and likely has many friends within the building. While he may not publicly have power, he has friends in powerful places and likely has enough intel to pull in some heavy favours. Its still unclear how he managed to surpass Cyrus, VP Langston and the President to somehow pull rank, but unfortunately this is politics; where many a deal happen in a back alley way behind closed doors.

The Accomplice

As I mentioned in my previous post I knew the mole wasn’t working alone. Since we already knew that at the very least both Jake and the ‘man on the bench’ (for lack of a better description), it makes no sense why the mole would now act alone. David Rosen was a suspect on my list and while he does have motive, I had my reservations due to his lack of political power. In my previous post I had him pegged with James as his associate, due to their relations with Defiance, however Billy makes for an interesting turn of events.

Billy likely came into contact with David following his failed election rigging trial. Billy only had the affair as his intel on the President, and now without a girl, that was virtually useless. David basically brought Defiance into his lap and he jumped at the chance to bring down the administration that took it all away from him. David who has basically been stripped of his job, reputation and career has nothing left to lose. Somewhere deep inside he still carries that metaphorical white hat, and feels that the American people deserve to know about Defiance.

As I mentioned in my previous post, by working at Pope and Associates, David has been able to gather intel on Olivia, her clients and her staff. Notice how he repeatedly kept mentioning the girl, who the President was having an affair with. With the name of the girl, the affair and Defiance, the Grant administration would virtually be down in flames. David knew that Abby had stolen the memory card to the voting machine in Defiance, and was biding his time until he could find where it was held. When Olivia showed him the memory card, and with Charlie on his side, there was no stopping this story. Throughout the episode, David kept repeating ‘ I know which team I chose,’ almost foreshadowing his at least alleged betrayal.It was also rather suspicious that he stayed in the office to ‘watch the White House briefings’ while the rest of the associates were out to lunch.

However this is Scandal, just earlier this season we were painted this picture of Huck being the President’s killer which turned out to be false. Shonda loves a good fake out. While I do think that both Billy and David are involved, theres definitely more to the story. Everything Olivia does has a purpose. She opened the safe (without hiding the combination I might add) in plain sight and yet gave Harrison the 2 files in private. Something is telling me that the memory chip is either a decoy or is somewhat encrypted to track the mole. Olivia seemed more interested in the name of the mole than the whereabouts of the chip, and with Fitz deciding to run for re-election Defiance would ruin that chance.

While I do think that there is a third party involved we can cross some names off the list.

 

Sally Langston– Billy was likely using her computer for intel and information however for her to be involved of her own free will  would be too risky in case she was caught. As the team mentioned, if congress impeaches Grant she would be thrown out with the bath water. Grant completing his term, and maintaining his approval ratings, is in her best interest to garner his support for her presidential election.

Mellie Grant – While she may be at the top of many a suspect list I don’t see her being involved. She likely has her own proof of Defiance and I don’t see her working with Billy after he tried to ruin Fitz’s presidency with an affair during season 1. Similarly to Sally Langston, it is in her best interest for Fitz’s approval ratings to be high as he leaves office; to help build her own political career. While she did make the affair announcement, I don’t see her going so far as to wanting to impeach the president.

Cyrus Beene – As I mentioned in my previous post, it just seems too obvious to have him involved. Although he knows the mysterious bench man (after some thought I think his name might be Rowan?), both he and Mellie didn’t know who Jake was. Since he is so close to this investigation, that seems highly unlikely for a potential mole.

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 1.49.12 PMHowever I now have a new suspect. Rowan, the mysterious bench man. I know what you’re thinking but just hear me out! Rowan has clearly been keeping surveillance on Olivia as he mentioned when talking to Cyrus. He also asked for evidence of Jake’s affair with Olivia. We have yet to hear about Olivia’s past, about any of her (biological) family members. I believe that Rowan will end up being Olivia’s father, yes its a bit soap opera-y but it just seems to make sense. Rowan and Cyrus are friends, which would explain how Cyrus became Olivia’s mentor (he always called her his favourite non-student). Rowan wants whats best for the Republic, and Olivia Pope as a fixer (with her reputation in tact) is definitely what is best for the Republic. He seems to be cleaning up her mess, fixing her. Defiance, the tape with Jake Ballard, even slightly sabotaging the Grant administration (aka her relationship with Fitz) may all be for her. His daughter. To me this would also explain how Huck is able to live a relatively normal life at Pope and associates, as Charlie mentioned when the government wants you gone. You. are. gone. It would also explain the black envelope Olivia gave Harrison, her fathers information as a last resort.

Well this post turned out to be much longer than expected! We’ll see if any of this turns out to be true during the season 2 finale next thursday night on ABC. Here’s a promo clip to get you excited, but then again this is a Shonda show. And if theres anything Shonda Rhimes can do, its write a killer season finale.

Scandal Season 2: Who is the mole?

As we inch ever closer to the season 2 finale of ABC’s Scandal (airs May 16th 2013), the question on every fan’s mind is: Who is the white house mole!? With the second to last episode of the season airing in just under 5 hours, I thought I may as well put pen to paper  fingers to keyboard (?) and write out my possible subject combinations. With rumblings over the interweb (particularly over at tvline.com) that the identity of the mole is truly shocking, so much so that the actors themselves have said they were shocked during the table read. It only makes sense that the identity of the mole and their associate must be both someone who has a relatively active role on the show and has been portrayed as innocent. My head has been spinning over possible combinations, and my yearing for information hasn’t exactly been helped by the fact that I’ve just re-watched all of season 1. Side note I would have much rather had Olivia date Billy as opposed to the bore that is Senator Edison Davis…of course before he turned out to be the enemy. Billy’s dialogue has been full of one-liners that add some comedic flair to an otherwise heavily dramatic show. Anyways I digress….back to the potential mole candidates!

 Mellie and Hal: It would be incredibly shocking if the first lady turned out to be the mole. However Mellie has her own political aspirations and what better way to give them a kick start than to derail the Grant administration. I think it has become clear that Hal has, albeit secretly, shown his allegiance to the first lady rather than the president with subtle looks and gestures. As one of Fitz’s primary secret service officers he is exposed to many secrets within the administration and, along with the first lady, the two have a high degree of security clearance. We can’t forget that Mellie didn’t want Fitz to leave the limo the day of his shooting (was she having second thoughts?). Unless I’m mistaken we still don’t know who hired Becky as the shooter (…or robot-controlled shooter?)

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 5.56.23 PMSally Langston and Hollis Doyle: Though we haven’t seen VP Langston in a while, I don’t doubt that she is still plotting to become president. Again we haven’t seen Hollis Doyle stomping through the hallways of the White House in quite some time but sometimes an absence says enough. Since this is a Shonda Rhimes show, I can’t help but bring up Grey’s Anatomy‘s fifth season where George O’Malley (portrayed by T.R. Knight) was noticeably absent throughout the season so when it was revealed that he in fact was the John Doe they were operating on during the season finale, it came as a shock since viewers were accustomed to his lack of screen time. Although Sally has been the pinnacle of moral conduct, Hollis isn’t afraid to get down and dirty. Election rigging, the Cytron explosions, he has gone through a lot for the Grant administration and if he feels that he isn’t getting his end of the bargain, his record illustrates that he wouldn’t be opposed to implementing a change.  With Hollis’s resources (how many people really have the means to rig a national election) and Sally’s position, I can see how they would have access to such top secret information. If Billy Chambers was still alive I would definitely add him as a suspect but that requires many assumptions (assuming Charlie didn’t kill him for one) and many IF’s.

fitz jakeFitz and Jake: A truly shocking combination. However I could somehow see this duo come into fruition. Fitz wanting to prove to everyone involved in Defiance that he could overcome an adverse situation (on his own) and Jake of course has the the know-how to fill in the blanks. Yes orchestrating your own shooting, is a bit of a stretch but hey this is TV! Fitz came to Jake at a time when he didn’t trust anyone else, so it would only make sense for Jake to be his ally if he were to pull off this huge debacle! With Fitz coming out as the mole and Jake coming out as his accomplice (he did say he only took orders directly from Fitz), I have not doubt that Jake’s relationship with Olivia would in turn be revealed; causing another rift in the duo that is POPUS or Olitz whatever you want to call them.

David Rosen and James: The people you would least expect! The duo grew closer during the Defiance investigations and although James had the opportunity to condemn Cyrus, bringing down the administration may be closer to what he’s after? David who has been growing closer and closer to Olivia Pope and Associates has been in the office long enough to gather some dirty secrets of his own to use as blackmail. Losing his job, reputation and career are not feelings to be taken lightly. Although they both aren’t powerful enough to have the means or security clearance on their own, they are well connected to powerful people. Blackmail can be a powerful thing. I do think that its a bit convenient that James suddenly got his journalist job back in time to interview Mellie (could a James and Mellie duo be a possibility?) for arguably the biggest interview of the year. Although he has forgiven Cyrus, and it seems that David has forgiven Olivia, they are both men of integrity and may excuse their behaviour in the name of justice.

Other Possible Suspects

Cyrus Beene: Cyrus is a power hungry pitbull who would likely jump at the chance of having ultimate,unquestioned control of the White House. Although they basically told us last week that is wasn’t him, given that he now seems like the obvious choice. Again this is a Shonda Rhimes show and sometimes the obvious choice turns out to be the correct one (another Grey’s reference but Izzie having a brain tumour anyone? Shonda specifically said Izzie didn’t have cancer and yet look what was revealed). Cyrus was almost willing to kill his husband and who knows what he would have done to Olivia, this pitbull is close to jumping the fence.

Edison Davis: It seems that he has deduced Olivia’s relationship with the president and jealously can be a fickle friend. Although he certainly doesn’t have the security clearance  and  at the time Fitz’s shooting wouldn’t make much sense, never underestimate how far a jealous individual will go.