By Contributing Writer, Phil Andros
So here we are at the big debate! Hollis is doing his best Donald Trump imitation talking about building a wall. Frankly, I’m already a little annoyed with Shonda and we’re barely 30 seconds into it. I know, it’s Shonda, why am I annoyed? She doesn’t do nuanced. She doesn’t do subtle. But still, we’re reduced to caricatures. Mellie gives it back to Hollis pretty good.
Then Sally asks Susan what she thinks and her brain has clearly frozen thanks to her breakup with her lesbian lover David in the previous episode. Her response: “It’s a big, um, problem.” Cut to Fitz: “She’s having a stroke. We are watching her stroke out on national television.” I laughed. And I felt bad because strokes are no laughing matter! : giggle :
Mellie/Hollis/Mellie/Hollis/cheap Fitz joke/Hollis/Mellie. Seriously, as someone who has watched every single motherfucking Democratic and Republican debate, this is actually somewhat painful to me. She’s decided Hollis is going to be more crude than Donald but that he’s actually going to also be more articulate. After some speechifying, he hits Mellie with: “How weird is it to have your ex-husband’s ex-mistress as your campaign manager?” And then Sally calls a break…. Hollis’ people run out to him and I think, although I may be hearing things, that Hollis said it was “hotter than two squirrels screwing in a wool sock” which is my new favorite expression for everything now. “Would you like some wine with dinner? Yes, that’d be hotter than two squirrels screwing in a wool sock.” I think I can pull it off. By the way, DO NOT google squirrel porn. You’ve been warned. But I digress.
Anyway, Olivia runs out and pow-wows with Mellie. All wonky, all business. Liz is running across the stage with a phone and has Fitz on the line for Susan. He gives her what is supposed to be a pep talk, but all I heard was “YOU FUCKED UP. DO BETTER.” Then some stuff about how she only needs “one moment, one punch.” So obviously, we know that she is going to have “one moment, one punch” and I can barely watch because once again Shonda is going to fuck over Mellie, right?
Ok, maybe there’s hope. Mellie delivers an excellent little speech about how she’s her own woman and how Fitz is her EX husband. I can’t help but wonder about a little Hillary/Bill bashing in here from Shonda. Mellie is Hillary except Mellie left her husband over his extramarital affair. Is this a rebuke? What say you?
Susan then gets her big moment so subtly foreshadowed…. It is some story about her husband in Afghanistan and how he was guarding some pipeline and got killed and it made her blood boil but only because she didn’t advise him to go AWOL. So now we should be our country’s keepers. It was basically incoherent drivel and not even very moving, but this is SHONDALAND so she gets her “one moment, one punch” and the crowd leaps to its feet and gives her the standing O. Cut to Olivia with the sadz, David with his arm around Susan on the podium and then to Sally declaring Susan Ross “the clear winner!” Eyerolls all around. Then Sally says Susan Ross is the kind of moral woman America is hoping for (and everyone watches remembers that this epi is called The Miseducation of Susan Ross and that the hottie Latino Governor’s brother handed Olivia dirt on Susan right before the debate). Sally suggests that Mellie should just bow out and let women rally around Susan.
So now we’re with Olivia and Mellie. Olivia tries to give her a pep talk and tells her that it is just one debate and she can’t take it personally. Mellie’s response: “Olivia, America hates me. They hate who I am, who I’ve been and who I think I have the audacity to become. That’s personal.” So I think I just answered my Hillary/Bill question. Olivia to Mellie: “Mellie, look at me. I will get you the Oval come hell or high water.” Which sounds a lot more like something Poppa Pope would say. Is this the season we watch any semblance of moral compass die? Note I say semblance, because as we discussed last week, the only thing that differentiates the morality of these characters is size of their body count.
Olivia exits the room and gets into the OPA conference room with Quinn, Huck and the new black guy whose name isn’t Harris. Quinn says Susan won fair and square and it’s hard to compete with a dead husband. Olivia says “We won’t have to because Susan Ross was never married. She’s a liar. We’re going to find out why and we’re going to take here down.” And I’m thinking, really? Really, this is the best we can do? Really, like anyone is going to care? And how do you play this? You’re going to say noo, Susan, he was not your husband because you weren’t married so you have no right to invoke his death? Olivia is clearly losing it. The cut to Quinn where a thought bubble would read “girlfriend is losing it” confirms this. Thanks, Shonda! Why leave anything to the imagination when you can spell it out in detail!
Well, it turns out everyone is unhappy today. Cut to Liz and Susan and Susan can’t figure out why David is on the cover of the paper with her. Duh. Elizabeth explains it using small words. David walks through the door and it is agreed that the two of them will “sell the love story to the American public.” I hate lesbian breakups. So much drama and they never fucking end, although usually they end up being friends afterward. We’ll see.
Back to OPA where literally the only character with a conscience whose name I can’t remember tells Olivia no, he’s not going to do his job and take Mellie to Los Angeles so she can be on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. Yay! An ABC tie-in! Olivia says “DO YOU JOB” and he says, “Whatever” clearly channeling my 13-year old niece. Lol.
Oh gross. Olivia, Huck and Quinn do that montage thing. Susan was never married to John Lattner and…queue music…she paid for a DNA test for Casey in 2007, which leads Olivia to jump immediately to the probably correct conclusion that John wasn’t Casey’s father. Getting crappier and crappier by the minute. By the way, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was Lauryn Hill’s first album…inspired by her having a baby out of wedlock. I’ll give Shonda props for that. Good reference and a great album.
That Susan has a baby daddy who isn’t her fake husband is confirmed momentarily on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in a conversation with Olivia and Alex Vargas. At one point Olivia and Alex are about two inches from each other and it’s clear that at some point Alex’s digits are going to find their way into Olivia like so many before them. I feel like doing this on the Lincoln Memorial should be a hate crime. Olivia gives Alex a nurse who can confirm Edison’s rehab and Alex tells Olivia that Susan’s baby daddy isn’t going anywhere. Then we’re in prison….Olivia, Huck and Quinn enter a room with some rednecky looking prisoner – the baby daddy! Olivia offers to help get him out of jail in return for him agreeing to a paternity test and to making a public statement that he is Casey’s father. I was really really hoping we weren’t going to go down this path. Turns out, neither was Huck! He tells Quinn that it is a mistake to drag Casey into this. How bad is it that so far this episode, the only person with any moral fiber is a mass murderer and torturer? Bad.
So Susan is kind of growing on me. She has a pretty good interchange with David and how they can’t break up because the whole of America will think that he cheated on her. And then she says something confusing about David having a penis. : scratches head : He responds much more in character with a declaration of his WUV for her. And you can tell she really wants to fall for it, but she’s still a little stung. Obviously they are getting back together eventually.
The hottie Latino governor is just getting annoying. Thank god he’s easy on the eyes. So, Alex leaks the Edison story to the press because he uses Olivia’s source to confirm it. Cyrus warns them that leaking this could be a big mistake if they can’t deliver at which point hottie Governor launches into a speech about how his brother has run both of his campaigns and it’s going to be fine. Rut roh. Never say “it’s going to be fine” out loud on this show. For someone who was against using this, Governor Vargas is more than happy to tell national television that “addiction is a lifelong problem and being president is hard enough as it is.” I’m starting to think he might be secretly as scummy as his brother, who is also looking less and less cute. Amirite ladies?
Cut to Poppa Pope, Jake and Edison where Edison tells them that the only person who knew about the rehab was Olivia and that Poppa should deal with it. (By the way, Scott Foley directed this epi!) Eli fires back with one of the best speeches this season reducing Edison to rubble and telling him to remember who the real boss is. Jake just sits there eating fried chicken and licking his fingers with a shit-eating look on his face. This was probably the scene of the show.
Back to Governor Vargas who is watching his brother’s source deny the story on national television. Poppa Pope moves fast! Alex Vargas confronts Olivia who tells him her intel was good and that someone obviously got to the nurse. You can see the lightbulb go off over Olivia’s head. If someone can get to the nurse – then someone can get to Susan’s baby daddy!
Olivia proceeds to completely lose her shit with Ronnie, Susan’s baby daddy. I get that he’s a drug dealer and in jail, but he comes across far more likable than Olivia and pretty much anyone else on the show. She basically threatens him with planting illegal evidence on him to keep him in jail longer and tells him that Susan doesn’t give a shit about him. Wow. So ugly. Nice white hat. He agrees to the paternity test. Now we’re back at OPA where the paternity results are in and Ronnie is the father. Olivia tells Huck and Quinn to leak it to everyone and leaves the room. Huck tells Quinn they can’t do this. It is crossing a line too far.
Great scene with Quinn and Abby and probably the best line of the night from Quinn: “She is replacing the white hat with a black skull cap.” LOL. Olivia goes back to OPA and Fitz is there and they have your basic screaming match. Fitz pretending to be a ‘victim of Defiance’ is pretty funny (as a reminder, Defiance is how they rigged the first election for him). But it’s your basic version of the white hat speech he gives her.
Fitz then tries to convince Susan to come clean about Ronnie and all that because she should earn the White House. And then he seems to be about to tell her about Defiance, which I just can’t believe is a good idea. Or, in fact, something that he would ever in a million years do.
Ronnie kills himself (sad), Alex gets demoted, it turns out it was Cyrus and Tom (not Poppa Pope) who took care of the nurse at the rehab center, Susan and David do some teevee appearances (Susan to David: “You’re just a prop”), Mellie does the mean tweets segment on Jimmy Kimmel and is awesome. Finally, Olivia and Fitz have a weird unnecessary scene where they agree to keep things clean. So unconvincing. So unbelievable.
Until next week, y’all! Remember, it isn’t good unless it’s hotter than two squirrels screwing in a wool sock!