It is difficult to discern who or what is considered an enemy. Often we think that it is those people or forces who oppress us or others. At times it is those people or forces who stand in the way of what we consider is good and right. But who decides who is an enemy and who is not?
“Enemy of the State” explores this tension. The client-of-the-episode is General Benicio Flores (Jose Zuniga) who is a South American dictator. Not all of the gladiators are on board with Olivia’s decision to take the General as a client. The story is told that his wife and two, young children were kidnapped from a resturant. He does not trust the American government to find them, so he has come to Olivia. And Olivia accepts the General as a client.
Though at first it is not completely clear to the gladiators what has got Olivia so distracted that she does not appear to be thinking this one all the way through. The truth is, she is distracted, as she starts this episode off chugging a glass of wine. Remember the last episode?
Amanda Tanner is pregnant with the President’s baby.
And Olivia is secretly (?) in love with the President.
Distraction. Major distraction. Got it.
Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick) and Abby (Darby Stanchfield), thanks to the Huck (Guillermo Diaz) being interested in a game boy that one of the kids was playing with, track the General’s wife and children to a woman’s shelter. She was not kidnapped, she ran away. She pleads her case to Abby and Stephen. Abby was one of the gladiators from the beginning who did not think Olivia should take a dictator as a client. Abby gets it why the wife wants to leave the General. And thanks to Cyrus, we know why.
We learn more about the gladiators as Cyrus investigates Olivia and her employees. It is an interesting and creative way for us to learn details about the gladiators that will only support the larger story as it goes forward. We learn that Abby was in an abusive relationship and that Olivia helped her to get out of it. This is why Abby has empathy for the General’s wife. The abuse is not physical, but she is marked with emotional scares.
Abby puts the General’s wife and children in a hotel room for the night. The next morning she goes to get them and they are gone. Stephen had disagreed with her discussion. His loyalty is with Olivia and he tells Olivia where the mother and children are. When Abby goes to the hotel the next morning to get the dictator’s wife, she and the children are gone. Abby goes to the office, unsure what she will say to Olivia, and finds that the wife and the children are already there.
Afterwards, Abby and Olivia get into a heated discussion:
Olivia: I did what I had to for my client. I made a tough call. You don’t like it, Abby, too bad. It’s my name on that door, not yours.
Abby: Don’t talk to me about tough calls or names on the door…When Charles fractured three of my ribs and broke my jaw and threw me out into the snow in my nightgown, Olivia Pope took a tire iron and broke his knee cap and got me the best divorce attorney in the state and got me out of that marriage. It’s what Olivia does. It’s who you are. You are the gladiator. I would gladly follow you over a cliff, but you’ve gotta show up. You gotta be a warrior. You don’t get to pick and choose when the real Olivia Pope walks through that door. You made the wrong call.
The enemy theme continues as the Amanda Tanner storyline continues to develop. Cyrus is still convinced at Olivia has something to do with it, which is why he has her team investigated. Olivia comes clean with the gladiators that she has made a some mistakes. Olivia lays out what the case is concerning Amanda Tanner, and gives the group a chance to vote on whether or not they will take her on as a client.
As the group votes, we get glimpses of Amanda in her apartment. As the last vote is cast – Abby says, “Over a cliff,” affirming to Olivia that taking Amanda as a client is the right thing to do – we witness an unknown figure murdering Amanda. Making it clear that Amanda is seen as the number one enemy of the State. It also shows how unpredictable the show and how many twists and turns it can have.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, encouraged those who joined in the movement to follow three simple rules: do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. The human journey is finding the balance between doing no harm and doing good. The journey is not always so black-and-white. Not nearly as clear cut as we would want it to be. Doing good and doing no harm is cloudy at best. This is where we find Olivia and her associates in this episode.
We want nothing more than to be able to wake up each day and know – without a doubt – who or what is or is not, our enemy. What Scandal shows is that life is not predictable. Olivia and Cyrus both act like they know who the enemy is, when in reality they do not. We don’t either. We have guesses, but as the audience our guess is as good as knowing the brand of pen’s the writers use. The best we can do is sit back and wait to see what happens next.
But I have a feeling, the enemy lines will just get blurrier and blurrier.