“In a case like this, perception is more important than evidence.”
Olivia is in go-mode in this third episode, one filled a number of “wow”s. A wealthy CEO of a company that contracts with Olivia’s office, has a son accused of rape. Olivia tells the CEO and mother that her contract is with the company, not the family. “All day people tell me what they think I want to hear,” she tells Olivia, “But, you . . . you will tell me the truth.” Travis, the 27-year-old son, is a no-show to court. Olivia and Harrison find him in a hotel room with a blond.
In the meantime, Amanda Tanner, the season one main storyline, demands a sit-down with the President. The President, the meantime we learn, has not been sleeping. He awakes one morning, not realizing he has slept in, only to find that the First Lady has canceled all of his morning appointments.
Cyrus receives a CD with an audio recording of what he determines to be the President and Amanda Tanner having sex. Cyrus jumps to the conclusion that Olivia is behind it. This is why they wanted the sit-down. In the meantime, unbeknownst to Cyrus and the President, the First Lady invites Olivia to the State Dinner. And we collectively say, “Wow,” because we think we know what the First Lady does not know.
Olivia follows her gut and believes that Travis did not rape his accuser, Helen. They make an offer to settle with Helen, whose bank accounts are running on the low side. However, Helen does not want the money. While getting ready for court, Travis makes an interesting statement to Harrison about how money can make things go away. The gladiators investigate a little deeper and discover that Travis had raped another girl named Rachel. Travis paid her off to keep her quiet, and the charges were dropped. And it turns out, Rachel was a friend of Helen’s. Helen’s accusation against Travis was to receive justice for Rachel’s rape.
And there’s another “wow.” Travis acts like he did nothing wrong. He acts like because he has enough money, he can make it all go away. He is not quick on the responsibility uptake.
Olivia tells Travis’ mother that it’s not her fault; that who and what Travis is, is not his fault. After she goes to the State Dinner, and Cyrus corners her while she is on her way to meet the President and tells her to leave. Cyrus tells Olivia that the meeting is off. He then goes to the President, who is waiting for Olivia, and tells him that Olivia has called the meeting off and that the whole thing was a set-up.
And another “wow.” Cyrus did what?!? For the first time we see a darker side to Cyrus. A side that says to us that he will do anything to protect his interest. But, how far will he go?
That evening the President asks the First Lady why she invited Olivia. “Because you needed to see her,” Mellie says, “I trust tonight you will sleep like a baby.”
Yep, there it is. Another “wow.” Mellie knows what we thought she didn’t know!?!
Olivia leaves the White House and stops at Travis’ mother’s home.
I was wrong before about it not being your fault. It IS your fault… You love him, you do. But you can’t fix everything for him. You can’t. He’s playing you, because you let him. You give him everything he asks for, and you clean up his messes, and you believe him even when he lies to you and that is NOT LOVE. Love is making him face who he is. The best thing you can do for him is to do the best thing FOR him. It’s not your fault what he did, but letting him get away with it, THAT IS your fault.
And there is. This is hands-down one of the reasons this show is so good. The writing is incredible. These little Olivia monologues are the stars in the crown of this show. And without Kerry Washington, I’m not convinced that it could be done.
Olivia had an ah-ha moment in this episode. Because you love someone does not mean that you let them do whatever they want to do. This mother never made a little league game in ten years. To make up for her absence in her son’s life, she gave and gave and gave to the point that she was blinded to who Travis is.
Back to Amanda Tanner. Quinn goes out with the reporter who is trying to get the scoop on Amanda. Olivia has told him that she will give him information at the right time. Quinn asks him why he has been calling Amanda. The reporter says that he has not. Quinn believes him and tells Olivia. “Amanda is not telling you the whole truth,” Quinn says. Olivia goes to Amanda, tells her that the only way she can help her is if she is completely honest with her.
And this is when the final, and perhaps greatest wow-factor happens. Amanda says two words that change the scope of the show. “I’m pregnant.”
The theme of the episode could easily be summed up as perception. Olivia places value on perception. As long as someone has a perception – an appearance – that makes it seem that everything is okay, than everything is okay. Yet, the “wow” moments of the episode are connected in some way or another to a change in the perception we had of that character. It’s as if everything we thought we knew about these characters all changes. Mellie and Cyrus especially. What are they capable of that in the last two episodes we may have never thought?
Travis and Amanda, on the other hand, seem to live and function within a truth that is not truth. Travis thinks that he can do whatever he wants, as long as he keeps up the perception of the rich CEO’s son. Amanda is living in the perception of being loved by the President, which is not a reality or a truth. Yet, she believes it to be truth.
And these characters believe – really believe – that these self-perceptions are real. Philosophers like William James and John Dewey hold that a belief is true when it proves to have some value of success connected with it. For Travis, he believes his perception of life because it has been successful for him. His mother, a bit of a co-dependant, enables this truth to continue to exist. This is why Olivia goes back to his mother to say that who he has become is indeed it her fault.
Yet, the perception that seems to matter, does not compare to the deep truth that resides within.