Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: forgive

Scandal 2.18: Molly, You in Danger, Girl

Ponderings - Scandal Season 2 recapsEvery episode is another “wow” episode. It keeps us on our toes, wondering what will happen next and trying to figure out who is who in this crazy, scandalous, web that is Washington D. C.

The President makes an official statement that CIA Director Osbourne was the mole. But things start to change when Osbourne’s wife shows up at Pope and Associates. She claims that it was not suicide, but murder. Her clue? The note he left was written to “Susan,” he hasn’t called her that in 30 years. Olivia takes the case.

While the President is making that statement, Jake Ballard breaks into Olivia’s place. He removes all of his spy equipment. Minutes later, Huck and Quinn walk in to make sure the place is clean. Every third Wednesday is sweep day. After they leave, Jake comes back in and places it all back.

The more they dig into things and re-dig, they realize that Osbourne was not the mole. Which means Molly and David are still in danger. Abby rushes over to David’s apartment and tells him he has to return to the office. This leads David to see that Abby still has feelings for him, but he is still feeling the burning of her taking the flash drive (which she still tells him she didn’t, but we know she did.)


They learn that Molly was a set up. The real mole set Molly in to lie to Olivia about Osbourne being the guy. They believed her. David uses contacts he has with Homeland security to put her on the no fly list. They find it at an airport and question her. She clearly has had the fear of God placed in her. She didn’t do it for the money, she says, but for her life.

From her apartment, Olivia calls Cyrus, who is in a hotel room to tell him that Osbourne was not the mole. Cyrus doesn’t want anything to do with it because the President has made it official that Osbourne was. Olivia tells him that she can’t let it go. If Olivia is making the call from her apartment, that means that Jake Ballard is on the other side watching. Sure enough, he is. And he meets with the mystery man in the park again. Olivia knows, he tells the man. The mystery man tells Jake, “I trust you’ll take care of it.”

What?!? Who is this guy?

As a side note, this episode really showed the unique friendship that Olivia and Cyrus have. They call each other often, sometimes just a quick sentence or two. But they care deeply for one another.

Cyrus pleads with Fitz and Mellie to play nice and do an interview together. Fitz says they have had lots of practice at pretending they love each other. The story they tell in the interview of how they met gets a lot of replay. Fitz recalls with Mellie how they really met. His dad happened to come to Boston for business and an old friend happen to bring his young, clerk with him. It wasn’t a blind date, Fitz realizes, it was a merger. Fitz is caught up in this life of lies, doesn’t want to be, but can’t see to figure out how to get out of it.

While Mellie thinks that Cyrus and James have the perfect relationship, Fitz knows (we don’t know how) that Cyrus has been staying at a hotel. He offers Cyrus advice, “Don’t give up on him, if you love him.” Cyrus will move back in, despite James’ protests. Cyrus tells James that he has done some pretty crappy stuff too, and despite the horrible stuff we do, we love each other.

Jake keeps trying to take Olivia out for dinner, but Olivia keeps telling him she has to work. While watching the interview with the President and the First Lady, Olivia can’t handle it. She shows up at Jake’s place with burgers. While she’s not looking, he slips her phone out of her purse and turns it off. He distracts her from her phone by kissing her, and they eventually end up in bed together.

The next morning, Olivia gets up to get a glass of water. She picks up a remote and attempts to turn the television in the kitchen on. We know what a news junkie Olivia is. Instead, the remote reveals the hidden tv screens that are leaked to the cameras in Olivia’s apartment. She freaks out, and while Jake tries to calm her down, she falls, and there is bleeding.

GladiatorsinHelmets_zpsf9827eedHarrison gets a phone call, and we think it is someone calling to tell him about Olivia, but it the ME’s office calling about Molly. The number called most often in her cell phone was Harrison’s. She was killed by a hit and run. The Gladiators don’t believe it. The mole is kicking butt and not worrying about names.

Huck and Quinn tracked the mole making a purchase of a storage unit. They go to look into it. Huck makes Quinn wait in the car and keep watch. While Huck checks the storage out, which just has an empty box in it, someone comes up behind him, knocks him in the head, and shoves him into the box. An hour later, Quinn knows something is wrong. It takes a while, but Quinn finally figures out that someone moved one of the security cameras. She goes through each locker on the floor that Huck was on, until she finds Huck. Huck ends up sitting in the corner of his office shaking. David observes that this is worse than when he was water-boarded.

The President seems to randomly call Cyrus one evening. Randomly because Cyrus isn’t expecting it. “I killed Verna Thornton,” the President says. Cyrus is speechless. The President’s confession shows that he is as dirty as Cyrus. The President then asks if she – Olivia – would forgive him.


Quinn reviews the security footage from the storage locker with the other Gladiators. They find a guy in a baseball cap. Quinn is certain that is the guy who stuffed Huck in the box. Baseball cap, Harrison reasons, works for Albatros, the mole.

We next see Baseball cap as Charlie, the B16 spy, making a phone call to . . . Cyrus. Is Cyrus Albatros? Is he the mole? But why??

Olivia is in the hospital. When she wakes up, Jake is there telling her what the story is, and to please stick to it. Seriously, who is this guy? Then the President comes in, thanking Jake for calling him, and sits next to Olivia. As Fitz leans to give Olivia a hug, Jake is outside looking through the glass in the door. As he put it together why Fitz was having him watch Olivia?

Olivia looks lost and uncertain. She is clearly uncomfortable, and not strong. Olivia Pope is always strong. But here, in the hospital bed, with two men she has slept with in arm’s length, she is uncertain, scared, and weak.

Scandal 2.16: Top of the Hour

Ponderings - Scandal Season 2 recapsThe Stanner family is preparing for dinner. When the doorbell rings, Dad gives Daughter a $20 for the pizza. But when Daughter opens the door, there is no pizza, just a lawn full of reporters and cameras.

Sarah Stanner is RYO Corp CEO and has been outed as having an affair with a Supreme Court justice nominee when she was in law school and he was her teacher. Which means, it’s not a great week for President Grant. The hostages are still being held in Kashfar. Olivia pays Jake Ballard a visit and gives him the information regarding the hostages that she has. She tells him that he tell anyone it came from her and he can’t go to the CIA with it.

Sarah calls her lawyer, who sends Olivia Pope. When she arrives with Abby and Harrison, she is on the phone with Cyrus, who is trying to get Olivia to take care of the situation in his favor. Olivia tells him that Sarah is her client, not the judge. Harrison and Abby think that Olivia should pull the car around the back. The press will eat them alive. Olivia keeps telling them to wait for the top of the hour. They don’t understand. But once the top of the hour arrives, the cameras turn back on and the reporters go live. Olivia, Abby, and Harrison are able to slip into the house without any notice.

Scandal 2.16 - Top of the Hour

Olivia along with Abby and Harrison deal with the Sarah Stanner case from various angles. Sarah holds a press conference where she admits to the affair and gets it out in public. The pressure is put on the Supreme Court justice nominee. The Board wants to fire Sarah based on their morality clause, but Harrison and Abby call the Board’s bluff on that. Cyrus is not happy that Olivia is working the case. It becomes Olivia vs. Cyrus, and their friendship does not change the intensity with which they go at it.

Olivia stays with Sarah and her husband 24/7 during the ordeal, in turn helping them keep their marriage together. Perhaps because Olivia can relate to Sarah. Olivia has been the other woman. As she watches this family get torn apart, I imagine that she feels guilty for her actions. Olivia is searching for grace. While drinking bottles of wine with Sarah, Olivia gives the following advice, again from her own experiences:

Olivia: You did what you thought was best at the time, even if it was wrong, you can’t change the choice you mad;, all you can do is not let it ruin you.

Sarah: What if he never forgives?

Olivia: You’re going to have to learn to forgive yourself.

Sarah: That sounds lonely.

Olivia: It is.

Olivia is on to something. Forgiveness and reconciliation go hand in hand. We too often want to jump right to reconciliation, without putting the energy or the focus on forgiveness. Olivia’s advice to Sarah to forgive herself, is Yoda gold. It is also something that Olivia must do herself. A preacher once said that the best sermons were the ones he preached to himself. Olivia, keep preaching.

President & Jake BallardJake Ballard shares the information with the President that Olivia had given him. He does not tell the President where the information comes from. A rescue effort is put into action. As Jake leaves the Oval Office, Mellie happens to catch a glimpse. Mellie has suspected that Fitz and Olivia were back together. But seeing Jake she knows that Fitz is not cheating on her, but on Cyrus. Jake’s intel pays off, and the American hostages are rescued.

And Mellie has reason to be worried. Fitz has continued to keep her and Cyrus at arm’s length. When Fitz takes Teddy for his feeding time, he slams the door of the Oval Office in Mellie’s face. Well, then.

While the President gives a prime time address about the rescue, a masked man is trashing an apartment. He is looking for something. When a photographer from the Stanner’s home walks in, the masked man beats him up, and takes the camera. When he sees that the picture of Olivia and Jake is indeed on the memory card, he takes the card and leaves. As he does so, he removes the mask. It is Jake Ballard. Who is this guy?

Throughout the whole episode, Huck is teaching Quinn, which is quite something to watch.

Quinn: You’re good at this. Stalking people.

Huck: You’ll get there.

They are watching the CIA director. They know that he is making drops somewhere in the city and in public. It turns out that he is doing it at a local dry cleaners. Quinn tries to play it cool and pretend is picking up her husband’s dry cleaning, affirms that the dry cleaners is the drop off site, and awkwardly tries to return the suits.

As the episode ends, the CIA director (who is the mole) receives pictures of Quinn from the dry cleaner guy.

Home Alone (1990)

Home_aloneWhen I was a kid, I remember anxiously waiting for the chance to stay home alone. It was as if to stay home alone without a parent or another sibling was to receive some outstanding award. It was proof that my parents trusted me. But, it was also the only chance to do whatever you wanted to without being told you couldn’t. It was freedom.

John Hughes, the prolific screenwriter of a generation, penned Home Alone. Hughes, well known for films like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, had the gift of being able to remember what it was like to be young. He could tap into the imagination of a child or teenager, keep audiences laughing, and throw in a dose of reality.

Home Alone is the story of eight-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) waking up and finding himself home alone. His family and extended family had already left, in haste, for Paris, where they will spend Christmas. At first, it is a dream come true for Kevin. He eats what he wants; watches what he wants; and sleeps where he wants. But he quickly becomes the defender of his home against two goons, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) who have their eyes set on Kevin’s home. Kevin develops a series of traps for the burglars to keep them out. And they work.

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Guest Post: Mandela’s Legacy of Reconciliation

Neill Caldwell is editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate magazine.



In August, 1989, I was visiting London and discovered that my hotel was around the corner from the South African embassy. One day I saw a large group of people protesting outside the gates of the embassy against the South African government’s racist system of apartheid. I joined the rear fringe of the demonstration, mainly for the novelty of it, and among the things we chanted that day was “Free Mandela!” Although I’d heard of Nelson Mandela the year before when a huge tribute concert was organized in honor of his 70th birthday, I can’t honestly say I really knew who he was.

I had only met one person from South Africa, a student journalist who interned at the North Carolina newspaper where I was working. She was white, but was in favor of lifting the harsh laws against people of color in her homeland; laws that made our “Jim Crow” laws in the South seem tame. I only had a couple of conversations with her about apartheid, but considered her viewpoint – a white person willing to give away absolute political control to the black majority population – to be very enlightened.

Six months after my 15-minute protest in London, Mandela was in the news as it became apparent that the government was about to free him from prison. I remember artists making sketches of what Mandela might look like, as there had been no photos of him published in the 27 years he had languished in prison. That was pretty remarkable. Who was this man so many people were interested in seeing?

I remember his release, walking toward the media’s cameras and into freedom and with a huge crowd behind him. What a moment that was.

His election as the first black president of South Africa was even more amazing. That the election process, with more than two dozen presidential candidates, came off without violence was notable enough. But that a former inmate, who had been labeled a “terrorist” by his own government, the U.S. and Britain, was now in charge of the government that he had long worked to overthrow? If it was a Hollywood script it would have been rejected as too unbelievable.

Mandela was a complex man, a militant who enjoyed gardening and ballroom dancing. He said he was blessed with his father’s “stubborn sense of fairness.” After his schooling, including being the only native African in his law school class, Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC), forming the political organization’s youth branch with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu. Mandela proposed a change in tactics in the anti-apartheid movement. Previously the ANC had sought to further its cause by petitions and protests; Mandela felt these actions were insufficient, and proposed more proactive tactics such as boycotts, acts of civil disobedience and strikes.

After police fired on an ANC protest in 1960, killing 69 in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela went underground, obtaining the nickname “Black Pimpernel” in the press for being able to travel the nation while in disguise to organize actions again the government. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Mandela formed an even more radicalized group to perform acts of sabotage against military bases, power plants and transportation links. He was arrested in 1962, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1964.

It is Mandela’s prison years that make him remarkable. Sent to Robben Island, prisoners worked at hard labor during the day, breaking rocks into gravel or quarrying lime. He slept on a straw mat in a 7 by 8-foot cell; allowed one visit and one letter every six months, and no newspapers. But despite this, “Mandiba” thrived. He learned the Africaans language to better communicate with his jailers. He studied Islam, and organized “the University of Robben Island” where prisoners taught their areas of special expertise to other inmates (the original “Ted Talks?”).



He was eventually released in 1990, declaring his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the white minority government. After his election as president, he saw reconciliation as his primary agenda. His idea of “the Rainbow Nation” meant that everyone was to be included as part of the new system. President Mandela met with senior figures of the apartheid regime, sometimes over tea, saying that “courageous people do not fear forgiving.” He created the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by both the government and people of color, appointing Archbishop Desmond Tutu as its chairperson. When his presidential term ended, he voiced his support for candidate Jacob Zuma, of the rival Zulu tribe, who was elected in a land side.

Finally, ten years ago at age 85 Mandela famously “retired from retirement” citing health reasons, telling the world “don’t call me; I will call you.”

There are qualities of his life that you could call downright … biblical. Certainly his “love your enemies” message resounds with Christians. Biographer Martin Meredith says he was always polite and courteous to everyone, irrespective of age or status, and often sought out the company of children or servants. Even while president, he insisted on making his own bed. He also liked to secretly drive a car with darkly tinted windows just to enjoy the pleasure of driving.

Mandela was far from perfect. He was a Marxist who learn much from the Communist activists he worked alongside, but did not become Communist himself because their atheism conflicted with his Methodist faith. Never a great public speaker, the content of his speeches, and his writing, are some of the most profound words of my lifetime. “I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances,” he said.

The thing to take away from the life of Nelson Mandela is his attitude toward those who sought to oppress him, marginalize him and strip away his basic human rights. He forgave them.

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