Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: President (page 2 of 4)

Scandal 2.17: Snake in the Garden

scandal-season-2-the-jasmine-brandThe Biblical allusions are running amuck in this week’s episode. Theological themes of sin, grace, and forgiveness have always found a place in Scandal. This week, though, the writers did not hold back.

The title line belongs to Mellie, as she and Cyrus discuss Fitz’ new person whom he is taking advice from. This “snake” is messing up everything that Mellie and Cyrus planted. Cyrus is handling it, as he quotes Olivia Pope. And he is. He has asked Charlie, the B16 spy to look into Jake Ballard. The President, in the meantime, asks Jake to look more into the source that provided information regarding the hostages. The President wants to know who the mole is.

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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.

Scandal 2.15: Boom Goes the Dynamite

scandal-season-2-the-jasmine-brandOlivia is late meeting Jake Ballard. She tells him she’s never late for a meeting. He corrects her that this is a date. And their relationship misunderstanding begins. Jake isn’t fond of the restaurant Olivia chose, so he grabs the two wine glasses and the bottle of wine off the table. They end up at the Jefferson Memorial instead.

Olivia comes out and asks him who is Albatross. Jake is taken aback a little bit. But, promises her one minute to talk business before getting back to the date. Jake tells her that there is a mole within the government. No one has seen the mole or knows him by name, they just refer to him as Albatross. Olivia’s ringing phone disturbs the meeting/date.

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Scandal 2.14: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Ponderings - Scandal Season 2 recapsThis episode takes place ten months since the last episode. Olivia and Fitz are trying to move on and forget one another. Olivia takes to swimming, while Fitz takes to drinking in the shower. They are both using water to wash away the memories of the mistakes they have made.

Mellie joins him in the shower and tries to help him forget, but Cyrus comes into the bathroom to tell the President that there are 4 Americans who have been taken hostage. As the situation unfolds, the hostages are CIA spies.

David Rosen’s morning is going much better. He wakes up in a pool of blood in his own bed. Lying next to him in a dead woman. The police are pounding on his door, David, not sure what has happened, lies to the police that everything is okay. After they leave, he calls Olivia Pope and Associates. Huck and Quinn clean up the scene at David’s and return the body to her own place. Huck teaches Quinn the art of cleaning up, and Quinn seems to enjoy it.

The woman’s name is Wendy, and on her cell phone are pictures of different men. Hands, arms, torso, etc. Huck is able to track the men down based on location stamps. The Gladiators learn that she has been sleeping around with men in scandal-worthy situations. She learns from them the secrets they hold, and then sells them to a newspaper. She had plans to sell David’s story as well. She had asked David about Defiance.

David is arrested by the police before the Gladiators can put this case to rest. David is torn about using Olivia Pope and Associates, though. He begins to get cold feet. He accuses Olivia of having something to do with framing him. How else, he reasons, would Defiance be put to rest? Olivia didn’t frame David, but she wonders if Cyrus did. Cyrus says he did not, that Defiance died with Verna Thornton.

While talking with Cyrus, she tells him, “I think he [the President] knows what we did.” Prior to this, the thought never crossed Cyrus’ mind. The President has been keeping to himself in the last ten months. Upset by the truth that Verna told him on her death-bed, that she, Cyrus, Mellie, and Olivia protected the truth of Hollis Doyle’s election rigging. It is starting to get to Cyrus that he is being left out. Cyrus had assumed that the President was because he was bitter about Olivia. But now, he is rethinking that.

Cyrus goes to Mellie:

Cyrus: He can bathe in Scotch for all I care, that’s not the problem — the problem is that he’s not using me like he’s supposed to. I’m the guard dog, I’m the bad cop, I’m the dragon that gets released to run the meetings and make the calls.

Olivia meets Jake Ballard (Scott Folley) for the first time in a coffee shop. They exchange fake jobs. Olivia’s path crosses with Jake’s again, while working on David’s case. Someone keeps calling Wendy’s phone. The same number, multiple times. It is coming from the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, which takes Olivia to Captain Jake Ballard’s office. However, neither receives any useful information from the other.

Olivia Meets Jake Ballard

On the way to Ella, Cyrus and James’ baby girl, baptism, Mellie gives Fitz a mint because he smells like booze. But she gives him more than that. She throws Cyrus under the bus. It was Cyrus’ idea, she tells  him, to support Hollis. Cyrus convinced Mellie, Verna, and Olivia to be a part of it. It was all Cyrus, she keeps telling him. “You can’t trust him, but you can trust me.” And so the President asks his First Lady what she thinks about sending Navy SEALs in to rescue the hostages. Cyrus had thought they should wait. Mellie tells him to trust is gut. As they walk into the church, Fitz gives Cyrus the order:

President Grant: Take as many breaths as you like and recount them in your memoirs — call the SEAL team before the christening.

Baptism Shell - jasoncstanley.comFitz has been chosen as the godfather and Olivia as the godmother. Fitz holds the baby, and Olivia holds her head while the priest pours water over Ella’s head. The waters of baptism symbolizing the grace in one’s life before we know that we need such grace. The waters that tell us that we are forgiven and filled with grace before we make mistakes. Not unlike the waters that covered Olivia and Fitz at the beginning of the episode, as they tried on their own to wash away their sins.

At the reception, Fitz follows Olivia down a hall, pulls her into an electrical closet, and has sex with her. When they come out of the closet, Olivia says it was a mistake. Fitz, thinking she is talking about the sex, says that it won’t happen again. Olivia was talking about Defiance. Fitz says, “That was not a mistake, that was betrayal.”

The SEALs go in, however, the house they entered is empty. Fitz is not happy about it. He is told that there is a mole. The President tells Cyrus to stand down, he needs to think about it. “I need to figure out who I can trust.” The more sin there is, the harder it is to trust. Sin undermines our ability to trust.

David finds a flash drive in his laptop later that evening. Wendy was downloading his Defiance files to it. But on it are top-secret stuff, like the locations of the President’s emergency bunkers. Even though he “fired” Olivia Pope and Associates, he takes it to Olivia. She tells him that he is doing this because he values justice. She tells him that he is “dusting off the White Hat.”

Mellie tries to seduce Fitz in the shower again. But this time, with whiskey in hand, Fitz goes all green and Hulk-like on her. He grabs her wrists and pushes her away, but only to cry, sort of. Fitz is torn. He crossed over to the dark side when he killed Verna, and now she is like Mellie and Cyrus and Olivia. He has fallen and he can’t get up.

When Olivia gets home, she calls Jake Ballard, and they make arrangements for dinner later that week. Perhaps after having sex with the President and him telling her that it won’t happen again, she is ready to move on. However, the more troubling part was that while Olivia is talking to Jake, he is watching her on his television. Who is this guy?

Scandal 2.13: Nobody Likes Babies

Ponderings - Scandal Season 2 recapsIn the last episode, “Truth of Consequences,” Cyrus called Charlie to take care of Hollis Doyle. As Hollis’ elevator is about to close and rise, Charlie gets on it. But, as this episode opens, Huck gets on the elevator too. Hollis recognizes Huck but he can’t place him. Finally Charlie and Huck draw their guns on each other. Huck tells Hollis that Charlie is there to kill him. Huck is going to let Charlie go, and if he tries to kill Hollis again, Huck will be there to protect him. But if Hollis decides to go against Olivia, Huck will not be there to stop Charlie.

After Fitz and Mellie have pictures taken with the new baby, Fitz is still talking about divorce. “Do. Not. Push. Me.” he tells Mellie. Fitz knows that Mellie had herself induced as a manipulation tool to keep Fitz around. And he ain’t happy about it.

Olivia calls Cyrus out on trying to have Hollis killed. Cyrus swears there won’t be a next time.

The Gladiators are trying to figure out if Hollis didn’t have Becky paid to kill the President, than who did? As the Gladiators bounce ideas off of one another and start to make pieces of this puzzle connect, Olivia figures it out.

It was Verna Thornton! The Supreme Court justice is the one who hired Becky to kill the President, mostly to protect herself and to hold on to the power she held. After Olivia leaves, Verna makes a phone call to David Rossen. When David shows up at the hospital to see her, the guards won’t let him through. Why? The President comes around the corner.

It turns out that she called the President too. Here is where things getting really good, and why this is one of the better episodes so far. The President comes out of the room calling for help because Verna is crashing. And she dies.

It is not until the end of the episode, after, James has to testify before a grand jury about Defiance; Cyrus may or may not have sent Charlie to kill James; the Gladiators listen to hours worth of Bobblehead recordings to find out what David knows; Abby finds out that David loves her and that Olivia had broken them up; Abby steals the Cytron memory card from David’s safe; Mellie doesn’t really like babies; Cyrus wanted to be President but knows he can only be the guy behind the President; Quinn tries to hire Huck to kill Hollis Doyle; James does testify but does not tell the truth, making David look like he has made the whole thing up.

It is only then, after all this happens, as Fitz is giving the eulogy at Verna’s funeral, that we learn that Verna had called the President. She confessed to him that she hired Becky to kill him and she comes clean about Defiance. When Fitz finds out that Olivia had something to do with it, he is visibly upset. Mellie and Cyrus being involved did not surprise him, but Olivia, I guess he thought more of her.

Prior to the funeral, Edison comes over to Olivia’s to see if she needs a ride to the funeral. Olivia gives him the ring back – again. She tells him she wishes she could be normal. While the normal life sounds nice and seems promising, its not what she wants. Edison’s reply is simple: “Love is not supposed to be painful.”

In the hospital, Fitz holds down Verna’s hands, and removes her oxygen mask, which results in her dying. The President killed the Supreme Court justice.

Fitz, whom to this point has been a naive, and innocent bystander, has now gotten his hands dirty. He has fallen as well. The roots of sin run deep. More importantly, sin distorts our image of love.

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