These are a few of my favorite things

It’s been so long since I’ve posted! I was simply too wrapped up in classes and extracurriculars to comment on awards season- but don’t doubt that I wasn’t obsessing over it it. These past few months have reaffirmed my belief in the emotional impact visual storytelling can have. To save time (and space) I’ve made a list of my top 6 tv/film faves from the past few months in no particular order.

1) True Detective – Everyone was talking about the brilliant HBO character study that confirmed Matthew McConaughney has pulled a bigger career 180 than Ben Affleck. I had been looking forward to this miniseries since the project was greenlit. A creepy serial killer, McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and a character study spanning 20 years- what’s not to love? The cinematography was beautiful and unnerving and the acting performances felt so natural. I loved how the story was told through present day interviews to show the psychological toll the case had taken on both detectives. Ultimately, it was more a show on personal demons than outward evil. Not to spoil anything, but I thought it was brilliant that they chose not to let McConaughey’s character, Rust, die. It might have seemed like a happy ending that didn’t fit with the tone of the show, but on the other hand it seemed crueler to make Rust have to face the world every day for a little bit longer. All he wanted was to be reunited with his deceased daughter and taken away from the confusion and pain of the secular world. I’m curious to see how the anthology drama will handle next season with a completely new cast and storyline. No matter what happens, those eight episodes were near perfect.

2) Brooklyn Nine-Nine- This freshman comedy just finished its first season on a high note. Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta was sent off on an undercover mission but not before declaring his feelings for Amy Santiago. A lot of people were surprised when Samberg an the show itself took home Golden Globes in January, but I was thrilled. I love that Samberg can play the crazy, goofy bro we saw on SNL but also have sweet moments of real chemistry with his costars. I’ve never seen an ensemble comedy know its tone and characters so fully and completely right off the bat. Not to mention, it’s really, really funny.

3) The Mindy Project– I had previously lamented how The Mindy Project hadn’t quite figured out what it wanted to be, but thankfully the show discovered it’s at its best when it centers on Mindy’s love life with the backing of a workplace comedy. The show returns for the second half of its second season in less than a week and I’m thrilled. The relationship between Mindy and Danny has grown so much this season and their chemistry feels so natural and exciting. That kiss on the plane? Amazing. It’s a bold move to already address the tension so early on in the show, but I feel like it’s not going to take the boring, traditional route that Nick/Jess did on New Girl.

4) Captain Phillips- The film based on a true story about a Somali pirate attack was one of the last Oscar-nominated films I watched before the awards show. Perhaps it was knowing that everything turns out okay, but I couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes. I could feel the tension on the ship, but I wasn’t fully invested. When I finally pressed on and got to the second act of the film when the pirates take Captain Phillips hostage in the lifeboat I was so anxious. What I thought was really interesting about this story and the way it was told was that the pirates, particularly Barkhad Abdi’s character, weren’t one-dimensional villains. You understood that they wished they weren’t having to do this. You understood that they felt like victims too. By the time Tom Hanks was rescued and being checked over by the medical team, I was crying right along with him after all the intensity.

5) Parenthood- The Braverman clan written by Jason Katims is still bringing the raw emotion. Katims does understated, real emotion so beautifully. The fact that he can make me genuinely care about whether an elementary school student gets held back is amazing. He doesn’t conjure up crazy scenarios, but rather takes everyday topics from the lens of how it would feel if you yourself were actually going through these things. I care about Victor’s education because Julia and Joel care. I care about Zeek and Camille selling their house because they care. The best storyline has been Joel and Julia’s divorce. It’s messy and a little unclear why they’re separating, but that’s because the characters themselves haven’t looked into their deeper issues, so why should we? All I know is it feels a little too real.

6) Late Night with Seth Meyers- I was initially let down by Seth Meyers’ turn as a late night host. His monologue felt like an awkward version of Weekend Update and the segments about pie charts and venn diagrams. The set takes some getting used to (please get him a couch instead of those uncomfortable chairs). If you’re looking for a social media savvy host with a penchant  for creative games and viral videos, stick with Jimmy Fallon. But if you want your talk show host to actually be good at talking, try out Meyers. I love Jimmy Fallon and his energy, but Seth has an incredible way of getting his guests to give compelling answers and open them up. His interviews have been some of the best of all the late night hosts (this could just be because he interviews a lot of the SNL cast). I don’t think he’ll ever make the jump to 11:30, but I’m excited to see where he takes Late Night. He’s clearly a gifted comedy writer and while the show isn’t perfect yet, it could be in the next couple years.

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The Fall

It took me a while to come around to write about my thoughts on BBC Two’s The Fall. I made the mistake of watching the Irish crime drama on Netflix during winter finals week. Nothing like a good dose of serial killers to make those cold, depressing hours in the library better, right? If you have Netflix I highly suggest you watch the first season (there are only five episodes), but preferably in a healthy state of mind. While most American serial killer depictions focus on the blood, gore and outright evil of the person, The Fall is much more psychological, and in a way, more terrifying.

Gillian Anderson’s character, Detective Stella Gibson, is brought in as an expert to help solve the local Belfast murders. Gibson is originally the only one convinced that these murders of successful women are being committed by the same perpetrator. Unlike other shows where the tension comes from figuring out whom the murderer is, the viewers already know that it’s Jamie Dornan’s Paul Spector. Spector seems like a nice family man with a loving wife and two adorable kids. This makes it even more jarring when we see him go from playing with his daughter to strangling a woman to her death and creepily photographing her all within the same 24 hours.

The cat and mouse game between Spector and Gibson is carefully thought out and made all the more interesting by the two characters’ motivations. Gibson is an enigma- she is cold, ruthless and seems to be more emotionally attached to the murder victims than to her own romantic partners. Spector effortlessly glides from dropping his kids off at school to planning his next murder. His family is completely unaware of his actions. He’s charismatic and brilliant, but clearly disturbed as he chases the high of dominating and overpowering strong, professional women. Women that incidentally are not that different from Detective Gibson herself.

Anyway, watch this show. Mentally prepare yourself beforehand for the bleak, grey scenery and the realization that your husband could be a serial killer. Thanks Netflix!

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American Hustle

David O. Russell’s latest dramedy venture has been garnering a lot of award show buzz, specifically when it comes to the four main actors. Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence all turn in electrifying performances that are truly captivating; unfortunately, as fun as the actors are to watch, we end up learning very little about the characters they are portraying.

Russell brings to life the world of the 1970s by zeroing in on white-collar criminal Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), his mistress and accomplice Sydney Prosser (Adams) and the FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) who corners them into taking down politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). The Hustle, the defining dance craze from the ’70s, shares its name with the act of conning people so that you can get to the top- exactly what Rosenfeld did. Russell’s main goal is getting the audience to realize that the one thing that drives all theses people, and perhaps every American, is desperation. Unhappy marriages, unfulfilling careers and lack  of options drives people to do crazy things. But either due to lack of time or lack of answers, Russell fails to answer why these characters got to be this way and why this is what they settle for. Nonetheless, it’s a fun look into the world of governmental corruption and moral ambiguity.

While the story is compelling, it would be nothing without the actors’ performances (and hairdos). Adams is at her best, and most unclothed, as a confused, strong conwoman who just wants a stable relationship. Bale’s toupee deserves its own award and Lawrence is ridiculously mesmerizing as a young mentally unstable wife with no filter. And People’s former Sexiest Man Alive proves he’s more than just a pretty face. Cooper can also rock a perm.

Russell may not have all the answers or insights into these people, and the film wanders a bit trying to figure out exactly what it’s trying to say, but at the end of the day it’s just a story. A quick look into this decade and these people’s lives- it’s not an allegory, it’s not a theme-laden piece of  art. It simply serves to tell the story of confused, desperate people hustling towards the finish line.

P.S.- Louis C.K. shows up and it’s fantastic

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Catching Fire

The second installment in the film franchise of The Hunger Games debuted this past weekend as the most profitable  November opening in history.  The film is visually stunning and is anchored by the effortlessly charming Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. The story itself isn’t quite as thrilling as the first third of the trilogy, but nonetheless captures your attention for two and a half hours.  If you thought the first movie was grim, it only gets worse. It’s not just the death and poverty that makes you cringe, it’s the utter hopelessness of the story. There is no happy ending to this story and there is no shying away from how terrified we should all be of our government (which has been becoming more and more like The Capitol in the years since the books were published).

But so far my favorite review of the film hasn’t dealt with Katniss’ status as a role model, the allegory of Panem or how brilliant Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks are – no, my favorite review comes from The Onion. Because after all, aren’t Young Adult stories just about how good-looking the love interests are? Obviously, The Hunger Games relies very little on romance to draw readers in, so it’s amusing to hear the occasional argument  over Team Peeta or Team Gale. The YA demographic values thoughtful storytelling, and after having Twilight crammed down their throats since 2009, I think they’re just glad to have dynamic characters, no matter who ends up with whom. But at the end of the day, this is Lawrence’s film. She is the unrelenting anchor and her male counterparts are simply along for the ride. I think the reason I get such a kick out of the Peeta vs. Gale debate is because it honestly doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s a nice B-story, but this is a story about revolution and corruption. Who has time for romance when there are governments to be overthrown?

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Show Success 101

November sweeps is upon us, and the new shows that haven’t already been cancelled now have to really show their worth.  Over the past few years critics have bemoaned the fact that network television just cannot compare to the brilliance of cable shows. The simple reason for this uneven playing field all goes back to money. Network stations rely so heavily on advertisers that that can’t afford the risk of offending anyone or being too “out there”. Shows like Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Homeland, True Blood etc. have all suffered creative missteps, and yes they have much more violence and sex, but more importantly the focus is on the story, not the production decisions.

So often good shows let the promise of media hype, celebrity guest stars and ratings-grabbing musical episodes ruin the story all for the sake of more money. The first show that comes to mind is Glee.  Ryan Murphy let this show fall so far because rather than focusing on character development and continuity, he worried about how to fit Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson into the show. He built the show around catchy headlines and one-episode shockers. He and his team left viewers confused and frustrated because he took what was once a lovable group of kids and teachers and turned them into cartoon characters.

Each new season when pilots are rolled out for the networks I am baffled by how any executive thinks they’ll actually work. You can’t just combine hype-worthy plotlines and hope for the best. Just because The Avengers doesn’t mean there show be a Marvel show. Just because fairy tales are trendy doesn’t mean Ichabod Crane needs to be a leading man. Just because Sean Hayes is a great, funny guy doesn’t mean he deserves his own show. When the only selling point of a show is the pitch, it won’t work. The writing has to be creative, the idea has to be fresh (or at least a new take on it) and the focus has to be on characters, not on hype.

The only new show I enjoy this season is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I wasn’t expecting much from the Fox comedy (Andy Samberg seems more of a sketch artist that a sitcom lead) but I was pleasantly surprised. There are so many cop shows on TV but almost all of them are dramas. The cast is really hilarious and the dynamic between Samberg’s immature but successful cop and Andre Braugher’s tough commanding officer is fun to watch. The supporting characters are already very well-defined because of the great writing. It feels like the early years of The Office. Of course, it’s too soon to tell if the show will steadily improve, but it has already nabbed the post-Superbowl slot. It’ll probably never win an Emmy, but at least it proves networks can do something right.

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Scandal 3.03/3.04

It’s a two-for-one Scandal recap (mainly because I’ve been so busy with school and clubs)! I’ll make it quick- last week’s Scandal was intense as usual, while this week’s slowed down the pace.

Last week:

-The main story was that Olivia was trapped in the Capital with a senator and a crazy mom with a bomb attached to her. The aforementioned mom was determined to get the senator to clear her son’s name (he had been killed by FBI on suspicion of being a terrorist) with Ms. Pope’s help.

-Shonda Rhimes loves a good human bomb, and I mean, don’t we all? First there was the man on the post-SuperBowl episode of Grey’s Anatomy and now Mary Nesbitt (played by the Air Bud mom!), who made herself a pretty crafty DIY bomb vest. Maybe we can start stalking possible suicide bombers on Pinterest.

-I loved when Olivia stepped right into the open window of the senator’s office so that Fitz would see her and stop the snipers. This woman knows her powers. Jake, as well as Fitz, seemed pretty darn concerned about Olivia’s need to stay with the bomber. The similarities between Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope are growing- both smart, strong women involved with married men, daddy issues and an odd death wish.

-The B story was far less interesting. Huck was following Mr. Pope, and Mr. Pope was following someone involved with Fitz’s mysterious Navy mission. Huck ends up killing the man for Mr. Pope because he just can’t break free.

-The son of the crazy lady ended up being a member of B613, the FBI just didn’t know. In order to save the other CIA operatives lives, Olivia had to lie to his mother and tell her her son was a terrorist. After Olivia and the senator were set free, she ended up blowing herself up. It was actually really disturbing to think that our government is this heartless and manipulative.

This Week:

-The main plot centered on Pope and Associates helping a Senator accused of murdering a girl he had been sending Anthony Weiner-type pictures to. His wife (played by the fabulous Melora Hardin) originally stood by him, but after more girls came forward, Olivia decided to have the wife defend his alibi while saying she hated him. The jury totally bought it…except for the fact that they missed that the wife was actually the one who killed the girl. By defending her husband, she saved herself. Case closed.

– The president held a fancy funeral for the Navy pilot that Huck killed. He neglected to tell the man’s sister that the two served together, but at the end of the episode Fitz marches down to B613 headquarters to talk to Mr. Pope, presumably about the mission. Hopefully we’ll find out soon what the big mystery is. Was Fitz in B613?

-Jake and Olivia seemed to have reconciled, as do Abby and David. Scott Foley is great, so I’m glad he’s becoming a key player.

-We were introduced to Lisa Kudrow’s character, a Sarah Palin-esque Democratic congresswoman named Josephine Marcus, with the potential to beat Fitz out of a reelection. Mellie makes the mistake of unwittingly insulting the congresswoman while a microphone is still live after a photo-op. Cyrus was furious at her for giving Marcus traction in the political game and for tarnishing the First Lady’s pleasant public persona. I think it’ll be fun to see how Kudrow’s character plays out, considering she isn’t known for her dramatic acting chops.

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I recently saw Alfonso Cuaron’s latest film, Gravity, and according to box office reports, so did most of America. It truly as wonderful as critics and audiences are proclaiming it to be. I was skeptical of how they would create a movie a movie entirely about one person free-floating through outer space. I was convinced, that for storytelling’s sake, there would have to be multiple flashbacks explaining about Sandra Bullock’s character’s life on Earth. Instead, what moviegoers got was a shockingly tense film that was so beautifully executed that it didn’t need to rely on writers taking the easy way out. Nothing about this movie took the easy way out.

Bullock’s character, Dr. Stone, and George Clooney’s character, Matt, are separated from their space shuttle after an enormous amount of space debris hits them. Bullock and Clooney were perfectly cast- Bullock as the relatable every-woman with so much warmth and heart, and Clooney as the jocular leader with a penchant for storytelling and overall laid-back attitude. Clooney and Bullock are separated fairly early on in the film, so in the end this is really Bullock’s vehicle. Cuaron’s use of tight camera shots that follow the ebb and flow of Dr. Stone’s weightless body makes for an incredibly nail-biting experience.

When you think of space, you think of vastness,openness. Which is ironic, because never in my life have I felt more claustrophobic while watching a movie. At certain points in the film you are literally inside Dr. Stone’s  space helmet watching the condensation of her dying breaths form on the glass. As Dr. Stone tries to propel herself to the nearby International Space Station (ISS), everything seems to get worse. At one point the ISS catches on fire, she nears 0 percent oxygen and discovers the ISS has no fuel. The latter half of the film is mainly just Bullock muttering to herself and trying the last-ditch prayer approach before giving it all up. Bullock does a wonderful job of portraying a terrified, emotional woman, who despite being in an utterly hopeless situation, manages to be strong and resourceful.

The film itself is beautiful and reminds me of all those elementary school trips to the planetarium. Clooney’s character points out that no matter how awful their (most-likely) impending deaths will be, they get to watch the sunrise all over the world. Perhaps the title of the film isn’t referring to the loss of a physical connection to Earth, but rather the spiritual pull we gain towards the universe when we are anchored to an experience much larger than ourselves.

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The Mindy Project is a work in progress

Mindy Kaling has a fairly divisive personality- you either love her or you can’t stand her. I happen to fall into the former category, probably because I see so much of myself in her. We are both strong, smart, independent women who happen to occasionally act like materialistic 15-year-old girls. Just because we appreciate a great outfit and have a tendency to love boy bands doesn’t mean we don’t also love academics and being self-sufficient. Kaling’s show The Mindy Project also has a slight personality/identity crisis. I’ve seen every episode of this show and it has definitely gotten better over the past year. But there is still something missing that keeps it from being brilliant. I think the problem stems from the fact that the show has no idea what it’s focus should be. Is it a workplace comedy? A comedy about Mindy’s life? A comedy about her love life? There’s simply too many storylines being given equal focus and therefore no storyline ever becomes fully realized. The good thing is that despite the lack of storyline focus, a tone has been established. It’s bright, quippy and peppy, much like Kaling herself. But while the show has Mindy’s name in it, there are plenty of supporting characters floating around. Unfortunately, half of them rarely speak and have no depth. The only other character that has some sort of definable personality is Danny Castellano, but the other doctor, Jeremy, is always there but never really saying anything of value. A lot of focus has been placed on Mindy’s love interests, but I couldn’t tell you one interesting thing about the secretaries in the office (Betsy and the old lady). Mindy clearly likes Ike Barinholtz so she gives his character, Morgan, more to work with. In the initial part of the first season, we were introduced to Mindy’s friends but they were quickly cut from the cast list because there was really no room for them. I know the focus of this show is supposed to be Mindy, but people are defined by who and what they surround themselves with. It’s time for The Mindy Project to stop being self-centered and allow the people in Mindy Lahiri’s life to shine just as bright as her. Maybe then this show will reflect just how smart and funny Mindy Kaling really is.

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Scandal 3.02

This week’s Scandal set us up for what is shaping up to be a rather dark and bleak season. We were first transported back five years to an uncomfortable dinner with Olivia and her dad (Rowan? Eli? I still don’t know this guy’s real name).  The pair were trying to be civil to each other after years of dysfunction. Dad had asked Olivia to have dinner with him every Sunday night in exchange for paying off her student loans a la Gilmore Girls. At this time, Olivia was still under the impression her dad worked at The Smithsonian, prompting him to give a rant on how mastodons are paid little attention, but are the far more dangerous beast…oooh Shonda loves analogies.

After dinner Liv got mugged but was saved by her warm-hearted hobo friend, Huck.

Present Day: The media frenzy surrounding Jeannine is sharply increasing causing Olivia, who is representing the girl, to arrange a phone call with Fitz. Olivia warns him that she needs to “burn the White House” which Fitz seems totally cool with. He tells her to “go for the jugular.” This dude REALLY hates being president doesn’t he? All he wants is to live in an alternate reality where he’s married to Liv, they have four kids and he’s mayor of a town in Vermont. These characters really hate taking responsibility for their choices.

Liv stages a press conference for Jeannine and Fitz looks so proud as she tears down his administration. Love is complicated. A little later in the Oval Office Fitz tells Mellie and Cyrus that he isn’t going to lie anymore. Mellie simply responds by telling Cyrus to get a file on Jeannine. I loved the scheming duo’s quick banter: Cyrus “You’re evil”, Mellie “You’re welcome”.

We see in flashbacks that there was once a time when Olivia hated wine. Oh, how the times have changed. At dinner with her dad she asks him to look into Huck by asking his friend at the FBI. She thinks Huck was a part of this little thing called B-613, which her dad just so happens to run. He later tells Liv that Huck is a crazy man who has been arrested many times.

Back at Pope & Associates Mr. Pope has stopped by for a friendly visit to his daughter. Or rather, to intimidate her into selling out Jeannine or he’ll have Jake Ballard killed. It was pretty amusing to yell at each other while smiling so her coworkers wouldn’t worry.

Quinn Perkins was pretty unconvinced about their father-daughter relationship so she started poking around in Olivia’s email, which crazy-nervous Huck told her to stop. I’m always terrified that Huck is having a panic attack because everything makes him jittery, which is completely understandable given his past.

Flashback to five years ago and David Rosen’s awful beard! Poor Josh Malina just can’t catch a break. Liv learns from David that her dad lied to her about Huck’s arrest record. From there she pieces together that her father is the one responsible for countless murders and Huck’s PTSD. When she confronts her father he semi-threatens her which shows just how ruthless he is. Rather than cut him out completely, Liv shows up at his house with new fiance Edison, who just so happens to work on the intel committee for Congress.

Present Day: Olivia is preparing Jeannine for a sit-down interview and the girl is miserable. Later that night, Jeannine gets a surprise visit from Mellie. Mellie offers her $2 million and an off-shore account in exchange for Jeannine confessing to the affair. When Olivia finds out about this she is furious and tell Jeannine that by lying she’ll be selling part of her soul. Jeannine doesn’t get the opportunity to fake a confession because her interview is preempted by a press conference by Fitz fake confessing to the affair. Fitz did this to make sure Mr. Pope wouldn’t have Jake Ballard killed. Jeannine will be fine though, as Abby promises her a book deal.

With the help of Quinn, Huck pieces together that Olivia’s dad is Command, the person in charge of B-613. He grabs her in a choke-hold and you can see in his eyes how betrayed he feels by her. But after Olivia’s rather hellish day, she gets a call from her father reinstating Sunday night dinners in exchange for the gift outside her door- a bruised and battered Jake Ballard.

See you next week!

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Scandal season 3 premiere

*If you aren’t watching Scandal, you really should be. It is a ridiculously fun time and proves that Shonda Rhimes knows no boundaries.*

Scandal didn’t waste any time last night getting right back into the breakneck speed it’s known for. Last season, a mysterious man was determined to keep Olivia Pope away from President Grant, going as far as to try and have her killed. That man turned out to be Rowan, a CIA director heading up a black-ops team, and more importantly, Olivia’s dad! Olivia’s name has been leaked to the press and Rowan was determined to get her off the grid.

The actor who plays Rowan wasn’t afraid to get right up in Kerry Washington’s face and yell. He chastised her for not being smarter and not realizing the White House would destroy her. After considering disappearing to a secluded island, a quick phone call with Chief-of-Staff Cyrus convinced her to fight back. “I am never out of options,” she defiantly says to her dad. It’s pretty clear by the end of the episode that Rowan cares more about protecting the nation from Olivia’s scandal, than saving Olivia herself.

Pope and Associates is quickly losing all their clients, so Harrison and the gang decide to defy Olivia’s orders and “handle it.” Cyrus, meanwhile, is determined to find out who leaked the mistress’ name to a lowly style reporter. Apparently she got the scoop from a Secret Service agent, but he never mentioned a name. So who did?

The rest of the episode kicks into overdrive- Cyrus starts a kill folder on Olivia (“we’ll play the ambitious slut card”), VP Sally Langston plays the morality card, and Olivia calls a secret meeting in a bunker with Fitz and First Lady Mellie.

Sally Langston told Fitz she couldn’t possibly condone his adulterous lifestyle. She asserts the fact that she is the “most powerful woman in the free world” (has this lady never seen Veep?) and reluctantly supports Fitz after he gives her permission to publicly condemn him in order for her to become the new face of the Republican party.

The scene with Mellie, Fitz and Olivia  in the Providence bunker was completely gripping and really powerful. Mellie refuses to stand by Fitz as he tells the world of his lurid affair with Olivia.

“How many times would it be okay for us to say we slept together,” a heartbroken Olivia asks.

“Twice,” Mellie coldly calculates.

I love that Mellie alternates between deciding whether she’s truly upset her husband doesn’t love her, or if she’s more irked that he’s ruining her own political ambitions. Mellie seems to go along with the idea of a press conference leaving Fitz to comfort a distraught Olivia.

Fitz always claims that he loves Olivia, but sometimes it’s difficult to see their disastrous, passionate affair full of devastation and heartache as love. Especially when Mellie deduces that Fitz was the one who leaked Olivia’s name!

Yes, Fitz effectively ruined Olivia’s reputation to save Mellie from being able to control her. With her name out there, maybe the Romeo and Juliet of D.C. could finally be free.

Of course, that notion is a tad bit naïve considering there is a reelection campaign on the horizon. Before Fitz has the chance to admit his sins to the press, it turns out Pope and Associates teamed up with Mellie to frame a poor, 20-something  communications aide as his mistress. This girl is now Olivia’s client, and for now the press has forgotten Olivia’s name.

Also, Charlie, Huck’s assassin friend is back and aiming a gun at Cyrus! In true Scandal fashion, the last minute offers a new cliffhanger. Charlie took Cyrus to see Rowan, who shows Cyrus a confidential file on Jake Ballard and Fitz’s navy mission from many years ago. Apparently what’s in the file is really bad news.

I love that Scandal takes a plotline that could have been dragged out until November sweeps and momentarily resolves it in one episode only to set up a new exhilarating storyline that will carry us to next week.