Thursday, January 2, 2014

Enemy of the State - Scandal, Episode 4

Before breaking down the beats of this episode, I want to point out the episode titles and how they serve double meaning. 

Episode one, “Sweet Baby,” opened with the rescue and return of a baby to its parents.  It also was the words uttered by the president to an intern while having sex, which clued Olivia into the notion that the intern, Amanda Tanner, could be telling the truth.

Episode two, “Dirty Little Secrets” is about a Madam’s client list, which contains the identities of her dirty-minded clients.  It is also about the secret affair between the president and Olivia.

Episode three, “Hell Hath No Fury” is about the wrath of a woman seeking revenge for her friend who committed suicide because she was raped.  However, it is also about the wrath of Amanda Tanner, and eventually the mother of the rapist who will turn her son in to the police.  And, ultimately, it’s about Olivia, who is the one accused of being such a scorned woman.

Episode four, “Enemy of the State,” as we will see is about a foreign general who is a sworn enemy of the United States.  However, it is also about Olivia versus Cyrus, and eventually the President, aka the State.

Episode four opens, like previous episodes, bar the pilot intro of Quinn, in Pope Associates’ Offices.  Quinn is asleep on the sofa.  Loud bangs on the door jolt her awake and she rushes to open the door… on Stephen holding up a bottle of Shiraz telling Olivia that it’s hard explaining to his fiancée why he has to leave for another woman’s apartment at three in the morning.

Olivia advises him to keep it quiet as Amanda is sleeping.  When the wine is poured, Olivia chugs the entire glass, clearly upset.  Her phone beeps and Quinn announces there’s an army at the office.  Olivia pulls herself together.  By the time she walks into her office where Abbey, Harrison and Huck are already waiting, Olivia is in full charge and greets General Benicio Flores, a sworn enemy of the United States.

The General needs Olivia’s help to find his wife and children who have been abducted.  While Olivia talks with the General, Abbey is giving her speech on democracy and the wrongs of helping a ruthless dictator.  Stephen tells her to cut Olivia slack.  “Amanda Tanner is pregnant.”  You could hear a pin drop as Quinn’s jaw practically hits the floor.

Olivia knocks on a door and is greeted by a handsome, youthful man, James, who admonishes Olivia for forcing his husband to work on a Sunday.  A minute later, we find the husband pruning in the garden.  It is Cyrus.  As in our previous episodes, a few minutes in and we have a surprise.  Olivia tells Cyrus that Amanda Tanner is pregnant.  They negotiate and agree on $10 million over three years.  As Olivia leaves, Cyrus tells her, “You and I aren’t friends any more.”

At Olivia’s apartment, Olivia lays out the consequences:  Amanda Tanner will never see the president again, to which Amanda responds, “I want them to burn for this.”

The tables are turned and it’s the DA who ambushes Olivia, using her tricks, “You look great… new lipstick?”  He needs her help to save his favorite newsstand.  Olivia closes the door on his face, retires to her office in tears.  Her team looks on helpless.  Huck steps in, “I got this.”  He guards the door.  We go to commercials.  It seems that our Oh! didn’t happen quite on cue with the commercials this time, or did it?  What’s Olivia’s greatest loss – Cyrus as her friend, or that she is sworn to help Amanda Tanner who wants to see the love of Olivia’s life “burn,” or is it that the President ‘cheated’ on her?

At the Oval Office, Cyrus walks in on Fitz writing his own speech.  He wants something new, not the same words that have been trotted out before.  Cyrus points out that they have much more serious things to be concerned with than a speech, such as Amanda Tanner.  Cyrus exits and walks into a meeting with Billy and a team of top-notch sleuths.  A montage of Olivia’s team unfolds; they are “hiding a lot more than just parking tickets.”  Cyrus says, “Let’s start with Olivia Pope.”  Billy is shocked; Cyrus smug.

Abbey gives a report on the General’s missing wife.  Olivia is not wearing white.  At the scene of the abduction, Abbey, Harrison and Huck investigate the scene, during which Huck asks the waitress what kind of game the General’s son was playing.  It seems a ridiculous question to be asking, but Huck tracks down the location of the family by the GPS coordinates of the game console.  The DA is alerted to the scene and they all show up at…. a Nunnery, which, as Huck observes, is a Women’s Shelter.  Huck, “She ran.”  This would seem to be our Little Uh Oh!

Now, through conflict we get exposition on each of our characters:
  • Huck was/is CIA.  The investigating team has been warned to look no further into his background.
  • Abbey, aka Abigail Wheelan, was married to the youngest son of a Governor.  She left him when he beat her up in a drunken rage.  She then divorced him.
  • Quinn Perkins didn’t exit before 2008.
  • Harrison Wright, a 28 year-old lawyer was busted for insider trading.  He served six months.  “Why only six months?”  Because he had a brilliant lawyer who defended him pro bono.  The lawyer was Olivia Pope.
  • Stephen Finch, Scottish born, was first in his class at Yale Law.  He’s a top litigator, a hot shot who had a breakdown in the middle of a class action suit.
These details unfold in a series of intercuts:

  • Abbey listening to the General’s wife explain that her husband is not the same person she married.  He’s ruthless, a dictator; you don’t ask a man like that for a divorce.
  • Quinn with Gideon stating that it’s not a date. Gideon assures Quinn that he doesn’t need her for his story, he has another source.
  • Abbey explaining to Harrison that Olivia isn’t wearing the white hat any more.

Billy tells Olivia about the investigation into her team.  He feels like he’s betraying her.  Olivia immediately calls Cyrus, “Forget about the money.  We go 20/20 instead.  We sit down with Diane Sawyer.”  As she walks off, she says, “Take care Billy.” 

Olivia takes care of her own business, leaving Billy, what?  Feeling betrayed?

Cyrus still has the phone in hand when the investigation concludes with, “They’re loyal.  They’ll die for her.”  Billy points out that they did find one thing in Olivia’s history – she had an affair with someone on the campaign trail.  Cyrus tell them to forget it.  “Move on.”   Ouch!

When we come back from commercials, Harrison is telling Quinn to shut it down with Gideon because sooner of later she will have to lie and when you lie to a reporter you destroy everything that they work hard to create, credibility.  Though it doesn’t seem much within its current context, this is actually an important scene that foreshadows Quinn’s future.

Cyrus walks in on the president and tells him that Amanda Tanner is pregnant.  Cyrus delivers a truly magnificent speech that lasts one minute forty-five seconds, exemplifying what a great speech sounds like.  He finishes by telling the president, “You resign or Amanda Tanner goes on TV.”

Back at Olivia’s office, Amanda Tanner is filing for paternity.  Olivia (not wearing white) lays out the consequences to Amanda.  Meanwhile, Abbey, at the hotel where she dropped off the General’s wife and kids, discovers they are gone.  Abbey arrives at the office to find the General’s wife “safe and sound.”  Abbey and Olivia have a fight because regardless of what the General is, he is the client and Abbey crossed the line.  Olivia, “She fell in love with the wrong man.  She put herself in an impossible situation.”  Abbey doesn't back down, “You made the wrong call.”  Abbey says this with such vehemence.  The pain is clear on Olivia’s face.  The Big Uh Ohhh! 

Meanwhile, when we come back from commercial break, Quinn, while delivering amenities to Amanda who is living at Olivia’s apartment, is treated to a speech in which Amanda explains that she is not just some bimbo.  She came to Washington with a purpose, because in some countries girls don’t get an education just because they are girls.  As a viewer, I see this as an attempt by the writers to make Amanda likeable, which, so far, she isn’t particularly.  If anything, she’s naïve, possibly dumb, which is in direct contrast to every other smart-as-a-whip character on the show.

Abbey’s words have hit home and Olivia shows up at the hotel wearing her hat to tell the General’s wife that if she still wants asylum, Olivia is there to help.  Since the General is wrapping up his speech, they need to move fast.  They don’t move fast enough and the General walks in.  The wife speaks up for herself, confesses that she doesn’t love him.  The General agrees to let her leave, but he will keep the children, including the screaming baby he tears from her arms.

We catch a glimpse of Gideon researching video of the president with Amanda Tanner before cutting to the president and Mellie in the presidential limo.  Fitz asks Mellie, “Would it be so bad if all this ended?” to which she replies, “Catastrophic.” 

Cut to Amanda on the phone saying, “I can’t lie any more.  I’m going to tell the truth.”  Oh No!

Back from commercial and the president’s speech gets a standing ovation, apparently enough to bolster his confidence because he walks in on Cyrus and announces, “I am the president of the United States of America.” 

Outside the hotel, Olivia lays out the consequences of his actions to General Flores, ending with your wife will be a hero and everyone loves a hero.  This convinces the General to give up his children. 

Gideon and Amanda are making out in a bar while the president’s speech plays on TV in the background.  Gideon asks a pointed question about Amanda sleeping with the president. 

The DA walks in on Harrison reading a paper, who then recites the entire history of the newspaper stand.  He finishes by saying there will be an 800-word story coming out and a press corps at the newsstand.  The DA asks if Olivia ever apologizes.  Harrison says, “She just did.”

The team is gathered at the office when Cyrus walks in and announces that war is being declared against Olivia, and it’s not by him… the President sent him.
Olivia lays out what the team will be up against by going against the White House, the biggest thing they’ve ever done.  It will be hard, mean, personal.  She takes a vote and one by one they say yes.  The last vote is on Abbey.  Her face turns from neutral to a smile, “over a cliff!”  Olivia announces, “We go to war.”

These votes are intercut with Amanda watching the president’s speech on television.  First she’s gagged with duct tape, then she’s drugged.  The last we see is her being carried out the door, slung over a man’s shoulder.  The backdrop to this is the president’s speech on democracy and freedom calling out ruthless dictators such as Flores, Castro and Chavez. The Twist-a-Roo!

And… a new problem!

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