With their likeness, that is. The obvious question is: when will the cheating husbands be made to voice their messiness? Not in this episode apparently, so this review will focus on mistresses when it comes to examining blame, since that’s what the wives did in this episode. Also, while our heroine is a mistress like Nancy, there are a couple of differences between the two triangles:
1) Nancy just found out about her husband’s cheating while Mellie found out long ago and has been content, in Olivia’s case (is it canon that Olivia isn’t the only woman he’s cheated with?), to live with it as long as it meant Fitz doesn’t mess up his job. 2) Fitz doesn’t want to stay with Mellie. We don’t know what the pastor wanted, but we know for sure that Fitz doesn’t want to be with Mellie and would divorce her if the U.S. was like France and the President divorcing and remarrying was acceptable to the government and the public (in that order).
With that said, let’s look at the wives!
“Nancy, right now you are angry. Right now you feel betrayed, but here’s the thing. You are his partner. You are his wife. Some mistress doesn’t change that. He made a mistake. You have to forgive him for it. You weren’t wrong about him. You were just stronger than he was. He’s not a monster. He’s the man you fell in love with [….] Somewhere in all the cheating is the man you married, and you are his wife. Right to the end.”-Mellie Grant
I love the way this show writes relationships. I love that it lets them all breathe and doesn’t (or barely) takes a side. I love that explores every angle and every perspective.
The scene between Mellie and Nancy (played by Lorraine Toussaint, who is Trinidadian!) is my favorite scene of the episode. And the line quoted above is my favorite of the episode. There’s something to be said about a woman (remember what I said in the opening paragraph) who can carry on an affair with a married man. That’s on a more ratchet level than simply cheating. Having a relationship where you develop habits and traditions (Christmases in Nancy’s case, phone calls in Olivia’s case), fully knowing that there’s a wife involved, who has been involved for years, and is completely in the dark to what you and this man are doing. There is a level of contentment there because…..you’re not leaving him. You’re not demanding that he leave his wife. You’re just content with your secret traditions. And that’s where the condescension and lack of respect comes from with regards to the wives. What do they owe the mistresses? They’re illegitimate, and they’re okay with that. I think Mellie respects Olivia’s work and cunning and brain, but as a person? We’ve seen how she looks at her.
Mellie said the pastor made a mistake. The pastor simply made a mistake and should be forgiven. Mellie has simply forgiven Fitz (I really don’t think she has, based on her behavior). And the mistresses get the vitriol because of their willingness to accept second-best, the illegitimately, and the complete disrespect of the wives just as people.
Mellie’s line is about reasserting the wife’s place and influence in and on the husband’s life, reasserting their accomplishments when faced with the reality that this man decided to choose someone else and lie to them about it, and it’s about reasserting their choice of this man. It’s about trying to find something to soothe the ego, to keep from wishing another choice had been made. And I say it’s about trying to soothe the ego, because it’s not about the kids. I don’t want to say that the kids made it worth it, because having kids doesn’t take away the personal. The wives, Nancy, Mellie, they’re still there, the women are still there, not just the mothers, and they need to reassure that they were duped, not that they duped themselves. I love it.
Lorraine was great as Nancy. I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything before. I loved Nancy’s indignation throughout the whole thing. I loved that she broke down from the farce and popped a sedative. The ending scene where she lets Anna be a part of the funeral. Do you know how hard that is? Imagine! Hard and unfair, she has to set aside her feelings and recognize Nancy. She has to give Nancy legitimacy. Oh my Jesus. Fifteen years of lies! Oh goodness.
Now on to the mistresses.
“I know. What you want is fifteen Christmases on December 25th. Fifteen birthdays, fifteen years of sleeping next to him and waking up with him. You want anniversary dinners and parent-teacher conferences and school plays. You want fights over who’s turn it is to wash the dishes and walk the dog. What you want, what you’ve always wanted is to be part of his life. And now he’s gone, and you want to be part of his legacy, but you aren’t, and you never were.”-Olivia Pope
Over the course of the episode Olivia is increasingly made to see herself in Anna. Notice that for most of the episode, she’s harsh on Anna while soft with Nancy (understandable since Nancy is her client). It isn’t until the scene where this line happens that she’s understanding towards Anna and it isn’t until it comes to giving Anna a place in pastor Drake’s life that Olivia is a little harsh with Nancy. I think it’s interesting that they didn’t show Olivia getting permission from Nancy to bring Anna inside. Do you think Nancy gave permission or do you think Olivia went rogue? Based on Nancy’s reaction to seeing them, I think it’s the latter.
Olivia is not going to be part of Fitz’s legacy. Her and Nancy have that in common. When books are written and tv specials are done about President Fitzgerald Grant III, it will be Mellie who has the throne. Mellie will be interviewed, and Mellie will tell the stories, and there will be replays of when they found out the sex of the baby, and pictures of the family will be plastered on the screen. Mellie will be recognized. Not Olivia.
It must suck to be the second one to find the love of your life. Someone found him first, had him for years, built something, built a lot, and then here you come having to deal with all of that. And it isn’t one-sided! He feels the same way, only….he’s a public figure or there’s money at stake or there’s reputations at stake. Bottom line is that you can’t just be together. So do you try anyway or do you attempt to move on? And what if he keeps sweet-talking, courting you as if he’s actually single? Telling you that you can get through this? Telling you that he’s only happy with you? It’s an intoxicating thing to be chosen. Not wanted, chosen. This man cares about your life, about your job, about your hard day at work, he talks to you about his work, and you have a bond. That bond leads to fifteen years and late-night phone calls.
The late night phone calls are Olivia’s Christmas on December 28th.
It is legitimate, because you’re both involved and committed to what you have.**
Concerning Olivia in the episode: last week Fitz blew up. This week Olivia did. She was calm about the pregnancy special, but she’s getting antsy (whether it’s a phase or it’s permanent). Her and Fitz aren’t getting anywhere, and I think she has to remind herself that, lest she let their phone calls and chats about his job and her job lull her into a false sense of security. There was a frustration every time she spoke to him.
“Tell me to stop calling. Tell me you don’t wanna hear from me. Okay then. I’ll speak to you tomorrow night.”
“Who’s fault is that, who fixed that for me?”
While Olivia was tired of the status quo between her and Fitz, Fitz gave me the sense that he was tired of both Olivia and Mellie fighting agains the tide. With Mellie towards the beginning of the episode, he wanted to skip ahead to the end of their pattern of fighting where she leaves the room. With Olivia, “I’ll speak to you tomorrow night,” I got the sense that he wanted her to stop trying to fight against what they have. She hates it, he knows she hates it, and he hates it too, but the only way they can talk is at five o’clock in the morning.
And then of course Olivia does tell Fitz to leave her alone, and he can’t handle it. He won’t handle it in the next episode. I imagine they’re both scared that they are not going to triumph over the many obstacles in their way. With Olivia, she’s scared that it’s just not going to work out. For Fitz, part of it not working out would involve Olivia letting him go. She’s free in terms of the choices she can make with her love life, so why should she suffer for him? And I think that line of thinking, that insecurity, is why he’s going to be upset that she has been succeeding in avoiding his calls.
As for the third part of the triangle, that BAMF named Mellie: she’s still taking pleasure in Fitz’s plight. She is. Her delivery of the news about the pastor was….I mean it’s like, Mellie why in the world would he consider that you came to give him bad news? She seems to have this attitude of, “Wait Fitz, you’re not happy with your life? I really hadn’t noticed” and it’s hilarious. That was the attitude she had when she was going on and on about Kimberly Mitchell and the colors for the nursery in the first episode, and that’s how she was in the first scene.
I said before I don’t believe she’s forgiven Fitz, so I don’t know what she was talking about in the car. But the car scene is amazing! Bellamy and Tony did a superb job, her with playing Mellie’s reminiscing and asking for forgiveness and he with playing out what Fitz had said earlier, the part where he feels guilty and they make up. Fitz threw her for a loop though when he went back to his documents, lmao. And we see that in the next episode Mellie will be over her tender moment. What forgiveness? And by the way, I love love love the way Bellamy delivers her lines. I love her inflections and I love her voice.
Huck! Oh Huck! Boy is drowning. I’m happy that they’re playing out the consequence for him torturing that guy. I’m glad he’s finding ways to resist such as going to AA meetings, but holy crap did he look manic when he was listing what he’d need to “take care” of the pastor. I look forward to he and Liv talking about it.
“Pinky swear and hope to die?”
Oh David! I really think he’s hurt by what Liv did. Like, as a friend. Remember their banter last season about how they’re not friends and then he said maybe they could be friends? ;(. They are friends, and I think he’s hurt on top of angry about how far she went to protect her client. I look forward to him getting somewhere with that wall.
Abby seems to think human saints should be asexual? And her slut-shaming continued in this ep. I know she’s abrasive, and she of course had no respect for Anna helping the pastor cheat, but I swear this woman has a problem with anyone who has sex. Unless she’s watching it on a tape *_______*.
Quinn. We found out that Liv called a Supreme Court Justice in order to win the case. Now we have three people who know the truth about Quinn (does Huck know the whole truth?). Quinn went to see her father, and I liked what he had to say about her leaving him in the dark and then showing up two years later after he had moved on. I don’t know why she was surprised that Liv had her followed? Is she new? Does she not know who Liv is?
Favorite shot: Liv and the Supreme Court Justice eyeing each other in the mirror. They looked so sinister!
I love the schtick of everyone waking up.
“And Middlebury’s just as good as the Ivy League, you elitist, high-brow conservative snob. I cannot believe I fell in love with a Republican!”
To end on the lightest part of the episode, how cute are Cyrus and James?!! I felt at certain points during their arguments that Cyrus was super condescending, but I guess that’s just his abrasive personality. I loved his coyness when James asked him if he wanted to fool around. I love them a lot, and I can’t wait until we see them again.
*Episode title: The Other Woman
**I’m not talking about how the mistresses view the wives, because I don’t think they do for the most part. The husband is unhappy with the wives and is choosing the mistresses. I’ll just say that in Anna and Olivia’s case, they don’t hate the wives. The wives are just the husband’s past, feelings-wise.