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'Scandal' recap: 'Dog-Whistle Politics'

Updated

John Fleenor/ABC

Scandal

type:
TV Show
genre:
Drama, Thriller
run date:
04/05/12
performer:
Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn, Joshua Malina
broadcaster:
ABC
seasons:
6
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-14

Across town, OPA ends up getting their new gladiator after all: Marcus changed his mind! His character in “I’m Just A Bill” really stood out, so it’s exciting to have him on the show. Plus, he’s got great lines: When Quinn tells him they’re not hiring, he replies, “I need the cash. Might as well take it from you guys while you still have it to offer.” They explain that their strategy is to work, and pretend Olivia is too busy working to worry about the media nonsense. Marcus, sick of the media nonsense himself, soon develops his own strategy: calling them out on their dog-whistle politics, which he explains to Huck and Quinn as the media using coded language like describing Olivia, a black woman, as “well-spoken” or “sassy.” To white audiences, these words don’t seem to mean anything, which is how the media can get away with the implicit racism in their broadcasts. To black audiences — particularly black women like Olivia — it’s clear what the reporters are really getting at: “well-spoken… for a black woman.” Thus, the dog-whistle: An unsettling sound that only those affected can hear. (Another example: Reporting that Olivia pulled herself up by her bootstraps, when really she went to elite private schools her entire life.)

The montage that follows is classic Scandal: the team putting people in their places with ease and smarts. Marcus, Quinn, and Huck suit up and go on-camera, turning the tables and putting the other story, racist media, in focus. Marcus is shifting the conversation, and he’s very good at his job.

Fitz calls in the old boys in the Senate to talk quid pro quo: If they don’t impeach him, he’ll help them out with campaigns and all that stuff. He’s a little self-righteous and condescending (“Unfortunately, I do have a country to run, so as much as I’d like to stay…”), but even before that comment, these white dudes probably weren’t going to let him leave there. “Let’s start talking about the true cost of mercy,” Stanley says. They want him to get rid of the Equal Pay Act and Brandon’s Bill — the one that emerged from the Ferguson-themed episode. Brandon’s Bill, we’ll remember, was meant to be Fitz’s legacy. But this guy doesn’t stop there: Not only does he imply they’ll vote to impeach if Fitz doesn’t kill Brandon’s Bill, but he leaves with, “Next time you decide to go outside your marriage, choose yourself a girl that’s a little more palatable to the base.” That’s after admitting that they all have affairs, Fitz just got caught. A philandering, extorting racist! Just who we want running the country. Fitz, be strong!! Who cares if you get impeached if you can finally be happy with Liv? I hate when they say “Vermont,” but I really wanted him to think about Vermont right then and just back off!

Liv isn’t thinking about Vermont either: She’s at home glued to her laptop, like a normal person would be, googling herself and finding terrible things, like three different porno versions of her and Fitz, and thousands of rape and death threats. On the phone with Fitz, she starts to break down. Would they be threatening her if they knew she owned a gun and had shot someone? she asks. If they knew she’d been kidnapped and tortured? “I’m fine… I’m just… I’m losing it,” she tells Fitz. “But only a little bit.”

Cyrus and Mellie are fighting about the whole impeachment thing: Mellie wants Cyrus to let it go, Cyrus wants her to grab all the power she can take (and then, you know, give some to him). Finally Mellie is like, “Why are you so hell-bent on revenge?” She’s the one married to him, after all. Cyrus goes totally berserk, says that Mellie’s only able to dust herself off and walk away because she never loved him, while Cyrus, Cyrus thinks of Fitz as his son, and Mellie is lucky that her son is dead because the worst already happened to him. “My child is breathing and talking right down the block from me…” he says, not talking about his actual daughter. “All you have to do is turn on the news to see that the bad things for him are just getting started.” Give me a break, Cyrus! You don’t get to love Fitz more than Mellie did! You are too evil for love! Then Mellie says, “Get out,” Cyrus quits, and the Terrible Two are no more.

While Mellie and Cyrus break up, Fitz and Abby make up. They decide that while Liv’s job was always to be practical, unemotional, and pick the smartest choice, that’s not what Fitz’s job is: He’s supposed to be moral, do the right thing. It seems like he’s not going to give up the Brandon Bill, after all. Yay, Fitz!

And that’s not all: A breaking news broadcast shows the presidential motorcade, sirens blaring, making its way into a residential neighborhood. But if Fitz isn’t scheduled for a visit to Congress or anything else on the books, where could he possibly be going with such fanfare? Is that… Olivia Pope’s building? Yes it is — and Fitz is not sneaking in with a trusted team of two Secret Service agents, he’s brought the whole team. “What the hell are you doing?” Liv asks, but she’s smiling. “The right thing,” Fitz says. “I’m taking my girlfriend on a date.” They get into the elevator and smooch.

Hooray! Everything’s wonderful! Fitz and Liv are going to be out in the open, they can weather the media storm together, she’s finally standing up for what she wants and so is he. And Jake has a girlfriend, even if it’s not me! BUT WAIT — Mellie has convened the gals, and she’s walking in with a purpose. “I wanted to talk to you,” she says, “about impeaching my husband.” Looks like she made her decision, Cyrus or no Cyrus. Things are really happening now.