“What I love about this list is that it is made up of black women who are content creators. It’s wonderful to have talented actresses in front of the camera, but what we desperately need is more black women behind the camera, shaping the portrayals we see on-screen. Often times we complain that black folks only get awards for playing slaves, maids and prostitutes/pimps. We can change that! The way we change that is to have equally diverse and talented people back-stage as on-stage.”
The most offensive statement I’ve heard people make is, ‘If 12 Years hadn’t been released in 2013, The Butlerand Fruitvale would have had a better chance.’ Is there only room for one?” – Scott Feinberg
As always, where do I begin?
Let’s first begin with the greatness that is a primetime show with a black female lead, a black female showrunner, and a black female director (Ava DuVernary) of an episode. When has THAT ever happened? On TV ever? (The episode was not written by a black female, however, I think our brains would’ve exploded). Such a rarity to see those things together; hopefully we get to see more of it across all media.
Now, on to the episode. While last week’s episode gave us lots of backstory, this episode is setting us up for next episode’s Winter Finale (we’re not readdyyyy!). However, I think this was my least favorite—and the weakest—episode of the season. Many moments were kind of forced (really Liv? You still think he murdered your mother— sorry, we’ll get that later) or fell flat (the Josie storyline is just gonna end like that? Whomp whom). But there were some nuggets of character for the Parental Popes that I am enjoying trying to figure out.
We didn’t learn as much about Mama Pope as I think we were hoping, in terms of the actions that got her in prison, but I think we learned a lot about her personality wise. She is fierce and bold, a little nuts (you nearly threw up in your mouth when she chewed her own wrists, didn’t you), but that move made her ingenious. She goes after what she wants and does whatever it takes to get there. But what does that mean about her past? Did she use these same traits to hurt people? To pass secrets? To take action to blow up a plane? Later, I’ll ask you guys to give me your favorite Mama Pope theories (I’d like to do another blog post on those); for now, we’ve just been given her character traits–which we’ve seen have passed on to Olivia. (As well as a love of popcorn.)
Turning to her relationship with Eli/Rowan, I can’t tell where they’re at right now. His entrance into her cell didn’t seem like a surprise. He cradles her wrists in the hospital and hands her water. He brings her pictures of Olivia, touches her shoulder, laughs with her. She laughs back. They don’t seem to hate each other. She told him to take care of Olivia. Have they seen each other in the last 20 something years? Has he done anything to help her? Can he? They don’t seem to have ever talked about Olivia in all these years, but they don’t act like it’s been 20 years and a conspiracy driving them apart. I don’t get it. What could the circumstances of Operation Remington be that they’re almost cordial with each other until he denies her what we might call “visitation rights.” Then he’s Command and the leader of B6-13, angry that a prisoner escaped. We’re they operatives together? Was she on our side but then turned traitor? I need answers and I need them now. Things I Didn’t Like (Shocker, I know) Harrison and Candace. I called their UST from the moment they met each other in the episode, but I’m upset because it’s (so far) served no purpose. He didn’t get a storyline in the episode about it, the two don’t even seem to be sticking around for the next episode (there is clearly no room for them in the winter finale) so he and Candy probably won’t continue to see each other, and it didn’t help either him or Candy in the episode. So what was the point? To pretend to give Harrison some (literal) love? How is this helping Cyrus’ proposed blackmail to bring that guy back into the country? Did that even happen? Have we forgotten about that in honor of non Harrison story lines? Even Abbie and David’s storyline has had more forward movement than anything Harrison is given. It was disappointing. As was the Marcus storyline as a whole. I was hoping Lisa Kudrow would go out with a bang; her presidential candidacy barely last a month? Liv is free to go back to the Grants?
But that’s the easy choice; what will Shonda do to unravel Olivia and Fitz? She certainly fused them back together for a moment that might have had fans cheering a few episodes ago, but now felt extremely forced. I’ve mentioned before I’ve faltered between Team Jake and Team Fitz, but Olivia thinks he KILLED HER MOTHER. At the very least, he killed hundreds of people (under orders he’ll keep saying) and never told her about it. Then he has the nerve to be upset that she didn’t tell him about her father (who—as far as Fitz knows—could have a similar “don’t tell anyone I am your father for national security reasons” hold over her). His upset about that really made me angry (also, leave the girl be for ONE MOMENT, instead of using your power and emotional manipulation to get her to do what you want. -____-) so I was disappointed that she thought that a house (that he has to keep secret because he is STILL MARRIED) was enough to forget all of that for one night. And I get it, he’s her weakness. She forgets herself and her morals when she’s around him, but where will her self control come in? I hope Mama Pope will smack some sense into her daughter and cause another rift (final? because what else could drive Liv and Fitz apart once and for all?) between Olitz. I think I am officially over Team Fitz.
Also the end. We knew Olivia and Maya would meet again, but it felt a little flat to end it on their first meeting. I might have preferred if Liv had actually passed out (she certainly looked like she would. and maybe they’ll begin next episode with such a move). but it was kind of anticlimactic because we’ve met her mom, we knew where she was going and that they’d meet eventually. If mom had been doing something else (killing someone, breaking into Liv’s apartment, something), maybe it would’ve have been a good ending, but since it was expected, and came after the HUCK KNOWS moment, it fell a little flat for me.
But part of this is being the set up for the winter finale, it’s putting as many pieces in place as it can to set those explosive events in motion. I just wish the moments hit stronger in this one; because now I have to wait two weeks for the next episode and I was underwhelmed by this one. =/ Other thoughts Mellie, Mellie, Mellie. She was so sad and had such a change of heart about the Honey Trap when she learned Fitz and Liv were off somewhere together. But what can she do next? She’s already threatened divorce, outed his affair on national television, he’s already been shot at—what’s left for Mellie? After all that she’s sacrificed and she still will only get to be the First Lady for another term—she hates being First Lady.
Will Shonda write in an Olivia pregnancy from the Vermont scene? I think she could ave written it in by now, but maybe the timing wasn’t right when Kerry told her about it? If it had been written in before, the obvious plot would’ve been the question of whether it was Jake’s or Fitz’. If done now, it would most certainly be Fitz’. And where would that leave us? I was hoping they wouldn’t write it in at all, but now it’s certainly possible; hiding Kerry in those black and white pants suits, giant coats and behind lamps will only work for so long, I suppose. And in order to keep the scheduling promise they gave us, these run of episodes, then the next set after winter break with no reruns, Kerry will have to keep working through the baby bump, until probably mid/late spring when she’s likely due. So it’s highly likely they just wrote in the pregnancy and when we get back, Liv will be having the president’s baby. Guess it’s good she told him to keep the house, huh? I wonder what that might mean for the Grant kids, of which I am not sure any of them are his. Can he only reproduce with Olivia? Mellie might snap on that information. Finally, what are your Mama Pope theories? She and Rowan were my favorite parts to this episode, figuring out what their current relationship is and what events in the past determined it is really fun. The one thing I truly believe they agree on is that they love their daughter. It looked like they loved each other too. So what happened to destroy it all? Let me know your theories!
Of course it may seem like a no-brainer, but execs told those in attendance that their shows must reflect today’s current and increasingly multi-racial and multi-cultural world in order to attract those coveted younger viewers.
Of course the success that Fox has enjoyed with their runaway hit Sleepy Hollow, which has already been renewed for a second season, and other current shows, like Almost Human and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, are just some signs of the network’s commitment to its new programming strategy.
Fox TV Says That Diversity Is Just Good Business Sense [Shadow and Act]
At least FOX is getting with the program. I love BK99 and Sleepy Hollow (and a bunch of other people are watching and talking about it) and I am looking forward to watching Almost Human. When you have a diverse cast, you basically double your expected audience, because while I watch plenty of “mainstream” (read: majority white cast) TV shows (and enjoy them), I have more pre-interest in a show that has a diverse cast. I look forward to it more. If Michael Ealy wasn’t in Almost Human (if the character was a white person), I’d perhaps be interested because it’s JJ Abrams, but I would be less interested, less invested, and less likely to watch it. Other people feel the same way. The same goes for Sleepy Hollow. I didn’t know anything about it before it premiered. If I’d heard about it (merely the title), I didn’t really care. I checked it out because I learned there was a black female star. I probably wouldn’t have if Nichole Beharie (or any other black female) hadn’t been the star. Networks really need to pay attention, the success of Sleepy Hollow and Scandal is not isolated to social media, their premises, or even the good writing (because both shows are great, but they’re not perfect). Those things are a factor, but their diversity is what has helped them skyrocket to the hit shows that they are.
My favorite new show of the fall has already been renewed! This is one of the fastest network TV renewals I can remember hearing about (I’m sure I’m missing one). It’s only been three episodes! I know that cable networks, like HBO, pull this card all the time (I remember when HBO renewed Game of Thrones the night of it’s premiere), but it’s rare to see a network do it.
Also, I didn’t know that they were sticking with a 13 episode season. This should be great. As we see with cable and British television, shorter seasons lead to great acclaim and better storytelling, so I’m excited to see what a 13 episode season across two seasons could hold. This could be the beginning of a trend on network television.
Until the next episode (or article on the greatness that is Nicole Beharie)!