Edison figures out that the guy Olivia was boning after they broke up was Fitz and then spends the rest of the episode hanging out in her apartment like a vengeful spirit. Olivia, you have to get your keys back before you give a casual head nod toward the door to insinuate that your former paramour should bounce. I like Edison, and I wish Fitz wasn’t such a powerfully hot piece that Olivia cannot get out of her system. RIP, Edison and Liv.
This is an episode of flashbacks and daddy issues, so we get to meet Fitz’s dad “Big Jerry” when Mellie asks for his help on the campaign. A governor, a senator, a national treasure, and a bit of a philandering asshole, Big Jer brings out the petulant, combative teenager in Fitz, who is reluctant to have him onboard. There is a lot of fatherly tension that manifests itself in some uncomfortable drunken sexual aggression toward Liv in an elevator, and an angry bout of wood-chopping (not a euphemism), but Big Jer has a heart attack and dies, giving Fitz just enough time to cry into Olivia’s boobs and get his shit together to win the presidency.
We are also introduced to the origin of Creepy Hollis and the plan to steal the White House. Hollis is a diabolical Boomhauer with too much money, the worst of the 1 percent who says things like “quit bitchin’ and start pitchin’,” and his interest in getting Fitz into office is to “get his money’s worth.” It was weird to watch Cyrus bully Liv into acquiescing AND making her bust her phone out of frustration for the likes of Hollis; Cyrus is definitely more of a monster than he lets on, but after the elevator scene, I was starting to cringe at the barrage of assault. I mostly did not like seeing Liv in such a vulnerable position; I missed my scene-chomping, impeccably dressed gladiator this week.
What I Loved:
- Clarissa Explains It All becoming a political analyst. We always knew she was smart!
- Barry Bostwick as Papa Grant, unapologetic asshole. He was like a jacked-up Clinton minus the life-altering veganism.
- V.P. Langston coming back to the flock and giving Fitz a warm welcome. It was an uncharacteristically classy move, and even though I know better, I’m inclined to believe her sincerity.
- Harrison, Abby, and Huck meeting for the first time after being hired by Liv to get some dirt on Governor Reston. The awkwardness! The contempt! Hard to believe that in two short years they would spend every single day pacing around the same room, shouting at each other.
- Fitz telling Mellie he wants a divorce. TOTALLY did not see that coming! It doesn’t mean they will actually get divorced, but you have to admire the pluck of a bullet-ridden sham president asking his eight-months-pregnant, hell-on-wheels wife for a divorce one tenth of a second after he starts breathing without a tube again.
- The return of Fitz. I’m thankful they didn’t prolong the coma, which could have thrown this show into soap opera territory pretty quickly.
Where It Lacked:
- The strained interaction between Fitz and his dad. There is nothing appealing about a grown-ass man having temper tantrums. “I don’t want to be you — not now, not ever!” Fitz screamed, before he slammed his bedroom door shut and turned the Morrissey to full volume. It’s a TV trope that is too easy to fall back on, the “You, all right! I learned it by watching you!” approach to explaining character flaws, or the desire to beat your dad at his own game. We need less Freud, more kinder, gentler Fitz.
- Edison proposing to Olivia. The timing is off, particularly since she has technically dumped him, right? Let’s not romanticize stalking, folks.
- Fitz’s overstated masculinity. Getting shot in the head is turning Fitz into a real d-bag; he stomped around reasserting his presence in a way that had nothing to do with his power and everything to do with his wiener. Why do you want to do this press conference? “Because it’s my office.” His “I can’t show any weakness” approach might be necessary, but it certainly isn’t as interesting as his generally amiable and approachable tack.
- Not enough Mellie. She was a background figure this week, except for her awkwardly trying to apologize for Fitz’s sexually inappropriate groping after catching him and Liv on the elevator. I love her wild-card ways and missed her particular brand of frenzy this week.
- The return of Fitz. The doctor had a pretty bleak prognosis about Fitz’s health, even though he beat the odds and woke up after all — aphasia, busting stitches and bleeding through shirts, slack-jawed zone-outs, night sweats. Take a knee, Fitz; that you are awake is all you need to pull the country back from V.P. Langston’s bible-thumping grip.