Who the hell is Adnan Salif?
This week, in a moment of vulnerability and drunkenness, Olivia admitted what we’ve all known for two seasons: She can’t form attachments to people, and it’s sort of ruined her life, or at least brought her to a place where she’s self-medicating by replacing her blood with wine.
There’s definitely a psychological component to people constantly feeling the need to fix things, but what’s always been interesting about Olivia is how pragmatic she is about choosing what to fix while largely ignoring any work she might do on herself. She’ll handpick her team based on which aspects of their lives she can mend, from abusive husbands to homelessness to insider trading. And she chooses clients based on the practicality of their cases turning out favorably, even when she doesn’t necessary believe in their innocence. But she rarely examines her own issues. Olivia fights for the outcome, but she’s not always invested in the emotional process of getting there. It’s strange and cool to watch her work, knowing how much tension is roiling beneath the surface, but sometimes you just want to grab her and say, “Someone told you none of this is your fault, right? Because maybe you need to hear it.”
At the start of the show, adult Liv is flashing back to cute, nerdy 12-year-old Liv saying good-bye to her mom for the last time. It wasn’t particularly emotional, but it set the scene for an important conversation she has with Papa Pope at the end of the episode. Huck is protecting her as she zones out at her desk, since he and Jake were the ones that ruined her day and/or week and/or life by telling her that Fitz was the one who shot her mom’s plane down. Now that she knows the truth about the crash, she wants to know the truth about Fitz’s involvement in the crash, so she marches over to the White House to ask. It was surreal to see Mellie so excited about Liv coming over, thinking she was going to tell Fitz she would run his reelection campaign — but don’t worry, she snapped back into viper mode with a one-word vocabulary of whore as soon as Liv left and turned down the job. How and why did Mellie ever think that would work? Even if Olivia was able to run a kick-ass campaign, the resentment, jealousy, and hatred would have to boil over eventually; Mellie has a good game face, but she’s still so hurt by and angry at Fitz that I think she’d flip a car onto a baby if she had to spend even two full days in Olivia’s presence.
Quinn takes to the shooting range with her new gun. She’s a terrible shot, but creepy ol’ Charlie crawls out of the shadows like Hecubus to show her how to hit her target. Any sign of Charlie is a beacon of awfulness, but Quinn ignores his slimy aura to her own detriment. Charlie dials up Papa Pope to tell him the “seed has been planted,” so there’s probably a torture-off in our future. Who can rip fingers off at the knuckle faster? Which person can have their victim beg for mercy within ten seconds of stripping them down and laying them on a plastic tarp? It’s possible that Papa Pope is going to try to infiltrate Pope and Associates through Quinn, but what would he stand to gain by doing so? Even when she’s defiant, he has direct access to Liv, and surely B613 can find a way to bug or get info from the firm without turning one of her own against her. Papa Pope is big into power moves, but I think with Quinn’s blossoming murder hobby, they’re going to try to recruit her.
In the meantime, Liv is working to turn Josie Marcus from “Aunt Bee to Eisenhower” so that people take her candidacy seriously. Josie is a tough nut to crack because she wants to maintain the moral center she started the presidential campaign with, but Abby and Liv find a way to bring out her vicious side by lying. It’s the Pope way! We lie to you now so that you can win later. The fake Reston advertisement was good, and DaughterSister catching on because of Abby’s nail polish was great, but I think the one-two punch of Liv working with Josie is going to produce the exact sort of super-team Cyrus was afraid of. With Papa Pope, we can expect Cyrus to shut Josie down, but I think Liv is going to make that exceedingly difficult.
Fitz decides to casually save Ol’ Puppy Eyes Ballard’s life by giving him a private security detail without his knowledge, and the guy earns his paycheck by putting a bullet in the dome of a woman Jake’s contacted to get more info on Remington. But Fitz and Jake have officially broken up — Fitz took his toothbrush home and everything — so now Puppy Eyes is on his own when it comes to digging up Remington info for Liv. Jake is looking for something to take down B613 and command permanently, and even though they share that common goal, Fitz isn’t going to be the one to help him.
Seriously, who is Adnan Salif? All Cyrus had to do was mention his name and Harrison soiled himself, convinced that if the man makes it into the country he is going to be killed. Is he related to Harrison’s insider trading? Or is it something different, and worse? Huck tried to help by erasing Salif’s visa from the system, but Cyrus just has a new one made, like some terrible real-life version of Whack-a-Mole. Why does Cyrus have it out for Harrison, anyway?
With Leo’s urging, Sally made a play to use her connection to the religious right to secure their support in helping her run against Fitz, but that backfired gloriously when it turns out the pastor has been in Cyrus’s pocket all along. I don’t know that I like Sally — remember her season one histrionics? — but I feel more sympathy for her this season for some reason. They’re making an effort to humanize her, but they’re also bringing out her disappointment for believing in a system and president that are failing her at every turn. Cyrus is setting her up for a horrible fall, but does she deserve it? There’s no clear black-and-white moral territory with this show since everyone has a chance to bring out their darker side from time to time, so I wonder how Cyrus and Fitz are going to use Sally’s transgressions against her.
When Fitz shows up at Olivia’s apartment, trying to convince her to come back and work on the campaign so they could “try to be us again,” I almost thought she was drunk enough to fall for it. But she stood her ground, asked if he was going to tell her that he was off shooting down another plane when he was scheduled to be on the Remington team. When Fitz balked again, Liv told him without skipping a beat that 329 people died in that plane crash and her mother was one of them. The wave of emotions on Fitz’s face was unbelievable (Tony Goldwyn is a great actor), and you realize that until this moment he had no idea what he had done to Liv’s family. It makes sense; he’s definitely not eager to dig up Remington details, or reveal his involvement in the plane going down, so it’s not like he looked at the passenger manifest once he got with Liv just to make sure he hadn’t killed anyone she knew. But he was hopeful that they could really give it another shot until that moment, and it’s a little sad to see him realize what Liv has known since Jake and Huck showed up at her door — there’s no way she can ever be with the man that killed her mom.
Leaderboard of Arbitrary Points, Week Six
–20 sad points for Liv realizing the full extent to which her father is a monster. “I can’t ask my father because he’d kill you or maybe all three of us to teach me some kind of sick lesson …” Yikes.
+500 points to Liv, though, for getting Papa Pope to answer one question over the phone about the whole Remington and mom-being-murdered ordeal. When Liv asked, “Did you give the order to have my mother killed?” I fully expected him to say yes, or at least realize how much his daughter was hurting in that moment and let her ask another question. But no, he shut it down, much like he’s done with every ventricle of his cold, dead heart. Was this the right question to ask? What should Liv have asked instead? It’s possible that he didn’t give the order, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved.
+8,000,000 points to Josie Marcus’s hijacking James’s interview to go on a feminist tirade. She calls out everything, from the staged iced tea to comparing her to Cinderella “to remind people that I’m a woman without saying the word” to refusing to call her a soldier or lieutenant. James is officially shut down, but Josie Marcus’s star is on the rise, and I can’t wait to see how they use this character during the season.
+25 points to Cyrus for “What did she offer you — no abortions for anyone, ever?”
–7,500 points to Mellie for her awkward but intentional flirting with Dan Doug Langston. Like my real-life approach to feminism, I feel like Mellie and Sally could be such a kick-ass team if they found a way to join forces and give Fitz the heave-ho, but instead she’s sitting across a dinner table, passive-aggressively working to get Dan Doug’s attention.
+2,000 points to Leo. I’m sure he’ll eventually do something totally gross and underhanded, but I like how he categorizes people. “Daniel Douglas — is he the charming frat boy or the emasculated potential date raper?”
+25 points to Quinn for trying to get Huck to treat her with kindness again. “Is there an app to help you get along with your co-worker? There should be.”
+4,000 points to James and Cyrus getting ready in the morning, which should be part of every episode.
James: “Adoption and sexual orientation? Those are your talking points? For me? You’re a shameless monster.”
Cyrus: “Who loves you dearly!”
+300 points for this Josie nonsequitur: “If he asks about the economy, tell him the story about the bison that got drunk eating fermented apples.”
+200 points for this exchange between Cyrus and Mellie:
“Sally has a weakness.”
“Yeah, what is it — garlic, silver bullets?”
+10,000 points to Quinn for asking the real question, which is: Does anyone come out of B613 “normal,” or are you just messed up forever? Look at your boy Huck — it doesn’t take a team of scientists to figure out it’s the latter.
+20,000 points to Cyrus for not only summing up the episode, but the show:
“Strange isn’t the word. Greek. Mythic and disturbing.This is winged horses whose wings have melted, or something. A Greek tragedy in the making.”
What do you guys think?