Darby Stanchfield Directs Scandal: Gladiator Wanted Web Series

Darby Stanchfield is moving herself into the director’s chair. She’s normally in front of the camera in Scandal. In this short 6 part web series, Scandal: Gladiator Wanted, the Scandal team is looking for a new Gladiator, and Darby Stanchfield is directing.

You can view the series any time on abc.com. Continue reading “Darby Stanchfield Directs Scandal: Gladiator Wanted Web Series”

Scandal’s “The Lawn Chair” Episode

Courtney Vance in Scandal
Courtney B. Vance in Scandal

Everybody everywhere has already had something to say about this remarkable episode of Scandal. It was so clearly Ferguson, so clearly real.

But we got something not so real – it is television, after all. We got Olivia joining the protestors instead of helping the white cops who hired her. We got a public racist rant from the white killer-cop, who is arrested. We got an ending where an armed black man walked away unharmed from a confrontation with a phalanx of white police officers and then gets a hug from the POTUS.

The episode was so powerful that the real parts of the story made up for the television version of reality in which Olivia Pope is the heroine.

I want to commend Shonda Rhimes and Courtney B. Vance and Kerry Washington for their work on this episode. There’s power in story, there’s power in television. Most importantly,  there’s power in “showing, not telling” as a way to reach into the human heart and mind and make a point. Scandal showed us a situation that began with injustice, a situation that – in this country – usually ends with another injustice. Courtney B. Vance reached into our hearts with his performance and made us see a father and a son. He made the injustice real.

The Governor of New Mexico

Because I live in the New Mexico, I took note of the little subplot in the episode where the POTUS is looking at possible new Vice President candidates and he briefly considers the Hispanic female Governor of the state of New Mexico for the position.

I’m not a Republican and I didn’t vote for Susana Martinez for Governor, but I can tell you that she’s never done anything like what the Hispanic character on this  Scandal episode did. I think she may have aspirations for higher political office when her term as Governor is over. You might want to learn more about who she is.

If you put the words “Republican female Latina” and “politics” together it leads somewhere predictable. In the same way, the words “unarmed black male” and “police” lead somewhere predictable. I hope this episode of Scandal helps change the latter predictable outcome.

Scandal image: ABC

Scandal gets Epic with Everything’s Coming Up Mellie

In many ways, the “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” episode of Scandal belongs to Bellamy Young. The title is a big clue (duh). We see Mellie in new ways, learn some important backstory, and Bellamy Young enjoys an opportunity to stretch beyond her usual boundaries.

Quinn’s (Katie Lowes) story is important to the overall arc of this week’s Scandal as well. I’ll mostly recap what these two do and leave out some other bits of the episode in the process.

As the episode begins, Mellie is trying to redeem her image in the public’s mind after ratting out her cheating husband on live TV. She’s showing a female reporter around the White House, acting cheerful and bright and happy and supportive of her man.

Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.
Bellamy Young as Mellie and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.

Flashback to California 15 years ago. Mellie and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in bed, in love. A man yells at them to come downstairs.

Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant
Barry Bostwick as the elder Fitzgerald Grant

The man is Fitz’s father, Fitzgerald Grant II (AKA Jerry) played with horrible, dissolute intensity by Barry Bostwick.

Mellie and the elder Grant want Fitz to run for Congress. We learn how much of what Fitz has achieved is because of Mellie’s ambition. Mellie made him what he is with sheer force of will, and with Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), whom Mellie and Fitz meet for the first time here. We knew about Mellie and Cyrus (with Olivia) deciding to cheat on vote counts to win the Presidential election, but now we are seeing where it all began with Mellie and Cyrus.

Jeffy Perry as Cyrus
Jeff Perry as Cyrus looks over the future candidate and declares him tall

Young Cyrus has a full head of hair, a beard, a wife of the female variety, and a chart of California on a tripod that he uses to explain how Fitz will win the state.

Cut to Quinn at the shooting range with Leo (Paul Adelstein). She’s finally starting to hit the target. She’s also getting sexually interested in Leo. Quinn has been attracted to the dark side of Huck (Guillermo Díaz) for some time, and handling a gun is part of her journey into some other place which we haven’t seen yet.

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope

At Olivia’s, the special phone rings. The one connected to the POTUS. She ignores it, then runs back to answer. She lets Fitz know how angry she is. She discovered (in a previous episode) that he was the Navy pilot who shot down the plane her mother died in. (We got a tiny glimpse of Olivia’s mother in a flashback in an earlier episode. She was played by Khandi Alexander, whose name appears in the credits for this episode. Will she be in another flashback?) Olivia also discovered that her father (Joe Morton) gave the order for the plane to be shot down. Olivia has been digging into this whole mess for a couple of episodes and is not happy about any of it. Fitz begs her to leave it alone for her own safety.

At the office, Olivia tells the gladiators that their new client is her mother, and pastes a photo of her on their case wall.

Mellie is showing the reporter paintings in the White House, bringing up a discussion of the Grant political dynasty, leading us into another flashback of 15 years ago in California. Cyrus wants Fitz to run on his record as a war hero. Fitz says running on his military experience is off limits.

the pilot
The pilot

At Olivia’s office the conversation is about the plane getting shot down and her father’s role in it. That’s when she pastes a photo of the plane’s pilot up on the case wall. It’s the POTUS.

Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn
Guillermo Díaz as Huck and Katie Lowes as Quinn

Quinn follows Huck (Guillermo Díaz) into his office and says she is interested in what he does “for the right reasons.” He’s been trying to keep her from going into his particular rabbit hole full of hell but she keeps pressing.

The gladiators discover two important things. Someone was taken off the flight at the last minute. They are tracking down the gate agent. Fitzgerald Grant II was the head of the congressional committee investigating the plane crash. First Olivia’s dad and now Fitz’s Daddy dearest were in on the whole thing.

In California, 15 years ago. We learn that Fitz joined the Navy in perhaps the only independent decision of his entire life. His father berates him, belittles him and generally shows us what an ass a father can be. They talk about shooting down the plane and his father says he owns Fitz because he covered up the shooting down of the plane. Fitz doesn’t want to run on his war record because of this incident.

Quinn is spying on Leo while he spies on someone. He catches her at it, kisses her, and says she should give him a call. She’s hooked.

Mellie realizes Fitz isn't there for the reporter
Mellie realizes Fitz isn’t there for the reporter

Mellie takes the reporter into the Oval Office to show her how the baby and his daddy say goodnight. Fitz isn’t there. Flashback to 15 years ago. Cyrus is leaving the Grant house because he doesn’t do family drama. Mellie begs him to stay. Cyrus says that if Fitz is going to be governor, he is Mellie’s full time job. She promises to make him ready to work. This is it, the moment when Mellie gives up her own life in order to make her man President.

Mellie’s in Cyrus’ office. She is livid because Fitz didn’t show up for the good night baby scene with the reporter. Cyrus doesn’t know if he will show up tomorrow for an interview.

The gladiators find out the name of the man they took off the plane.

Leo calls Quinn and asks her what she’s doing tomorrow night. She smiles.

In California 15 years ago, the elder Grant is ranting to Mellie about how he’s a decent father. He talks about the flight Fitz shot down. He says there was a dirty bomb on board, Fitz was stationed in Iceland and he shot it down. If it had reached its target it would have taken out half of London. Mellie says everyone died, but the elder Grant explains what would have happened if the plane reached London. Then he sits down next to Mellie and says, “Good God, you’re a beautiful woman.”

rape
It’s rape, you ass.

He grabs her, she objects, says no, pushes back. He says, “You know you want it.” He rapes her.

Back to now, Mellie waits for Fitz in the Oval Office.

I am tired of doing everything myself.
I am tired of doing everything myself

Mellie gives Fitz hell, tells him she’s tired of doing everything herself, they are supposed to be partners, talks about her sacrifices. He treats her like shit and all she’s ever done is fight for him. She says he doesn’t have to love her but he needs to be her friend and show up for her. It’s a long, powerful scene for Bellamy Young. When she finishes this, we flash back to moments post-rape, when she came into the bedroom where Fitz was waiting in bed. She wanted a shower desperately but Fitz made her lay down beside him. She hid her emotions from him, hid what had happened, and endured his whining. Fitz says, just once he wishes his father would apologize and be on his side.

In the present, Mellie is surprised when Fitz shows up for an interview with the reporter. The reporter asks Mellie why she went on live TV to talk about her husband’s affair and says many Americans think she’s insane. Mellie can’t give the reporter a good comeback.

Fitz takes responsibility
Fitz takes responsibility

Fitz takes over the interview and says, “I had the affair, I should bear the responsibility. I made the mistake. Don’t blame Mellie for what I did.” Wow, he did step up. Mellie is a bit amazed but grateful.

Leo and Quinn are in a car, watching a security guy on the ground floor of a high rise office. Leo shows her a syringe and asks her if she wants to give the security guy enough of a shot to put him to sleep and then disable the security cameras. She says yes. They get it on right there in the front seat. Afterwards, Quinn enters the high rise, stabs the guy with the syringe. Blood pours out of his mouth and he drops dead. She panics, touches him, gets blood on her hands, and runs out.

Back to 15 years ago, Mellie uses the rape to force the elder Grant to apologize to Fitz and tell him what he needs to hear in order to get him to run for Governor. He does it.

Jake (Scott Foley), who is working for Olivia now, shows up outside the high rise. Police are everywhere and they are carrying out a body. Seems the guy Quinn was tricked into killing is the guy the gladiators were looking for to learn more about the flight Fitz shot down.

Quinn’s in an alley trying to call Huck. Leo appears, shows her video of her committing the murder, and says, “You belong to B-16 now. Welcome to Wonderland.” Quinn is now trapped in the same hell as Huck, plus she killed the only clue Olivia had to the case. Damn.

Olivia’s father strides through a jail, enters a cell. Interspersed with this, we see Fitz examine intel that lets him figure out that the guy who ordered the plane to be shot down is Olivia’s father and that one of the passengers was Olivia’s mother. In the jail, Olivia’s father sits down and says, “Our daughter’s been asking about you.”

Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis
Khandi Alexander as Maya Lewis

Olivia’s mother turns over on her cot and looks at him.

Fifteen years ago in the governor’s race: Mellie is thanking everyone who worked on the campaign for being so much help. She tells Fitz she’s pregnant, he kisses her and says, “You know if it’s a boy, he’ll make us name it Jerry.”

Who's the daddy?
Who’s the daddy?

Mellie’s expression is enough to make us wonder if the elder Grant is the father of the child. Oh, oh.

New TV season shows I can’t wait to see

The summer shows are fun and I love quite a few of them, but I’m eager for the new seasons of some old favorites. Here’s what I’m looking forward to. What about you?

Lost Girl

Season 4 can’t get here soon enough for me. It airs first in Canada on Showcase beginning in November. Then there’s an agonizing wait for the U.S. showings on SyFy. At the end of season 3, Bo was off somewhere unknown meeting her father – maybe. Dyson and Tamsin disappeared in a puff of black smoke when their truck went over a cliff. Lauren was in a science lab creating Fae from humans and nobody knew where she went after everyone else escaped. Kenzi was driving a hot car with Bruce beside her. Trick had gone to Scotland with his lady love. And where the heck was Hale? Obviously the beginning of season 4 requires explaining where everyone has been and how they all get back together.

Guest stars that have been mentioned for season 4 include George Takei (from Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (from The L Word), and Ali Liebert (from Bomb Girls). If the guest stars are any indication, things should be fun on Lost Girl.

Here’s a bit of a teaser for season 4. Lost Girl season 4 is currently filming in Toronto.

House of Cards

House of Cards was Netflix first attempt at original programming and it was superb! (I can’t wait for season 2 of Netflix’s other great series, Orange is the New Black, either.) House of Cards won’t show up until sometime in the spring of 2014, but it is definitely worth the wait if it maintains the quality it had in season 1.

This political drama felt completely real. Or if not real, at least valid and true. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara were especially good, but the cast was large and there were many compelling performances.

Netflix released this trailer for season 2, which is currently filming in the Baltimore area.

Nashville

Nashville season 2 begins in September 25 on ABC, less than a month away. I love anything with singing (Glee, Smash, Nashville – I’ll watch ’em all.) People we don’t normally think of as musicians are leading the cast of this show and doing a really fine job as Nashville singing stars: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Charles Esten in particular. Clare Bowen is my favorite in terms of singing. She plays Scarlett, a folky type who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris.

A theme of the show has been the conflict between young and old country music, personified by Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. They get forced together in ways they don’t want and are very different. Both have confused personal lives and troubled love lives. A troubled love life leads to the finale of season 1, which was a disastrous car wreck.

I don’t know if you were a fan of Friday Night Lights (if you weren’t, you should have been) but there is just something completely wonderful about Connie Britton. She’s fabulous. I’m so glad we get to see her in another great series – with SINGING.

Here’s a teaser for season 2.

Grey’s Anatomy

Season 10. Can you believe it? We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy since Shonda Rhimes only had one show on TV. They announced recently that Sandra Oh is leaving the show. What will Meredith do without her person?

The new season begins in September with a 2 part opening episode. At the end of season 9, Arizona and Callie were in danger of breaking up, Richard was possibly electrocuted, Meredith was pregnant – the usual Grey’s drama. Over the years Grey’s has had its wins and losses, people have come and gone, story lines have succeeded and failed. But it’s always been engaging and I keep going back.

I couldn’t find an actual preview video for season 10, but three of the cast members do talk about season 10 in this video.

The Good Wife

I say that I want to see the new season of The Good Wife with some trepidation. Season 4 wasn’t good. They lost their way a bit. There were fabulous guest stars, but those guest stars got too much of the screen time, there were too many court room scenes, Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) story was just dropped, and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) can’t figure out what the holy hell she’s doing. I think Alicia is fascinating in her own guarded and self-contained way. However, the queen of self-contained and guarded is Kalinda. She is the most interesting character in The Good Wife. If we don’t see more of her in season 5, I think it’s going to be the end for me and The Good Wife.

When season 4 ended, Alicia was leaving Lockhart Gardner to start a new firm with Cary. That will add some drama to the relationships we already have going on the show. We don’t know where Kalinda will end up – I sincerely hope it’s with Alicia and Cary, but there haven’t been any clues.

The new season starts in September. Here’s a teaser. It seems to acknowledge that the show went off the rails a bit in season 4 with its claims to be back.

Scandal

Scandal, like House of Cards, has a ring of truth about politics and Washington that makes it fascinating. This Shonda Rhimes series begins in September with season 3.

I could talk about Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn and the other excellent cast members. They deserve the attention. Instead, I want to make a big fuss over Guillermo Díaz.

Guillermo Díaz has been around a while. You may remember him from Mercy or Weeds. There are currently 78 titles on his filmography page at IMDB, so I know you’ve seen him before in more than one thing. But the job he’s doing as Huck on Scandal is phenomenally outstanding. He should have had an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, but he didn’t get one. As a defender of justice I’m here to announce that Guillermo Díaz is doing amazing work on Scandal and he should get a million awards for acting.

Now that I’m finished with my Guillermo Díaz rant, I can get back to the bigger picture on Scandal, which is the steely and powerful Olivia Pope and her Machiavellian schemes to control situations for people in Washington who screw up, including the President. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

This promo video is more about Kerry Washington’s Emmy nom than season 3, but it’s the only thing available right now.

I haven’t even mentioned The Walking Dead or How I Met Your Mother, which is on its last season, or Elementary, or Castle or a whole lot of other good shows. Which of your favorites are you most eager to see?

Guillermo Diaz image from The Jasmine Brand.