Hmmm, up close and personal. Fron-on but obscured. Maybe I’ll do analysis of this and update my pister analysis thingie from last September.
Q:Selfless Mellie sightings - 5/5 saw the 318 call as a Life Line as opposed to a 'selfless act' similar to: 1) 211- Big Gerry campaigning; 2) Fitz post coma + signature forging & 3) 305 - WHCD. When Mellie can't 'Fluff' Fitz her fight to squash Olitz takes 2ndary to the agenda of Grants in the Oval. S3's been very tiring for Mellie forcing her to live in Reality (not pretense) re: her loss of Fitz to Liv (314); rape + DNA reveal & Gerry's death. So can you expand on your view of Selfless Mellie?
I think that 318 moment with Fitz emotionally bereft and incapacitated on the Presidential seal was the most self-less I’ve seen Mellie. She, too, was not in her typical state of Melli-ness, if you will. She had just come from a mutually-shared moment of grief with Fitz over Jerry’s death. Fitz was there for her, took the drink out of her hand and listened to her guilt-ridden confessions about the distance she maintained in mothering Jerry. They had a genuine moment of being grieving parents.
With that in mind, Mellie seemed kind of exhausted herself when she saw Fitz on his knees in the Oval. Initially she tried to reciprocate support, but when Fitz said, “Where’s Olivia?”, she recognized that in that situation that she, Mellie, was not the best woman for the job. She stayed crouched on her knees trying to comfort her husband while simultaneously calling the love of his life to fix him. That moment with the two of them actually took me aback. You must remember that something has shifted between Olivia and Mellie prior to that scene as well (not sure how their relationship will play out in S4). So all of these reasons taken together are why I didn’t see Mellie’s actions at the end of 318 as equivalent to the ones you mentioned above. I don’t think her primary motivation for calling Olivia had anything to do with her own needs.
Don’t take this to mean I think Mellie’s a changed woman. I am interested to see where her story-line goes in the upcoming season. Somehow I doubt she’ll be calling Olivia a whore.
Q:I feel like Shonda has ruined so many of Olivia core relationship to make Jake a key person n Liv life. Olivia and Huck ruin. Cy and Olivia none existent. OPA basically destroyed. So this abuser Joke can b her person . What do u think?
It’s interesting that you see it that way. It’s no secret that I harbor a lot of resentment for Jake. I think his insinuation into Olivia’s life is contrived in every way imaginable, and it does impact that narrative in ways I’m not fond of. I don’t know that shoe-horning him into the story has directly caused Olivia’s other relationships to be ruined, though, as you say. I’m going to throw the question back at you. How is Olivia’s relationship with Huck ruined? Cyrus and Olivia? I need to know your definition of ‘ruined’ because I don’t think we’re on the same page.
The impact of Olivia’s relationship with Cyrus had more to do with Rowan than anyone else. For me it was Rowan, as puppet master, whose influence loomed too large in the narrative last season (hell, even season 2B). Yet still, I don’t think the Cylivia relationship is in tatters. In fact, they probably got along the best they ever did in the 3rd season!
NB (September 2014): In light of a question about this year-old essay, I decided to update it with new analysis about the use of the “The Light” in The Price of a Free and Fair Election (318), use of the phone in season 3 as well as instances in which we specifically do…
^^^I agree, lazyexceptwhencooking.
NB (September 2014): In light of a question about this year-old essay, I decided to update it with new analysis about the use of the “The Light” in The Price of a Free and Fair Election (318), use of the phone in season 3 as well as instances in which we specifically do not hear the song from…
Wow katrinapavela this is absolutely amazing! Great analysis! But I was wondering, do you actually think the soundtrack choices were actually made like that? Like for every scene where do they play and when they don’t. Because that would be some thorough analyzing and deserve some respect :D
scandalousbelgium Thanks! I do think they use that piece of music purposefully in the narrative, but I don’t know that my theory matches with their intentions.
** UPDATED 2014 EDITION** More than an Olitz Theme Song: Symbolic Use of the “The Light” in Scandal
NB (September 2014): In light of a question about this year-old essay, I decided to update it with new analysis about the use of the “The Light” in The Price of a Free and Fair Election (318), use of the phone in season 3 as well as instances in which we specifically do not hear the song from season 2. You can skip to the section marked “**NEW ANALYSIS**” if you’ve already read this.
“Love is not consolation. It is light.”—Simone Weil (h/t @PinkHouseChick)
Over the last couple of weeks I have been re-watching the Scandal series from the beginning, with an aim to finish all 29 episodes by Friday, 5th of July (I’ll tell you why in a couple days). The more I watch, the better I feel about territory the writers may explore in season 3. While watching the excellent, but painful “Nobody Likes Babies” (213) episode, I had a eureka moment when “The Light” was played for the first time in a non-Olitz scene. We have come to believe that “The Light” is Olitz’s theme song, but I believe it’s a little more complicated than that. Never did I think I would write anything about this song, let alone as my first #ScandalSummerSchool essay. As I wait for the gods of inspiration to bless me with a fucking clue on other essays I started, I thought I would explore the symbolic use of “The Light” in the show. This is completely self-indulgent.
Please note that I am not insulting anyone’s intelligence. I just like to make sure we’re starting on the same page:
Symbol: A symbol is something that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, belief, action, or material entity. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, or visual images and are used to convey ideas and beliefs.
I, like many of you, downloaded this song. However, I never elect to listen to it, and if it comes on when I’m shuffling songs on my iPod, I promptly skip over it. I find that my life does not allow me hours and hours to be curled up in the fetal position rocking myself slowly, muttering ‘OTP…OTP..OTP…OTP…*sniffle*, *cry*, whyyyyyyyyyyyyy God, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!’, my face looking like Ms. Celie when Nettie was taken away from her in The Color Purple. In short, #iCant. What was I talmbout? Oh yeah, “The Light”. Let’s discuss it as a piece of music first, shall we? Keep in mind that I am not an expert on music.
As an instrumental piece of music it’s kind of emotionally burdensome, even as it’s also romantic. It’s a romance that is tinged with pain, with longing. The opening chords are kind of vague, giving you no real indication of where the piece may lead. Then individual, sombre notes are introduced. It continues in that direction for a short while until the same notes are played simultaneously in a higher register. The two melodies in different registers then dance for a while, the constant interplay of darkness and light. Darkness and light. That interplay is very symbolic of the complicated relationship that is Olitz. It could be said that as two beings, they found the light in each other, but the circumstances of their lives allows a constant cloud of darkness to linger over them. But is that it? What else?
As the music continues, it reaches an eerie bridge where things seem to turn ominous shortly before the piece ends. The song begins to peter out, almost sounding like it’s dying (flat-lining) with that long, steady horn note (?) in the background and a distant upswing of something that sounds like a siren. The last notes we hear as the song fades are the same ones we hear at the beginning, the ones that are a mainstay in the background of the song. All in all, “The Light” isn’t light at all. It’s an overall reflective piece characterized by the brief moments of lightness that pierce the emotional gravity of the composition. Hmm, just like Olitz.
What is as interesting, is the how and when certain moments of this music are used in Scandal. We’ve come to see “The Light” as just an Olitz theme song, but its use in the scene wherein Fitz eventually assists Verna to her death (I can’t say ‘kill’ y’all. I just can’t) made me re-consider the song entirely. I have come to the conclusion that “The Light” isn’t simply about the poignancy of the Olitz relationship. It is also about Olivia as a symbol of light piercing the emotional darkness of Fitz’ life. ‘Whaaaaaaa?! Kat, you’ve gone off the deep end! Come back, sweetie. Come back.’ Just…hear me out for one minute on this idea.
The Trail (106)
I have previously referred to this episode as The Book of Olitz because it’s the Genesis of their relationship; the OG scripture to which I always return. In this episode we were treated to two ‘one-minute’ scenes, both of which were initiated at Fitz’s request. In fact, all three ‘one-minute’ scenes (219 as well) have occurred because Fitz has asked. Representing a sort of time-out, those moments create breathing space between Fitz and Olivia in order to focus on them as humans being rather than humans doing. In all three of those ‘one-minute’ moments we hear “The Light”. It’s always Fitz trying to connect with Olivia. He is the one that needs her. Fitz needs Olivia’s light in his life. And the light she brings is not about romance; it’s about a feeling of one-ness with another person. That sense of one-ness is epitomised in “The Trail”.
Grant: For the People (107)
“The Light” was played twice in this episode. The first time we hear it, Fitz is telling Olivia about his plan to have the life he’s always wanted with the woman he loves (her). He moves towards his light, then initiates the most romantic kiss to date on Scandal. The use of “The Light” here is quite obvious. It represents a moment of levity for the two of them where they briefly indulge in the hopefulness of a future together.
The song also plays in the final Olitz scene, but in a much different context. There was no tenderness. No loving gazes. No hopefulness. We hear the song begin as a very different plan is voiced. This time it is Mellie revealing the plan to save Fitz’s presidency, which she and Olivia came up with. Fitz is staring beyond Mellie, at Olivia in disbelief and disappointment at this 180 degree turn. This time Olivia, as the light in Fitz’s life, is removed from the equation. The use of “The Light” symbolizes the departure of that light from his life. We literally see Olivia release herself from Fitz’s desperate clutches to walk away from him as the “flat-lining” portion of the music plays.
Fitz is sometimes so desperate for the light that Olivia brings that he is compelled to act in reckless, desperate and delusional ways. While I obviously believe there is plenty of evidence suggesting Olivia is often emotionally bereft without Fitz, we never hear “The Light” in a scene with Olivia and no Fitz. The opposite, however, is true (see section on “Nobody Likes Babies”).
Nobody Likes Babies (213)
This is a game-changing episode, the ramifications of which were felt all the way up until “White Hat’s Back On” (222). Fitz went from love-sick puppy, sexily pleading with his girlfriend to wait for his divorce to be finalized to #FitzVader, unceremoniously dumping said girlfriend at a funeral. The symbolism of death and darkness are rife. We hear “The Light” played for the first time in season 2, but it’s in a very disturbing context. The context is even more severe than the last time we heard it near the end of “Grant: For the People” (107)The opening chords start as Fitz turns away from Olivia—literally and figuratively—just after spitefully telling her:
Fitz: “You believe that my presidency is more important than anything else, right? You must. You worked so hard to get me here.”
Cold. The song continues as the episode shifts between scenes of Fitz’s eulogy of Verna, and Fitz in Verna’s hospital room. “The Light” plays during that hospital scene as Fitz finds out that not only was his presidency ill-gotten, but also that the light of his life was a co-conspirator. What’s symbolic about this scene is that it is the transition from light into darkness for Fitz. The knowledge of Olivia’s involvement in Defiance is a key part of that decent. As Verna burdens Fitz with the truth, thereby absolving herself of her own guilt, “The Light” plays all the way until its warped, ominous ending. At this point we see Fitz get up and walk over to the hospital door. There is silence, and we see a new resolve creep over his whole face. The darkness has entered him. “The Light” is gone. Darker instrumentals start to play as Fitz plunges Verna into death’s grip.
Immediately after the funeral, we see Fitz—despondent and paranoid—clutching a glass of scotch. We all know what that means. Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. It takes him nearly a year to come out of that dark hole, and just in time.
Seven Fifty-Two (219)
Olivia’s hospitalization provides us with another unique use of “The Light”. The hospital scene is the first one-minute moment since the end of 106, and the first time the song is being used specifically in an Olitz scene in all of season 2! At least 16-18 months have passed since Fitz and Olivia have indulged each other with this kind of connection. What had to happen in order for us to hear “The Light” again? Fitz had to stop drinking (217), and remove his emotional barricade, which we saw with Cyrus, then Mellie, and finally Olivia (218, 219). And Fitz and Olivia had to talk like adults (219).
When Fitz asks Olivia if she still loves him, we immediately hear the opening chords of “The Light”. We can see on her face before she even admits it, that yes, she does still love him but she needs more than that. Fitz again requests ‘one-minute’ of connection with Olivia. He’s ready to lay out his cards, hoping that she’ll still shine her light his way after nearly a year of his bad behaviour. What has he learned?
Fitz: “This past year, I have learned only one thing: that I cannot exist without you. I cannot breathe without you. That the man that I am without you…I’m nothing. I’m nothing, and you are everything.”
In other words, she’s his light. This point is driven home by the fact that Olivia’s is facing away from Fitz, towards the camera which is mostly focused on her facial reactions to his words. “The Light” fades out as Olivia walks away. Fitz is left looking a bit struck, but not completely lost. Note that the conversation and the music are playing out against the cool, clear light of day peeking through those hospital blinds. It’s hopeful even though things are very tenuous and unresolved.
Obviously we know how things turned out after that hospital scene. Interestingly, we don’t hear “The Light” in the final three-episode arc of the second season (I’ve previously argued that 220-222 should be examined together). Why? Because “The Light” is about the establishment or severing of a connection. Olitz was already connected in the last three episodes of the season. In my world of delusions between seasons 2 and 3, I’m actually thankful that we didn’t hear “The Light” during that Oval Office scene, or, worse, during the capitulating king scene (aka ‘The scene that shall not be named’) in “White Hat’s Back On” (222).
Since Olitz was already connected, hearing the song would indicate a departure of the light (Olivia) from Fitz’s life (admittedly according to my own warped theory). Instead we hear Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” a song about second chances and reaching a position of advantage, particularly a moral or ethical one. I can see how the song applies to Olivia and Fitz as individuals. Harrison once told Olivia, “that white hat will always belong on your head” (20?—I’m blanking!) I think she’s going to test the veracity of that. As for Fitz, he’s getting a second chance at running an ethical race for the presidency. How their individual higher grounds will translate for them as a couple is widely debated at this point.
The Price of a Free and Fair Election
Speaking of finales, Scandal’s third season finale marked the one and only time that “The Light” was used that season. If, as I have theorized, “The Light” is used to establish and sever a direct emotional connection between Fitz and Olivia, the use of the piece in 318 is foreboding of something ominous.
We hear the opening notes of the song start to play as we transition from the Huck and Quinn scene (where she takes him to the home of his family) to the Olitz scene. We find Olivia and Fitz on the phone. In fact, the phone has served as the device to keep Olivia and Fitz connected for most of the third season. Not a single episode has passed—despite the content of their conversation—wherein these two did not speak to each other in person or over the phone. They have fought(307), laughed (305), sought/offered comfort (304, 309), confessed (313) and strategized (302) using the phone this season. If we are talking about connection and communication, season three marked a departure from weeks and sometimes months of no contact between Fitz and Olivia.
It is in their final phone call with each other that we hear “The Light”. It is a song that signals a shift in the Olitz relationship. Within the context of the scenes that came before it, and the way the conversation ended, the use of the song points to an ominous future. Olivia is tending to her
self-injured father at the hospital, and Fitz is about to go on stage and concede a losing re-election campaign. These two are both in very public places, trying to re-affirm a private bond over the phone after Olivia revealed to Fitz that Mellie was raped by his own father, Big Jerry. In many ways this was intended to serve as a catalyst for Fitz to go back to him family. It is not lost on me that the confession happens just after Fitz talks about building their own future family in Vermont, and that now would be the ideal time to get started on that life. It’s like there’s an elephant dancing on the line connecting them over the telephone. They can’t ignore it.
Olivia: “Its OK. Vermont’s not happening. I understand. You can’t leave her now.
Fitz: Not yet.
Olivia: I wouldn’t want you if knowing what you know, you left her now.
Fitz: I love you.
Olivia: I love you, too.
How very rare to get an ‘I love you’ exchange between these two characters who do, in fact, quietly live for each other even as they cannot live with each other. There is a mutual acceptance that their relationship cannot go forward at this moment, but it is not a zero sum game at this point. It’s not a break-up. Fitz, likely wary of impact of his burden on Olivia moves to reassure her of his emotional loyalty. Once again, as I have noted in the first edition of this essay, it is Fitz who always requests Olivia to stay with him in a one-minute cocoon of emotionality. He uses this tool to reaffirm his bond with her in the midst of tumultuous external happenings. Overcome by time, place, circumstance, lack of Fitz’s physical presence (for the first time) in the cocoon with her, Olivia suddenly announces she’s hanging up. She breaks the connection and the song peters out during that warped bridge. Olivia hangs up the phone and by the end of the episode, she has hung everything up.
Specific Instances in Which ”The Light” is Not Used:
Tumblr user, @chitrarekha asked me why it is that we don’t hear “The Light” used during the Olitz break-up in Beltway Unbuckled (204) and the iconic moment in Happy Birthday, Mr. President (208) when Olivia hands in her resignation letter at the White House. According to her, in both these moments, Olitz were breaking up and Olivia was leaving.
In 204, it was Fitz’s decision to ‘let’ Olivia go. He played his hand because that’s what he thought she wanted. And she is stubborn so she called his bluff. The resignation scene in 208 on the other hand focused on Olivia removing herself from a situation that threatened to consume her. She found out that: the Cytron bombing was connected Hollis; Mellie insinuated she was a whore for the first time; and Verna was all bitch better have my Supreme Court nomination ready, something promised by her and Cyrus behind Fitz’s back. Fitz was a core motivating factor for the actions that led Olivia to her calamitous circumstances. The end of the relationship (not the love) was collateral damage when she left. The pause in the Oval office to stroke the desk upon which she made love to Fitz while simultaneously revering the surroundings of the most important office in the world further indicates the complexity of her decision. The scene is intercut with scenes of Fitz delivering the State of the Union address about the future of the nation under his presidency and scenes of Olivia, strident in gait, somber in emotion, and determined to do the best thing for the Union. What’s best for the Union is almost always the opposite of what’s good for the Oitz union. Extricating herself from a volatile situation for the good of everyone else. Does that sound familiar? Because it’s exactly what Olivia did at the end of season 3, but on a grander scale.
scandalousbazinga I don’t think we can be friends.
lmfao Lovenia … my instinct is french and in french GIF is spelled JIF :P
Gif. If I wanted peanut butter, I’d ask for Skippy.It’s GIF! *Inelegantpawsvoice*
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Scandalverse: Does This Pose Look Familiar?
it sure does!
Yes it does. There’s only one other couple n Hollywood that got what Brad and Angie got. We all know who that is
They were already tearing it up on set these two. The chemistry was just over flowing. Happy for them.
I’m outta here.
The naked female body is treated so weirdly in society. It’s like people are constantly begging to see it, but once they do, someone’s a hoe.