In case you’re wondering, “Diego Muñoz” is Huck’s real name. And you’re crazy if you didn’t think I just sung to myself, of this noted deathmonger, “Where In The World Is Harmin’ Man Diego?” Listen, I NEVER said I wasn’t a total hack.
Also not a hack: Susan Ross, bless her. Let’s start there.
Abby has groomed and coached her to within an inch of her life, and she’s ready to go out and accept the president’s nomination for the veep spot. The show has at least FINALLY remembered the basics of government, and is acknowledging she has to get confirmed by the Senate and Congress, but the first step is a press conference. And Susan is READY, and I admire her decision not to wear Power Red, nor cut her hair into some kind of shellacked bob the likes of which would make an extremely effective planetary defense shield.
Mellie has not smiled that wide since the ’80s. She can practically smell the presidency. It clearly has not occurred to her that if they turn this woman into an acceptable VP, she might actually be ABLE to make a run at the White House, and that in fact, ANY TIME AT ALL as vice-president makes Susan Ross more electable than Mellie. In fact, when this started, I thought Mellie was going to suggest HERSELF as VP. The fact that she didn’t, because she is obviously a terrible candidate and it would never work, makes her fantasy about the White House EVEN MORE INSANE.
Susan turns it OUT at the press-conference… until she actually stops to process what she’s doing, and goes on a tittering digression that ends with a nervous giggle akin to what you’d hear if you sucked up a donkey with a Dustbuster. The media goes wild. Susan Ross’s Laugh is the new Howard Dean’s Barbaric Yawp, and so the White House has to special-order some PR spackle. They really ought to buy that stuff whenever it’s on special and just stockpile it in the basement.
Olivia, meanwhile, is in a bad way.
She spends all her time having flashbacks to her traumatic kidnapping, and toting a gun around her apartment. Even her wine cardigan is in a dark place.
AND she hasn’t cleaned up The Stain of Doom. OUT DAMNED SPOT.
If we’re looking for metaphors in her clothing…
… this jacket appears to be navy and black, making her a big ol’ walking bruise…
… and here, her buttons off-center. So are Quinn’s. OLIVIA. Other than the company name on your paycheck, you DO NOT want anything in common with Quinn.
Anyway, because Olivia is in no mindset to fix anything except perhaps a broken deadbolt, Abby can’t call on her to put Susan Ross together again. So instead…
… she calls her boyfriend Leo Bergin (Paul Adelstein; I’m going to try and use his actual character name from now on, just because). And I LOVE Leo. I find his brand of hyper-stressed snakery extremely delightful to behold — it’s like his entire body is a soda can being shaken, waiting for you to pop the tab. The only person better she could have called was Saul Goodman.
Things go beautifully at first, when Leo gets Susan on Jimmy Kimmel and she laughs a totally cute and normal giggle, and lets him make fun of her gaffe. Display sense of humor about oneself: check. But eventually his coaching takes on a more urgent tone, because she’s about to get grilled by the House and the Senate, and they won’t be so easily tickled.
He hurls all kinds of questions at her about what she’d do if, say, Putin drives a tank into Red Square and poses naked on it in a bikini. I’m sure the correct answer involves foreign policy and not the words “retweet the SHIT out of it,” but we never do hear because Susan blanks. She completely freaks out under his grilling, and/or at the strong mental image of Putin writhing around like a Viktorya’s Cекрет model. And she quits. Just fully bails. She folds like a poker player with a two and a six in the pocket.
Later, Abby — in her tremendous floral dressing gown — does a great job disdainfully moisturizing her hands while Leo defends going at Susan so hard that she fled. Then Abby lays into him, and fires him, at which point he stomps off in a tizzy about how she didn’t trust him to do his job. Abby is like, “Oh, WHATEVER,” for which I love her immensely. Later, when he skulks back, she doesn’t even let him open his mouth before she tells him that if he can’t handle that she runs with the big boys, and has power, then TOO BAD… and he lets her say her piece, then makes it clear that he thinks all those things are fantastic, and strokes her face. They exchange the LOVELIEST tender look before the makeup sex. I can’t believe Leo — of all people — is the current model on this show for how to function in a relationship with a smart woman: listen to her, respect her, appreciate her, celebrate her. And THEN make out with her. Are you listening, Fitz?
Oh, and yes, Olivia ends up agreeing to help Fix It — there is no real mention of her having met Susan Ross before, which is odd — and coaches Susan into a rousing speech to the Senate about how the world is unpredictable and so it’s pointless to ask her how she would handle any foreign policy situation if Fitz were to slip into a coma. Her argument is, don’t concern yourself with what she’d do, because nobody knows what they would do until the moment and the exact scenario is upon them. This is both the realistic answer, and the LEAST comforting one.
But unfortunately, nobody is going to vote to confirm her, and Olivia figures out this is because the House and the Senate are SUPER hacked off at Fitz for that whole thing where he declared war on West Angola. In short, everyone in this fictional government is wearing a t-shirt that says TEAM FITZWORST.
What follows is totally White House High School:
Olivia and her Prada purse stand in the back of the Oval, not making eye contact with Fitz, forcing Cyrus and Abby to advance her opinions to him about how to handle this. It’s TOTALLY leaning over your friend Cindy in Math class to ask Mary if she’ll please tell Cindy that her pencil makes annoying noises. The pencil in this case being Fitz himself, rather than Susan Ross.
And Fitz makes his biggest whiny face while barking things at Olivia despite her desperation to ignore him. Finally, she snaps and explains to him that he made a mockery of democracy and needs to go beg everyone’s forgiveness. I hope his speech begins, “Four score and FOREVER AGO, my father brought forth upon this continent a new boy, conceived in haste, and dedicated to the proposition that all Grants shall be terrible.”
Fitz does prowl closer to Liv, and I have to say again that one thing these two play VERY WELL is the undercurrent of thick, almost suffocating longing between them. As soon as he gets this close, something snaps in Kerry Washington’s face, and you can see her get swept up in this tornado of lust and yearning. It feels like they aren’t breathing and for as second I wasn’t, either. And I’m not a ‘shipper of these two, particularly, because he’s such a dimwit most of the time. The right actors, the right chemistry, and a quiet moment are sometimes all it takes to speak volumes. Just the sight of them standing like this, silently, is enough to make Abby and Cyrus turn their backs as if to give them privacy.
Olivia backs away, of course, but it’s no matter. This was foreplay, even if they weren’t actually touching.
And, Fitz listens to Liv, and mea culpas his way through the Capitol. With no further ado, Susan Ross is confirmed as VP, and her adorable little daughter beams at her with pride — not knowing that when you’re a child of a politico on this show, you vaporize. Does ANYONE remember that Mellie and Fitz have a toddler? I don’t even remember that child’s NAME.
Olivia’s other storyline involves the old lady who’d come looking for Olivia when she was still missing. She was friends with Lois, Olivia’s neighbor who got plugged in the head during the kidnapping, and she is all het up about how she knows Lois isn’t just off on a walk or trying to get some alone time or on vacation. It turns out, of course, that the two women were longtime loves, and so now Olivia has to hunt down Lois’s corpse and try to give this lady closure by passing it off as a casual death. She picks “aneurysm,” which… unless they have Lois cremated on the sly right here, somebody is going to notice that the brain explosion in question happened because a bullet went through it. Regardless, it’s all very maudlin and results in a very sad, empty funeral in an ornate room, where the lady cries over her dead girlfriend’s coffin and moans that nothing will ever be the same, while Olivia flashes back to happier times and realizes the same is true for her. DUCK, Liv, or you will be impaled by the parallel lines being drawn.
Moving on: It’s Big Block of Cheese Day, so David Rosen is being forced to commune with the masses. I admit that when David Rosen is chipper, I usually tune out, because nothing important is happens unless he is stressed. As he is when a woman walks into his office, deposits a bunch of B-Undead files onto his desk, and tells him that her husband was an operative with a super secret spy organization that makes the KGB look like the PTA. Who is this woman?
Huck’s Awful Wife. Who I guess is a lawyer now, and presumably a decent one, because she got access to the attorney general of the U.S. However, she still is taking Impassioned Glance lessons from her husband, which means things are getting buggy up in here.
David immediately goes to Jake and Huck, panicking about this woman and her mysterious B-utthead husband, Diego Muñoz.
YOU GUESSED IT. But in case you weren’t sure, Huck shot his eyebrows out of a cannon so that they’d go as far north as possible.
Hang on, let’s rewind and just enjoy the transition from zero to ACTING.
He might secretly be playing this part like he’s in a comedy.
Huck is enraged that his wife did this, because he’s pretty sure it means they’re all going to be brutally murdered in their beds. And it’s true that she can’t be that savvy a person if she read all those files and thought, “Oh, well, but the attorney general of the U.S. will keep us safe,” as if he can just cast a secret-keeping spell over their house that renders it invisible. From his desk, kiddo, David Rosen can’t do anything except say words to you. B-overalready KEPT YOUR HUSBAND IN A TORTURE HOLE, and you think DAVID FREAKING ROSEN is going to be the one to keep any of its operatives from disassembling you like so many Johnny Fives?
So, Huck makes a plan with David and Jake: He will agree to testify, but once he gets in there, he will backstab his wife — for her own protection — and pretend none of what she’s saying is true, and paint himself as a traumatized crazy person. (TRUE ENOUGH.)
When he begins his testimony, Huck is normal. A little emotional, but in a way where I thought, “Wow, maybe I’m not going to hate this scene.” He denies, denies, denies, and Kim has to urge him to remember, and looks totally at sea, and then David finally makes a big show of threatening her with disbarment if she persists in this specious case.
And then it begins.
Huck starts thinking about his wife, the birth of his son, and all the things he missed because of B-rutality. Nostrils flare, eyebrows tremble, eyes hit the eject button.
“TELL HIM ABOUT THE HOOOOOOLE,” Kim urges. And I begin laughing. And then Huck begins talking. He goes against the plan and starts spilling his guts.
What follows is a classic Huck-style breathy monologue, pitched all over the place, about The Hole. What he did in The Hole. There is a ROUTINE in The Hole. He would hallucinate different cities in The Hole. He had an imaginary bookshelf in The Hole. He would read bedtime stories to Javi in The Hole. Everything is Holesome. Everything is brutal when your boss is real mean. Everything is Holesome, when you’re B-613. Somewhere in the world, the In The Hole guy — who shouts that at every single golf tournament after every single shot, even the ones from the tee on a par-5 that could only go in the hole if a friendly bird snatched it out of midair and then dropped it with rapier precision — gets a shiver up his spine. Huck practically foams at the mouth while he snorts his way through this rabid speech.
“Um, dude? SHUT YOUR TORTURE HOLE.”
Jake is so freaked out that he appears to be turning into a cartoon. That is as close to a perfect O as a human mouth can get. Somebody please shove a tuba up in there. He is even MORE surprised when David Rosen announces he’s going to pursue this. “We are the bad guys,” Jake protests. “Not anymore,” says David. And NOBODY MENTIONS THE SUN. Thank you. (Although I may be remembering wrong, but I THINK Olivia might have mentioned The Sun to the old lady, when she was describing the painless way Lois pretend-died of her faux-aneursym. I tend to bleach the word “sun” from my brain when it comes to this show.)
Olivia, for her part, takes the offending sofa cushion out with the trash. She still has the gun on her table, and she’s still only in wine cardigans as dark as her mood, but she’s back to her regular dinner and she might get a new couch soon, so — as the heavy-handed “Ooh, Child” song reminds us — it would seem things are going to get easier someday. Or at least cleaner.