This week on Scandal (“More Cattle, Less Bull”) vs. Homeland (“The Yoga Play”): You should watch Chinatown.
As always, beware: spoilers.
It’s Mother’s Day on Scandal, and no one gets a card. Turns out that “upstart Congresswoman” Lisa Kudrow, Democratic presidential contender, had a child and gave her up for adoption at the age of 15. Except, as she tells Liv after she hires her as a fixer, she didn’t give the baby up—through some small-town hospital fudging, the daughter became her “sister” and eventually her campaign manager.
As the fellows at Uproxx point out, this kind of switcharoo took place in the actual life of Jack Nicholson, who found out that his mother was actually his sister in 1974, the same year that Chinatown came out. If you haven’t seen Chinatown, I will not tell you why that is an insane coincidence, but I will say, why haven’t you seen Chinatown? (Faye Dunaway is amazing, and you’ll never hear a car horn the same way again.)
Speaking of murder mysteries, we also discover more about the very hush hush “Operation Remington” through the “By our powers combined!” super spy prowess of Huck and Jake. Of course, Huck is one of the Planeteers with real powers, like “Fire”; while he does Lisbeth Salander-level hacking, Jake, whose power must be “Heart,” takes phone calls, shoots hoops with the President, changes his clothes a lot, tries vainly to distract Liv from Fitz, squires her to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and looks dashing enough throughout that we forgive him his borderline ineptitude.
What Huck turns up is that Fitz, during “Operation Remington,” may have been responsible for the passenger plane crash that killed—among hundreds of others—Liv’s mother.
Now, Liv has forgiven Fitz a lot. She seems to be OK with the fact that he is an adulterer, a bad parent, and a worse husband; that he murdered a Supreme Court Justice with his own two hands; that he is a lackluster and disinterested Commander in Chief with no apparent agenda and an only middling jump shot. For the sake of her enduring love, can she also overlook his having killed her mom?
Kill my dad, we can imagine her telling him, and we’ll call it square.
Meanwhile, back at the Homeland ranch, it’s Father’s Day! Everyone’s favorite father figure Saul celebrates his upcoming promotion to CIA Director, a near certainty in his mind even though he is a gruff, intellectual Jewy mensch associated with all of the CIA’s recent failures, by going duck hunting with a bunch of alpha dudes, chief among them the smarmy, smug, war-mongery Senator Lockhart. Once Lockhart gets Saul alone in the blind, he blindsides him with a little secret: Lockhart is shortly to be Saul’s boss. Saul toasts the revelation by saying, essentially, “Fuck you, fuckball,” establishing that he will not go down without a fight. But his satisfaction is short-lived.
Something else Saul didn’t see coming: his beloved wife may be having an affair. As Slate’s Willa Paskin points out, do we want a guy this unaware running our international spy agency?
His work family is in similar disarray. In a good move, he loops in sexy super spy Peter Quinn to function as Carrie’s brooding and protective older brother in the extra-seriously-covert off-the-books mission to bring down the bad guys in Iran who are behind the CIA bombing. But then, as happens with families, everyone has tantrums and tells on each other, and Carrie endangers the mission by trying to help the Brody family track down its missing daughter.
Dana saves herself, ultimately, after she finds out that the boyfriend with whom she has run away is not merely a bad driver but possibly a psychopath, and in this she exhibits better judgment than Olivia Pope. The Internets still hate her, of course. Absentee Dad Brody can’t react to having her back home safe, since he is still having the weirdest vacation of his life in Venezuela or whatever. Daddy Saul is almost viciously calm, though, when he hears from Brother Quinn at the end of the episode that our heroine has been Carrie-d away by (Iranian?) henchmen.
Both shows are having fun giving viewers whiplash from going, “wait, what?” all the time. But Scandal is wearing me out with Liv’s bizarre, inexplicable devotion to a man who has compromised her six ways from Sunday—the shot of her wearing a “Grant for President” sweatshirt and going through snapshots from the old campaign made me reach for the Listerine to wash out my eyes. Right now I’m less invested in Liv’s choice—work for Lisa Kudrow (D) or the idiot White House’s re-election campaign—and more invested in finding out whether Carrie can keep herself alive as well as she did when she got kidnapped back in Season 2. Will the next twist be that her Mr. Big, Brody, shows up out of nowhere to bargain for her release? Whose heart will he have to stop this time to set her free?
Previously: Episode 4
Ester Bloom is a known heroine addict based in Brooklyn. Follow her @shorterstory.