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October 24, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-24

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5 - Friday, October 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

5 - Friday, October 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

FOCUS
"I golta make a call."
Thrills over facts in
'Kill the Messenger'

ABC

"Ive been drinking."
The trouble with
Olivia and Fitz

The confusing
polites of ABC's hot
* drama, 'Scandal'
By CHLOE GILKE
Daily TV/New Media Editor
"Scandal" is the most
confusing show on television.
I'm not talking about the
constant plot twists, the
characters' ever-changing
moral standing (White hat's
off! White hat's back on!)
or even about whatever's
going on in the inscrutable
mind of Mellie Grant. The
most confusing thing about
'"Scandal" is how one little
musical motif makes me
accept (hell, even actively
love) an abusive and dangerous
relationship.
As soon as those first
notes of "The Light" by The
Album Leaf play, all bets are
off for me. I can go from a
discerning and classy critic
lady to a full-blown Fitz and
Olivia shipper in the blink of
a teary eye. Something about
the minimalist, somber piano
and the romantic melody
perfectly captures a love that
isn't meant to be, the notes
*somehow communicating the
love between a man who's
emotionally unavailable and
the woman who didn't mean to
fall for him. Every time it plays,
the tune brings with it the
memory of all the other times
it's been played, the cadence of
their entire relationship since
that time on the campaign bus.
It's powerful stuff, the kind
that makes you stop thinking
about the toxic codependency
that serves as the foundation
of their love and just revel in
the beauty of "one minute" of
a 'gorgeous song and a pairing
that appears just as gorgeous.
But the thing is, Olitz isn't
gorgeous. While the first
and second seasons built Fitz
and Olivia up as some idyllic
dream couple, the more recent
seasons have been all about
breaking the illusion that Olitz
is meant to be. Fitz is no longer
the sensitive, misguided man
we met in the first episode.
He's a scotch-guzzling,
snarling, volatile man who
grabs and pushes and insults
the women in his life. While

the Fitz of the past maintained
some idealism (before he knew
his presidency was built on a
lie and a rigged election), that
innocence is long gone ever
since he, you know, smothered
an elderly Supreme Court
justice to death with a pillow.
I do appreciate a good anti-
hero, so this moral ambiguity
alone isn't a problem. But what
is troubling is that Fitz lets
this violence bleed into his
relationship with Olivia. Fitz
makes romantic promises -
he vows to move to Vermont
and leave Mellie and start a
beautiful, low-profile life with
Olivia as soon as his term is
over - but his kind gestures
stop as soon as "The Light"
turns off. He's got an ugly
sense of possession for Olivia,
and hires a professional spy to
keep tabs on her while he pouts
and pours himself another
scotch. He tries to break up
every relationship between
Olivia and another man, with
no concern for whether she's
happy or consents to dragged
back home by her concerned
lover.
In the latest episode, "Like
Father, Like Daughter," Olitz
finally reunites after months
apart while she was in hiding
with Jake. Their meeting goes
exactly how one would expect
from Fitz and Olivia. He
starts by saying, "I'm the most
powerful man in the world,"
a reminder to Liv (and the
audience) that he's a president
not to be fucked with. To
boot, all the doors in the room
are closed, and he's circling
around Olivia like a hungry
piranha. He eventually goes up
to her and grabs her by the ass,
pushing his body against hers
with zero regard for consent.
After a summer's vacation
from Olitz, I almost forgot
that an integral part of their
relationship is based on non-
consensual physical contact,
but this scene is a great
reminder of what we're in for.
He augments the implication
of physical abuse by saying
"Don't ever leave me again,"
suggesting to Olivia that
her purpose is only to serve
his wants and needs and to
ignore her own personal
safety. To say the least, it's
not a romantic moment. I feel
physically sick watching the

scene, but then "Scandal" goes
ahead and fucks everything up
and turns me into a shameful,
Olitz-loving puddle of tears.
Yup, "The Light" again. In
a sequence that's otherwise
chilling in its portrayal of
emotional manipulation and
dysfunction, one musical piece
transforms the whole thing
into pure romance. One minute
he's unbuttoning her jacket
while she looks on helplessly,
and the next their bodies are
close, the passion no longer
one-sided. Olivia is the one
true love of Fitz's life, and he's
not exaggerating when he says
that he'd die if she ever went
away from him again. She's the
one thing that's keeping him
sane in his insane and tragic
life.
The song brings with it the
memory of the "one minute"
scene from season one's "The
Trail," in which Fitz requests
a single untainted minute in
which he could enjoy Olivia's
company before he had to
go back to the White House.
In these sixty seconds, he
could pretend he wasn't
the President and Olivia's
apartment was theirs, he could
put his arms around her and
lean in and dream of a life
where they could actually be
together.
"Scandal" plays a cruel and
confusing trick on fans now.
"The Light" still plays during
every Fitz and Olivia scene, but
the nature of their relationship
isn't as pure and idyllic as it
was for that "one minute."
Somehow, their relationship
has transitioned to the point
where Fitz can grab Liv by
the shoulders and push her
toward a wall, and "The Light"
still soars as a cue for us to see
this as another stolen, perfect
Olitz moment. It's especially
problematic, because as much
as I despise Fitz's entitlement
and rudeness and abuse, I'm
put right into Olivia's shoes,
and for one minute he becomes
Prince Charming again.
Romanticizing abuse is
particularly disturbing,
but even more so when the
audience is duped into their
relationship just as much as
the victim is. But let me just
sit down, listen to "The Light"
and stop thinking about all
this. Just for one minute.

By KARSTEN SMOLINSKI
Daily Arts Writer
The title "Kill the Messenger"
should strike audiences as an
inadequate description of the
problem facing
investigative
journalist
Gary Webb. Kill the
More than just
a messenger, Messenger
Webb Rave and
uncovered and Quality 16
wrote a story Focus
about the CIA's
protection of
known drug
traffickers who supplied money
for the Nicaraguan Contras. Also,
neither the CIA nor the American
media killed Webb - they just
ruined his life.
Jeremy Renner ("The
Hurt Locker") delivers a solid
performance as Webb, who is
reportingfortheSanJoseMercury
News when a source leads him to
Danilo Bland6n, the Nicaraguan
"Santa Claus" of cocaine. Bland6n
leads Webb to a Nicaraguan
prison where the journalist bribes
his way in to see Norwin Meneses,
amajor drugtraffickerwho attests
to receiving CIA protection in
exchange for his contributions to

the Contras. Webb concludes that
when Congress blocked the direct
funding of the Nicaraguan rebels
in the 1980s, part of the Reagan
administration's secret plan to
fund the group included using
profits from Nicaraguan cocaine
sold in major American cities such
as Los Angeles.
However, when Webb ignores
CIA pressure and publishes his
findings with the provocative
title "Dark Alliances," many
major newspapers seek to
discredit him. Webb fails to find
a CIA staffer who will talk, one
source disappears and another
rescinds his statements. Webb
and his family grow apart. San
Jose Mercury News publishes an
apology for the story and Webb
has to quit his job after they
reassign him to the Cupertino
desk, a 150-mile commute meant
to keep him out of trouble.
The only problem with the
film is that the government
conspiracy detailed in the first
half of the plot description
proves more interesting than the
media conspiracy in the second.
While the price Webb paid for
his investigative journalism
serves as an integral part of the
story, it fails to match up to the,
scandal of a vocally anti-drug

administration that knowingly
allowed the sale of cocaine in the
United States. Simply put, the
film loses momentum instead of
gainingit.
While the many scenes of
Webb with his wife and children
build sympathy for the character,
they aren't poignant enough
to push 'CIA cocaine scandal'
from the viewer's mind. "Kill
the Messenger" even throws in a
'basedonatruestory'scenewhere
Ray Liotta ("The Place Beyond
the Pines") plays an ex-CIA
spook who breaks into Webb's
apartment to confirm the story
off the record. Unfortunately, it
just feels forced.
While Webb certainly
deserves the redemption "Kill
the Messenger" provides him, I
don't think he deserves the 'based
on a true story' character flaws
meant to make the film more
entertaining. He exposed a true
CIAscandal, confirmed in 1998by
released CIA documents, and the
larger newspapers flogged him for
it. Sadly, it may be a little late for
redemption: in 2004, Gary Webb
was found with two bullet wounds
in his head. The coroner's office
ruleditasuicide.Despiteexcellent
reporting, Webb had never found
anotherjob atadailynewspaper.

. NBC
Bubble wrap is the new black.
'About' an OK show

B OUR TWEETS
CARE SO GOOD
:t Y 4 THEY MAKE
* BIRDS JEALOUS!
.@MICHIGANDAILY

By MATTHEWBARNAUSKAS
For The Daily
There is a general necessity in
many comedies to use the status
quo. It's what characters live
in and try to
restore when
mishaps occur,
and usually About
when the
episode ends A Boy
the characters Tuesdays,
more or less 9:30p.m.
return to this NBC
default and
reset for the
next episode. In its Season Two
premiere "About a Vasectomy,"
the Jason Katims ("Friday Night
Lights")-created comedy "About
a Boy" explores this common
exercise of the sitcom and what
happens when a character wants
to return to the status quo when
others have moved on.
Opening a few months after
where season one left off, "About
a Boy" finds protagonist Will
Freeman (David Walton, "New
Girl") living in New York with his
girlfriend Sam (Adrianne Palicki,
"Friday Night Lights"). Will still
struggles to adjust to life in the
city. Director Adam Davidson
("Community") shows his
troubles in an opening montage as
Will spends his day trying to find
the perfect asiago bagel. However,
Will's current situation of

spending his days doing whatever
he wants is interrupted as his only
source of income (royalties from a
song written 10 years ago) is taken
away.
To work out this situation,
Will goes on a brief visit to his
San Francisco home and reunites
with his neighbor, Fiona (Minnie
Driver, "Good Will Hunting")
and her son Marcus (Benjamin
Stockham, "1600 Penn"). Will
attempts to jump right back
into routine, giving Marcus a
conventional (albeit older) male
friend who lets him do things
his mother wouldn't let him.
However, the pair seem to have
accepted a reality without Will
while Will tries to go back to his
previous position by extending
his visit. Will's need to return to
the default is projected onto the
two as Will looks for problems to
solve and Fiona compares him to
an "arsonistfirefighter."
Will's discomfort with moving
on with his life is a universal
issue that people face. Applying
that problem to a sitcom - where
the return to the norm is almost
always embraced - is effective,
but there are times when "About
a Boy" sells itself short. At
points Will is rectified: Marcus's
new friends, who he's replaced
Will with, are just jerks taking
advantage of the well-meaning
social outcast and. Fiona still
suffers from over attachment to

her son. Marcus's awkwardness
and Fiona's over-mothering are
common plot points from "About
a Boy" 's first season. Although
it's enjoyable to see Will help out
the two again it would have been
far more provocative to see more
evidence that the mother and son
had moved on and Will was in
denial.
The destruction of the status
quo is effectively explored in the
short subplot Will shares with
his friend Andy (Al Madrigal,
"Gary Unmarried"). In the first
season, Will convinced Andy
to not receive the episode's title.
vasectomy. Andy, after taking
his friend's advice, has now
accidentally impregnated his wife
Laurie (Annie Mumolo, "This is
40") with another child without
her knowing he did not have the
vasectomy.Andy tried tomaintain
his old reality but now is faced
with a new one. Meanwhile, Will
and Andy's struggle to break the
news to an unsuspecting Laurie
plays likea comedic time bomb.
The uncertainty about Will's.
income and future areintimidating
for the character, and Walton
does a strong job of portraying*
the character's frustrations in
his current situation. Will is a
character stuck at a crossroads,
and the way "About a Boy" steers
him in its second season may lead
to an exploration not often seen in
the sitcomgenre.

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