erinptah: Cat in a backpack (happy)
[personal profile] erinptah

Our story so far:

PEOTUS was shot and assassinated on election night. Olivia Pope is on the case! So far she has accused three (3) people of ordering the killing, and been explicitly proved wrong about two (2). Meanwhile, the Electoral College is left to decide between the horrible, self-serving, politically-soulless VPEOTUS or the horrible, self-serving, politically-soulless runner-up ticket.

Onward!

---

Episode 6 gives us campaign-era flashbacks of Olivia's dad reconnecting with an old girlfriend, who turns out to be a lure under the control of...someone.

Different flashback: Olivia asking her dad for advice on how to handle Mellie. Hey, remember when Olivia's dad orchestrated the murder of Mellie's son? (The grief put her for months into a near-suicidal depression.) I'm sure his advice will be great.

Olivia: "She's from California. Why don't they like her?" Dad: "I can't answer that." Ooh, ooh, pick me! Because Californians hate Republican policies, and she's a Republican!

They keep talking about "calling San Benito County" as if the voting within states is calculated the same as national voting, as if you're guaranteed a certain number of points (and no more) once you win a county. Even if Mellie got every vote in San Benito (pop. 58,000), that doesn't mean she couldn't fall behind once all the ballots are counted in San Mateo (765,000), or Contra Costa (11.13 million), or, I don't know, Los Angeles (10.2 million).

Dad Pope was behind the Vargas shooting! Although not on his own initiative, it was pushed by the Someones, who had the girlfriend hostage. And then they went to far in taunting Dad Pope about his compromising attachment to her, so he shot her in front of them. Good grief.

---

Episode 7 finds Olivia telling Huck to kill her father. For the second time. He helpfully reminds her that the first time didn't end well.

Huck confronts Dad on a subway platform, openly aiming a gun at him, and there's a lot of yelling, which echoes beautifully. For some reason there are zero other people on the platform, and nobody is concerned about metro security cameras capturing this shouted confession of killing Vargas.

Accusations of a mole in Olivia's company lead to Huck and Quinn aiming guns at each other's faces. What a team.

Investigation by Huck leads to him threatening his current girlfriend with a syringe of something nasty, all while going "this is hard for me, but you're making me do this!" Just in case you were starting to feel sympathetic toward him.

Olivia is back for the third time to accusing her dad of Vargas' murder, but she's passionately insisting that it was all his idea, based on the admittedly reasonable evidence that he murdered the girlfriend who was being used to manipulate him. Huck counters by passionately insisting that Dad Pope has changed because he was in love and now he's in pain and...listen, buddy, both him and you are still 100% willing to be violent-to-murderous the minute you feel threatened. You haven't changed, and people, especially women, should stay away from you.

(I would say "random civilian women," but this girlfriend turns out to have been planted to shoot a witness, which she gets away with because none of these geniuses thought to frisk her, and, wow, we are never going to get any case-of-the-week episodes this season, are we.)

---

The Someones got to Abby. That explains why she was pushing for Cyrus to get the death penalty ASAP, huh.

In flashback she asks Cyrus "how did you know Frankie was the one, how did you know he could go all the way?" We've seen this in The West Wing -- Josh asking Leo how he knew Bartlett was his guy, because Josh had found Santos and was starting to think Santos could be his guy. But Abby isn't thinking she's found a candidate -- she's thinking she could be the candidate.

Anyway, the Someones offered her $3 million with no paper trail and no explanation beyond "we like you and want to support your eventual candidacy." And she took it! What's next, Abby, sending the money to a the next Nigerian prince in your email?

---

So Huck's evil girlfriend shot the witness, and then shot him, but in a weird way that seemed designed to miss all vital organs. I figured she was deliberately not-killing him for some reason. (He was flat on the floor, she had lots of spare bullets, it's not like she could miss the heart and lungs.)

Then she sticks him in the trunk of a car and pushes it into a lake. Apparently she's just incompetent.

We get a nice hallucination-sequence where Huck is back in Pope HQ, with the mental images of his team members talking him through how to escape. And he does it! Not only did she not kill him, she didn't even shoot him hard enough for the blood loss to slow him down!

...setting aside that part of my disbelief, I do actually like the bit.

Hey, was anyone worried that there hadn't been enough graphic on-screen torture this season? Well, don't sweat it. Quinn's got you covered.

Olivia gets a pep-up talk about how she's a "miracle worker," from another of these people who hasn't seen the show. And sure enough, they find Huck -- by tracking the phone of the dead witness, which murder-girlfriend wasn't smart enough to chuck in a dumpster on her way to the body disposal! That's not you working a miracle, that's your opponent being a complete moron.

Gonna wrap up this post here, purely because my head hurts from hitting this desk so hard.

kshandra: long-haired woman silhouetted against a stormy sky (Bad)
[personal profile] kshandra


...I suppose it's not so much that I wish they were still together, as it is that I wish Jian was still just "the cute one"...
erinptah: (Default)
[personal profile] erinptah

Just gonna jump right into the liveblogging on this one.

Season 2 episode 2 starts with a flashback to when Mellie accepted the Republican nomination, making it even harder to ignore how unrealistic it is that the Republican party would vote for a woman to get their nomination.

Olivia yells at Fitz for sending "scrubs" to investigate a crime scene. The actual FBI Director steps out and informs her that, no, he sent her to investigate the crime scene. (This director is a black woman with giant hair. I want to like her.)

Cyrus invites Mellie to join him as VP-elect. This is all so terribly incestuous. There's no discussion of what policy would be, because of course there isn't -- I'm not sure if Scandal buys into the fallacy that the two parties are Basically The Same, or if this is just a symptom of it not caring about government except as a dramatic backdrop for sexy power struggles.

Olivia has dinner with the FBI director with the hair. It starts as piercing commentary on the way they get treated, as competent black women in positions of power...and turns into Olivia asking if the director has a thing with Fitz. Turns out no, but not because it's a terrible idea for the head of the FBI to bang the President, it's just because she was worried about disrespecting Olivia.

At the same time as this is happening, Olivia's people are stealing evidence from the FBI, and the White House is having a "confession" tortured out of a suspect who's supposed to be under the FBI's purview.

(The evidence is a hard drive, which, when recovered, has "over 5,000 hours" on it. By my back-of-the-napkin calculations, that would fill 17.6 terabytes. On a laptop drive. As of 2017, if you're willing to shell out several thousand dollars, the most Amazon can get you is 4.)

...I got real worried because Olivia's next thing is to snap at the WH that forced confessions are worthless as intelligence. Which is absolutely true -- but the show has never seemed to realize that before, and also, it's 23 minutes into the episode. (Thankfully, the next one seems to be backing her up.)

Flashback to Mellie's romance with a campaign staffer, and, oh hey, it turns out Abby knows Olivia broke up her and David! (I don't remember if we knew this already, or if this is the dramatic reveal.) Flash-forward to Mellie confronting Olivia over orchestrating her breakup with the staffer. "Why are you doing this? What is wrong with you?!" Good question!

---

Episode 3 retcons the video data to "300 hours of [tip-giving videographer]'s footage, 2200 hours of the security feed." That would need less than 2 TB on the hard drive, which is more believable.

Portia di Rossi's character is back! And she's amazing. Partly because I can't help seeing her as Veronica, all charmingly ridiculous, meant to be judged by comedy standards rather than real-world ones.

This episode uses flashbacks to unveil that, yep, Cyrus isn't the murderer. I was definitely expecting that to be dragged out for longer. (There's a secret video of Frankie yelling at him for being a terrible person who should be in jail, and, look, he's not wrong, but for other reasons.)

Most obvious suspect is the hitman Cyrus was secretly having an affair with, because that's the kind of show this is. Flash-forward to the present, Cyrus secretly meets with the (armed!) ex-boyfriend at night in a park, because that's totally the kind of thing PEOTUS can do. Secret Service, what Secret Service?

Vengeful hitman ex throws a wrench in the works by "admitting" to killing Frankie on Cyrus's orders. This'll be fun.

Olivia: "With Cyrus in jail, the Electoral College will have no choice but to vote for you." Orrr they could vote for the runner-up in the Democratic primary. Without knowing anything specific about these people's policies, that seems like the most moral and honest choice re: the will of the voters.

---

Wow, almost nothing to say about episode 4. It's all Cyrus's Adventures in Jail. The narrative woobifies him hard, to the point where in spite of everything I actually feel bad for him by the third act. (Fourth act, he gets a guard murdered. So much for that.)

---

And episode 5 focuses on the drama around Jake Ballard -- Olivia's ex, former agent of Olivia's dad, now Mellie's VP candidate, in a politically-orchestrated marriage with a not!Kennedy who's now going into an alcohol-fueled emotional tailspin as she slowly realizes (a) Jake doesn't like her very much and (b) he's a terrible person.

(To illustrate: he seriously considers strangling her in order to keep the angsty tailspin from damaging his career.)

Newly revealed in flashback: Jake blew up the cabin that held the laptop that held the video that came from the photographer that called in the tip that swallowed the spider to catch the fly. Don't ask me why.

Olivia wrangles Mellie to have a heart-to-heart with the not!Kennedy wife, as part of the Women Whose Husbands Like Olivia Pope Better Club. This wrangles the wife back into urging Democrats to fall in line behind Jake's ticket, based on him being a Good and Honorable Person who married someone from Massachusetts. What policies does he support that they should appreciate? Ha. Aha. Ahaha.

Then she spends the rest of the episode trying to get proof that Jake did the murdering, which of course means he didn't do that, although she lets him drive her alone without her phone to an isolated location before she figures it out.

And, whoof, that's about all the Olivia Pope always-rightness I can take in one sitting. (Still working on commissions, but I'll have to switch to some other background TV for the rest.)

kshandra: pixie with purple wings aloft before a full moon (Good)
[personal profile] kshandra
Somewhat ironic, considering the name of the album it's from...

erinptah: (daily show)
[personal profile] erinptah

The latest season is on Netflix now, so it's time for me to work through more of this incredibly watchable show about terrible people.

For those who need a brief refresher:

Do you like The West Wing? Do you like Leverage? Would you like a series that's cross between those two shows? How about a series that thinks it's a cross between those two shows, but missed the memo that a big part of the appeal was the main characters being likeable, competent, and out to do good things? Well, Scandal is that last one.

Our heroine is Olivia Pope, a freelance fixer of political problems with a reputation for being supercompetent, brilliant, and heroic. Before canon started, she had already helped rig the US Presidential election to put her (Republican) (also married) boyfriend into office. The first few episodes follow a mini-arc where she is asked to defend the reputation of a woman who also had an affair with said President. Olivia yells at this woman for being a lying liar. Olivia is proved wrong.

This sets the stage for a pattern where, halfway through any given case-of-the-week, whoever Olivia is defending will turn out to be evil, and whoever she just shot down will be revealed as the true victim. She is aided by a motley crew of employees and allies, some of whom are already terrible people when the show starts, others of whom compromise their morals over the course of the series. They've covered everything from war crimes to murder to perjury to torture.

An illuminating example: One of the employees (Abby) idolizes Olivia for rescuing her from an abusive husband -- now if only it stopped there. Later, Abby and a much-nicer love interest (David, also a legal ally of Olivia's) come perilously close to uncovering Olivia's Presidential-election-rigging. To get them off the trail...Olivia plants information that triggers Abby's abuse-trauma, manipulating her into a panicky and tearful breakup. Neither Abby nor David finds out Olivia orchestrated this! Both of them continue to idolize and adore her! The writers still seem to think we should too!

At the end of season 5, there were maybe 2 characters that were likeable human beings. Senator-turned-VP Susan Ross, who pleasantly surprised me by flat-out quitting her job rather than sell her soul, and governor-turned-Dem-candidate Francisco Vargas, whose soul is still up for grabs.

Liveblogged the first episode. Might end up doing the same for the whole season, depending on how commentable it is.

Onward!

 


 

Season 6 opens on the night of a presidential election, and it all comes down to...California. That's right, folks, in the Scandal universe, California is a swing state.

Also, Olivia is chastising her staff to vote if they haven't already. I mean, hey, just because they're reporting totals on the west coast, that doesn't mean the polls can't still be open! Our competent political-genius heroine in action, folks.

Frankie won. So now Olivia is berating her candidate (Mellie, also her boyfriend's ex) to call and concede, which seems like the smart and reasonable move. Knowing this show, that means we will eventually learn it totally the wrong move.

(I like Mellie and Olivia being friends. For all that they're awful, their fighting with each other was pretty evenly matched -- not one abusing the other, they both gave as good as they got. And it all stemmed from their rivalry over Fitz, who is painfully not worth it.)

Dammit, they shot Frankie. He might escape becoming awful by dying.

Obnoxious agent: "Ma'am, I'm sure you have some security clearance..." Abby: "No. I don't have some security clearance. I have all of it."

Hits all the beats and all the right emotions of a badass smackdown scene. Logically, undercut by the fact that Abby didn't show any security clearance. If you're going to waltz into a hyper-secure operation (the hospital) and start barking orders, have your badge in hand! (Also, her entire order was literally "don't let anyone in here," which I'm pretty sure they were already doing.)

...yep, they killed Frankie.

Olivia yells at her father (ex-leader of the government's Evil Secret Black Ops Division): was he behind the killing? Well, we're 22 minutes in and she's yelling at him, so I bet not.

Mellie just wants to go on vacation and leave this all behind. Now that would be the smart and reasonable move. (She never really wanted the job in the first place. She wants power in the abstract, but has no interest in doing anything in particular with it. Five minutes later she'll forget all her reasonable plans and decide she wants it again.)

Now Olivia's convinced it was Cyrus (part of the Fitz conspiracy, now VP candidate for Vargas) who had the candidate murdered so he'd be promoted to the top of the winning ticket. But we're only 27 minutes in, so she's probably wrong. After all, the Electoral College hasn't voted yet, so Cyrus would be taking a pretty steep gamble on them not abandoning the Vargas-Cyrus ticket even with half of it gone.

Olivia storms into the hospital. The same hyper-secure hospital that nobody was supposed to be let in. And finds Cyrus in mute, trembling shock. Who could've seen that coming?

Fitz: "I wanted you to be right. You're always right." Dude...have you never seen this show?

He ultimately supports the EC supporting Cyrus, which is the right choice as far as the will of the people is concerned, although both he and Mellie are impressively awful choices who should not be trusted with this country.

Vargas' widow is still in the hospital after a sleepless night, still covered in blood from standing next to the shooting, but for some reason her hair and makeup is still flawless. D- for realism, makeup department.

...So the last five minutes unveil a tip from a mystery person that it was Cyrus (no details on how the tipper came to this conclusion). Well, now that this twist has been un-twisted and re-twisted again, I'm sure the issue is settled, and will be quite shocked if the rest of the season isn't completely straightforward.

A ray of hope amidst the leopards

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
erinptah: (pyramid)
[personal profile] erinptah
The bad:

Roundup of incidents of Trump supporters being proudly violent, sometimes to the point of murder, in his name. Features racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, the whole hatred spectrum.

Trump wants to start charging stores to accept food stamps, because apparently Republicans want to help small businesses by driving away their customers.

The Leopards Eating Faces Party constituents:

"'I really haven't seen him doing anything' on jobs, Olsen said. 'The longer they stall around and dance around and whatever, the more people are gonna get hurt.'" GEE, YA THINK.

"Mike Catanzaro, a solar panel installer with a high school diploma, likes to work with his hands under the clear Carolina sky. That’s why he supported President Trump, a defender of blue-collar workers. But the 25-year-old sees Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement as a threat to his job."

"Trump supporters in Texas are coming to the realization that their vote for the president may force some of them out of their homes for less than they are worth, with others finding out that — if they stay — they’ll be living in Mexico if his wall is built."

One coping mechanism: “I didn’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to feel that he’s not doing what he said, so I just choose to not listen.

The good:

"My neighbor and I drove home in silence. I wondered if his being amongst Middle Easterners who wore hijab and spoke in their native tongue reaffirmed his anti-immigration stance. As we were parting, he said, 'Let me know if you need help with more deliveries. I’m happy to help anytime.' He had tears in his eyes."

Not everyone in this mindset is stuck there forever. Some people can learn, and grow, and change.
kshandra: "80's Child" in hot pink on black background (80s Child)
[personal profile] kshandra
I'm pushing the definition of "name" here, but whatever.

kshandra: The Burning Man effigy, lit in blue neon, arms by his sides; an orange half-moon is visible over his shoulder. (BurningMan)
[personal profile] kshandra
Bear with me on this one...



  • It's one hell of a party song.
  • I associate it (still) with watching World Series of Poker coverage on cable.
  • The first year I drove to Burning Man on my own, it was the last song I heard on terrestrial radio before I lost signal heading into Gerlach.

FMK #15: LGBT& Content

Jun. 20th, 2017 11:03 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Last week's F winner was Journey to the Center of the Earth! K was Malevil, which means another giant tome I no longer have to shelve, yay.

I am still behind on reviewing stuff because I had Six Wakes and All Systems Red and A Close and Common Orbit all in at the library, plus All The Sedoretu, and sometimes you just have to priortize?

But in honor of the Tiptree anthology I picked up for the sedoretu story in it (and Pride), this week's theme is LGBT& content! (Most of these are Tiptree or Gaylactic Spectrum finalists, in fact.)
How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll! Bear, Chabon, Doran, Gerrold, Lackey, Monette, Orlando & Rebelka, Scott, St. Clair )

more sedoretu

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:02 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So instead of an FMK review this week you get more talking about sedoretu (not the moiety post yet, that's coming. Probably.)

The opinions on the poll about bookmarking were interestingly split - pretty consistently 2-1 in favor of bookmarking, but the anti-bookmarking people seem to feel more strongly about it. I guess the only solution is for more people to start adding stuff to that collection so mine don't stand out as much!

I also finally read Another Story, or, a Fisherman of the Inland Sea, which is the first and longest of Le Guin's O stories. Or possibly I had already read it and then blocked it out. I am... not sure how I feel about it? It is definitely the most SF-based of them, with quantum physics and interplanetary travel and so on (and probably the most useful for people who want to think about sedoretu in the context of a much larger and more cosmopolitan society than we see in either "Mountain Ways" or "Unchosen Love".)

blehhhhh )

Anyway, I still really really like the worldbuilding!

I have managed to narrow it down to ten prompts in the Sedoretu fest that I probably *could* write. (As opposed to the ones I most want to see written, which includes many that I am definitely not the person to write.) They all have pros and cons, which I shall now ramble about here:

Discworld, HP, Sagas, O, LM, Nimona, SW:TFA, Barrayar )

...this is weirdly stressful compared to a prompt meme community where I can just blather on in comments without committing to anything until somebody else either writes the thing or I know exactly what I am doing
kshandra: The Sacred Chao from the Principia Discordia, in gold, superimposed on a Bisexual Pride flag (Bi Chao)
[personal profile] kshandra
And since I'm running headlong into Pride prep now, let's keep it on message:

kshandra: A spoof of the Guitar Hero logo, featuring a home karaoke machine (Karaoke Hero)
[personal profile] kshandra
I was struggling with what to choose here...and then I picked the icon for this post and the decision was obvious.

(no subject)

Jun. 16th, 2017 02:12 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
You can still add prompts to the Sedoretu fic fest! Well, I can't, because I might have hit the prompting limit already, but you can!

If you're new here and have never heard of Sedoretu, it's a concept from stories by Ursula le Guin set on the planet O. Marriages there are four people: two men and two women; with four sexual relationships: two m/f, one m/m, and one f/f; and two non-sexual ships, the other m/f pairs. (There is more to it than that in canon, but that's what makes it really fun to play with as a fandom poly AU concept.)

There are currently 132 prompts in 75 fandoms for the fest, plus several for "any fandom"/"original work", so there is probably at least something you know, and if not you should add it. (Or 137 fandoms if you count all of the Old Norse sagas as their own fandoms, and can I say that I feel like the fact that Old Norse Sagas are the now third most popular fandom in the fest is a dagger aimed directly at me? It's not my fault that Njal's Saga is basically set on O already! I was only trying to taunt the mod a little bit!)

(In other news, we watched the documentary Hvellir last night, about people trying to stop dams on the Laxá,and it is very good, and quotes Njal's Saga, and also only in Iceland would a bunch of protesters trying to destroy a dam just go grab the dynamite that the dam developers had left in small unattended caches all over the protesters' land. And not consider this a particularly noteworthy part of the story.)

So I keep wanting to kudos prompts and accidentally almost claiming them, argh, I wish there was a way to feedback prompts without having to go on and write the darn things. :/ Unfortunately, writing any of the many ones I really want to read would require a ton of canon review that I don't want to commit to. (Although, tbf, anything other than "one of my recent fmk reads" would require a ton of canon review at this point...) Let's face it I will probably just end up writing for Gisli's Saga since at least it's relatively short (and also basically set on O already, fair.)

(I feel like there is probably a reason Le Guin decided to set her stories about four-person marriages and complicated kin relationships among sheep farmers and fishermen in decentralized farmsteads on marginal land.)

(although I want to make the post about the real life basis of moiety a separate post.)

So instead of reviewing canon I have just been reading all the sedoretu stories in fandoms I am at least somewhat interested in. And I have been rec-bookmarking a lot of them to the sedoretu collection linked to the fest. But I am running up against the fact that some of them... are not the quality that I would normally put my rec-heart on, even by my relatively lax standards. So here is a poll for the room: if somebody is going through and bookmarking all of the stories on ::theme:: to a collection,

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 27


Is it better (by whatever definition of 'better') to:

View Answers

Bookmark the less-good ones to the collection but as Not A Rec
18 (66.7%)

Don't bookmark them at all
9 (33.3%)

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