In this week’s episode, the team takes a break from bringing on any new clients to handle the Huck situation. The Huck situation being that Huck is now the most wanted man in America for shooting the President – except, as we all know, Huck’s involvement is not what it appears. Turns out Huck was set up by his AA girlfriend Becky, who had been targeting him all along to set him up as a patsy for the assassination of the president. (I won’t even touch on Becky’s way of letting Huck know she knew about his betrayal…was harsh, am I right?)
As if Olivia wasn’t busy enough (simultaneously leading the hunt for Huck while also trying to clear his name), she’s got a whole other mess on her hands at the behest of Acting President Sally Langston. Yes, Sally is still head of state per the fourth section of the 25th amendment, and this week, she’s using that position to ask Olivia to plan a hypothetical funeral for the still unresponsive Fitz. Just the thing you want to do when your secret lover is unconscious in a hospital bed.
Funerals for presidents and ex-presidents carry with them very specific traditions and rituals. For starters, they often take place over many days. Reagan’s funeral, for example, took place over seven days, traveling from his home in California to DC and back again, with many stops along the way. The Military District of Washington, a division of the Army responsible for defense of the Capitol as well as ceremonial tasks, plans the funerals. Often the body will first lay in repose at the White House, allowing the president’s closest friends and family to mourn him or her privately. After 24 hours, the funeral procession begins, carrying the president’s body on a catafalque (a moveable platform; presidents and the bodies of other distinguished public figures are often carried on the Lincoln catafalque as a special honor) from the White House to the Capitol Rotunda. There, the body will lay in state for another 24 hours, at least. Eulogies will be delivered after which the public may view the casket. When JFK lay in state, over 250,000 people waited in line, some over ten hours, to view the body. In fact, so many people lined up that the public viewing hours were extended by six hours, until almost three in the morning.
After the public viewing, the funeral procession continues, carrying the body on catafalque on a horse-drawn caisson (a type of cart). The funeral procession is the time during which many of the traditions Olivia mentions in this episode are employed: the rider-less horse symbolizing a warrior who rides no more, and the boots reversed in their stirrups to represent a fallen leader looking back on his troops for the last time. The funeral procession will then make its way to a cathedral or other type of church, depending on the religious beliefs of the president, where an official state funeral where take place, involving many more eulogies, songs, and other rituals. Finally, the body is buried, sometimes at Arlington National Cemetery, but more often at a place of significance to the president and his family.All of this is a very long way of saying: Olivia’s got a lot on her plate this week. And just to make her life even more difficult, Verna decides to give Huck’s name to Sally as the man who shot the President, leaving us with the FBI and SWAT guys swarming Pope and Associates to take Huck in under the Patriot Act. Tune in next week to see what will become of Huck and if Olivia will have to employ her funeral plans or not…