In this week’s episode we see Olivia coming to the aid of a former rival: Governor of Maryland and a candidate in the previous presidential election, Samuel Reston. Governor Reston is all about winning, he is still obsessing over losing the presidential race by relatively, a handful of votes. Although he feels that Olivia is personally responsible for the loss, he respects her for that. He considers her the best and calls upon her to help with his own personal scandal: the fatal shooting of a man who was supposedly raping his wife. The scenario, however, keeps changing as Olivia and her team keep turning up new information.
What I am struck by in this episode is the inability of powerful individuals to draw boundaries between what they do and how they define themselves as persons. Often I have seen powerful people who feel their total identity is wrapped up in their jobs. The job becomes the means to all ends and protecting it generates its own moral code of conduct. For the Governor, his life is all about winning and reaching the ultimate goal, that of becoming President. As such he has neglected his home life and is even willing to turn it into a political opportunity. He has no regret for going to any length, including in this case murder if it can be turned into a political advantage. Although he still loves his wife, he is seemingly not very concerned about her emotionally as he seizes upon a way to find gain in the situation.
Individuals can become so wrapped up with their public persona that they forget who they are and often the characteristics that got them there in the first place, such as honesty, sincerity and character. This is not restricted to the Governor either; we see characters throughout the series such as the President’s wife, his Chief of Staff, and others who have let the pursuit of a single goal corrupt their character. And these are Olivia’s cohorts. The difficulty in dealing with her job and responsibility to them often create a moral dilemma for her. We watch to see which way she will go. Certainly she is vulnerable and making her whole life about work only increases the chances that she too will become blinded to the morally correct path. She needs to find a balance, which only time will tell us if she achieves it.
Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith and Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles as well as a Co-Executive Producer of ABC's Scandal. You can follow her on Twitter (@JudySmith_) or "Like" her on Facebook, and you can get more information about managing personal and professional crisis situations by visiting her site, judysmith.com.