Anatomy of a Scandal is the latest David E. Kelley creation hitting Netflix today, April 15. Kelley collaborated with House of Cards scribe Melissa James Gibson on this British psychological thriller. At just six episodes, each only running about 40-45 minutes each, the courtroom drama promises to be a quick and entertaining weekend binge-watch.
If you’re a fan of legal thrillers and some of Kelley’s previous shows then this one should be right up your alley. The series stars Sienna Miller, Rupert Friend, Michelle Dockery and Naomi Scott.
Anatomy of a Scandal recap guide: Episodes 1 to 6
Below we’ve gone through and recapped each of the first season’s six episodes. Anatomy of a Scandal revolves around a political sex scandal when parliamentary minister James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend) is accused of raping his former mistress. The story jumps back and forth between present-day Westminster and Oxford University in the 1990s (where James and Sophie attended school).
Anatomy of a Scandal episode 1 recap
Anatomy of a Scandal episode 1 opens with a steamy hookup happening in an elevator between Olivia Lytton (Naomi Scott) and James Whitehouse. From there we skip ahead to the day of reckoning, a day when the world will find out the truth about James’ affair.
It’s Christmastime in the U.K. and everything is falling apart for the Parliamentary minister when his affair with his 28-year-old parliamentary researcher is revealed to the world. James does his best to get ahead of the story by breaking the news of the steamy five-filled months to his wife the eve before The Daily Mail is set to tell the world.
Sophie Whitehouse (Sienna Miller) handles the affair with surprising grace and forgiveness—at least to her husband and the public eye. In private, it’s clear she’s struggling to wrap her mind around the affair, despite James’ insistence that it was nothing more than sex. Flashbacks tell us that’s probably not the full story and we also start seeing glimpses of Sophie and James in college, all the way back to where they first met over 12 years ago.
Throughout the first episode, Sophie has to work through her feelings regarding this entire scandal. Will she stand by her husband or walk out the door? Further complicating matters is Sophie’s adamancy that she not become like her mother, a long-suffering spouse who tolerates endless indiscretions from her husband. It’s cloying to be among the company of the upper-crust posh “boys will be boys” club that James’ surrounds himself with, one man even tells Sophie that “once is okay, two go away.” Really dude?
The affair looks like it might all be taken care of and handled since James is a revered politician and close friend of Prime Minister Tom Southern (Geoffrey Streatfeild). With the PM’s loyalty, it shouldn’t be too hard to get James back into the public’s good graces. The most important thing for him to do is remain contrite, ask for forgiveness and never deny anything (deflection and skirting the question is always better as denials tend to come back and bite).
Considering this is a six-episode miniseries, you get the sense that an even bigger bombshell is going to drop sooner than later. That additional bombshell involves Queen’s Counsel member Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery) a workaholic riding high on the success of a recent trial when the latest high-profile case lands in her lap, The Queen vs. James Whitehouse.
Yes, the episode takes its time working up to the ending bombshell: Olivia is alleging that James raped her, specifically during their “hook-up” in the lift. It’s surely no coincidence so much attention is given to that specific encounter with the episode beginning by showing it in progress.
In the final moments of the episode, just as it seems Sophie and James have taken a solid step forward together with James promising to make amends with her no matter what it takes, even offering to resign if she asks him to (But she can’t can she? Not really, then she’d appear like the bad guy. And couldn’t James just be bluffing?)
We don’t find out, at least not yet. James and Sophie share a tender kiss and he ships her off in a cab back home, a renewed pep in his step. At least, until he’s approached by two detectives who deliver the news of Olivia’s allegation. Cue a really weird and cheesy editing decision to show James flying backward like he’s been sucked into The Matrix.