“This… Is… SCANDAL!”
Episode 1 of Anatomy of a Scandal begins with Miss Kate Woodcroft leaving court and heading home, drenched from the rain outside. She’s won the Butler case but there’s a “next level” case that’s waiting for her. If she decides to take this on, it’ll change her life forever.
Meanwhile, a big party gets underway but as Sophie Whitehouse shows up, she can’t get through to her husband, James. Now, James is actually an MP and receives an urgent message of his own, prompting him to tell Sophie she needs to head home as there’s a family emergency.
When Sophie catches up with her husband, James is downtrodden and ashamed. He sits with his wife and tells her he’s been having an affair with one of his parliamentary aides, Olivia Lytton. It had been going on for five months but he broke off the affair two weeks before the conference.
James weakly claims it was just sex, but that’s still not much of an excuse. The story is about to break on mainstream news too, with their children about to be caught right in the middle of all this.
Sophie is understandably hurt when the news speaks of a top Tory MP cheating on his wife with his aide (hmm, where have we seen this before?) So naturally, Sophie checks her out online and immediately vomits when she sees Olivia’s face.
In the other room, Chris Clarke briefs James on how to handle this and dilute the storm that’s raging around him. Hard to feel much sympathy for this cheater to be honest, but Sophie agrees to stay with him. At least for now anyway. When she learns James slept with her in hotel rooms “20 or 30 times” it does change the narrative somewhat.
Sophie returns to business as usual, while the Prime Minister heads in to see James in the office. James reassures the PM that this is the last of it, while he’s also given the green-light to make amendments to the immigration bill.
James is lucky, given he’s highly popular in parliament, and holds his own during questions from the bench. The Prime Minister also comments as much to Chris, who’s still not sure it’s a good idea to trust James so much. Is this the last of the scandal or is there more to this?
It’s clear that Sophie and James’ relationship is on the rocks, despite making false promises to themselves that everything is okay. Sophie continues to spend time with her “perfectly splendid” daughter Emily and son, Finn.
Eventually it’s all too much for Sophie though, who calls out James for his lies. She thought they were above this but James gushes over his wife, telling Sophie he wants her to be the person he dies with. He’s even prepared to give up his entire career for her to prove his worth.
When she leaves, James checks his post and notices a message from Malcolm Thwaites, reading “Nil Carborundum Illegitimi” which appears to be Latin for “don’t let the b*stards grind you down.”
Remember Kate Woodcroft? Well, it turns out that “high profile” case is actually in relation to James and Olivia’s affair. As she pores through the documents, deliberating over whether to take this case or not. As the episode reaches its climax, Kate gasps at what she’s found and closes her file.
On his way out the door, James is cornered by Detective Sergeant Willis and Detective Constable Rydon. They’ve been trying to contact him regarding Olivia and an allegation of rape. And then suddenly a ghost lifts up James and throws him back against the floor.
The Episode Review
Okay, guys I know it’s not a ghost but what an utterly ridiculous and hilarious segment to what could have been a pretty good ending to this episode.
So far Anatomy of a Scandal has been okay, with a story that hits a little too close to the bone with what’s been happening in UK politics this year. You know, the whole story involving a certain Matt Hancock?
It’s unclear at this point exactly who we’re supposed to be rooting for here as everyone seems pretty unlikable. James is a scumbag, but then he is an MP so I guess it comes with the territory.
Likewise, Sophie doesn’t really have a backbone given she’s staying by Matt’s side despite the affair and we don’t know enough about Kate Woodcroft to be able to form much of an opinion about her other than she’s a workaholic and a bit arrogant.
Hopefully the later episodes can shed some light on this allegation and actually help make some of these characters likable because right now, that was a rather rough opening chapter.