James’ Version Of Events
Episode 5 of Anatomy of a Scandal begins with Kate arriving home to see her best friend, Ali. As we found out last episode, its not actually Kate but Holly. For the purposes of this recap though, we’ll keep calling her Kate.
Kate blames herself for not going to the judge, Angela Regan or anyone else at the courthouse. As they talk, it suddenly dawns on Ali that Kate was sexually assaulted by James. She took this case because “no one else was qualified” like she was. Now, this is actually a sackable offence so Kate needs to absolutely nail this otherwise her job is on the line.
Flashbacks show a trembling James sitting on the edge of the bed following the assault at uni, worried about “f*cking up big time.” It turns out the night of Alec’s accident and their dancing was actually the exact same night, so everything is connected here.
In the present, James is briefed on how to handle his time in the witness stand, encouraged not to stray from the topic at hand – consent. He’s also warned not to underestimate Kate.
On the witness stand, James speaks of his affection for Olivia and how they were spending countless days together, buying gifts for one another. He also got her a birthday gift on the 23rd July… a day that saw Sophie and the kids out on holiday together.
Sophie is up in the stands listening to all of this, swallowing hard as James claims that there were moments of love between him and Olivia.
In James’ version of events, Olivia was the one who called the lift and she was the one who instigated the kiss. She reached for his neck and Olivia helped him open the blouse and move his hand down to her bottom.
The bruise on her breast was actually a result of a love bite, something she regularly liked during lovemaking. He also claims to be “more certain than anything” of her wanting to have sex, including use of the words “hell yes.”
Next up is Kate and she immediately gets to work grilling James. Angela doesn’t even try to intervene and protect her client as Kate grills him over the events of the day, including the words “don’t be such a prick-tease.”
Kate catches him off-guard though, pointing out Olivia’s motivations and whether she could have just spoken to Sophie and told her what happened. James eventually puts his foot down and shouts that he’s not a rapist nor has he ever been involved in anything of that nature in the past.
After court that day, James speaks to Sophie in the car and admits that he made up the statement about being in love with Olivia. He needed to make things look realistic and that was the only way for him to come out of this on top.
Funnily enough, as the couple arrive home they’re bombarded with celebratory hugs and a cake given this happens to be their anniversary. It’s all too much for Sophie who leaves while James has cake with Finn and Emily. Sophie heads over to visit Kate as – yep, you guessed it! – the Dutch tilt camera angle returns.
The Episode Review
It’s somewhat disappointing to see the subject of sexual assault being reduced to a breezy story like this, rather than a hard-hitting narrative that dives into the aftereffects of abuse and the nature of lying. Unless I’m missing something, where is Olivia in this story? Why don’t we see her reaction to James’ version of events? Why don’t we see her at work outside of court?
The other big problem here stems from the characters themselves. Almost everyone is unlikable, from Sophie and James through to Kate Woodcroft. That’s not to throw shade on the victims of course, but the series hasn’t done a particularly good job giving them a lot to do and fleshing out their world beyond seedy politics and shock tactics.
That’s to say nothing of the general camera work and visuals which may be glossy but also incredibly distracting. The cheesy spotlights and cutaways in court, next to the never-ending tilting camera angles, makes for a very distracting watch. And honestly, do we need the fish-eye lens when we jump back for flashbacks?
Everything is left hanging on this final court verdict though, which really could go either way.