Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 3 recap – the episode explained

By Marc Miller
Published: April 15, 2022 (Last updated: November 4, 2023)
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Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 3 recap – the episode explained


The tension and intrigue continue to build in Anatomy of a Scandal‘s third episode with terrific turns from Naomi Scott and Josette Simon

This recap of the Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 3, contains spoilers.

Read the season 1 review of Anatomy of a Scandal.

*Please note that the summary of this episode describes a sexual assault that is crucial to the series plot. To avoid being triggered, it would be suggested to skip paragraphs three through seven

Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 3 recap

The episode opens where James tells his wife, Sophie, he doesn’t know why Olivia said she was in love with him. He wants his wife to know that the feeling was not mutual. Well, Sophie has a theory. She was in love with her husband. (Having an affair with a younger woman will give her that impression). So, now, James and Sophie are under the impression she must be a scorned lover, right? The belief that her husband is a rapist must be in the back of Sophie’s mind.

When the episode returns to court the next day, Kate questions Olivia further about what was happening that day. On October 12th, James was distraught with a piece in The Times accusing him of excessive arrogance on that day in question. This came on the very day he would present evidence to help strengthen his immigration bill. When Olivia ran after him when he left the committee room, they walked past the elevator. He turned around and vented to her, asking his ex-lover if he was, in fact, arrogant?

Olivia responded, “I think you’re ruthless when needed. Cruel sometimes, even.” He apologized. She then replies, “Sometimes arrogance can be attractive.” Olivia admits that this comment was meant to probe if James missed her. This leads to a passionate embrace, “collided,” she says, in the lift, where James opens its doors and offers his hand. Olivia later describes their actions. James aggressively pushes the passionate kiss against the wall and wrenches her clothes off, including her blouse, and tearing at her bra so he can bite down on her left breast above her nipple. The bite left a mark, and she took a photograph, which is presented as evidence.

Olivia then says that she could not escape, and when he became more forceful, she was scared. She told him, “Not here.” She also added she was worried someone in the public building would see them. In this state of terror, and trying to push him away, James tugged at her skirt and ripped her underwear. Kate now presents evidence of the underwear and how they are now ripped. Olivia gives testimony that he penetrated her with two of his fingers and “shoved it into me.” Olivia clarifies she was saying no at this point and reported that James said to her, after he finished, “Don’t be such a prick tease!” Olivia begins to sob, and they end the testimony for the day.

The next day, James has his barrister, Angela (Josette Simon), cross-examining Olivia, who does her job by tearing her testimony apart. Now, the victim is on trial. She establishes how Olivia was finding his “effect” attractive. How she was under the impression what he wanted was to be somewhere private with her. How they had passionate embraces, kissing, groping, and if he was so forceful, Angela would love to know what brand the blouse was because it did not tear or lose a button.

Angela then submits evidence that it is often the effect of passionate bites to leave bruises. (Huh, and she never hands the judge any medical reports or experts in the field to back such evidence). The judge then nods, as if he knows all about it. Angela then begins to probe the statement “Not here,” and not saying the word “no.” And also, how her primary concern was someone would see them and brought up how this was not the first time they had sex in the government building. Olivia becomes nervous and looks scared as Angela describes their sexual encounters in detail. Angela’s argument is this is a pattern of irresponsible sex in the workplace.

Angela then cuts Olivia off about how her saying “no” was never said. They go over the police report on how Olivia said he shoved himself inside me even though I said, “Not here.” Angela thinks she has proven her point. There was not a journey of yes to sex and then to the word “no.” It was from yes to “yes.”

(Now, let’s be clear about what the series is doing here at this point. The show has the characters written as if James, Sophie, and Angela have looks on their faces that they have proven their case. Kate looks like their case has been damaged. Olivia looks like this interrogation has hurt her. What I find confusing is the thought that “not here” gives James the green light to do whatever he wants. Again, let’s be clear, “not yet” establishes stop on red. He needed to stop what he was doing. This is not a simple matter of miscommunication. This is a spoiled child who always gets what he wants. This was rape, plain and simple.)

The next scene has the Whitehouse family at home playing Monopoly. There is lots of foreshadowing here as James cheats when playing with his kids. How? Well, he keeps extra get-out-of-jail-free cards in his wallet. The irony should not be lost on anyone. Their evening is interrupted by the Prime Minister’s PR machine, who walks through the front door. A former administrator at the college they attended has come forward and said a girl named “Holly” reported James raped her on campus over twenty years ago. Sophia thinks this must be her first-year study partner, but James claims to have no recollection of her.

The Prime Minister’s PR representative tells them that he will recommend to his boss, Tom, to dump him. James calls his old chum, Tom, to see where his head is at. Tom wants to dump him. Unfortunately for him, James has one of those get-out-of-jail-free cards. When they were students together, Tom was doing drugs on the roof with some friends. When James and Tom left, their friend called down from the roof for them. Tom, making a joke, tells him to go for it and fly! Well, they hear a splat a couple of seconds later. Their friend, presumably, took Tom’s advice.

They run away, scared, and Tom is now worried about his future. He bought the drugs, gave them to his friend, and told him to jump. Young James tells him this never happened and takes the heroin to discard it. Hence, this is why the current Prime Minister owes him.

Meanwhile, Kate is acting strange. She seems a bit stressed over the trial. Like she is taking it personally. She makes eye contact with James in court and quickly looks away like she is scared.

This begs the question: What is she hiding?

What did you think of the Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 3? Let us know in the comments below!

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