Is James Guilty On 'Anatomy Of A Scandal'? This Is How His Trial Ends

- Anatomy of a Scandal -
Is James Guilty On 'Anatomy Of A Scandal'? This Is How His Trial Ends

Is any man in a David E. Kelley thriller ever completely innocent? The creator of Ally McBeal has reinvented his television career in recent years by bringing thorny domestic thriller novels like Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Jean Hanff Korelitz's You Should Have Known (adapted as The Undoing) to life. Just like his previous efforts, his latest project, Anatomy of a Scandal, based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Vaughan, features a woman who is blindsided by her husband's indiscretions. But is James Whitehouse guilty?

From the moment he appears on the screen, Rupert Friend's James oozes the smarmy confidence of a man born with a whole drawer full of silver spoons in his mouth. As a parliamentary minister, James is used to spinning the facts to his advantage, but even he doesn't try to deny his affair with a younger staff member, Olivia, when the press catches wind of their relationship.

At first, that's all the affair appears to be: a consensual entanglement between two adults. Then Olivia accuses James of rape, which leaves his wife Sophie torn between playing the role of the dutiful wife or taking a long, hard look at the man she married. For his part, James maintains his innocence right through to the bitter end, leaving both Sophie and the viewer to weigh the evidence against him.

So, What Is James Actually Accused Of?

The smooth-talking politician never tries to deny he carried on a five-month long affair with Olivia, or that there is a power imbalance between them since he was her boss. Likewise, Olivia is clear their relationship was consensual up until the point when he assaulted her in an elevator. As Michelle Dockery's barrister Kate Woodcroft puts it, the question is whether or not James ignored Olivia when her initial yes became a no.

Anatomy of a Scandal delves into the question of consent in a series of courtroom scenes that are at times difficult to watch. Ultimately, the jury finds James not guilty, but their summation is wrong. James is guilty, and not just of raping Olivia.

What Crimes Did James Commit?

After the trial concludes, James admits to his wife that he did tell Olivia not to be a "prick-tease" and ignored her when she said "not here." He claims this was part of their dynamic, but Sophie sees through him. He simply ignored Olivia, and did what he wanted, just like he has always done.

What's more, she realizes he's guilty of more than raping Olivia. His other crimes include:

  • Raping Holly Berry. Sophie's tutor at Oxford was walking alone after a party when he forced himself on her using the same language he used on Olivia to ignore her pleas for him to stop.
  • Covering up the death of a classmate. Back in Oxford, James was friends with future Prime Minister Tom, and they were both part of a group known as the Libertines. On the same night he raped Holly, James also covered up Tom's involvement in the death of their classmate, who the future PM told to jump off of a building even though he knew the boy was high.

In the end, Sophie leaks both Tom and James' part in their classmate's death to the press in order to find some semblance of justice for Olivia and Holly, as well as to prevent her own children from becoming entitled monsters like their father. It's frustrating and all too real to see James found innocent by a jury, but at least the story ends with him getting a small measure of comeuppance at the hands of his wife.

Images: Netflix

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