- Anatomy of a Scandal -The Twisty 'Anatomy Of A Scandal' Ending, Explained
Anatomy of a Scandal ends with two major twists. One of those twists is baffling and will make your head hurt if you think about it too hard. The other one is a satisfying conclusion to a miniseries that is often difficult to watch due to the weight of its subject matter.
Like Sarah Vaughan's book of the same name on which the show is based, Anatomy of a Scandal focuses on a member of the British parliament named James Whitehouse who is accused of rape by a woman named Olivia, who he had an affair with for five months. Both James and Olivia agree their affair was consensual, but Olivia contends that he raped her in an elevator shortly after he broke off their relationship.
Olivia's case is taken on by a determined lawyer named Kate Woodcroft who is seeking justice not only for her client, but also for herself. Meanwhile, James' wife, Sophie, is left reeling as she begins to look at her husband's past behavior — including his time as a member of the Oxford club The Libertines — in a new light. As the evidence against her husband is laid out in front of the court, Sophie delves into her shared history with James in hopes of discovering the truth for herself.
This all leads to the show's twist-filled ending, which might have left even the most seasoned domestic thriller fan wondering what just happened.
Was James Found Guilty?
The verdict in the case wasn't surprising at all. After a short deliberation, the jury declares James innocent, much to the dismay of Kate, Olivia, and the viewers who just sat through six episodes outlining this horrible man's privileged behavior. James feels vindicated, of course, and fully expects to return to his life as if nothing ever happened.
His lack of remorse is startling to Sophie, who finally gets him to admit that he called Olivia a "prick-tease" in the elevator, indicating that he knew she wanted him to stop. With her worst suspicions confirmed, Sophie decides to do whatever it takes to protect her children and find some modicum of justice for Olivia... and her old Oxford tutor, Holly Berry.
Who Is Holly Berry?
Here's where things get weird. Back at Oxford, Sophie had a tutor named Holly Berry (she was conceived on Christmas Eve, like that's a good excuse to give your child a Hallmark Christmas movie heroine name). Holly was more into studying than she was partying, but she attended an end of term bash which ended with James raping her in a corridor.
After she was assaulted, Holly left Oxford suddenly, and Sophie never saw her again. However, while she's watching Kate organize her notes, she begins to suspect that the woman prosecuting her husband is in fact Holly. And she's right.
Does this make sense? Not really. There's no real explanation about how Kate scrubbed her first and last name from the public record (which she must have done, otherwise a quick Google search would have revealed the truth to Sophie the moment she suspected the opposing lawyer was her old college friend). Additionally, it seems suspect that Sophie didn't recognize Holly/Kate sooner. Yes, she notes how her friend made a total transformation, but still, it's wild that she didn't put it together.
What Does Sophie Do Next?
While the Holly/Kate reveal never really adds up, Sophie's response to her husband being found not guilty provides a satisfying conclusion to the story. Once she realizes her husband is guilty and far too smug about getting away with his abhorrent behavior, Sophie decides to tell the press a secret that James confided to her during the trial. Back during his Libertine days, he helped his friend and future Prime Minister, Tom, cover up his involvement in the death of their fellow Libertine.
Not only did James dispose of the drugs that Tom gave to their friend, Alec, he also never told anyone that Tom encouraged Alec to jump from the roof of a building while he was high. Well, he never told anyone until he confessed the truth to Sophie. After watching him instill his toxic belief that "Whitehouses always win" in her two children, she decides to use this information to ensure James' career is over — at the very least.
It's unclear whether or not her disgraced husband will face any jailtime, but Sophie makes it clear that she'll be divorcing him and taking their children away from his influence. She also assures Holly/Kate that she won't reveal the lawyer's personal connection to James to anyone. In the end, the show's central three women get a small modicum of justice thanks to Sophie's decision, even though the court fails to find James guilty of rape.
Images: Ana Cristina Blumenkron/Netflix; Netflix