Netflix’s ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ tells a tantalizing story about consent, entitlement, and power. It follows James Whitehouse (Rupert Friend), a Member of the Parliament and home office minister in a Tory government; James’ wife Sophie (Sienna Miller); and barrister Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery). After James gets arrested for allegedly raping his political aide, Olivia (Naomi Scott), Kate is the one who prosecutes him. It is later revealed that Kate went to Oxford with James and Sophie and was known as Holly Berry at the time. If you are wondering whether James knows Kate’s real identity, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Does James Know that Kate Is Holly?
While James is battling the rape allegations brought against him by Olivia, he discovers that an Oxford administrator has come forward to tell the police that a fellow student had accused him of rape while he was at Oxford. When he asks where this student is now, he is told that she left the country. The accusation doesn’t hold much ground without the presence of the alleged victim herself. When James and Sophie are told that it was Holly Berry, the former claims that he doesn’t remember her.
However, the latter recognizes that name. Holly was Sophie’s Anglo-Saxon tutorial partner. Sophie took advantage of her by making her do her classwork. Sophie starts to change from that point in the show. Cracks begin to appear in the seemingly impenetrable belief she has in her husband. His affair broke her heart, but she decided to stand by him. Even when Olivia accused James of sexual assault, Sophie refused to believe it, merging her thoughts with James’ claims.
After learning about the second accusation, Sophie begins questioning the possibility. This is a girl she actually knew from beyond the life that she and James built together. She can’t choose to ignore it the way she does with Olivia. Meanwhile, James initially keeps claiming that he doesn’t remember Holly, but that can be a lie. On the morning of the day he is about to be questioned by Kate, he remembers exactly who Holly is and what he did to her.
It is during the questioning that James figures out that Kate is actually Holly. She had hidden herself well by using her middle name and her former husband’s surname. However, when she brings up the phrase that he allegedly told Olivia — “don’t be such a p****-tease” — he immediately realizes who she is. He said the exact same thing to her all those years ago in that dark Oxford corridor.
Any other criminal would be terrified after learning that their prosecutor is also their former victim, but James’ sense of entitlement is so massive that he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. — not with Olivia nor with Holly. He even starts counter-attacking Kate, letting her know that he has figured out her real identity. Moreover, he subtly threatens her by pointing out that her actions are unethical.
Ultimately, James chooses not to make the revelation about Kate public. He likely knows that if he tells the media and authorities about Kate, it can potentially lead to fresh investigations against him. It is in James’ interest to let people keep believing that Holly is not in England.