Women reign supreme over at the kingdom that is ABC Thursday Night, and a newbie has emerged. But does a non-Shondaland production even stand a chance? Notorious is trying its darndest to be the next Scandal, and it seems to be working…for now.
It begins with a bang. And I mean that literally. “That’s what I call a homecoming,” says an anonymous male, and I can tell I already hate him. Before our blonde heroine Julia George (Piper Perabo) can kick him out (that’s what she was going to do, right? He made a sex pun, for crying out loud), she realizes it’s 4:46 p.m. and she’s running late. She bids her boyfriend, who we learn has just been promoted to federal judge, goodbye and swoops in to save the day as her PA Megan (Sepideh Moafi) tells her “Louise is locked in her office.”
We’re soon introduced to Julia’s boss: Louise Herrick (Kate Jennings Grant), star of Louise Herrick Live, the no. 1 cable news program in the country. Louise isn’t actually locked in her office; she’s lounging on a chaise wearing lingerie and entertaining a boy toy, who tells Julia, “I like your vibe. Hey boss lady, how do you like your meat?” OMG with the sexual puns.
Even though it has Louise’s name, the show is clearly Julia’s baby. She’s like the Leslie Knope of the news world. (There’s even confusion in her office as to whether a guest is named Gary or Jerry!) The guest on tonight’s LHL is Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata), a smooth-talking criminal-defense attorney with a car worthy of a Ferris Bueller joy ride, aviators probably worth more than your house, and best of all, dimples you could swim in.
As the show-within-the-show is about to begin, we get some breaking news that is pretty much going to set the tone for the entire episode (and possibly the whole first season): Internet mogul Oscar Keaton (Kevin Zegers as a hot Mark Zuckerberg, basically) has been issued an arrest warrant for fleeing the crime scene of a hit-and-run. And what do you know, Jake Gregorian is his friend and lawyer. How convenient!
Louise appears to ambush him, “breaking” the news that Oscar is surrendering to police live on air, and Jake angrily storms out in a fit of rage at the thought of being set up. But it’s all an act! OMG (again!), what a twist. This is just like Fight Club. “I had to plant the seeds of doubt before the country rushed to judgment,” Jake explains to Julia. LHL got the scoop and they’re trending, so everyone’s happy. As for the Jake/Julia duo, I’m hesitant to give in to this “will-they-or-won’t-they” vibe going on — it’s being shoved pretty ferociously down our throats — but I will say the two have great chemistry, so eventually, maybe, we can root for them.
Anyway, Jake heads to the police station to visit Oscar, who vehemently denies any involvement even though it was his car. He does, however, admit to oooone little thing: Despite the fact that he’s supposed to be sober, there did happen to be a secret stash of cocaine in the car used in the hit-and-run. You know, for a friend. Before Jake can comment, the episode drops bomb no. 2: The hit-and-run victim has died and Oscar’s being charged with second-degree murder. Dun dun duuuun.
Meanwhile, back at Gregorian & Gregorian, Jake’s law office that he runs with his brother Bradley (J. August Richards), bomb no. 3 drops: Jake is in love with Oscar’s wife, Sarah (Dilshad Vadsaria). May I suggest a new drinking game called Notori-Shots: Take a shot every time an unexpected twist is revealed…or don’t. It could get ugly. So, yeah, there is so much backstory we need now: How did Oscar and Jake become friends? Was it before or after his affair with Sarah? Even though Sarah pays Oscar’s bail, the awkward hand placement between the two says a lot about the state of their marriage. Jake must be low-key thrilled.
NEXT: Secrets and lies
Earlier in the episode, we saw the network exec producer introduce his son, Ryan (Ryan Guzman), to Julia as the new PA. She has him fetching lattes, but he’s desperate to prove his worth to her. To this end, he meets one of Jake’s employees, Ellen Benjamin (Aimee Teegarden), at a local bar. “You’re cute, but
you’re not Matt Saracen I’m reading,” she says. After a drink, she leaves, and not creepily at all, he follows her. Ellen heads to the car lot where Oscar’s car is impounded and retrieves the cocaine the police failed to find. Ryan catches the whole thing on camera.
Again, not creepily at all, Ryan shows up to Julia’s house to show her his find, but he’s caught her at a bad time. Turns out Julia’s boyfriend wasn’t just incredibly corny and lame — he was hiring prostitutes. (That’s another shot for all of you playing at home.) Julia, in all her badass, girl-power glory, goes to dump him — and just for good measure, assures him she’ll be keeping his dirty little secret for blackmail. “I will forget about you,” she tells him. “But you will never forget about me.” Now that is a great breakup line.
And that’s not all the blackmail she’s got up her sleeve. Julia calls Jake and says that unless he can get Sarah Keaton as a guest on LHL, she’ll be airing the cocaine-in-the-car photos. So he pays a visit to the former-love-of-his-life Sarah to coax her into it. They reminisce on old times and say pretentious things like “Remember that night in Barcelona?” She agrees to appear on LHL…and more. They sleep together as Jake screens a call from Oscar. That is so in violation of the bro code, dude!
The next day, Julia has a meeting with her cop friend Betsy, who reveals yet another major plot twist: According to security footage from the night of the hit-and-run, it was Sarah driving Oscar’s car. (Bottoms up!) For the first time in the episode, I truly feel bad for Jake. He’s still crazy about a girl he can never have, and now he’s going to have to deal with keeping her out of prison. There’s no way this can end well.
Because the cause is so near and dear to his heart (and because Julia told him the police were about to issue a warrant for Sarah’s arrest, so the interview had to take place now or never), Jake heads to see Sarah and confront her about the footage. She claims she was in bed by 10, took a sleeping pill, and drifted off. Because Jake is a walking encyclopedia, he quickly realizes Sarah most likely took an Ambien, which caused her to “sleep drive” and unknowingly hit the boy. Jake assures her going on the show is still the right move, and she simply must convince America it was all a terrible accident.
Back at the LHL set, Megan has a serious scoop. Shots ready, everyone? Sarah was lying about being on Ambien. According to the pharmacy, she didn’t have a prescription for the drug until after the hit-and-run. Julia angrily confronts Jake, upset he didn’t tell her this vital piece of information, only to realize he didn’t know. Poor Jake. You can see his heart breaking into a million little pieces as he realizes he’s been lied to. Julia says they won’t go easy on Sarah in the interview. “For all I care, throw her to the woods,” Jake responds. Ouch.
The show’s about to start, but Sarah still hasn’t shown up. Jake gets an urgent message from Oscar; he heads over to his house to find a sight worse than anything he’d expected: Sarah dead in a pool of blood. Oscar was in the clear, but now the police are wondering if he murdered his wife.
Jake is absolutely distraught over Sarah’s death, and dutiful little Ellen has figured out where she was going the night of the hit-and-run: to pick up a fake passport. Whaaaat? What was Sarah Keaton hiding? IF THAT’S HER REAL NAME?!
As if the twists and turns didn’t have our heads spinning enough, we’re left with juuust one more. Julia opens a mysterious envelope with pictures of a bruised Sarah, Oscar with another woman, and…hey, what do you know? Jake and Sarah sleeping together. But what about promising they’ll never lie to each other?
What did you think of Notorious? Was your head spinning as fast as mine as you tried to keep up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!