A visit from Julia's past shakes things up as a new murder-mystery emerges
Credit: ABC/Richard Cartwright
S1 E8
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With the Sarah Keaton story line officially dead (no pun intended), I was wondering what Notorious would be without Oscar’s amazing hair and Jake pining over his lost love. Luckily, the answer to that is: good. Tonight, the show hit the ground running with a brand-new plot that was oh-so-juicy.

Last week, we saw Jake and Julia get a mysterious call about a dead man in a backyard swimming pool, presumably setting up the next story arc. This week, we get the scoop on the dead man’s float: the house at which he was found is owned by Dana Hartman, a disgraced former news anchor currently renting the place to her daughter, Maya, and Maya’s three friends (one of whom is Johnny, the dead guy).

When Jake and Julia arrive at the murder scene, we quickly learn Dana basically used to have Louise’s job and acted as a mentor to Julia — until she got fired for fabricating an interview and lost all credibility (UGH, c’mon Dana, that’s like, journalism rule no. 1!) after JULIA sold her out to the Los Angeles Times. To be fair, Julia did it to save her own credibility and that of the network. Before her descent into infamy, however, it seems Dana and Julia were quite chummy, and for a while, Julia and Maya had a near mother/daughter relationship. Julia’s love for Maya is what brings Dana to her in the first place, and since Maya was found with gun residue on her hands following Johnny’s murder, Jake agrees to be her attorney.

As the group sits down to talk to Maya about what really happened, Dana admits to the ultimate no-no and says she read Maya’s diary, where she was shocked to see her daughter had written she wanted to kill Johnny. However, Maya defends herself by saying she was dating Johnny and was in love with him…which is suuuuper awkward for Dana, because guess what? She and her daughter are now Eskimo sisters. Yep, that’s right — Louise receives an anonymous tape showing Dana and Johnny (yes, her daughter’s boyfriend Johnny) having sex.

Now, at first I figured Louise would be impressed by such a video. Johnny is half Dana’s age, after all, and we know Louise is something of a cougar herself (have we dropped that story line? It’s been a while since we’ve seen her canoodling with shirtless eye candy). But Louise is McKayla Maroney-level not impressed, as she believes Dana’s fall from grace set women on cable-news networks back decades (and caused her to be passed over for the position of anchor in favor of a more “trustworthy” man).


Meanwhile, things are looking up for Julia’s dreary love life, too. D.A. Max is totally into her and even brings her a blueberry muffin at work — which she then PROMPTLY THROWS IN THE TRASH. What a waste of a perfectly good muffin! “I am fond of you. I often wish you weren’t such a stinker,” she tells him, and at first, I’m embarrassed for her that as someone over the age of 5, she used the word “stinker.” But then I realize she’s actually quoting His Girl Friday, a reference that went right over my head, just like it did for Max (perhaps I have some brushing up to do on pop culture).

When Dana finally appears on LHL, things go smoothly at first. Dana defends her daughter in smart, reasonable ways. But midway through the interview, Julia’s boss appears and demands she show the sex tape, and Julia realizes the whole thing was orchestrated by Louise as a means of revenge against Dana. Julia does her best to prevent it from airing, but it does… And soon, Julia’s upset, Jake’s upset, Dana’s upset, Maya’s upset. Pretty much everyone is upset except Johnny, because he’s still dead.

NEXT: More sex, lies, and videotapes

Of course, Ella can’t let the mystery of the anonymous sex tape go on for too long. Who filmed it? And who sent it to the show? She realizes that partway through the video, the camera moved, meaning it was being controlled by an outside source. Um, okay, now THAT is a creepy twist. An even weirder one? Johnny and two of his roommates had a threesome, even though he was supposed to be dating Maya. It’s a tough day to be Maya, that’s for sure.

Jake does his best Inspector Gadget impression and heads to the house to see if he can find any clues that might lead him to the camera man (or woman). Because this is TV, he does so very quickly by checking the attic’s electrical wires and tracing the company name written on the transmitter. He visits the man who installed the security system, who confesses in like, .2 seconds. He says he did it, but no one knew he was doing it. He was pissed at Dana because after he installed the system, she repaid him by filing a complaint with city planning to keep him from building a second story in his house. Sending the video to Louise was his payback. Way harsh, dude.

This get interesting when Ray J makes a brief appearance. The gun used to kill Johnny belonged to the hip-hop artist — but he insists the gun was stolen from him after a break-in several weeks ago, in which the robbers also stole a pair of pink slippers, his wife’s fur coat, and “a painting of my family dog at Christmas…it was the only one I had!” (This is hands down the show’s funniest line so far). D.A. Max appears, too, to explain the break-in was just one in a string of celebrity home robberies. The always-on-her-toes Ella instantly recognizes this rather odd assortment of items from the threesome video, and quickly pegs Maya, Johnny, and their roommates as the robbers.

The police are on the same page and arrest the three surviving burglars for running a “bling ring.” It soon sucks even more to be Maya: Her roommates tell the police she killed Johnny and hand over her “incriminating” journals as evidence, leading her to be charged with first-degree murder.

Meanwhile, this all goes down during a very sweet and romantic moment for Max and Julia. Max sets up a post-work rooftop dinner date for her, and tells her everything he knows about dating he learned on the Bachelor (although if this were really the Bachelor, he’d be forcing her to face her greatest fear and subsequently dumping her if she got too scared). He even arranges a screening of His Girl Friday, the movie reference he didn’t understand earlier in the episode. Aww. This pair is growing on me. Before things can properly heat up, though, the news about Maya’s arrest comes in and Julia has to peace out.

The episode ends with a mysterious gloved hand putting a gun in a bank safety-deposit box. The scene was so incredibly Pretty Little Liars-esque, it blew my mind. Did “A” kill Johnny?

I can already tell I like this story line much more than the Sarah Keaton plot. This was easily one of my favorite episodes so far. Dana is a genuinely interesting and multifaceted character, and her arrival has already provided some of the Julia backstory I’ve been hoping for.

Oh, and writers, the irony of Ray J guest-starring in an episode about a sex tape was not lost on me. Well played.

Episode grade: B

Episode Recaps

ABC’s sexy new legal drama Notorious follows Julia George (Piper Perabo), a news show producer, and Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata), a top-notch lawyer on their tag-team approach to creating news. The TV show — which is based on the real-life relationship between criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live news producer Wendy Walker — also stars Ryan Guzman and Aimee Teegarden.
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