The 4th episode of Impeachment: American Crime Story takes place exclusively in 1997 (August to December) and is set in and around Washington D.C., changing the show’s typical bouncing narrative. In “The Telephone Hour,” we don’t even see Paula Jones, temporarily losing one of the three central figures of the series. This week’s episode is all Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. Here’s everything that happened.
Monica (Beanie Feldstein) arrives for a meeting with Chief of Staff Marsha Scott (Rebecca Lowman), who she learns has known the President since they were both teenagers. Monica applied for a position at the National Security Office, which was supposed to get her back into the White House, but Marsha acts like this is the first she’s hearing of it and informs her the position has been filled by another applicant. When Monica name drops Evelyn Lieberman, Marsha admits to having gotten a rundown of the reasons for Monica’s reassignment to the Pentagon. Marsha encourages Monica to stay where she is, vaguely telling her she will have to look for something else.
When Linda Tripp arrives at work, Monica has seen the story in Newsweek and is mad at Linda, pulling her into the kitchen and asking why she did it. Linda says if anything, she only helped Bill Clinton’s case and added that she’s angry at Bob Bennett for telling the reporter that she is “Not to be believed.” Monica believes having Linda’s name in print will hurt her own chances of getting back into the White House but Linda feels like she’s become a target. “The White House disposed of me like a piece of trash and they’ll do the same to you,” Linda tells her friend. “Linda, they didn’t want you back,” Monica replies, which infuriates Linda.
Monica follows Linda to her cubicle, telling Linda that she could lose her job ver this. “Then I’ll write a tell-all book,” she says, adding that it would be about her, not Monica. When Monica walks away, Linda pulls out her chair and finds a document titled “Bill and Hillary’s Body Count.” It’s a list of people close to the Clinton’s who died questionable deaths and Vincent Foster’s name is on it, Linda’s former boss who committed suicide. A Post-It note on the letter says “Linda, thought you’d be interested in this.” She asks her cubicle mate Susan (Jenny C. Paul) if she saw who put it there and she shrugs. Paranoid, Linda yells to the entire floor asking if anybody saw who put the letter there.
Linda arrives home on edge and calls Lucianne Goldberg (Margo Martindale), leaving a message that she needs to talk to her urgently. Later that night, Linda gets a call from Monica apologizing. “I just keep worrying that the big creep will get mad and you and I will end up in a ditch somewhere,” Monica says, adding that the last part was a joke. She tells Linda about the meeting with Marsha and how angry it made her. She also adds that she’s tried to reach Bill through Betty and can’t get through to him. She has a theory that Marsha is one of Bill’s ex-girlfriends and that she’s jealous of her.
Lucianne returns Linda’s call and Linda tells her about Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern that’s been going on for two years and began when the girl was just 21. “Naturally, I’m concerned about this young woman’s wellbeing,” Linda excuses herself and Lucianne tells Linda she would need proof. Linda tells her about a spreadsheet she made documenting the dates and activities of their meetings, but Lucianne tells Linda to get Monica’s stories on tape. Linda asks about the legality of recording phone calls and Lucianne tells her it’s “Kosher.” Lucianne promises Linda a chance at “The big leagues” and tells her to call her when she’s decided if she’ll do it. When the call ends, we see that Lucianne was recording their conversation.
Having checked Bill’s schedule, Monica saw an opening and decided to just swing by the White House, only to find herself being told that he’s watching G.I. Jane with Chelsea. Betty (Rae Dawn Chong) hands Monica a bag of things Bill got for her in Martha’s Vineyard and Monica breaks down in tears, asking Betty if she knows when she will be brought back to the White House. Betty says “He’s working on it.” Monica rushes out and calls Linda from a payphone, crying in the rain. “I don’t want to be here,” Monica sobs. “I don’t want to exist.”
Shaken by the call, Linda makes up her mind and calls Lucianne. “I need to come forward,” Linda says. Lucianne warns Linda that the press will go after Monica, but Linda thinks her Beverly Hills upbringing will protect her and that it will be a quick tabloid story that will blow over fast. “You’ll lose her as a friend,” Lucianne adds. “I’ve made my peace with that,” Linda responds. Cut to Linda at Radio Shack purchasing a tape recorder, followed by her first recorded call with Monica where she asks her friend to repeat information she’s already heard about the affair.
Lucianne has summoned Mike Isikoff (Danny Jacobs) to her son’s apartment to meet with her and Linda. She wants Mike to break the story so Linda’s book will have credibility. When Linda pulls out her tape player, he tells her to turn off the tape, that listening to it would be a violation of his journalistic principles since the other party didn’t know they were being recorded. Linda describes that the tapes contain conversations about her friend’s affair with the president and how she was promised a job she didn’t get. Mike asks if the job was offered and when Linda says no, he tells her there isn’t a quid-pro-quo so there’s not a real story. “I don’t work for the National Enquirer, I’m a serious reporter, I write about abuses of power,” Mike says before leaving
Linda calls Monica and tells her that she has a friend at the White House, whom she calls Kate, who told her that Monica has a “Blackmark” on her name and will never be hired there. “She begged me not to say anything but she was very clear,” Linda adds when Monica asks if she was maybe mistaken. Linda tells Monica that if Bill isn’t going to bring her back to the White House, he needs to find her a job elsewhere. She suggests that Monica ask Bill to speak with his friend Vernon Jordan, who Linda knows has done favors for people close to the President.
Upset by the news Linda shared, Monica calls Betty at her home and accuses her of lying. Bill Clinton (Clive Owen) calls her back and scolds her for making his assistant cry. “You swore you wouldn’t cause trouble,” he yells at her. “If I knew this is who you were, I never would have gotten involved with you.” Monica tells Bill that she’s moving to New York City and he tells her that’s a great idea. She asks if he can connect her with Vernon Jordan because she wants a job outside of government and Bill agrees to. She also tells Bill that she doesn’t think they will see each other again after she moves, but he tells her he’s planning to spend a lot of time in New York when his term is up.
Monica arrives at the office of Vernon Jordan (Blair Underwood) and she’s impressed with his wall of photos he’s taken with celebrities, which includes Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton. Monica talks about her degree in psychology and how she’d like to work in public relations or communications. Vernon mentions that he’s on the board of directors at Revlon and that they have a big communications department. At the end of their meeting, Vernon escorts Monica to the elevator and spanks her on the behind as she gets in it to leave.
After a montage of recorded phone calls between Linda and Monica that let us know some time has passed, an ambassador from the United Nations calls Monica to offer her a job. Monica is frustrated because she was expecting to get a job with Revlon. Linda tries to tell Monica that it’s a good offer that gets her to New York, but Monica is upset because Bill didn’t call her to talk about it and she says she no longer wants to go. Linda is, of course, recording the call.
In the next scene, Monica calls Linda to tell her that Bill called and he just wanted to introduce her to Bill Richardson, the UN Ambassador, because he’s a good contact. It wasn’t a job offer and Monica’s tone has changed completely, now talking about calling Betty to apologize and asking Linda’s advice on if she should go to the White House Christmas Party. Linda snaps at Monica, yelling at her for the polar extremes of the conversations and asking her to find someone else to complain to.
The next morning, Linda gets a call from Lucianne asking for an update. Linda takes the day off work, returning Monica’s apologetic voice messages to her office at the Pentagon. “My behavior has been unacceptable, Monica,” Linda says. “I’ve been such an awful person. I have something to confess…” We don’t know if Linda was planning on telling Monica what she was doing, but instead, she tells her friend that she’s lost 3 pounds as she wipes away a tear.
Monica invites Linda over to help her clean out her closet, passing off some clothes to Linda. A crumpled blue dress on the floor has a personal stain on it and Monica tells Linda it’s what she wore the last time she saw Bill. Linda asks Monica if she hasn’t washed it on purpose and Monica says she needs to get it dry cleaned and hasn’t needed it yet. Monica invites Linda to stay the night and while sharing stories about their exes, Monica tells Linda about a married man in his mid-twenties who had an affair with her when she was in high school and then followed her to Portland where she went to college. “What can I say, it was my most significant relationship until Bill,” Monica says, before adding that she feels like that relationship made her feel like this kind of love is what she deserves.
Likely crippling under the anxiety of what she’s doing, Linda calls Lucianne and asks to expedited the timeline of breaking the story. She adds that she wants Monica to believe that Linda had no choice but to reveal her secrets and asks Licianne if the Paula Jones case could help. She’s told that her trial is seeking character witnesses and believes that if she’s forced to testify, she can hide behind that excuse. Lucianne tells Linda she will make some calls.
The man Lucianne calls is Richard Porter (Christopher Wallinger), a lawyer who we’ve seen working at night to help the Paula Jones case along with George Conway (George Salazar), to whom he brings the information to. George picks up the phone to call Paula Jones’ lawyers.
Monica is at work when she gets an email with a job offer from Revlon. She goes to her boss to put in her notice.
Linda Tripp is at home, opening a birthday card and gift from Monica, even though she told her friend earlier that she doesn’t celebrate birthdays. It’s a silver feather bookmark. Linda’s doorbell rings and she answer it, being handed a subpoena for the Jones vs. Clinton case.
Bill Clinton is in the oval office when Bob Bennett (Chris McDonald) enters with a witness list for the Paula Jones trial. There’s one name on it that he didn’t expect and isn’t familiar with, asking Bill if he knows of a Monica Lewinsky. Bill walks to his living quarters, sitting on a couch in the bedroom where his wife Hillary (Edie Falco) sleeps.
The next episode of Impeachment: American Crime Story premieres Tuesday, October 5th, at 10/9c on FX. It’s titled “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and you can read the brief episode description while you wait.
As Monica prepares to leave D.C., she grows concerned that someone is sharing news about her affair. Linda meets with the FBI.
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).