TV Recap: “Impeachment: American Crime Story” Episode 5 – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (FX)

The fifth episode of Impeachment: American Crime Story is not your typical Christmas episode. Titled “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, the episode finds Linda Tripp making deals to protect herself as the reality of the end of her friendship with Monica Lewinsky becomes clearer. Here is a detailed recap of everything that happened in December of 1997, the only timeframe this episode is set in.

Washington D.C.

Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) is alone at a Tex-Mex restaurant in a purple dress when two guys at the bar notice her. The one without a name recognizes her as someone who used to work at the White House and his friend, Jake Tapper (Chris Riggi), approaches Monica to offer her a drink. That turns into a dinner date where Monica talks a little bit about her job at the Department of Defense transcribing meetings, but also tells her date that she has a job interview this Friday and that she’s trying to move to New York City. She describes the past year as “Myopic” and when Jake asks what she means, she says “I guess I’ve been a bit of a D.C. zombie and I’m ready to wake up.” She offers to split the tab, but Jake insists on paying.

Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) is at her desk looking over her subpoena when Monica approaches and she quickly folds it. Monica sees Linda’s foil-embossed Christmas party invitations and Linda asks for her help passing them out, asking Monica if she can come. During the conversation, Monica brings up her interview and tells Linda that she’s planning to wear the navy blue dress she shows Linda, the one with Bill Clinton’s personal stain on it. “You got it cleaned?”, Linda asks in shock. Monica confirms that she hasn’t but that she’s planning on it.

That night, Linda calls publisher Lucianne Goldberg (Margo Martindale) and confesses that she hasn’t told her friend about the subpoena yet. What she really called about was the fact that Monica plans to have the dress cleaned, which freaks Lucianne out because the DNA could be used to confirm the stories on Linda’s recorded conversations with Monica. Lucianne asks Linda to stop her. Allison (Emma Malouff) and Ryan (Ryan Nassif) come downstairs with boxes of Christmas decorations and Linda dismisses her kids, telling them she needs a minute to make another call. This one is to Monica, with Linda telling her friend that it would be good to not clean the dress just in case she needs it years from now. Linda tells her that she has a geneticist cousin who told her that DNA can be matched decades later for that kind of stain. Monica asks why this is relevant and Linda says “If you were ever to need proof.” “But I’m never going to come forward about this,” Monica swears, adding that if someone else did she would deny it. Linda tells her she should do it for her own protection, but Monica says she looks slim in the dress and wants to be confident for her interview. Linda changes tactics, saying “The truth is you look heavy in that dress.” Monica is bewildered, but asks Linda for suggestions and when she mentions a peach suit, Linda tells her to go with that. As she ends the call, Linda’s kids come back in the room to help decorate for Christmas.

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

Judge Kenneth Starr (Dan Bakkedahl) arrives late for a meeting with the independent counsel for the Whitewater case, a board up with all the people convicted and notes next to it about Hillary Clinton. Among the attendees are Mike Emmick (Colin Hanks), Jackie Bennett (Darren Goldstein) and Brett Kavanaugh (Alan Starzinski). Judge Starr begins the meeting by reading a Bible verse (1 Corinthians 4:9). During the meeting, the group decides that after a four-year investigation, they don’t have enough to propose impeachment. Jackie is the only one who fights to keep it going, but ultimately resigns his case. Kenneth tries to find light in the situation, saying “Because of us, the Governor of Arkansas had to resign and we achieved twelve convictions of other people around the Clintons.”

Bill Clinton (Clive Owen) sits in the Oval Office going through a practice deposition with Bob Bennett (Chris McDonald) and another man (Tim Martin Gleason), who brings of several women from his past. Bill gets annoyed and stands up angrily, ready to end the season. Bob lets him know that this is what the deposition will be like and he needs to be prepared for these types of questions. Bill says these are the kind of questions they should be asking Paula Jones and Bob says “When she sits for her deposition next week, she won’t know what hit her.” Bill makes another remark about how President Kennedy never had to deal with this and the other man says “That was the 60s.” Bill becomes defensive, listing off the number of women who hold high positions in his administration. “No one supports women more than me.” He leaves the Oval Office out of the side door.

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

At 2:33 am, Bill calls Monica, who wakes up but pretends she was already awake. She tells him that she was offered the job at Revlon after her interview. “I just wanted to tell you I saw the witness list for the Paula Jones suit and your name is on it.” Monica is shocked and Bill says it hurt his heart, but it’s not a big deal. Monica asks why her name is on the list and he tells her that any woman he’s ever talked to is on there. “But we more than talked,” she adds. He tells her she can probably avoid going to court if she has a lawyer draft up an affidavit saying nothing happened between them. “If anything happens, you can call Betty,” Bill adds. Monica asks why he doesn’t just settle the case. “It’s complicated.”

Monica accompanies Linda to the mall as she shops for a few things for her Christmas party. Monica brings up the fact that she’s on the witness list and worries she will get a subpoena. Linda takes this organic opportunity to tell Monica that she has been subpoenaed for the case. “I’ve been meaning to mention it.” Monica walks off and Linda finds her outside the store in the mall. “It’s probably about Kathleen,” Linda defends. “I can’t commit perjury.” Monica begs Linda not to say anything and adds “I promised him that I wouldn’t tell anybody.” Linda is frustrated. “Monica, you are asking me to commit a crime and also this isn’t only happening to you, this is also happening to me. I am a single mother, I’m a political appointee, I have to be careful.” Linda ends the conversation by telling Monica she has to get to Macy’s to finish her shopping.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) and Susan Carpenter-McMillan (Judith Light) arrive at an elegant hotel lobby where Paula sees her mother Delmer Lee Corbin (Jeannetta Arnette) and rushes to her. At first, Delmer fawns over her daughter’s new look, but when Paula tells her that Susie paid for it, she becomes visibly suspicious. Paula will be doing her deposition later and her mom brings up that she heard that she chose to not accept the settlement. Susan smugly interjects that it didn’t come with an apology and when she is greeted with a cold look, she goes to check in at the restaurant for the three of them. Alone, Delmer tells her daughter that she’s worried about her, that she questions Susan’s motives for being so generous with her and that she fears there will be some tough questions at the deposition.

Van Buren, Arkansas

Beverly (Kara Luiz) and Rick Lambert (Jarod Scott) arrive at the house of Juanita Broaddrick (Ashlie Atkinson), introducing themselves as private investigators working for the attorneys representing Paula Jones. Juanita wants nothing to do with them, but the couple use religion as a weapon, saying that all of the people trying to help Paula are Christians and that they’ve been praying for someone like her to help the case. “I hope y’all find what you need but it won’t be me,” she says. Rick informs her that she may be subpoenaed, but if she talks to them, she could avoid that. “I have been a businesswoman here for years, I do not want my name tied up in this.” Rick hands her his card and Beverly adds “I just would ask that you pray on it.” As they walk away, Juanita leans out of her storm door and says “One thing that I will say, Paula Jones, she’s telling the truth. Anything that she would say bad about him, she’s telling the truth.”

Little Rock, Arkansas

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

Paula Jones sits in a conference room for her deposition and Bob Bennett introduces himself before launching into his questioning. He gets her to say that Bill Clinton never made her do anything against her will and then launches into personal questions about her past sexual encounters. He brings up a man named Dennis Kirkland, who said under oath that he received oral from Paula at a party in 1982 and watched her perform the same act to three other men there. “Why would Dennis say that?”, she starts to cry. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” Afterward, she rushes out to hug Susie, sobbing. “You didn’t tell me it was gonna be like that, you told me it was gonna be okay.” Susie tells her they won’t win the trial. “They have no idea how hard it is about to get for him, no idea.”

Washington D.C.

Monica is at her cubicle when someone interrupts, handing her a subpoena. She stands up shocked, looking across the floor for Linda, but she’s not at her desk. Linda’s deskmate Susan (Jenny C. Paul) is standing up looking at Monica.

Allison opens the door for Linda’s Christmas party as Monica arrives. Monica races around trying to find Linda, interrupting her conversation with guests to ask to speak privately. Linda says she can’t, she’s hosting a party, and gives a tour to guests of her decor collection, including a piece that started her obsession with Christmas decorations as a child on a trip to Frankfurt. Monica freaks out in the corner, the decorations becoming almost creepy as she waits for the party to wind down. Susan is complimenting Linda on her cheese log when Monica whispers in her ear that she got a subpoena and Linda suggests they go talk in Monica’s car.

Linda finishes reading the subpoena and is shocked by how detailed it is, including mentioning that Monica must turn over any gifts given to her by the President and specifically calling out hat pins. “Monica, somebody has told them something,” Linda says. Monica says she’s going to deny it and sign an affidavit. She expects Linda to sign one that matches hers. Linda doesn’t respond to the request, but looks out the window and says she can’t believe Christmas is almost over. “The closer you get, the nearer you are to the end.” Linda tells Monica she needs to get back to her party to stop Susan from eating the whole cheese log. “I need to talk to my lawyer before I do anything. Merry Christmas Monica.” Monica cries as Linda gets out of her car.

Monica returns to Vernon Jordan (Blair Underwood) for advice on the subpoena and she tells him she hasn’t been able to reach Bill to tell him about it yet. He reassures her that they will likely only ask if they had sex or not, to which she shakes her head that they haven’t. He doesn’t think they will ask any other questions, but he hands her the business card of a lawyer named Frank Carter and tells her it will be okay. Monica asks if he can tell the President for her. The next scene finds Monica sitting with Frank Carter (Reuben Grundy), who explains to her what an affidavit means. He passes her a document stating that she’s never met Paula Jones nor had a sexual relationship with the President. Monica signs it.

It’s Christmas morning at Linda’s house as Allison and Ryan open presents under the tree. Her phone rings and she walks to the kitchen, seeing “Lewinsky” on her caller ID. She doesn’t answer and Monica leaves a message wishing her friend a Merry Christmas and asking if she made a decision.

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

It’s Monica’s last day at the Department of Defense and her boss gives a toast with everyone standing up to congratulate her next business venture. Afterward, Monica rushes to Linda to ask why she hasn’t called her back. Linda explains that she’s meeting with her lawyer today. Behind them, Nathan (Alexander Rosenkruez) is taking photos of coworkers and Linda asks for one of her and Monica, saying they don’t have one together.

Linda enters her lawyer’s office (TJ Thyne) and he has prepared an affidavit for her to sign since she doesn’t know Paula Jones and has no business in the case. “You’re entirely wrong,” she says. “I’m quite close to a woman in the midst of an affair with President Clinton and he’s covering it up by getting her a job at Revlon. Her name is Monica.” He asks her if Paula Jones’ lawyers know about this and she says “They know I know things.” From her purse, she places cassette tapes on the desk and asks him to hold them for safekeeping, revealing that they are recorded conversations with Monica. He confirms that Monica had no clue that she was being recorded and informs Linda that this is a felony in D.C. where two-party consent is required. “Linda, do you understand how much trouble you’re in? If these tapes get entered into evidence, you will go to jail.”

Linda’s next move is to call Lucianne, who tells Linda that it’s legal to record phone conversations without the other party’s knowledge in New York. “I could go to prison, I could lose everything,” Linda says, adding that her lawyer wants to tell Bob Bennett about this. Lucianne says she has an idea that could grant Linda immunity from prosecution. Hanging up, Lucianne calls George Conway (George Salazar) and asks if he has any connections to Kenneth Starrs office. She asks George to make them aware of Linda Tripp ASAP.

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

(Tina Thorpe/FX)

Bill Clinton is eating lunch in the Oval Office when Betty (Rae Dawn Chong) admits Monica. He has a bag of gifts for her, including a plush labrador and a carved polar bear he found in Vancouver, which represents strength. “When you need to be strong, just hold him close,” he tells her. Monica has tears in her eyes as she tells him she can’t take the gifts because of the subpoena. “Don’t you think that something weird is going on?”, she asks him. He tells her this is just what the system does to him and anyone he’s close to and that he’s used to it.“No one knows about us?”, he asks. “Your friend in the Pentagon, she doesn’t know?” Monica says “No” and adds “She’s not really my friend anymore anyway.” Bill bags up the gifts and says “One day you’ll look back on all this and laugh. Probably some crazy story you’ll tell your grandkids.” Betty interrupts, saying that Prime Minister Blair is on the phone. “I’ll never be in this room again,” Monica realizes out loud. Bill promises to call Monica next week once she’s settled into her new home. “I know I shouldn’t say this but I need you to know that you are my whole world,” she says. He kisses her on the forehead and says “Good luck in New York. Be good.” Betty knocks again and Monica leaves. We sill Bill sit down at his desk, but he doesn’t touch his phone.

Paul Rosenzweig (Morgan Peter Brown) races into Jackie Bennett’s office to tell him that friends from law school tipped him off about Bill Clinton’s mistress getting a job at Revlon from Vernon Jordan in exchange for perjury. “Jackie, there are tapes,” he says as the two rush to Kenneth Starr’s office. He asks how they got this information and he doesn’t like that it came through a backchannel. He needs to figure out how they can work this news into their mandate but giving his blessing for them to look into it. “It has to appear that this witness came to us out of the blue. She has to call us,” he adds.

Monica gets an email from Linda asking if she can meet for lunch tomorrow at the Ritz Paino Bar, which Monica confirms. Linda gets a call from Lucianne saying that Kenneth Starr’s office wants to meet with her. “This is a prosecutor with the power to buy out charges and the FBI on their side.” She adds that the second Linda makes the call, the whole case turns into something else. Linda calls the number she was given and Jackie Bennett answers. “It’s me,” she says.

Jackie arrives with Sol Wisenberg (Jared Gertner), Mike Emmick and special agents Steve Irons (Craig Welzbacher). “I’m in a terrible situation, facing prison or worse,” Linda says, surprised that the men weren’t briefed on her situation. She asks them to sit down and tells them what’s been going on, referring to Monica as “A good friend.” Mike asks when Linda began recording the conversations and she says “I began when I was subjected to character assassination by the president’s attorney in Newsweek. I knew I had to protect myself.” He confirms that Monica wasn’t aware that she was being recorded and adds “You refer to this person as your good friend?” Linda is defensive, saying that she’s been there for Monica in her loneliest hour. “All I have ever wanted is for Monica to be okay, but I had to protect myself.” Jackie tells Linda that they can help her with the prosecution if she hands over the tapes. “I can have those to you tomorrow.” She also tells them she will have a clean tape tomorrow because she’s meeting Monica for lunch in Virginia where it’s not illegal and will wear a wired device. Jackie tells her “This is an active investigation, if you’re going to be wired, you’re going to be wired by the FBI.” Linda looks a little elated at the news. As the men leave, Jackie talks about how great it will be to have evidence proving Bill Clinton lied under oath after his deposition on Saturday. Mike adds that it’s a good thing there are tapes because any jury would hate Linda Tripp.

The FBI wire Linda in a suite at the Ritz Carlton as Jackie reminds her of the two things they need Monica to say: That she lied under oath and that Vernon Jordan did her a favor for that lie. Linda is also informed that they will have agents in the restaurant in case anything goes wrong and that Linda will be seated at a table in the corner so she has full visibility to the room. “I hope I don’t let you down,” she says as she takes her leave.

Linda asks for a table for two in the piano bar, finding out that the corner table is in the non-smoking section. The hostess (Kyanna Mai-Lee Bosworth) offers that the bar has space and allows smoking, but Linda dismisses her. Monica enters and sees Linda, walking to the table. “I know I’ve been out of touch,” Linda begins her apology and Monica admits to being a wreck. Linda asks her to clarify but Monica pivots, asking what Linda and her lawyer decided. “It’s all still very much up in the air,” she says. “I need to know what you’re thinking about your affidavit. Are you still planning to lie?”, Linda asks. “I already signed it.” We see the agents in the room listening as Monica says “If the shoe were on the other foot, I would keep your secret.” Linda says “So, you’ve lied under oath and you’re asking me to do the same.” Monica questions why Linda is phrasing things like this and Linda says she’s frightened as the mic falls down her blouse and she tries to fix it, pretending it’s an itch. She eventually excuses herself to the bathroom.

A female agent (Kristhy Morales) fixes Linda’s mic in the background and gets accused of doing a poor job. She ignores the insult and reminds Linda to get Monica to talk about Vernon Jordan. While this occurs, Monica feels that something is off and looks through Linda’s purse, whispering into it “Hello? Is someone listening?” She looks around the lounge before reminding herself to stop being paranoid.

Linda returns to the table and takes a sip of water as Monica asks if she’s ok. “I know this might sound insane but this whole situation I think, in a way, might be easier for you than it is for me,” Linda tells her. “I’m a pee-on, I don’t have powerful friends, I have nobody. But you, you’ve got huge heavy-hitters in your back pocket. You’re protected.” Monica asks what she’s talking about and Linda says Vernon Jordan got her a job. Monica says “Yes.” The agents in the suite begin to cheer. Monica tells Linda that if this gets out, Bill will hate her forever. “All you have to do is say that you never saw the President behave inappropriately with anyone because that is 100% the truth,” Monica says. Linda says she’s still thinking about it. “Linda, please. You have thought about it. This is my real-life we’re talking about and I am 100% scared. All I need is for you to say that you just won’t tell them about me. Please!” Linda says “It’s a big decision, let me sleep on it.” Monica shakes her head in disbelief.

Outside, Linda tells Monica that she just wants her to be free of the pressure Bill has put her under. She promises to call Monica tomorrow as she walks in the opposite direction. Monica walks down a dark street alone. A white van follows her, someone inside snapping photos. She looks behind her, seemingly feeling watched.

Impeachment: American Crime Story returns with the 6th episode on October 12th, titled “Man Handled.” Here’s the brief description from FX:

The Office of the Independent Counsel ensnares Monica Lewinsky, holding her for 12 traumatizing hours in a hotel room.

Alex Reif
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).