Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) steps into the Oval Office for the first time with President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen) on the second episode of “Impeachment: American Crime Story.”
The second episode, titled “The President Kissed Me,” shares the complexity of Lewinsky having an affair with the most powerful man in the United States. The episode explores Lewinsky’s constant effort to see the president. She shows up at events under the impression that they will have a moment together. However, she is disappointed with brief interactions such as mere eye contact at these public events.
The real Monica Lewinsky is an executive producer on “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” I can imagine the character based on her knew how to portray certain emotions from her onset expertise. Lewinsky had to her brain back in the past and relive certain moments. It can be hard to rewind the clock to a situation that nearly destroyed Lewinsky’s reputation. However, the emotion through the character is compelling.
The relationship between Lewinsky and Clinton is portrayed as draining in the show. Lewinsky was even transferred to work in the Pentagon under the assumption she was seen too many times with Clinton in the White House. Their interactions are cut to a fraction of what they were before and she starts to worry that Clinton has moved on from her. Although they share minimal interactions in person, his late-night phone calls to Lewinsky seem to make up for it. She understands that her rendezvous with a married president is a highly risky situation. However, Lewinsky is determined to make their relationship long-term through a combination of knick-knack presents and frequent assurances that they will be careful.
Lewinsky shares the details of her relationship with her co-worker, Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson). In the previous episode, Tripp has been transferred to the Pentagon from her prior post as a civil servant at the White House. Tripp befriends Lewinsky at the Pentagon when she confesses she is seeing someone that she cannot have. While Tripp initially assumes Lewinsky is seeing someone important, she doesn’t have to wait long for Lewinsky to reveal that her affair is with President Clinton himself.
Tripp’s motives to be a good friend to Lewinsky are not very genuine. She is working on a tell-all story to reveal a scandal that goes in and out of the White House. While Lewinsky comes to a point where she is embarrassed to stay in Washington D.C., Tripp convinces Lewinsky to stay home because she may miss a call from Clinton and regret it for the rest of her life. Her manipulation towards Lewinsky isn’t explicit as Lewinsky is coming to Tripp for advice. Tripp recognizes the admiration and delusion Lewinsky has for the president. She then advises Lewinsky to not get her hopes up when attending White House events with hundreds of other people in the crowd.
During this episode, I felt bad for Lewinsky. She was chasing after a married man. Even worse, she was chasing the president of the United States. You can feel her desperation throughout the episode when she eagerly strives to just receive eye contact from him. Lewinsky makes up excuses on why Clinton does not reach out rather than seeing a secret affair will not work out.
The second half of the episode follows the storyline of Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford). From the premiere, Jones is trying to sue President Clinton for sexual harassment. In this episode, she delivers an interview where she explains that people in power cannot get away with this behavior. The lawsuit will eventually lead to the downfall of Clinton’s affairs. Jones shares the important value of holding people in power accountable for their actions.
The episode ends with an appearance of a writer from “Newsweek,” Michael Isikoff (Danny A. Jacobs). Isikoff approaches Tripp in the Pentagon telling her about a story he is working on regarding Clinton’s affairs. The final line of the episode is Tripp telling him there’s a bigger story, he’s barking up the wrong tree.
In the next coming episodes, I am excited to see Tripp’s motives strengthen to reveal the affair. I want to see the lengths she will go with her friendship with Lewinsky. I also hope to see how Lewinsky and Clinton continue their secret meetings knowing people have an eye out for them.
New episodes of “Impeachment: American Crime Story” can be watched on FX, Tuesdays at 10 p.m ET.