As many before us have remarked, this whole David Petraeus (and beyond) sex scandal plays like something out of Homeland. Or, y'know, Melrose Place. And it's true. There's so much fun, saucy, naughty drama to this increasingly crazy story that it deserves its own series. So how would it all go down (heh)? Let's plan the first three seasons of All In.
(Normal inspired-by-true events TV rules apply, of course: this is all made up, except for all the crazy stuff that is evidently true.)
General David Petraeus (Scott Glenn) is at the top of his career, winning praise from politicians and personnel and looking at a bright future. He's got a devoted wife, Holly (Kathy Bates), and two good children, Anne (Imogen Poots) and soldier Stephen (Max Irons). Everything is going perfectly until, while at Harvard giving a talk, he meets an accomplished, ambitious graduate student named Paula Broadwell (Judy Greer) with whom he forms an immediate bond. As season one progresses, their relationship grows increasingly intense. Holly seems unaware while Stephen is loyal to his hero father to a fault. Anne is the only one who senses something fishy, but her father is seemingly too good at the game of secrets for her to discover anything. Meanwhile, a beautiful socialite named Jill Kelley (Sarah Lancaster) is trying to help her troubled identical twin sister Natalie (also Sarah Lancaster) resolve a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, Washington D.C. businessman Grayson Wolfe (Scott Foley). So she reaches out to a powerful man she meets at one of the parties that she and her surgeon husband Scott (Adrian Pasdar) regularly throw at their home. That man? General David Petraeus. He agrees to help and Jill is ever so grateful. How grateful? That remains to be seen. Back in our main story, Broadwell has begun writing a book on Petraeus and in the process the two have fallen for one another. In the season finale they finally sleep together. Unbeknownst to them, someone accidentally intercepts a steamy phone call between the soon-to-be lovers. Was it suspicious Anne? No, it was a heartbroken Stephen...
The second season begins with Paula and Petraeus' affair in full-swing. Holly seems none the wiser, and Anne is as removed as she's ever been. Only Stephen seems different, suddenly sullen and talking back to his father. But Petraeus figures that has something to do with an impending deployment rather than anything at home. Paula has finished her book with her co-writer Vernon Loeb (Griffin Dunne) and it's been a success. While she's off doing the talk show circuit, Petraeus is left to his own devices. In Jill Kelley's world, things have not been going well. Grayson seems destined to win back custody from the unhinged Natalie, causing her to tailspin, so Jill scrambles for support. Her husband Scott suggests reaching out to another military top-brass guy they know from the party circuit, General John Allen (Gregory Itzin). Allen, a bit of a gruff character, is happy to help. Jill is coy in emails but also flirtatious, so Allen writes a letter to the judge in the custody case. When, at a party, Jill runs into Petraeus and tells him that General Allen helped her out, Petraeus acts strangely, like he's jealous. Jill, mostly ignored by her constantly busy surgeon husband, quietly and wickedly revels in the attention. In a scene with Natalie, she toys with the idea of pitting the two generals against each other in a war for her affection. In a moment of clarity, Natalie warns her against it, but Jill doesn't listen. We then meet an as yet unnamed FBI agent (Eric Balfour) who is attending a lavish party, where, of course, he meets Jill Kelley. Seductive sparks fly between the two, but he's too small potatoes for Jill, so she mostly dismisses him. Toward the end of the season, Paula returns from her book tour and though she's grown close with Vernon, she immediately heads back to Petraeus. She calls the house and, knowing that his father is out with his new girl Jill, Petraeus' angry son Stephen tells her to meet his father at a restaurant where he knows Petraeus and Jill will be. Upon arrival, Paula catches a glimpse of Petraeus giving Jill some kind of special touch under the table. Heartbroken, she dashes out and begins to hatch a plan for revenge. She calls the house back and asks Stephen, "Did you know?" Stephen tells her he did, gives her Jill Kelley's name, and tells her to email her. Of course Stephen is also playing Paula here, but she's unaware. The season's final scene is Jill receiving a threatening email and, unsure what to do, calling the goofy FBI agent she'd met at the party and who had since been sending her embarrassing photos of himself. His phone rings, he wakes up in bed, talks to Jill, says he'll look into it, and hangs up. "Who was that?" a voice asks, as the camera pans over to reveal Petraeus' daughter Anne in bed with the FBI agent.
The email relationship between General Allen and Jill Kelley is continuing, but Jill can't much bother with that at the moment. Her sister Natalie has lost her kid to Grayson for good and is going off the deep-end. Meanwhile the harassing emails from this Paula person haven't stopped, so Jill is in increasing contact with the FBI agent, who's hiding his involvement in the matter from Anne, as he's figured out who Paula is and knows that it's Anne's father in the middle of the mess. Stephen and Paula have become close conspirators, but Paula and Petraeus are still carrying on like business as usual. Of course Petraeus, head of the CIA and all that, can feel something closing in, but he isn't sure just what. It makes him agitated and scared, so he seeks comfort in his wife, Holly, and their relationship begins to be rekindled. Stephen notices this and, though he's developed feelings for Paula, begs her to back off. She refuses and continues to harass Jill, giving the FBI agent more to do and weakening his relationship with Anne. Panicked about the situation blowing up and ruining his parents' chances of reconciliation, Stephen begs Natalie — whom he met at, you guessed it, a party — to convince her sister to ignore the emails and not pursue anything with the police. Natalie agrees but on one condition: Stephen, with all his military training, has to help her kidnap her kid back from Grayson. Stephen says he will, and they begin to make a plan, not knowing that Grayson Wolfe is the son of one of General Allen's closest friends and that this will likely incur his wrath. Jill's husband Scott overhears this conversation, and decides to end this whole mess by confronting Petraeus. He does, at another party, but Petraeus calms him down, reassuring him that he and Jill are simply friends and allies and that he will speak to Paula about the emails, which he's just learned about. (Vernon overhears this conversation and, jealous of Paula and Petraeus' relationship, vows his own revenge.) It's all too late, though, as the FBI agent has already brought the issue to politically friendly members of Congress, and it's only a matter of time before the story gets out. A congressional aide friend of Stephen's tells him that he's heard rumors on the Hill and, convinced that not even Jill has that kind of sway, Stephen figures there must be a leak somewhere else. The season ends with Stephen discovering that Anne is dating the FBI agent and jumping to the conclusion that she's the one ratting out her father to the feds. He's in his car waiting for Natalie at the moment of the discovery and, in a blind rage, revs the engine and aims straight at the couple, planning to run them down. But at the last second, Holly, who had been having lunch with her daughter and her new boyfriend, steps out into the street and it looks like Stephen is about to hit her, his loving mother. Leaving poor Mrs. Petraeus perhaps the ultimate victim in the whole sordid affair.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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