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The First Lady Ep 4 review: New episode of Viola Davis starrer show focuses on early life of marriage of First Ladies

Also starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson as the First Ladies, the Voot Select series is directed by Susanne Bier. 

  • Akhila Damodaran

Last Updated: 07.12 AM, May 08, 2022

The First Lady Ep 4 review: New episode of Viola Davis starrer show focuses on early life of marriage of First Ladies
A still from The First Lady Ep 4/YouTube screengrab


The new episode, titled 'Cracked Pot' focuses on early years of marriage of the First Ladies. Franklin Roosevelt's extra-marital affair compels Eleanor to socialise with more politically-active women while Betty suffers from depression and gets into trouble with her pain medication again. Meanwhile, Michelle gets a job at a healthcare centre in Chicago and helps bring a change in the inefficient health system.


The latest episode of The First Lady opens with the story of Eleanor Roosevelt. She is seen eagerly waiting for her husband to be back from a work tour as she reminisces the nights she spent with him looking at herself in the mirror. But instead, upon his return, she finds out about the extra-marital affair of Franklin. She breaks down but is still forced to be married to him as her mother-in-law otherwise insists on not paying either of them any money or making them a part of her will if they decide to file for a divorce. Her mother-in-law is more worried about the reputation of the family as no one until then had ever filed a divorce.

The story shows how the issues of family reputation and patriarchy existed even back in the 1920s and how much it meant to her. Despite her being aware of her son's affair, she chose not to do anything about it. Eleanor puts forth her condition to Franklin that he'd stop seeing the other woman and not share a bed with her ever again. He agrees but is seen getting desperate as he is unable to spend time with her. The way he holds her towel with which she wipes her mouth after dinner depicts his state. His behaviour forces Eleanor to spend more time with politically-active women, where the scene is completely different. The way a writer says, it's the 1920s and women do anything they want sets a perfect irony, compared to her situation at home.

The story also shows the sorry state of the healthcare system in Chicago once again when Michelle and Barack take their daughter Sasha to the hospital. Amidst all the to and fro in the story's timelines, the episode also includes a bit about Michelle's father in a flashback where she is seen visiting him during his last days. It makes the viewing experience more jarring as she already speaks about him at the hospital, expressing her fear of losing her loved one again. The way she stands up to the CEO at the hospital later, telling how they lag in their system and how Eleanor tells her husband that she too has interests and a life of her own are compelling. Michelle gets a job at the hospital to help improve the healthcare system and she seems to have done a good job, which we don't get to see but only hear from the CEO as she tells Barack about it.

The show seems to lack a proper focus and is trying to tell too many things at once, giving not enough time for the viewers to process what's happening on screen. It does not hit a chord with them. As the show tries to tell stories of the three First Ladies in an episode, it lacks proper treatment.

The episode ends abruptly with Betty Ford collapsing after suffering a setback with her addictive pain medication. She is seen lying down in bed and dreaming about her life as a dancer and being rejected to participate in a show.


The episode was better than the earlier ones with more drama. But it ends abruptly.