Based on the first season of the podcast Slow Burn by Leon Neyfakh, Gaslit stars Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham, Darby Camp, and Aleksandar Filimonović. Premiered on Starz the show revolves around the Watergate scandal but is seen through a different narrative altogether. Created by Robbie Pickering, Gaslit puts the scandal in the backdrop and shows the women whose lives were affected by certain steps taken by power-hunger men. 

Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 Recap:

Episode 1 of Gaslit Season 1 is titled “Will.” As you may have imagined, the episode serves as an introduction to the politically charged world the show is set in. It is also an introduction to all the key players who will play an important part in the show.

Basically, the episode can be conjoined into two halves that serve as important plot points to the show. The first half is about Watergate and what things led up to it. This part finds John Dean (played by Dan Stevens), a junior counsel who is so giddy about President Nixon that he would drown his personal ethical standpoint just to be in the President’s good books.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

This part shows how John Mitchell (played by Sean Penn), Nixon’s attorney general, coerces him to head a covert and illegal operation where the president’s many pawns would sabotage the democrats ahead of the now-nearing re-election.

For that, John Dean suggests Gordon Liddy’s (Shea Whigham) name to make a ploy to bring the democrats down by using an illegal spying strategy. Other than that, the show focuses mainly on Dean’s personal character traits. He is a Porsche-loving-handsome hunk who is still pretty weary in his lust for power (or something near to it).

We see his more humane side during his relationship with Mo (Betty Glipin), an air hostess he meets through a dating service, and then almost stalks her before taking her to Nixon’s fundraiser that’s headed by Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts). We see another side of Dean, who somehow wants out of the whole shenanigan that is about to go down when he sits down and shares a cigarette with Mitchell’s daughter in a clothes closet. He relates to the outcastness she feels when her parents, the Nixon pawn, John Mitchell, and Martha Mitchell fight over what she can and cannot say in public.

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The other narrative arc of Gaslit the show focus on her persona. She, often termed as the “the mouth of the south”, is a socialite who isn’t afraid of going balls-out about how bad the situation the US Nixon-led government has put the people into.

The constant bombing, her children (among other children) being forced to be a part of the war, and a generally wrong political viewpoint makes her a representation of the far-left in this political drama where her husband represents the wrong right-wing and the character of Dean as a straight center who is constantly nudging between the two sides.

Also, Read – The Flight Attendant (Season 2) Episode 1, 2: Recap & Ending Explained

Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 Ending Explained: Does Dean submit his resignation?

The straight answer to this would be no. No, Dean doesn’t submit his resignation to John Mitchell, in spite of writing one out and reaching up to his table to deliver it to him. This happens because on Mitchell’s desk he finds a co-relating note that says that the president has personally acknowledged Dean for the work he is doing.

Ecstatic about being acknowledged by the President finally (after being lied to initially that he was asked to head the CREPP by him), he decides to not submit his resignation in spite of not agreeing to what the committee was planning to do in the first place.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

What does Martha discover?

In the final moments of the episode, Martha and John Mitchell as seen lying on their bed. Wherein Martha glances over the papers lying beside her husband’s side on the side stand. The viewer and Martha are allowed to come closer to a few keywords like “bugging and sound equipment” and “automatic telephone wiretap devices.”

This makes us aware of the fact that this is co-related to the Watergate scandal. More visuals clues are dropped when Liddy and his team arrive at the Watergate Complex, ready to take a look at their plans.

The ending of Gaslit Episode 1 signifies an inevitably chaotic future for Martha. This is the moment that shapes how she goes on to make history and how it changes her marriage and relationship with the government and all its people.

Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 Review:

As a retelling of Martha’s personal life, Gaslit remains far away from her story in Episode 1. If this is a show that focuses on her story and shows us how this woman single-handedly made amends to a lot of politically wrong notions, then episode 1 is not a good start. The reason for it feels like a very haphazard approach to dealing with these cartoonish men characters. Everyone, excluding Martha, feels like caricatures of a by-gone era. While the casting here is spot on, everyone from Dan Stevens to Sean Penn to the usually dependable Shea Whigham feels like odd characters that are super-imposed with exaggerated versions of themselves to dramatize the show. While Roberts nails her role, these supposed low-key characters feel like they are reeling on a really fine thread that could snap at any moment. The writing is a key flaw here.

In spite of a clear great performance from the three female characters we see in the show, they still don’t feel like complex characters waiting to be peeled.

Sadly, this is not a good beginning to show that wants to show one of the biggest scandals in history and the lesser know chapter of how a woman shaped it.

Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 is now streaming on Lionsgate Play

Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 Links – IMDb, Wikipedia
Gaslit (Season 1), Episode 1 Cast – Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham


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