White House Plumbers (HBO Miniseries) Episode 3: In the newest episode of HBO’s White House Plumbers, the storyline delves into the relentless attempts of Howard Hunt, Gordan Liddy, and their Cuban counterparts as they venture on a mission to infiltrate the Watergate complex and covertly install listening devices in the DNC offices for the White House. While the outcome of their efforts is already known to us, the episode provides deeper insight into their repeated blunders.
White House Plumbers (HBO Miniseries) Episode 3 Recap:
“Don’t Drink the Whiskey at the Watergate”
Episode 3 opens with a tense scene of Alfred C. Baldwin III, a former FBI agent, diligently monitoring the news. It becomes evident that he has been assigned to oversee the security of the infamous Watergate complex. Gordon and Howard constantly communicate with Baldwin via their radios as they venture to infiltrate the complex through the hotel. The team has divided into two groups and has meticulously planned to use the discreet “backdoor” to enter, as the complex’s six buildings are all interconnected.
It will enable them to bypass the watchful eyes of lobby security for a cautious entrance into the building. While one team heads up to the DNC, the other is supposed to meet someone at the McGovern HQ. However, to their bad luck – Howard and the locksmith find themselves unexpectedly trapped in a banquet room that obstructs them from their plans. At the same time, the person who was supposed to let Liddy and the group of Cuban men inside the building is scared of getting caught, so he runs away from the scene.
On their second attempt, the entire team decides to enter together, but unfortunately, luck just won’t abide them. James W. McCord Jr., one of the team members, gets separated and unexpectedly encounters two security guards. Meanwhile, the locksmith, Virgilio Gonzalez, reveals that he mistakenly left the essential tools in Miami, which would have been crucial for opening the front door.
In their third attempt, luck finally smiles upon the team, granting them entry into the room where they successfully plant the recording devices as initially planned. They are also able to take “lots of pictures” of “all the files” they can see in front of them.
However, their triumph is short-lived. John Dean delivers the disheartening news to Howard and Liddy that out of all the devices planted, only the one in Lawrence F. O’Brien’s secretary’s phone is operational. Furthermore, the information they managed to transcribe proved to be of no use to them. At this moment, Howard realizes that this, much like the Bay of Pigs invasion, is yet another failure in his career.
As the episode progress further, Howard finds himself caught in a downward spiral, contemplating the irreparable state of his career. Determined to find solace, he redirects his energy towards focusing on his family. Coincidentally, his second daughter, Kevan, pays a visit — a cherished moment for Howard.
Unbeknownst to him, this visit creates a rift between Kevan, St. John, and Lisa. Oblivious to the tension, Howard unintentionally heightens the divide by openly showering Kevan with praise and attention while dismissing and criticizing the other two. His favoritism begins to strain the family dynamic.
Following their undeniable third failure in attempting to infiltrate the complex, Howard and Liddy find themselves subject to mockery from Dean and Magruder. Meanwhile, Howard makes the decision to go on a family trip to Paris. However, Liddy manages to convince Hunt to consider one final attempt.
Earlier, Magruder informed Liddy that Nixon had demanded photographs of all the hidden things in O’Brien’s office, specifically in the bottom left drawer of his desk. Although we can clearly see that Howard and Liddy have growing disillusionment with their superiors, Liddy is still loyal to Nixon. He tells Howard that surrendering now would only prove their critics within the CIA right.
It’s June 17, 1972, and the fourth break-in attempt is underway. The group of men – Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis clings onto a flicker of optimism, determined to rectify their past string of fuck-ups. They diligently fix the planted bugs and photograph everything they can find in Larry O’Brien’s desk drawers. However, when has the lady luck ever shined on them? Before these men could even get to the 6th floor, Frank Wills, who works as a security guard in the building, notices tape covering the door latches and instantly understands it as an attempt to break in. Without hesitation, he immediately contacts the authorities.
Sergeant Paul W. Leeper, Officer John B. Barrett, and Officer Carl M. Shoffler receive information about the unfolding situation. They quickly reach the scene, cleverly disguised as hippies, and eventually arrest the burglars.
White House Plumbers (HBO Miniseries) Episode 3 Ending, Explained:
What did the police confiscate from the Cubans?
Gordon and Hunt receive shocking news from Baldwin regarding the presence of hippies in the DNC office. Confusion quickly gives way to their sheer horror when they realize the hippies are actual cops with guns pointing at their men. It leaves Howard and Gordon in a state of panic. The fear of being caught finally settles in as they begin packing up everything, only to realize that one of their team members possesses the key to their hotel room.
In an attempt to calm Liddy’s worries, Howard assures him that their Cuban contacts would not succumb to pressure from the police. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse. The police have already discovered the envelope Howard had given to Bernard Barker to drop in the hotel mailbox. The envelope was addressed to the Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, containing the membership fees, potentially linking Howard and his associates to their unlawful activities.
As Gordan and Liddy run from the scene, the episode ends with one of the police officers playfully fixing the envelope onto a dartboard next to Nixon’s poster.