White House Plumbers Episode 3 Recap: Don’t Drink the Whiskey at the Watergate

Image Credit: Phil Caruso/HBO

Even though 50 years have passed since the incident, Watergate Scandal continues to fascinate people. It has regained prominence in recent years after successive administrations faced scrutiny. Perhaps what really intrigues people about Watergate is not the nature of the crime but how idiotic all of it seems in hindsight, and it appears that’s what the creators of the HBO series ‘White House Plumbers’ want to convey. In episode 3, titled ‘Don’t Drink the Whiskey at the Watergate,’ the team led by E. Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) and G. Gordon Liddy (Justin Theroux) try to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters four times, failing each time for a different reason. Meanwhile, in the background, Nixon tries to establish peace with Soviet Russia. Here is everything you might want to know about the ending of ‘White House Plumbers’ episode 3. SPOILERS AHEAD.

White House Plumbers Episode 3 Recap

The episode begins with the first attempt. Alfred C. Baldwin III, the former FBI agent turned the “Shadow Man” of the DNC break-in operation, watches the news about Nixon’s interaction with his Russian counterpart while eating takeout and speaking to Giddy and Howard on the radio. They enter the Watergate Complex through the namesake hotel. The idea here is that as all six buildings of the complex are inter-connected, they can bypass lobby security by entering through what Howard refers to as the “backdoor.”

Unfortunately, Howard and his locksmith get stuck in a banquet room. They have to spend the night there and urinate in a whiskey bottle (hence the title of the episode). Meanwhile, the person that was supposed to let Liddy and the rest of the group in becomes afraid and flees the scene.

Image Credit: Phil Caruso/HBO

On the second attempt, the entire team goes in together until James W. McCord Jr. (Toby Huss) separates from them and runs into two security guards. Elsewhere in the building, the locksmith, Virgilio Gonzalez, declares that he has left the correct tools to open the door in front of them in Miami.

The third attempt is not without glitches, but they manage to get in this time and plant the recording devices. However, as Liddy and Howard learn from John Dean, only the device they placed in the phone belonging to Lawrence F. O’Brien’s secretary is operational, and there is nothing of value in the transcript they have gotten from that. The series depicts that this is when Howard has to acknowledge that this is yet another failure in his career, just like the Bay of Pigs invasion. Dorothy even points it out to him.

A part of Howard starts to realize that his career has become unsalvageable, and he begins to focus more on his family. His second daughter, Kevan, by far Howard’s favorite child, comes for a visit. Kevan is an exceptional student and a model daughter in her father’s eyes. Almost predictably, it has caused some contention between her and St. John and Lisa. Her father doesn’t help the matter by openly praising her in front of the other two and criticizing them.

After the third attempt effectively ended in failure and the mockery they subsequently received from Dean and Magruder, Howard decides to go on a trip to Paris with his family. But Liddy convinces him to try one last time. Magruder earlier spoke to him and revealed that Nixon needed the photographs of everything that O’Brien had in his bottom left drawer. Even though Liddy has grown as disillusioned with his bosses as Howard, he is still staunchly loyal to Nixon. He tells Howard that if he quits now, he will prove his detractors in the CIA right, and that gets through to the other man.

On the fateful night of June 17, 1972, Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis, break into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex. Security guard Frank Wills notices tape covering the latches of some of the doors and calls the authorities. Sgt. Paul W. Leeper, Officer John B. Barrett, and Officer Carl M. Shoffler, dressed in what can be categorized as hippie clothing, arrive at the scene and arrest the burglars.

White House Plumbers Episode 3 Ending: What Does the Envelope Say?

Liddy and Howard learn about the presence of three hippies on the DNC floor from Baldwin. Their initial confusion turns into horror when the hippies pull out guns, making Liddy and Howard realize that these people are plain-clothes police officers. They hastily start packing things up, knowing that one of their arrested accomplices has keys to the room. Howard tries to assure Liddy and probably himself by claiming that the Cubans will not break under pressure, not realizing that the officers have found the envelope he gave Bernard “Macho” Barker to put into the hotel mailbox. Addressed to the Lakewood Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, it contains membership fees.

Image Credit: Phil Caruso/HBO

As the episode ends, one of the police officers nails the envelope on the wall with a dart, right beside a photo of Nixon, which the DNC staff members have been using for target practice. This is not particularly a subtle way to denote what will happen next, but it gets the point across. Nixon went on to win the 1972 US Presidential Election, denoting that there was little need for espionage tactics. And anyway, the main issue of the Watergate Scandal is not the break-in itself but the steps that the Nixon administration took to prevent the press and the public from knowing about it. The scandal unfolded like a comedy of errors, leading to Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

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