White House Plumbers Episode 1 is titled ‘The Beverly Hills Burglary’ and follows two former agents who are assigned a secret mission to help President Nixon. Directed by David Mandel, it is created and written by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who are also the executive producers. The episode lasts roughly 55 minutes.
The ensemble cast of the series includes Woody Harrelson as Howard Hunt, Justin Theroux as Gordon Liddy, Domhnall Gleeson as John Dean, Lena Headey as Dorothy Hunt, Kiernan Shipka, Ike Barinholtz, Yul Vazquez, David Krumholtz, Rich Sommer, Kim Coates, Liam James, and Kathleen Turner.
Two former agents are assigned a secret mission to help President Nixon.
-White House Plumbers Episode 1 Review and Recap Contain Spoilers-
Based on public records and the novel Integrity by Egil Krogh and Matthew Krogh, the series tells the story of how Nixon’s own political saboteurs and Watergate masterminds, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, accidentally toppled the presidency they were zealously trying to protect.
But before getting into the actual events of the biggest scandal, we get introduced to our lead Howard Hunt who is seen working at a PR firm after retiring from the CIA. His life with his wife Dorothy, a former CIA agent, and the kids isn’t particularly thrilling. Soon, one phone from Egil Krogh, a special advisor to the White House brings him back to work in Special Investigative Unit to investigate Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
Thought to be in head of the SIU, he instead discovers former FBI agent Gordon Liddy working with the same group. What is the first thing a secret agent does (?) is to discredit Ellsberg, who revealed the information regarding the Vietnam War.) – to get a disguise and slyly break into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to get all the dirt.
Still from White House Plumbers Episode 1
As their initial investigation seems like a success, they start calling themselves ‘the plumbers’ because they will be fixing all the leaks. But to get solid proof & a picture of Ellsberg files, they will have to break into the LA office and get it themselves. Here Howard’s three CIA-connected Cuban friends offer their free assistance, saving the day.
All decked up with the tools & walkie-talkies to execute the perfect mission, once the doctor goes home, the team of five enthusiastic Nixon supporters try to get into the office. But as one might have anticipated, their intelligence proves to be inaccurate, and the back entrance that is supposed to be open is entirely locked. With the talkies not even walking properly, they are left with no choice but to make it look like a burglary, instead of a slick job, as they had expected.
From breaking the glass on the door to making a mess of the doctor’s office, Howard & Gordon’s fail-proof mission seems to be all over the place, reeking of failure. Obviously disappointed and feared of losing their last ticket to get a stable job in the White House, the SIU agents find themselves with a surprising opportunity, taking them closer to the President’s council.
Still from White House Plumbers Episode 1
Krogh is replaced by White House attorney John Dean, who informs the group that they will be working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President. When asked what all it entails, they are introduced to sabotage, espionage, infiltration, and bare-knuckle tactics & everything else that they have to do secretly to make sure they win. Obviously, the way how they didn’t get caught after creating such a mess, contributed to their promotion.
White House Plumbers Episode 1: Final Thoughts
If anyone was looking for some serious drama then the show was definitely not it. It was more of an animated and even exaggerated retelling of the scandal’s origin story. In terms of acting, Harrelson definitely imbibed the personality, whereas his family life brings in contrasting humour. Theroux’s impersonation was a bit much but his antics eventually wins over.
More of the duo’s crazy antics will be seen in upcoming episodes, and other characters, such as Howard’s daughter, will also be explored.
White House Plumbers is currently available for streaming on HBO Max.