White House Plumbers Episode 4 Ending Explained: The Shocking Truth Revealed
Few seconds from episode 4 of “White House Plumbers,” HBO’s Watergate-themed black comedy, perhaps the most intriguing scene from the program overall. Actress Lena Headey, who plays Dorothy Hunt on “Game of Thrones,” will fly from Washington, D.C., to Chicago Midway Airport.
— HBO (@HBO) May 22, 2023
In this scene, Dorothy Hunt is seen boarding a plane with a CBS TV reporter, Michelle Clark, carrying $10,000 in cash. The camera cuts abruptly, and the next shot is a blank screen. This scene is significant because it sets up a series of events that lead to the tragic crash of United Airlines Flight 553 on December 8, 1972, which claimed the lives of 36 passengers, including Congressman Hunt and Michelle Clark.
Rumors of a conspiracy surrounding the crash quickly emerge, with some suggesting that the CIA might have been involved to prevent Dorothy Hunt from revealing sensitive information about her family’s involvement in the Watergate affair. However, it is unclear whether these conspiracy theories hold any truth.
The episode also explores Dorothy’s role as a liaison between Nixon’s associates and the distribution of illicit funds. Her death at the end of the episode shocks the audience, as she is portrayed as one of the series’ kindest characters.
Dorothy Hunt Tell-All in the Airplane Interview?
With the help of Garrett Graff, author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated “Watergate: A New History” and guest on the “White House Plumbers” podcast that goes along with the series, we sort out the truth from the fiction surrounding that pivotal catastrophe.
In this episode, Hunt is seen chit-chatting with the CBS reporter, Clark, implying that she was prepared to spill the beans during and after the trip. Was the money a settlement? Written by Graff, all of this is speculation meant to increase drama in the show.
He explains that she would visit her “Hunt cousins” in Chicago with $10,000 to “have them invest it,” a substantial sum in 1972.
I don’t recall that portion of her tale ever being told, so I can’t say whether or not she spoke to the reporter. They are using some artistic license there. I have no reason to believe there was any plot or conspiracy involved with her sharing a plane with a reporter and a member of Congress.
Did the government down the jet to silence Hunt?
Is what this show says true? The front says there was an interview on the plane, but I don’t know if that’s true. An agitator from Chicago said that it was a plot. A famous thinker, Sherman Skolnick, was one of the loudest people who believed in conspiracy theories.
He said that the Special Investigations Unit (CIA)was involved in the crash and that Nixon had flown a hitman. He, too, had died.
Graff says, “Skolnick put together a bunch of theories that pointed to a larger conspiracy, but none stood up to much investigation.”
“Most of the evidence from the cockpit voice recorder shows that the pilot was careless in not paying attention to the speed of the wind. As a result, the plane couldn’t keep up with the speed and fell, and the pilot ruined the rescue.
Like her spouse, E. Howard Hunt CIA?
Dorothy lived a sophisticated lifestyle. Graff says, “Whether Dorothy Hunt continued to work for the CIA after she began working for the Spanish embassy in Washington, DC is debatable.
“Dorothy Hunt did that for a while.” But in the closing minutes of the third episode, “The Writer’s Wife” flashes back to six months earlier.
Jim McCord and the Cubans have just been arrested by hippie police officers whose unexpected hippie attire I thought would be explained this week but seems forgotten. (They were undercover police officers working the streets.) During this time, Howard and Gordon are working diligently to hide the fact that they are involved in the operation by following their characteristic style of obfuscation.
This means that Howard has to return to his home on “Witches Island.” In the middle of the night, he gets his teenage son out of bed and tells him that he used to work for the CIA and was a henchman for Richard Nixon.
Then, he convinces the terrified child to assist him in destroying the evidence, permanently implicating St. John in the act of unlawfully interfering with an investigation conducted by the federal government.
It’s Howard’s backup plan in case something goes wrong. If you want to see what it looks like for a senior campaign operative to break glass, look no further. After she and a weeping Saint John throw Howard’s typewriter into the river, they go to make omelets and wait, well, what are they waiting for exactly? Who is that I hear pounding at the door.
Heated conversation with someone in the White House? Will that Dorothy quickly return from Paris and save everyone else?
What happened on the landline?
Bob Woodward initiates. He phones Hunt, who played Woodward in All the President’s Men, to enquire about Macho’s letter with his name. After that, the Hunts cannot answer the phone. The family landline’s endless shriek will be their music.
When he turns on a bedroom lamp and tells Fran he may go to prison, Liddy is either insane or terrifyingly calm. The next day, he finds acting AG Richard Kleindienst—John Mitchell has resigned to focus on Nixon’s reelection—and presses him to release McCord, who was detained with a phony ID.
The White House and Watergate arrests are already linked. An old colleague traveling through the precinct where McCord is being questioned exposes his identity, connecting the Watergate freight door tape to the president’s campaign manager.
Typewriters, listening devices, and Watergate Hotel soap will never be enough for Hunt and Liddy. In her quest to be Washington’s most ridiculous, Liddy shreds Mitchell’s unspent money.
The White House’s refusal to comment on every break-in in the nation’s capital is the political equivalent of shoving your fingers in your ears and yelling, “Nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you!” But the train has left. By evening, the FBI will be at Hunt’s door.
Still, things are getting worse. Remember Mark Felt, who rejected Liddy’s request to break into Doctor Ellsberg’s Los Angeles office? We haven’t seen Gary Cole’s G-man since episode one, but he’s leading the FBI’s Watergate probe.
As Liddy recalls, John Dean and former White House counsel John Ehrlichman approved the Ellsberg mission (if anyone remembers that many officials called “John” ago). G. Gordon Liddy tells J. Dean he’s willing to be slain for the president, which seems unlikely to distract attention from the campaign, but the thought counts.
Compared to Howard’s proposal, it’s not bad. Howard recommends to Dorothy, fresh off the plane from France, that the family move to Nicaragua and stay with the Somoza family, who owe Howard. A tyrant always pays his bills. Dorothy convinces him to lawyer up, and soon they’re seated across from William Bittman, the cookie-loving attorney who prosecuted Jimmy Hoffa.
Dorothy takes over. Howard prefers to take the fall and beg for pardon. Dorothy reminds the White House that Howard’s allegiance isn’t cheap.
Nixon’s posse only gives Howard, McCord, and the Cubans money. It’s unclear why Liddy and his five kids won’t receive assistance.
Maybe the White House thinks he’ll stay quiet for free?
Maybe they think Liddy’s a nut? Howard convinces Dorothy to give up some of their money because he doesn’t want his partner left out. Dorothy immediately returns to spying. With Howard under FBI inspection, she can fly throughout the country collecting money bags from airport lockers and delivering rewards to the Liddys in baking pans like a housewife. (The Liddys freeze her cash casseroles, a charming detail.)
The cash hose tightens as the president’s reelection becomes more secure, even during the Watergate investigation. It’s a gradual trickle. Dorothy is furious, but McCord recognizes Nixon and his men. He says, “Fear and power” motivate them. “Mostly power loss.”
They shouldn’t pay now that they’re not terrified. McCord always worked in politics. Howard, sacked from the PR business, considers it a religion. Howard still enjoys luxury. He recommends Fran and Gordon write a tell-all, which his agent estimates will earn the small-time thieves half a million dollars during another painful couples meal.
His reasoning is sound but naive: Watergate will be revealed. How does it affect the president if his campaign managers profit? They may even change their reputation from “third-rate burglars” to patriots. Liddy rejects the proposal immediately, which may not be bad for the Hunts. Undivided half a million bucks goes further.