‘Gaslit’ Episode 2: ‘California’ Recap

Last week Starz premiered its new mini-series Gaslit starring Julia Roberts as Martha Mitchell, the original whistleblower in the Watergate scandal. Gaslit Episode 2, “California,” picks up as the Mitchell family heads to (you guessed it) California while the burglars and G. Gordon Liddy (Shea Whigham) make their move.

'Gaslit' Episode 2 'California' shows Frank Wills, played by Patrick Walker, when he discovers the men breaking into the Watergate complex
Patrick Walker as Frank Wills, ‘Gaslit’ | Starz

We meet Frank Wills in ‘Gaslit’ Episode 2 ‘California’

Martha Mitchell may be the first whistleblower in the Watergate scandal, but Frank Wills is the gentleman who got the ball rolling. Frank, played by Patrick Walker in Gaslit’s “California,” got a job as a security guard at the Watergate complex just before the historical incident. After the bumbling burglars made their way into the complex, Frank noticed tape over the latch on a door that led to the parking garage. He gave it little thought the first time, but he became suspicious when he found the latch taped again after removing the first strip of tape. 

Frank called the police, and Sergeant Paul Leeper, Officer John Barrett, and Officer Carl Shoffler arrived on the scene. However, they’re dressed as hippies because of a previous investigation that called for them to go undercover. Even though Liddy, Howard Hunt, and Al Baldwin were on the lookout, they mistook the cops for hippies and didn’t notify the burglars in time. When the cops bust the burglars, Liddy, Hunt, and Baldwin take off to avoid getting in trouble.

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Meanwhile, in California…

Both John Dean (Dan Stevens) and John Mitchell (Sean Penn) planned to be out of town when the burglary occurred. They thought this would allow them an alibi if somehow people thought they were involved. While John Dean headed to the Phillippines, Mitchell took Martha and their daughter to California.

In Gaslit Episode 2 “California,” The Mitchells attend a fundraiser where they talk to Michael Deaver, an aide to Ronald Reagan. John and Martha showcase what makes them such a good team with her charm and his no-nonsense demeanor. However, later that night, John Dean calls Mitchell with news of the arrest, and they both agree to return to Washington. James McCord, one of the burglars, also served as a bodyguard for the Mitchells, and his involvement in Watergate has Mitchell worried he could be traced back to the crime.

‘Gaslit’ Episode 2 ‘California’ features the start of the abuse Martha Mitchell suffered at the hand of one of her husband’s security guards

The first episode of Gaslit hinted at Martha Mitchell’s friendship with James McCord. In Gaslit’s “California,” we see John Mitchell leave his wife behind in California with a new member of his security team, Peter. Martha, confused about why her husband would go without her, tries to call John on the phone, but Peter refuses to allow her to make the call. He grabs her by the shoulders and forces her back into the bedroom. 

Gaslit Episode 2 “California,” ends with Liddy and Hunt pouring gasoline on all the documents they collected regarding the crime. As the flames grow, Liddy says to Hunt, “I saw this in a dream, Howard – these flames consuming our best-laid plans. It’s all our fault. We made too many mistakes, too many assumptions. The tide of our ideals smashed against reality’s rocky shore. Have we been so foolish to not see it coming?”

Hunt replies, “See what coming?”

Liddy turns to him and simply says, “Retribution.”

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