The miniseries Infiltrate the White House (White House Plumbers), available in Italy on Sky channels, is one of the latest ambitious projects by HBO; Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux take us on a real dive into American history, offering an in-depth look at the events leading up to the Watergate scandal in the seventies, one of the darkest pages of US politics. With a compelling narrative and an exceptional cast, the HBO series manages to capture the viewer’s attention from the very first scenes, dragging him into a world of political intrigue, corruption and secrets behind the doors of the White House, all seasoned with a pungent and often deliberately explicit comic line, just to increase the dose on the tabloid aspect of the actions of the protagonists. The series questions how corruption can afflict an administration as important as that of the president of the United States, as well as being a theme with which Infiltrate the White House wants make the public think about the dark side of politics and the heaviness of the consequences of the actions of those in power. Our review.
The following article contains SPOILERS for the miniseries Infiltrate the White House.
An unexpected team of “plumbers”
Based on true events, the series focuses on vicissitudes of the so-called “plumbers” of the White House (and yes, we are of the opinion that in the Italianization of the title it would have been more effective as a term) that is a secret team, wanted by the Nixon administration and in charge of protecting the aforementioned from possible interceptions and of carrying out, in turn, operations of illegal espionage, for the purposes of preserve the position of the president in view of the elections against the Democratic Party. Through a well-structured script, Infiltrate the White House (White House Plumbers) manages to carefully unravel the intricate details of the investigation, shining the light on the people involved and on the actions that led to the discovery of the wrongdoings. The cast of the series is the right calling card for a project of this magnitude: Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, respectively in the roles of G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, offer remarkable interpretations and evidently marked by their own initiative; the intensity and their commitment to bringing to the screen the complexity and drama experienced firsthand by these characters is remarkable. Beyond the two protagonists, the rest of the cast is really important: from Kim Coates to Lena Headey, passing through John Carroll Lynch, F. Murray Abraham and Steven Bauer, all big names that attest to the ambitiousness of the project. Among the most interesting aspects of the HBO miniseries, we certainly attest to the way in which the motivations and moral dilemmas of the characters involved are explored, all united by a single purpose, but each of them driven by different needs.
We therefore find ourselves reflecting on the political and social implications of the narrated events, through the point of view of the main architects of the scandal, designed as mere pawns on an invisible chessboardwhose moves are managed by the ends of a gear that doesn’t care to break the lives of those who decide to serve it, preferring, indeed, to sacrifice them to stay afloat as much as possible. Power and corruption are the two main nodes of the plot, linked together by that basic irony which underlines both the drama of the narrated actions and the madness into which the human soul can easily fall when faced with the strength of ambition. The script of Infiltrate the White House is one of the strong points of the project: the dialogues are well written, sharp and subtle, they immediately manage to immerse the viewer in a dimension in which these he finds himself face to face with the culpritsunderstanding their thoughts and motivations. All in all, the series manages to maintain a rapid pace throughout all the episodes, slowly entering the heart of the narrative, but not disdaining moments full of tension and also exploiting them to expand the familiar scenarios of the protagonists. Another aspect to highlight is the historical fidelity of the series: Infiltrate the White House, undertakes to reconstruct the events and characters accurately, respecting the chronology of events and always keeping the authenticity of the story evident. This helps to give greater credibility to the narrative and allows the audience to immerse themselves even more in the historical context without thinking about characters, roles and dynamics, which are revealed a little at a time.
The great protagonists of Infiltrate the White House
Woody Harrelson, unforgettable interpreter of Mary Hart in True Detectiveand Justin Theroux, protagonist of The Leftovers, are the two perfect drivers of this frenzied political drama; the two actors play two former CIA and FBI agents in charge of managing Nixon’s “safeguard” operations, aka literally violating democracy for the president’s personal interests. Harrelson plays former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, a middle-aged man who lives on in the patriotic memories of a mid-career, in which he was able to help plan the Bay of Pigs invasion and then blame Kennedy, of which he could also be the direct assassin (in reality this possibility is neither denied nor confirmed by HBO itself in the opening credits); in 1967, when he is recalled to the services of the president, Hunt works for a public relations firm, but his ambition has remained intact, so much so that, in great secrecy, he works on drafting spy novels together with his wife Dorothy (Lena Headey) , in charge of typing her husband’s stories. On the other side we have G. Gordon Liddy, another “brilliant mind”, a former FBI agent with an overflowing personality, a man who firmly believes in his ideals and who lives them with extreme drama. Gordon indoctrinates his family on a daily basis and cultivates a worrying sympathy for Hitler, of whom he used to listen to recordings of Nazi rallies. In short, two very colorful and contrasting personalities, and it is precisely the contrast that is created between them that directs the public towards understanding the motivations of one of the greatest political scandals in history.
The characters played by Harrelson and Theroux they are two caricatures representing the unhealthy political condition of the Republicans of those years. The lack of affinity is spoiled by the strong contrast that is created between the two, totally unfit to collaborate in a mission of this type. The strong character difference emerges in a particular way in one scene: after the arrest of the infiltrators, the two flee from the hotel room where they were trying to pick up the signal from the bugs, but while Hunt, in a panic, even asks for help from his son to get rid of the evidence, Gordon warns his wife of his possible next arrest, inviting her to continue sleeping and not worry about it. Gordon, above all, is the exasperation of fidelity to corrupt ideals contrary to democracy, and as such is portrayed as a hypothetical murderer, while Hunt is the coward, between the two, and represents that part of the turncoat republicans. Infiltrate the White House takes up a story that had already landed in the cinema with the unforgettable All the president’s menand pours it into five frenetic episodes which, beyond the socio-political criticism, aim to tell a new audience about the Watergate scandal, with a decidedly effective, ironic and pungent communication.