There is one thing in life that I’m a fan of, and that’s Tuffy the Cat. We are finally back with Frank Wills, Watergate security guard extraordinaire, who noticed that the Break-In Boys taped the door not once but twice, causing him to call it in. Well, Frank has lost his job because he was becoming “too much of a distraction” (wow). His water is shut off; he’s fruitlessly searching the want ads; but at least he has Tuffy. Good ol’ Tuffy. Only-thing-worth-living-for Tuffy. Then Tuffy runs away, and even though this episode involves the massive event that is John Dean’s testimony, all I care about is whether Tuffy is safe (he is!).
Frank is interviewed for the cover of Jet (amazing), and the extremely pretty journalist named Janelle Lewis is also an adjunct at Howard University and recommends a security job to him. Now, not to be That Guy, but I found the issue of Jet featuring this interview, and it’s written by Washington bureau chief Simeon Jones. Ms. Lewis appears to be fictional, but I am not complaining because she and Frank are extremely cute together.
This episode is my favorite one so far, by the way, and I am here to shout out the writers: Uzoamaka Maduka and Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, you did a great job. Just the layers and the emotion and also Betty Gilpin’s face, which I know you didn’t write, but you gave her the words to emote to.
Speaking of Betty Gilpin, John Dean is practicing his testimony, and Mo is advising him. In the midst of this, she informs him she is pregnant, and Dean is very excited, a point I will return to in a bit. They watch what looks like Sesame Street mocking Magruder’s testimony, and Dean asks if he’s going to be Beaker. Hm. Yes. That seems right. Mo and Dean decide he’ll do it differently. He won’t have his lawyer next to him, and he won’t say “I cannot recall” for absolutely every answer.
The evening before Dean’s testimony, which he is very nervous about, Mo is painting the nursery when she sees blood on the drop cloth. When Dean asks if something’s wrong, she says no and acts like she’s just tired. AHHHH. Mo goes into the bathroom, where she throws out her bloody underwear. When she starts crying, she turns it into a cough. Wow. Just wow. The fact that they showed all this. Don’t they still use blue liquid in commercials to highlight a menstrual pad’s absorbency?
The next day, Mo and Dean are sitting in an office outside the room where the hearings are taking place. Dean says he can’t do it, and they have to call it off. Mo gives him a motivational speech where she basically says this is not about him and he needs to grow the fuck up. She asks if he thinks this is hard because this is not hard. MY HEART. Sitting behind him in the audience, she sees blood under her fingernail and almost has a panic attack. Goddamn it, I loved this sequence. It went so hard.
Now, did this happen? I bought a copy of Mo Dean’s book, Mo: A Woman’s View of Watergate, which came out in 1975, and I will highlight a few moments. First off, in the book, when Mo tells John she thinks she’s pregnant, she reports that he said, “Oh. Well, I guess that’s all right; I mean, it’s O.K.” And then, “Ten minutes later, he asked me what I had for dinner.” AHHH. Give me the fake version! Fake version! She also says soon before this section that “by no means am I a women’s liberationist” (cool). Now, this is not to say that in 45 years, Maureen and John Dean have not changed. It’s speaking to this particular moment, and in this particular moment, my brain has decided to accept the Gaslit version of events. Mo does not speak of a miscarriage in the book, but since she mentions she thought she was pregnant, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Later, at home, John Dean is elated about his testimony until Mo finally tells him she lost the baby. She takes some time for herself and then she and John are able to have some bonding time which, in all sincerity, is very nice.
Martha Mitchell, of being-gaslit fame, is in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. John Mitchell would very much like her to stay there and not come to D.C. to testify. Her daughter Marty also wants this. Almost everyone boycotts Martha’s event in her hometown (these people have “Defend Dick” bumper stickers), except her old acquaintance Lurleen Landry. When Martha tells Lurleen that she’s only telling the truth, Lurleen says that it’s Arkansas and “too humid for honesty.” A+.
Marty tells Martha that the kids at school make fun of her because of Martha and that she just wants to be normal again, and Martha seems to change her mind about testifying. She calls Mitchell and says she’s going to a John Dean watch party at Lurleen’s house the next day. This will prove to be a bad idea due to assholes attending the party. Attendee Clarence drunkenly slurs that in the South, we believe in ’Merica. This is one of the only missteps into caricature in this episode, but it does the job of making Martha change her mind again and decide to testify.
Martha tells Mitchell she’s on for testifying, and he not only alerts Senator Gurney (a Republican from Florida) but then, while golfing with him, gives him dirt on Martha. Mitchell does this after telling a truly baffling story about killing a monkey when he was in the Navy. Gurney very appropriately points out that Martha is not a monkey. Mitchell moves forward with his nefarious plot nonetheless. They decide not to allow any cameras or public into the courtroom for Martha’s testimony. You bastards. She walks into the near-empty hearing room and sees Mitchell in the hallway just as the doors close. Goddamn it.
But what of Tuffy? Frank goes on his date with Janelle to a Chinese restaurant, where he struggles with chopsticks until he is blessedly given a spoon. Janelle tries to ask Frank about Watergate, and he pivots to talking about how cats respond to electromagnetic fields, so maybe Tuffy can find his way back home. COME HOME, TUFFY. They discover they’re both from Augusta, and this is when I discovered that Augusta lies in both Georgia and South Carolina and that the two neighborhoods they mention (Clearwater and Belvedere) are both in the South Carolina portion, despite Frank saying he comes from Georgia. Amazing! Geography: What a concept.
Janelle invites Frank to a friend’s birthday party at a bar, and when they get there, it’s all her fancy and smart activist friends, who are so excited to meet Frank since he kick-started Watergate, but when they ask him what he’s going to do with his platform, he gets very uncomfortable. Leave him alone! He is just a man who loves his cat! After he says a lot of nothing and everyone is silent (the worst), he excuses himself and leaves. The next day, he’s putting missing posters up for Tuffy (TUFFY!), and later at home, Janelle stops by. He didn’t get the job at Howard because he’s a “controversial political figure” (ugh!). He decides to go back to Georgia and help his mom. Janelle tries to convince him to stay, but Frank says he doesn’t want to fight to stay in a place that doesn’t want him. Extremely understandable, and also that sounds like the most exhausting thing.
This is it. Frank’s leaving. He left the windows open and tuna in bowls for Tuffy. The bus arrives. He’s getting on, when — WHAT DOES HE HEAR? A small meow!! It’s Tuffy! Tuffy is under the newsstand! Frank scoops him up, and they get on the bus to go home. The Triumph of Tuffy! Tuffy Rides Again! A man and his cat reunited. Thank God.