A Familiar Face Returns in This Week’s Watchmen

This week’s episode of Watchmen, “She Was Killed By Space Junk,” digs deeper into the legacy of the heroes and villains of Watchmen’s timeline. We get a little bit more of Angela Abar’s search for the truth, but we mostly get a whole lot of Laurie Blake (who has complex feelings about superheroes), and some tantalizing set up for the larger conspiracy at work in the show.

Last Week, On Watchmen:

Last week we dealt with the immediate aftermath of Judd’s murder. Angela interrogated Will, and finally attempted to arrest him, only to have a mysterious airship whisk him away. Looking Glass drowned his sorrows in trashy TV and an accompanying trashy TV dinner. Red Scare beat the crap out of a Nixonville. We saw a lot more of the world in the Watchmen timeline, and it’s left us with some questions and a pirate ship full of loose ends.

First off, I’ll admit that it’s not looking great for Chief Judd Crawford. He had a Klan robe (with a sheriff’s star pinned to it, ffs) barely hidden in his closet, Comedian style. But again, isn’t that too easy? We know there were two shooters in Angela’s home on White night—was one of them Judd in disguise? Were he, his wife, and Senator Joe Keene all playing Angela for a chump? Was Cal in on it? He seemed awfully invested in watching the clock as it ticked down to midnight, and he also, somehow, survived that second shooter.

What are Will’s powers? The opening scene of him as a child consciously mirror Superman’s origin story. We watched him drink scalding hot coffee, and reach into boiling water to retrieve eggs, without so much as a wince. He claims that he was able to string Judd up. He was also able to un-handcuff himself and go out to buy aforementioned eggs after Angela locked him in her “bakery.” So what’s his deal? Is he truly Angela’s grandfather? If so, has she inherited any powers? Does she have superstrength, or is she simply a very well-trained martial artist?

Who the heck is Jeremy Irons playing??? Is he Veidt, still obsessed with Doctor Manhattan after all these years? Is he Manhattan himself, hiding as a human just like people keep saying he can’t? Is he some other, unnamed character? I kind of doubt that last one, and I’m still #TeamVeidt I think. I can’t see Jon getting so pissy with all the Mr. Phillipses and Miss Crookshankses. And speaking of that, ugh, poor Mr. Phillips! Given the trailers for this week’s episode, I can’t imagine the rest of the (Clone? Android?? Mutant???) servants will fare too well.

 

This Week, On Watchmen

Agent Laurie Blake comes to town! This episode focuses largely on Laurie, whom Jean Smart plays as a sort of furious Dana Scully—with just a hint of Mulder. We see her head up a sting operation to capture The Shadow, a Dollar General Batman, and when Senator Joe Keene asks the FBI to send a task force to Tulsa, she volunteers, Because she really deeply enjoys catching masks, and she doesn’t see any difference between civilian vigilantes and a masked police force. Laurie decides to go alone with only one other agent, a young man who is invested in the history of masked heroism. She questions Looking Glass, investigates the scene of Judd’s murder, and attends the funeral. But in possibly the best part of the episode, she tells a long, multi-part joke to Doctor Manhattan about superheroes answering to God that acts as a Greek chorus to the episode’s action, as well as being a critique of Nite Owl, Ozymandias, and Doctor Manhattan himself.

This episode is an incredibly deep and layered exploration of Laurie’s psyche, and all the damage that was done to her by the superheroic men in her life. Which is why it’s extra satisfying to see her face off with Angela, who remains extremely unbothered.

 

Here Be a Black Freighter Full of Spoilers

Screenshot: HBO

All the peeling back of the layers of Laurie’s life, the fact that she took the Comedian’s last name, and readily calls him her dad, the fact that she’s carrying a giant blue dildo around, the way she’s willing to shoot masks without hesitation, it’s such a great way to show how much of a mess she is. Winding that amazing joke around everything, her condemnations of her old friends and lovers, her casting of herself as an unexpected hero, it’s all just perfect. And the final few shots of her breaking down in the Booth, as she deals with Jon’s thirty-year absence, and then turning to the younger agent for an easy lay when the prospect of a night in with her, um, memories of Jon becomes too terrible? It’s such an amazing, human sequence in the midst of all the conspiracy and sci-fi touches.

The Chief’s funeral is another nuanced scene. On one level, you have Angela singing a Gene Autry classic, “The Last Roundup,” in her old friend’s honor. She tells the assembled crowd that after the White Night the two of them agreed to prepare eulogies for each other, just in case they were attacked again, and this is heartbreaking. But on another level, we all know that Angela knows that Judd might have secretly been Klan or Seventh Kavalry, or something, and it just makes it all so much more awful. The interruption of the Chief’s funeral feels inevitable, but the way she blows the would-be suicide bomber away at first seems almost heroic, until you realize that A) she’s endangered everyone and B) she probably only shot because the guy looked too much like Rorschach. Once again it’s up to Angela to save everyone, but the way that she dumps the bomber’s wired body into the Chief’s grave, and then tips the casket in on top of him, was just, perfect? Exactly how I want my funeral to be?

How incredible was the standoff between Laurie and Angela? We see Laurie being pretty badass throughout the episode, then she does basically the same power move that worked on Wade, and Angela just mocks her. Of course, Angela also has rather complex feelings toward her old boss at the moment, so I’m guessing Laurie’s investigation is way down her list of concerns.

And finally, OK, so Jeremy Irons is actually Veidt! He wore the costume and everything! And I assume he’s trying to transport Mr. Phillips somewhere at light speed or something, which is why the poor guy froze.

Allusions:

  • Again, I cannot stress this enough: Giant. Blue. Dildo.
  • OK, not to harp on this? But I really admire the show’s commitment to commenting on Jon’s nudity, since people made such a bi deal of it when Snyder’s movie came out.
  • And also? And REALLY not to harp on this? But this episode was such a build on the surprise Full Frontal Doctor Manhattan, between the dildo, Laurie mocking the good Doctor for walking around with his dick hanging out, and the moment when she takes Wade’s Pod Clicker away, until he finally, desperately says, “May I have the control back, please?”
  • People use blue phone booths to leave messages for Jon on Mars? And naturally they look like a cross between a phone booth and a confessional, and you never know whether or not he got your message. It’s kind of an amazing low-key way to show us that Jon is sort of a Science Hero and sort of a God, and that he’s grown to mythological proportions in people’s minds the longer he’s been away.
  • The painting behind Laurie in the hotel room is a Warhol take on her, Jon, Ozymandias, and Nite Owl. In our timeline, Andy Warhol died in 1987, but as that painting would have had to have been done in late 1986 to make sense, maybe he lived longer in the Watchmen timeline?
  • Laurie eats sunflower seeds, in what I’m assuming was a nod to Fox Mulder’s snacking habits in the first few season of The X-Files.
  • Is it Nite Owl who almost squished Laurie with the car? Is he going to come back too?

citation

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