This week’s Watchmen, “An Almost Religious Awe” answered a couple of, um, GIANT questions! But it also left a few characters in serious trouble.
And it gave us Multiple Misons, huzzah! Join me below for a discussion!
Last Week, On Watchmen:
I honestly don’t know how to talk about “This Extraordinary Being”, last week’s Watchmen episode.
This was the nostalgia episode, the one that Blackwashed history by recasting Hooded Justice’s origin story: instead of a German muscleman, he was a Black cop who took to fighting crime at night when the racist police force turned out to harbor secret Klan members. It was an extraordinary use of racial history. What better reason could a person possibly have to become a masked hero than wanting to fight a lifetime of bigotry? Of course a Black man operating in a racist society would need to don a mask and hood. Of course White America would only accept a Black Savior if he was disguised.
And seeing Hooded Justice’s terrifying executioner’s mask and noose re-framed as the aftermath of a lynching makes the whole costume click into place in a way that it never did before, especially with the added layer that plenty of people assume “it’s a sex thing”thus tying homophobia, kink-shaming, and the fetishization of Black bodies all up into one visceral image.
Has a superhero ever truly been Blackwashed before? I mean in a way that actually takes race and class into account, rather than simply colorblind casting? I’m asking, cause I can’t think of any offhand, but it’s entirely possible there are examples I’ve missed. (I’d love to hear about them if you have any!)
Aside from that, last week’s episode was maybe the best single exploration of trauma I’ve ever seen? The way Will’s memories of the Tulsa Massacre constantly intrude on his current life, the way his memories are a shock of color in a sea of grey and sepia tones, and then the metatext of Angela being the one who’s experiencing all of this, literally living her grandfather’s life in an utterly literal version of the transgenerational trauma that was brought up two weeks ago—it all adds up to an astonishingly thoughtful hour of television. An hour that is trying to make its audience think and feel in a way that most TV is too placid to attempt. This is not a show that simply exists to justify its 30 minutes of advertisements. Watchmen is trying to communicate with its audience—to reassure its Black audience that yes, this history exists, goddammit, whether teachers include in lesson plans or not, whether textbooks talk about it or not, even if it isn’t on the AP test. And to grab its white audience by their metaphorical lapels and yell at them to fucking PAY ATTENTION ALREADY. No, you’re not the hero in this one. Fucking pay attention anyway.
Can I tell you how excited I am that this week we’re heading to Vietnam?
This Week, On Watchmen:
This week continued with Angela’s Nostalgic journey, as we saw some fragments from her own past alongside more moments from Will’s. The episode did indeed dig into the complexities of an annexed Vietnam, and we got a little more information on Lady Trieu’s Enormous Plot as she continued treating Angela for her OD.
Meanwhile Laurie Blake continued her investigation of the Seventh Kavalry in the WORST POSSIBLE WAY.
Here Be A Black Freighter Full of Spoilers:
Oh, gosh, Angela. Her childhood was somehow almost as bad as her grandfather’s? The terrorist attack was staged brilliantly, I thought, and ably showed both the horrors of a subjugated people being forced to celebrate the Blue Demigod who crushed them, and the utter injustice of an innocent child losing their parents in an attack. And then for June, the baby/Superman reference wrapped in the American flag in the first episode, to travel to Vietnam to rescue her orphaned granddaughter, and then dies of a heart attack?
I loved the interplay between her and Trieu, how they seem to be in a contest for who can give the least fucks.
I was also pleased by the revelation that Trieu is mothering her own mother! It’s not an endless line of Trieu clones as I thought, just the one.
Is it too much to ask HBO for an in-character late night talk show spinoff?
And that glorious bomb drop of Doctor Manhattan being alive and well and walking among us, and Angela just leaving like she doesn’t care about that, either, and then rushing home to Cal?
Meanwhile Adrian Veidt has been on trial for a year, and it is NOT going well.
But now to the bit that bugged me:
OK, WHAT THE FUCK, Laurie?
I get it, you’re a mess. But come on. You walk into this woman’s house, tell he you think her deceased husband is a white supremacist, and then just sit there while she point a remote at you and pushes buttons? Even if you don’t know what the gizmo is, you were a superhero, woman! you should know to jump out of the way! But no, now you’re trapped in Joe Keene’s fucking lair, and if Wade of god forbid PETEY has to rescue you I am going to be livid.
(Also Joe Keene saying, “It is extremely difficult to be a white man in America right now” is just, just…I need a damn shower. EW.)
But on a brighter note, my precious bb Wade is alive!!! Maybe.
- Actually seeing the results of the U.S. takeover of Vietnam is fascinating. Burgers’n’Borscht? Seriously?
- But the cops can take someone around the corner and shoot them in Brand New U.S. State Vietnam?
- The throughline of the police badges is gorgeous.
- We now know why Angela chose Sister Night, and just like Laurie predicted, it is rooted directly in her terrible trauma.
- Grandma June saying “You do not wanna fuck with Sister Night” might be my favorite moment since Adrian Veidt’s play.
- The Millennium Clock is almost ready, and as Lady Trieu and Angela discuss it we hear a grandfather clock chiming.
- Lady Trieu is the one who owns all the Manhattan Booths??? And she collects people’s prayers to him???
- Also, a Doctor Who reference?
- Of course Lady Trieu has a platter of squid babies laid out for lunch
- Of course she’s using an elephant in Angela’s treatment, as they never forget, and they’re a symbol of luck in Vietnamese culture.
- Of course Joe Keene wants to monologue at Laurie, and of course she’s bored by it, and then of course he’s able to pull an ace out of his sleeve by hinting at their actual plan, which is…
- A reference to SANDMAN of all things? They’re going to try to trap Doctor Manhattan, just as Roderick Burgess tried to trap Death in Sandman’s first arc? But Burgess ended up with Dream—are they going to get Veidt somehow? Or poor Dan Dreiburg?