Watchmen: If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own

"Well, I'm so glad we got this time to get to know each other better."

The world of Watchmen gets a little bigger. And a little stranger.

We are finally introduced to the mysterious Lady Trieu, who I presume to be our new villain. She is the trillionaire geneticist who bought Adrian Veidt’s company following his disappearance, and she is the mind behind many of the technological wonders we see in this setting.

Watchwomen

The opening scene displays her coldblooded yet eccentric approach to business when she manages to get a childless married couple to part with their rural home in exchange for a baby that Trieu took the liberty of biologically engineering from their DNA.

But this is just one odd move in whatever Lady Trieu’s long game is. And whatever that is involves her Millennium Clock, a massive tower that is surrounded by advanced hovercrafts, houses a vivarium that replicates the jungle environment of Trieu’s native Vietnam, and can apparently withstand earthquakes and “anything short of a direct nuclear blast.” Trieu claims it’s more than a clock, but when Laurie and Angela question its purpose later, Trieu’s daughter cryptically answers that “it tells time.”

I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Anyway, most of this episode involves both Angela Abar and Laurie Blake investigating the theft of Angela’s car after it falls from the sky. Laurie finds out about Will Reeves after she has the car dusted for prints, and we learn from her that Reeves was a New York City police officer in the ’30s and ‘40s before retiring young and going off-grid.

In turn, Angela gets some insight into Laurie’s past, basically receiving a run-down of her story arc in the graphic novel from Agent Petey. While it is just a method of supplying exposition, I do enjoy Agent Petey’s character.

The car investigation brings Angela and Laurie to the Millennium Clock, where she discovers that her grandfather has been taken in secret. In the final scene, we see that Reeves and Lady Trieu have made some sort of deal. They’ve agreed to something that Reeves claims Angela will hate him for. Something that will go down in three days time.

We also discover that Will’s wheelchair was just for show.

The Prisoner

That’s not the only mysterious subplot we are given some clarity for. We finally discover the exact nature of Adrian Veidt’s predicament. Or, more specifically, the nature of his prison.

It is heavily implied that he isn’t even on Earth, but is trapped in some sort of virtual reality, an illusion.

Earlier in the episode I felt there was some hint that Lady Trieu might have had something to do with her predecessor’s disappearance, but now I’m quite certain that Veidt’s current circumstances are thanks to Dr. Manhattan. Perhaps Manhattan thought it was time Ozymandias had a world-class joke played on him.

Maybe this place was originally Manhattan’s attempt at creating life. Maybe this is his Garden of Eden, with Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks serving as his Adam and Eve. If that is the case, maybe Manhattan is even more out of touch with humanity than he had been in the graphic novel.

Previously, I had not been very interested in this subplot, but that’s changed now. Now I’m totally into the idea of the world’s smartest man using every resource at his disposal to escape the new “world” he finds himself trapped in. This involves the use of a trebuchet to launch the murdered copies of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks into the sky, where the corpses appear to vanish from existence.

Phenomenal, indeed.

Doomsday

The clock symbolism is still very much present. As with the graphic novel, there is an escalating sense that everything we are seeing is part of a countdown. Before, it was the Doomsday clock, which the comic kept referring back to. The first-time reader might naturally assume, given the context of the book for the most part, that the clock is counting down to the moment America and Russia wage nuclear war and destroy humanity. Only to be blindsided when the real catastrophe occurred: Ozymandias slaughtering half of New York with a giant, psychic, inter-dimensional squid, uniting humanity against an alien threat that did not exist.

It was a tragic, unsettling twist in which a hero saved the world not by defeating a villain, but by becoming one.

So, given the way this show’s plot has taken its bare-bones cues from the comic so far, I’m guessing we’re likely to see a similar scenario near the end of this season. Which just makes me wonder what the red herring could be this time. Lady Trieu’s Millennium Clock tower seems to be the most obvious, but I suppose it could also be whatever the Seventh Kavalry’s agenda is.

Either way, something devastating is waiting down the road.

Capes and Masks:

* “Time Is On My Side” by Irma Thomas

* During the opening, Lady Trieu witnesses a meteor-like object falling from the sky. She claims that whatever it is belongs to her. I’m guessing this is the drone she used to carry off Angela’s car, destroyed by Dr. Manhattan in the process of bringing the car to Laurie.

* With her asian heritage, her ruthlessness contrasted with inhuman serenity, her level of power and influence, her intelligence and her obsession with time, Lady Trieu already reminds me of Whiterose from Mr. Robot.

* Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass has a fallout shelter designed specifically for the event of another inter-dimensional psychic squid attack. He’s apparently obsessed with studying the “squidfalls” as well. This is another of the show’s ironies. The guy meant to be a dead-ringer for the new Rorschach type character (at least, on the surface) turns out to have completely bought into the charade Rorschach tried to expose.

* When Angela reveals Judd’s hidden KKK outfit to Wade, his speculation was the same as mine. Maybe it belonged to Judd’s grandfather and he just kept it as a reminder.

* Sister Night encounters an unknown new vigilante, dubbed “Lube-Man” by Red Scare. Despite the embarrassing name and costume, this stranger does manage to elude Sister Night by pulling off a pretty slick move. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that Agent Petey is Lube-Man.

* Angela’s husband Cal hates lying. This is displayed earlier in the episode, when their adopted daughters are debating whether or not Judd went to heaven and Cal very casually explains that heaven isn’t real, because he feels that is the truth. I wonder how he reconciles being married to a woman who regularly lies to everyone she knows and doesn’t always give him the full story either.

* Speaking of Cal, Angela mentions that they met in Vietnam and apparently Cal had an "accident" there that Angela doesn't want Agent Blake to find out about.

* The sequence in which we discover where Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks come from is one of the most horrific things I’ve seen in awhile. Veidt fishes their living, breathing fetuses from a lake, callously tossing away the ones he has no use for. Then he puts the fetuses in a machine that (very painfully) ages their bodies to adulthood, upon which they are ready to begin their lives as his blind servants. Veidt is disgusted by their pitiful existence, since he is not their creator.

* The Millennium Clock looks very impressive. Especially in the final scene. Excellent use of CGI.

* I get the feeling Bian isn’t Lady Trieu’s actual daughter. She mimics her mother’s robotic behavior a little too well, and she seems to have nightmares about the Vietnam War, which she wouldn’t be old enough to have experienced but Trieu would. Like the baby Trieu uses as a bargaining chip in the opening, I think her daughter was not born but biologically engineered from her DNA. Maybe, as a result of this, Bian has retained some residual memories from her mom’s past.

* Evidently, Will Reeves is an exception to Lady Trieu's "ladies only" vivarium rule.

* Pretty sure I’ve figured out who Will Reeves is supposed to be, but I’ll hold off on my thoughts until we get a reveal. I’ll just say one clue would be the color of his clothes.

Quotes:

Angela: You know he was a racist?
Wade: He was a white man in Oklahoma.

Wade: You reckon he was Kavalry?
Angela: You reckon he was?
Wade: Looks like we have ourselves a reckoning.

Laurie: I think we’re talking about a thermodynamic miracle.
Sister Night: A what?
Laurie: A thermodynamic miracle. It’s the sciencey version of “it’s all connected, man.” My ex used to talk about them, when he wasn’t distracted by fucking quarks.
Sister Night: He sounds like a lot of fun.

Adrian Veidt: (entering a room full of massacred copies of Phillips and Crookshanks) I apologize for the mess … I had a rough night.

Veidt: So with your help, with your lives, with your broken, mangled bodies, one way or another, I will escape this godforsaken place!
Gotta say, I’m loving Jeremy Irons in this role. No one chews the scenery quite like him.

Lady Trieu: When family’s involved, judgement gets cloudy, feet get cold, deals get broken. You’re not in.
Will Reeves: My feet are just fine.

Aside from a couple of scenes and details, I didn’t feel like very much happened this time around. Three and a half out of five broken eggs.

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