Watchmen: Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

“Alright, dimwits. On with the show.”

You wouldn't think it possible for something that's already so expansive, but the plot does indeed thicken in this episode. And it doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon.

We pick up pretty much where we left off. Angela Abar aka Sister Night is led by Will Reeves to the lynched corpse of her friend and colleague Sheriff Judd Crawford. Reeves claims he lynched Crawford, but he also claims he might be Dr. Manhattan.

For some reason, Angela decides to question Reeves on her own, keep her fellow cops/masked crimefighters in the dark about him, and pretend as if she wasn't the first to find Judd dead. It's later revealed that Will Reeves is her long lost grandfather. Did Angela suspect he was related to her from the beginning? Does she just prefer doing things her own way? Or was she trying to protect this old man from the vengeful, thoughtless police brutality we see later?

The Tulsa Police raid on Nixon-ville was a very interesting scene. It is clearly meant to bring to mind real life events, with the mob-like police, the clubs and the dogs, the tasers and the tear gas, but the contrast was striking. In real life, a basic historical image of the last few generations has been one of liberal activists and hippie types getting ruthlessly dehumanized and assaulted by a wave of callous men in uniform. Here we see an odd mirror image in which the predominately left-leaning police force lead an equally fascistic attack on a trailer park ghetto of poor, disenfranchised racist white people for a crime no one among them likely committed. I don't think I've ever seen this portrayed in such a way. A world in which the people who seem most determined to oppress find themselves unjustly and rather cruelly oppressed.

It's a real look-at-yourself-in-the-mirror scenario. How much sympathy should we conjure for people who are simultaneously victims of an unstable police state and advocates of a lethal white supremacist ideology? Angela seems to embody this grey area. She is reluctant to attend the raid on Nixon-ville because she knows it is wrong, but when one of the residents comes at her and Looking Glass, she beats the man to a bloody pulp.

We barely know her yet, but it's clear that she's got some mixed feelings about... well, the state of her world. She appears to be both understanding of people who are resentful of the "Redfordations" given to people of color, while also holding a deep well of rage for bigots and white supremacists that she unleashes as Sister Night. A rage that is understandably fueled by the White Night, in which she nearly died at the hands of the Seventh Kavalry. It is implied that the shotgun blast she sustained left her unable to bear children, make it all the more meaningful when it's revealed that she adopted her murdered partner's three children.

The White Night is what made Angela a masked vigilante and made her and Judd Crawford as close as family. Crawford seemed to be well-loved by everyone in the Tulsa Police, even more coldblooded figures like Looking Glass and Red Scare. This makes it all the more distressing when Will suggests to Angela that the sheriff had "skeletons in his closet," and she ends up literally finding one: a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe hidden behind a secret door in Crawford's closet. While this has many implications, as Will states, I noticed that it's yet another way in which Crawford's fate mirrors the Comedian while Angela is playing the role of Rorschach.

Once again, this is a shame because even I grew to like Judd. And I still find it hard to believe what the KKK outfit seems to imply, that he was a member of the Kavalry. From what we've seen, Judd was just as if not more determined than Angela to exact revenge on the Kavalry. Was he part of the vast conspiracy going on in Tulsa that Will alludes to? The robe also had an old sheriff's badge pinned on it; maybe it belonged to Judd's dad or grandfather and he just kept it as a reminder. Just hope there's not some twist where it turns out Judd was the one who shot Angela on the White Night; I mean, Judd did claim that she killed the person who shot her when we know that's not true.

Even more odd, when Angela questions Will Reeves about the outfit and his accusations later, he seems oblivious to it and claims he was speaking metaphorically. Upon learning who he is, she decides to finally turn him in. Unfortunately for her, as soon as she has the old man in her car an Unidentified Flying Object suddenly picks up the car and carries Will away, who smiles knowingly. He did say he had friends in high places.

Meanwhile, the reportedly dead Adrian Veidt stages a play, The Watchmaker’s Son. It turns out to just be a very weird retelling of Jon Osterman’s transformation into Dr. Manhattan. Which requires "Mr. Phillips" to die. Oh, and Veidt's servants are all... I don't know. Clones? Artificial people? Also, he seems to be having them repeat the same events each day. Nothing ever ends, indeed.

It's weird, but I like it.

Capes and Masks:

* When the German Commandant in the opening called for Fraulein Mueller, I immediately thought she must be related to Rolf Mueller. Mueller is widely believed to be the true identity of the vanished Minuteman called Hooded Justice, who we see getting a lot of attention on this week's American Hero Story.

* Angela states that Dr. Manhattan can't look like ordinary people, which Reeves disputes. I forget if this was a detail from the book, but I imagine it will be readdressed at some point.

* Something I forgot to mention from the previous episode is that Angela was born in Vietnam, which is one of the United States. For those who don't know, this world's Vietnam War only lasted a few days thanks to Dr. Manhattan.

* Robert Wisdom plays a guy who runs a local newspaper kiosk in Tulsa.

* A detail I picked up on a rewatch was Sister Night seeing an attacker coming thanks to Looking Glass's mask.

* One of the signs held by the Redfordations protesters outside the Greenwood Center For Cultural Heritage read: "You Got a Sorry, Now You Want a Handout?" That is so perfect, because it's exactly how people like that would react to something like Redfordations even in our world. In the words of Javier Bardem in Collateral, "Sorry" does not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

* If I ever do meet Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I am gonna call him "Skip."

* Jim Beaver shows up as, I assume, the biological grandfather of Angela's adopted children. Though he is rightfully upset that his day with the kids was taken, he's also among those who are disgusted with Redfordations and its recipients. He and Angela do not get along.

* We briefly see the Seventh Kavalry strapping a vest rigged with explosives to one of their members, so I guess we have suicide bombings to look forward to.

* Not sure why Veidt had his servants wear hoods during the play other than it being a surprise to the audience that they’re all copies of “Mr. Phillips” and “Ms. Crookshanks.”

* "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" by The Temptations.

Quotes:

German Commandant: But I ask you, boys, what is democracy?

Looking Glass: He was alive the whole time... Until he wasn’t.

Looking Glass: Sounds like quite a party.
Sister Night: My kids were there.
Looking Glass: Your kids.
Sister Night: Fuck you, you shiny fuck. What, are you interrogating me now?
Looking Glass: Why would I interrogate you?
Sister Night: Because you’re a cold motherfucker, Glass.
Looking Glass: Then why am I crying under here?

Mothman: The public has a right to see what’s happening here, you fucking Nazi!
Red Scare: I’m not a Nazi! I’m a communist!

Sister Night: Wait! We should… just stop and take a breath.
Red Scare: You don’t want to beat shit out of these fucks? You? She loves beating the shit out of these fucks.
Looking Glass: That much is indisputable.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: On behalf of the entire United States government, President Redford offers his sincerest condolences for the trauma you or your family may have suffered.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Our country appreciates the opportunity to right the wrongs of a dark past, so that we may all share a bright future. God bless America.

Hooded Justice: Who am I? When I was little, every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a stranger staring back at me. And he was very, very angry. What could I do with all his anger, hot, vibrating electricity with no place to ground it? If he couldn't release his rage, maybe I could help him to hide it. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. So I made a new one. And, when I slipped it on, he and I became one. His anger became mine, as did his thirst for justice. So… who am I? If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be wearing a fuckin’ mask.

Ms. Crookshanks: Has it stopped, master?
Adrian Veidt: No, Ms. Crookshanks. It's only just begun.

The more I see, the more I like. And the more I'm baffled. Four out of five UFOs.

1 comment:

Henrik Bennetter said...

Really liked this, and great review as well!

I'm seeing a lot of parallells to the source material. The painted silhouette of a man and a woman embracing, how Looking Glass's mask is referred to as his "face" in the previous episode and how he lifts up part of this face to eat something - also the way he speaks - is all very Rorschach to me.

Also, wow, what a sound-track! So quirky, off, weird. I'm loving this - which is such a wonderful surprise since I was so initially VERY sceptic of it due to my love for the novel.

This is really expanding and continuing on the building blocks.