After four weeks of questions, Watchmen finally delivers some answers in an episode that mixes slick editing and scene composition with a solid hour of drama. With more knowledge around the giant squid attack and a little more development for the Cavalry, Watchmen finally appears to be moving in the right direction.
We begin in 1985 with a preacher discussing the doomsday clock. After being tricked and seduced by a girl outside, leaving him naked in the funhouse, an explosion sees the glass shatter and the prophecy seemingly fulfilled. As the young boy heads outside and we pan out across New York, we see a giant squid on the roof of a skyscraper and millions lying dead on the floor.
We then cut forward in time to see Wade deliver the tough news to executives that no one wants to relocate to New York as they’re scared. Back at the station, Agent Blake takes charge of the police operation and tasks the officers to search through churches to find the cavalry. After her briefing, she invites Looking Glass (or Mirror Guy as she affectionately refers to him) into her office to discuss New York, and more specifically his conversation with Angela around pills. He remains tight-lipped though, silent in the wake of Blake informing him she’s bugged the cactus on his desk. As he returns home, we see Wade’s paranoia firsthand and the after-effects of the squid attack as he shuts off an alarm in a bomb-shelter. It’s here we finally understand why he spent so much time there when Angela visited before-hand.
The next day, Wade visits Cynthia at work and she offers him her pills. They’re called Nostalgia and apparently they offer up memories. It turns out that young preacher from the start of the episode is actually Wade. He leads a therapy session, where he meets a woman and the two connect right away. After talking and flirting, she leaves the scene but when a lettuce rolls off the truck, Wade realizes she may link back to the Cavalry and follows in close pursuit, where she leads him to an abandoned church. Wade heads inside and finds out this was all an elaborate set-up to get him to come in so the Cavalry could show him the truth.
Forcing him into a chair, it’s here we learn the Senator is actually a Cavalry member too. He tells him about Judd being part of their operation and goes on to show him a video in return for Wade co-operating with their mission to stop Angela and find out who killed Judd. On the video is Ozymandias and it turns out he was the one behind the squid attack; a ploy to keep the people in check and prevent war with Russia by spreading fear.
Meanwhile, Ozymandias uses his trebuchet to launch himself into the cosmos where it appears he’s trapped in a prison on one of the moons near Jupiter. Using the frozen corpses of the other clones he propelled in previous episodes, he spells out “Save Me” on the ground before the warden yanks his cable back into the prison again. As he looks down on him, the warden places him under arrest.
Back at the station, Wade rats out Angela and heads home after she’s arrested. However, Angela swallows all the nostalgia pills on her way out, hiding the evidence. As Wade settles in for the night, unbeknownst to him the Cavalry aren’t far behind and they follow him into the house with cocked guns.
With more knowledge around the giant squid origins and a consistent sense of storytelling thanks to the focus turned to Wade, Watchmen finally offers up some answers to the big questions around the series. While I still think the show has a long way to go to pick up the pieces from a few lackadaiscal episodes, this is certainly a step in the right direction. There are, of course, numerous questions still left unanswered here but Watchmen does well to keep the mystery elements high while answering some of the crucial questions this week.
The scene composition, especially late on with the bugged cactus on Wade’s desk, is well-worked throughout the episode and props to the editing team too, some of the cuts are beautifully done; smoothly transitioning from one scene or time period to the next. Changing the focal character to Wade is a smart choice here too and seeing his troubled past certainly helps add some depth to his character. Having said that, Agent Blake is still the stand-out character of the show and her charisma is the perfect juxtaposition in this bleak, grimy world.
Quite what next week holds in store for us remains to be seen but if this episode is any indication, Watchmen may finally be delivering the goods after a slow-burn opening.