A Trip Down Memory Lane
For the last couple of months, I’ve been working with the guys on creating a top 15 TV disappointments of the year. After the first few episodes of this mini-series, I was ready to throw Watchmen onto this list. As per many TV shows nowadays, the first few episodes aren’t always indicative of the overarching quality of a show and there’s no better feeling than a show defying expectations and rising from the ashes into a majestic phoenix. Plenty of shows have followed this trend and proved me wrong over the years and Watchmen is the next show to do just this.
We begin with a brief introduction to the past, and in particular the creation of Dr. Manhattan. As the camera pans out, we soon see a young Angela buying a video of Sister Night before heading out to the bustling streets beyond where a puppeteer re-enacts the Dr Manhattan incident in Vietnam. After speaking to her parents, a rogue terrorist charges into the fray and blows himself up.
Angela bolts upright in Dr Trieu’s office and begins to undergo treatment. Meanwhile her husband arrives, greeted by a holographic image of a young girl, talking to him about the millennium clock. Meanwhile, Agent Blake receives a call regarding Wade and it turns out the cavalry members have been completely killed. Whatever happened that night, he had their number.
Before we can look into this further however, Blake heads over to the Chief’s house and informs Jane that it was Angela’s grandfather, Will Reeves, who killed her husband. As she mentions Cyclops, Blake deduces that the Chief was part of that cult and it turns out her suspicions are correct too, as she traps Blake in the chair and drops her to the depths of the house. She punches a number into her phone and asks whoever is on the receiving end whether she should kill Blake or not.
Back in the room, Angela is quizzed by the young girl as Will and Angela’s memory continues to blur together. As she jumps back, she identifies the man involved in the bombing. There’s an interesting juxtaposition here too, as a bag is put on the terrorist’s head. As we see flashes of Will as the masked vigilante in the past, it reinforces the racial themes running throughout the episode.
After a bizarre court trial segment involving Ozymandias, Angela wakes up and sits with Trieu, discussing nostalgia and the young girl. It turns out she’s actually Trieu’s mother whose been cloned and fed nostalgia pills. Her experiments all lead to the millennium clock but for now, she refuses to disclose what it actually does. As Angela starts to lose control, she breaks into the locked room from before and finds a large sleeping elephant hooked up to her. As she unplugs the cables, the memories come flooding back in, including one of her grandmother appearing to suffer a heart attack.
Angela awakens again and descends to level 0, where she comes face to face with a large globe. This happens to be hooked up to the Manhattan booths around the globe, which happens to be part of Trieu’s organisation. It turns out the Seventh Cavalry are going to capture Dr. Manhattan and use his power for their own personal gain. Charging away in her car, Angela heads back home and kills her husband with a hammer, reaching into his skull and pulling out the familiar manhattan symbol. As an eerie blue glow descends over her eyes, the episode ends on a big cliffhanger.
I’m a big fan of weird, stylish shows and in that respect, Watchmen reminds me a lot of Legion. Both shows successfully walk that tightrope of trippy, impressive visuals with plot twists and reveals, making for a really memorable watch. These past few episodes have really brought everything together in the best possible way here. The subtle jumps between past and present have been well worked and the way everything is starting to be explained is a very welcome inclusion too. With only a few episodes to go, I can’t wait to see what direction this one goes next.