Watchmen: If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own   Books Included 
November 10, 2019 8:42 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Reclusive trillionaire Lady Trieu finally enters the stage with a mysterious offer; With Blake getting closer to the truth of her coverup, Angela enlists Looking Glass for help; The Lord trains two new servants.
posted by DirtyOldTown (129 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was the first episode that didn't require repeated pauses for explanation for my spouse, who has not read the comic.

If you are plowing through without the books, this may be the tipping point where you no longer have to scramble to catch up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:43 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


So if I understand the opening scene correctly, did we see Lady Trieu (at some unspecified point in the past that may or may not be concurrent with the show's immediate timeline) basically buy out Ma and Pa Kent with the exact baby they've always wanted, mere seconds before a strange visitor from another world landed in their backyard? After Will's narrow escape from Tulsa, this makes the second time the show has implicitly alluded to the Superman origin story. Given that Will and Lady Trieu are in apparent cahoots on whatever the clock is supposed to be, this has to mean something.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:01 PM on November 10 [7 favorites]


Just wanted to note that at the beginning "Ma Kent" is shown reading Fogdancing, a novel written by Max Shea, author of the Tales of the Black Freighter comic.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:09 PM on November 10 [9 favorites]


Did anyone else think that the slippery guy may have been Petey? Someone who is so anti-mask, and studies them professionally, secretly being a mask would fit in with the pseudo-sexual nature to masking that was a subtext in the original book.
posted by codacorolla at 9:10 PM on November 10 [8 favorites]


I don’t think it’s Petey since he probably wouldn’t know the sewers well not being a local. Maybe Angela’s kid?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:47 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Angela's kids are all way too short, plus I think she would recognize them.

The blue butterfly in Trieu's complex reminded me strongly of the scenes towards the end of the book showing the fate of Veidt's doomed Vietnamese servants (I could have sworn all the butterflies in Karnak were blue, but on looking again it appears they were not).
posted by whir at 9:54 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Comrade Doll is convinced the pullback from the telescope view to a white circle in a field of black means Veidt is on the moon. She also noticed the very next scene at the Abar house showed a painting with circles reminiscent of the phases of the moon.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:02 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


The first Veidt scene was introduced by a match cut between a field of stars (background of a shot in Tulsa) and the sheen on a body of water. So we've been told Veidt is in space repeatedly.
posted by kandinski at 10:17 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Peteypedia #4 brings us, yes, a blueprint for the vibrator, made by Merlincorp in 1995, and a transcript of an FBI interrogation of Laurie, also in 1995, in which she explains to the Feebees that Merlincorp is A) Dan’s company B) the designer and supplier of owlships for military and police application.

The context of the interview provides an explanation for Laurie’s evident displeasure at being sent to Oklahoma, an explanation which I will leave for your own reading.
posted by mwhybark at 11:32 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


So, after watching tonight's episode, I've come to the following points in theorizing:

1. Veidt is somehow literally in that statue; it is old because he is old, because it's linked into wherever he's been trapped. (Also, wow, I joked to a friend about them going there with the servants and then they did. Nice to see he's still missing the obvious...)

2. Time travel is a gonna be a thing.

3. Whatever Lady Trieu is up to either has something to do with whatever the hell Dr. Manhattan is doing - possibly an attempt to capture or exploit him - or the Doc is a big blue herring who is never going to appear in person.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:34 AM on November 11


1. Veidt is somehow literally in that statue

This, but in the very most literal sense of 'the statue is his gold-plated corpse'.
posted by Pyry at 3:22 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Well, Peteypedia explains the owlships and the "fucking Oklahoma" for sure.
posted by kandinski at 3:39 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


hi, she-capitalist,

> (Also, wow, I joked to a friend about them going there with the servants and then they did. Nice to see he's still missing the obvious...)

What do you mean by "the obvious"?
posted by kandinski at 3:41 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I'm a little concerned that it's the forth out of nine episodes and they're still introducing big plot points. In the podcast, Lindelof promised that he'd wrap everything up and not leave things dangling for a second season but we'll see.
posted by octothorpe at 4:59 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


I like the idea that the statue is literally Veidt. What if it's how he escaped the Moon? He gets some sort of metal (it looks gold, but could be some fantastical alloy) covering, and then shoots himself out of orbit in his catapult. He may have worked with Trieu to orchestrate some sort of reversal process. He's been hiding in plain sight the entire time. Or he might just be really dead.
posted by codacorolla at 6:43 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


In the podcast, Lindelof promised that he'd wrap everything up

Is that what he told you? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Lindelof.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:03 AM on November 11 [10 favorites]


That said, I am enjoying this so far, and am especially pleased at how we are seeing a lot of balls being tossed into the air. I just have a paralyzingly suspicion that episode 9 ends with balls bouncing off of Lindelof’s pate and rolling under the furniture. He will catch two of them and shout “Ta-daaaa!”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:06 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


Peteypedia #4 brings us, yes, a blueprint for the vibrator, made by Merlincorp in 1995...

"recharge nightly" lol
posted by jquinby at 7:16 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


I'm enjoying it still, but very very wary of the creators being able to wrap this up.

That said, the coolest thing of this show is Looking Glass's mask. The character feels like it deserves its own episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


And I am struggling to recollect if I have seen anything else as weird on TV as the fetus pond.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:29 AM on November 11 [9 favorites]


There are a lot of terrariums in this show. If it turns out this Tulsa-based world is some weird Dr Manhattan pocket reality, I'm gonna be pissed.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:37 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


And I am struggling to recollect if I have seen anything else as weird on TV as the fetus pond.

Did you see the 8th episode of Twin Peaks: The Return? That's pretty much the gold standard for Prestige Weird TV right now for a lot of people. To be honest, I think Watchmen might even slightly edge out Twin Peaks in terms of overall quality, but nothing we've seen here so far outdoes the shock of that episode.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:38 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


This show is fucking weird.

And, yes, I am adequately self-aware enough to recognize the hypocrisy of that remark.
posted by Justinian at 7:40 AM on November 11 [10 favorites]


Also, the family who owned the house is the Clark family, not Kent.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:40 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


Also, Petey's "that show is garbage" had me loling.
posted by Justinian at 7:40 AM on November 11 [7 favorites]


2. Time travel is a gonna be a thing

We already know causality violation of some kind is going on because messages from the blue phone can get to Mars faster than light (40 seconds per the last episode).

On second thought, as I typed that, it occured to me I was assuming the message was recorded and then sent instead of being streamed the whole time. I bet if we assume streaming transmission the math will work out. If I can figure out the date of the call, I might spend some of my procrastination today on this.
posted by thedward at 7:54 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I just have a paralyzingly suspicion that episode 9 ends with balls bouncing off of Lindelof’s pate and rolling under the furniture.

I don't necessarily wish to relitigate the final seasons of LOST, but I do think that the dominant cultural narrative about how it didn't properly wrap up its own mysteries is fairly overblown. In any case, I think Lindelof and his cowriters (many of whom also worked on The Leftovers) are all smart enough to be able to plot out a nine-episode limited series without leaving anything important dangling.

Also, the family who owned the house is the Clark family, not Kent.

My reference to "Ma and Pa Kent" above was purely in reference to how the show is using them as an archetype. I didn't catch the name on my first viewing, but I LOLed when I read a recap that properly identified them as the Clarks. It's just too perfect.

Also, Petey's "that show is garbage" had me loling.

It's literally how I respond to probably half of the TV shows and movies ostensibly pitched to my interests as a sci-fi and comics fan these days, and I felt very seen by the writers in that moment.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:06 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


My reference to "Ma and Pa Kent" above was purely in reference to how the show is using them as an archetype.

Fair enough. It's pretty clear what comic book trope they're hammering, there. When I watched it, I had a moment of "wait, did they say Kent?? Wait, no Clark, okay, serial numbers properly filed off..."
posted by rmd1023 at 8:35 AM on November 11


It's a DC show, they could use Superman if they wanted to.
posted by octothorpe at 8:41 AM on November 11


I don't necessarily wish to relitigate the final seasons of LOST, but I do think that the dominant cultural narrative about how it didn't properly wrap up its own mysteries is fairly overblown.

IMO, the important aspect to this is that many people weren't satisfied with how things were wrapped and that's the really key thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:48 AM on November 11


Fair enough. It's pretty clear what comic book trope they're hammering, there.

Also, Will's last name is Reeves (George Reeves and Christopher Reeve both famously played Superman).
posted by Rock Steady at 9:22 AM on November 11 [10 favorites]


Every time that Sister Night music starts I get excited then I remember she's the secret police and I don't know how to feel.
posted by yonega at 9:25 AM on November 11 [13 favorites]


we've been told Veidt is in space repeatedly.

We totally agree on that.

We also agree "the moon" is a more specific guess than "in space," right?

Cool, cool, cool.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:59 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


They could use Superman, but I think taking it with the serial numbers filed off goes with the "old things we have the rights to, completely reskinned" tradition of the original comic book - many/most of the Watchmen characters were from a smaller company DC had bought.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:04 AM on November 11


> rmd1023: many/most of the Watchmen characters were from a smaller company DC had bought

Sort of. They were supposed to be the Charlton Action Heroes, but since DC editor Dick Giordano realized that Moore's treatment of them would leave them unsuitable for future DC use, he convinced Moore to use newly created heroes instead. He basically did the "filed off serial numbers" thing with the Charlton heroes, frankly: Blue Beetle became Nite Owl, The Question became Rorschach, Captain Atom became Dr. Manhattan, etc.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:18 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


If this sidebar about Superman has anyone craving a Watchmen style dismantling of the Superman mythos, I have good news for you: Alan Moore himself pretty much already did this in his run on Supreme, which is collected in two volumes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:23 AM on November 11 [6 favorites]


When Veidt launched the corpses, at a certain height they both disappeared suddenly instead of continuing to get smaller. It's either super-lazy FX work or Veidt is in a shallow bubble of atmosphere somewhere in space. This would also explain how he could get a clone into deep space with just a catapult and a length of rope.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:59 AM on November 11 [3 favorites]


> What do you mean by "the obvious"?

Nothing interesting about where he is or how to get out. But if I wanted to make a Hell for Veidt, those servants would be a master's touch. He's being trolled; he could choose to change, to allow himself to become a different person, someone who can have compassion for these creatures and see that they are beings, not servants.

But then he wouldn't be Adrian Veidt, Smartest Man Alive, and if he's not that, then who is he?

So. A prison from which he can never escape, or if he does, escapes broken and mad(der than usual) from the trying. Well done that captor.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 11:10 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


When Veidt launched the corpses, at a certain height they both disappeared suddenly instead of continuing to get smaller. It's either super-lazy FX work or Veidt is in a shallow bubble of atmosphere somewhere in space. This would also explain how he could get a clone into deep space with just a catapult and a length of rope.

The effects work has been very good so I assume it's intentional.
posted by octothorpe at 11:26 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


Considering we were shown the vanishment effect something like three times in a row, I think they really wanted us to notice it and wonder.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 11:31 AM on November 11 [9 favorites]


Definitely intentional and I suspect he was doing rough calculations for the distance of the atmosphere bubble with the repeated launchings, otherwise why not just leave them in the basement (mentioned previous episode after the burned clone)?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:41 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Cal's accident was.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:46 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I have to assume that using that whatever-it-was Beethoven was an intentional callback to the end of Zardoz.

Zardoz references. Not something you see everyday.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:01 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Two lingering questions from this episode:
  1. What landed on the Clark's land just after Lady Trieu acquired it? Could it somehow be Veidt himself? We're not exactly sure when the scenes of him attempting to escape his prison are occurring, so it seems chronologically possible.
  2. Why is Lady Trieu's daughter hooked up to an IV while sleeping? Something gives me the sense that she's actually older than she appears, and perhaps it has something to do with that.
Other theories?
posted by Cogito at 1:17 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Why is Lady Trieu's daughter hooked up to an IV while sleeping?

I think the idea is that it's a drug that lets you experience other people's memories, and that Will's pills are likewise meant to let Angela experience his memories.
posted by Pyry at 1:47 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


While watching I've been trying to keep an eye out for possible "I did 35 minutes ago" rugpulls hidden in plain sight, like when Ozymandias pushes the button then almost looks out of the panel at you. Didn't expect Lady Trieu to pull a baby one on her first appearance!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 1:50 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Given the clock/tic-tock stuff, I'm guessing that Trieu can see into the future and already knew about the crash landing before it happened and wanted the farm before it did?
posted by octothorpe at 1:50 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


I think the idea is that it's a drug that lets you experience other people's memories, and that Will's pills are likewise meant to let Angela experience his memories.
Oh! That sounds like an excellent theory.
posted by Cogito at 1:51 PM on November 11


I'm guessing that Trieu can see into the future and already knew about the crash landing before it happened and wanted the farm before it did?
Or, given her immense wealth, she likely has access to satellite data which would track an inbound object. Something like that coming from the moon would likely give several days of lead time.
posted by Cogito at 1:55 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


Or, given her immense wealth, she likely has access to satellite data which would track an inbound object. Something like that coming from the moon would likely give several days of lead time.

I like this theory generally, but she also needed enough lead time to grow a baby.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 2:21 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


but she also needed enough lead time to grow a baby.

Veidt can grow a baby to an adult in less time than it takes to microwave a hot pocket tho
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:26 PM on November 11 [21 favorites]


I think the idea is that it's a drug that lets you experience other people's memories, and that Will's pills are likewise meant to let Angela experience his memories.

That is a really fun and out there theory. My feeling, which was way more mundane, was that they might be a specialized prescription that would mark him as Hooded Justice in some way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:27 PM on November 11


Excellent point.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 2:27 PM on November 11


The water-baby clones are something else - they grasp language within hours, plus literacy, typing, complex schematics, and baking in under a year. Does Veidt keep killing them so that they won't catch up?

Also, there appear to be two strategies in play for surviving an extinction event. Lady Trieu's preservation of home and history, and a (defunct?) 'tabula rasa' plan using the quick-grow babies. Not sure where that's going, or how it goes into Tulsa, though!
posted by mersen at 2:41 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


That is a really fun and out there theory.

Well the show gives a lot of clues, like how when Angela asks what the pills are for, Will says the pills "help me get my memory".
posted by Pyry at 3:17 PM on November 11 [4 favorites]


I liked that the clone development centrifuge fit the overall episode theme of eggs, since it was shaped like one, and is essentially an incubator.
posted by codacorolla at 3:52 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Trieu’s “daughter” has a real clone vibe, being fed Trieu’s memories, particularly her memories of the war in Vietnam. I think.

And let me just say, I love Laurie so much. And I love that Angela might be coming around to seeing her as an ally.
posted by artlung at 4:23 PM on November 11 [8 favorites]


As for fuckng around with time, there was a miniature shift at the beginning when Night leaves the Institute and sees the car fall out of the sky next to Laurie, the scene that ended Ep. 3.

And it’s her car, so WTF.

Quote of the episode: “the science-y version of ‘It’s all connected, man”
posted by chavenet at 4:41 PM on November 11


I have to assume that using that whatever-it-was Beethoven...

Second movement of the 7th Symphony

.... was an intentional callback to the end of Zardoz.

Well, that seems plausible, but it has been used in a lot of films.
posted by thelonius at 4:45 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Also, was I the only person who found Veidt's tossing of the infants back into the lake deeply disturbing? I'm not sure if that was more to show the audience that these are more flesh robot commodities than real people or to further underscore what a monster Veidt is.
posted by Cogito at 4:45 PM on November 11 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure it's the second. He's been torturing the clones all season, whatever humanity he might have once had is long gone.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


The crash site behind the Clark's barn seems to be shown to be where the blue phone is later located, so I think Trieu was tracking whatever Dr Manhatten sent back to earth to set those up, and buying them up for rent-seeking purposes.

(Oddly, the pan over from the barn to the blue phone does not show any kind of impact crater.)
posted by joeyh at 5:10 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


 > The crash site behind the Clark's barn seems to be shown to be where the blue phone is later located, so I think Trieu was tracking whatever Dr Manhatten sent back to earth to set those up, and buying them up for rent-seeking purposes.

The Clark woman says that Trieu has been building the clock for a year. How long did construction start in the main series timeline? It seems to me that the transition between the Clark property and Tulsa city center is not meant to say "this is the same place", but maybe "this is happening at the same time".
posted by kandinski at 5:24 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Also, was I the only person who found Veidt's tossing of the infants back into the lake deeply disturbing?

Gave me a queasy vibe Megadeth were kinda going for with the Youthanasia album artwork (safe click, but first note below).

The auto-generated(?) alt text for that cover image is doing it too, for different reasons. So detached/dispassionate/impersonal:
"More than 33 babies are hanging from a clothesline that spans a vegetative area"
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:27 PM on November 11


I read the A.V. Club review before coming here, and it’s weird that no one there or here has mentioned what now seems kind of obvious: Lady Trieu is Veidt’s captor. Though this episode seems to be trying to make it so obvious that it could also be a red herring.

1. Lady Trieu is introduced presenting a couple with a miracle baby. Veidt’s servants start out as miracle babies. (And the fast-aging technology means that Lady Trieu could have made the Clarks’ baby in an afternoon.)

2. Lady Trieu was able to purchase Veidt’s company and advance her mysterious goals thanks to his convenient disappearance.

3. But she respects, honors, and admires Veidt, which is why she put him in a “paradise” instead of just killing him.

(But I agree that Veidt is in a terrarium on the moon.)

The A.V. Club has an interesting theory that the Millennium Clock is a weapon to kill Dr. Manhattan, with Lady Trieu wanting to take revenge for the destruction he wreaked upon Vietnam during the war. Sounds like a sound theory to me!

I wonder if Lady Trieu is somehow related or connected to the Vietnamese woman the Comedian impregnated and killed during the war. (I hope not, but this show has been defy enough that they could probably make it work.)
posted by ejs at 7:28 PM on November 11 [10 favorites]


it’s weird that no one there or here has mentioned what now seems kind of obvious: Lady Trieu is Veidt’s captor.

Fair point and cheers for the link. Thought it'd been advanced here as a theory tbh. My mistake, as I've jumped between here, Den Of Geek and r/watchmen, the latter of which (by my reading) leans towards the fact that Veidt's story is backstory (now explicit) plus he's been Goldfingered into that statue by Lady Trieu. Also that Petey is Lube Man* because skinny.

Separately, lots of people online seem to link Lady Trieu back to the Comedian pregnancy scene, but didn't Ozymandias acquire professionals from around the globe before killing them all in the comic? Isn't being the daughter of one of those victims at least an equally good motive to supplant him?

*just offering up Der Lubernaut because terrible superhero names are fun
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:05 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


didn't Ozymandias acquire professionals from around the globe before killing them all in the comic? Isn't being the daughter of one of those victims at least an equally good motive to supplant him?

Yeah, Veidt has a couple of Vietnamese assistants/consiglieres/confidants that he poisons in his own vivarium the night of the squid drop, the last two murders required to keep his plan completely secret. I considered Lady Trieu might be related to one of them, and there’s no reason yet that that’s not the case, but the Comedian pregnancy angle would make her a blood relative of Agent Blake, and you know how Lindelof loves going down that road.

But of course, the show making me think this may be the case could well be evidence that this is not the case.
posted by ejs at 8:24 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


squid drop

You are killing me!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:46 PM on November 11


Oh shit!

Dr Manhattan could only access/conceive/experience events within his own timeline, yes? Like Sam from Quantum Leap. But take an incredibly old man like Will Reeves then chuck him in an intrinsic field generator ('50s/'60s tech? Even the Russians can attempt them now per newspaper headlines) and if you have influence over that person you have full proxy access to everything that happened over his same time period. You can reach back further than Dr Manhattan ever could, maybe get ahead of him!

A bit of quantum observation handwaving plotwise and perhaps you could even alter/enforce historical events.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:17 PM on November 11 [7 favorites]


(“Squid drop” is a term I’ve read in reviews, I do not take credit for it!)
posted by ejs at 9:27 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


One little detail I found interesting was that Cal and Angela are apparently atheists (or Cal, at the very least, doesn't believe in an afterlife), and how the show didn't dwell on it. I think it's especially interesting because offhand I can't think of another example of a show where atheist beliefs are presented to children in a neutral way. Is this meant to indicate that in the alternate timeline of the show, the USA is significantly more nonreligious than in the real world?
posted by Pyry at 9:55 PM on November 11 [6 favorites]


Calvin’s lowkey “heaven is fake, who wants waffles” felt like an escapee from some alternate universe’s canon of TV dads, in the best way. There was a lot of really solid stuff this week, but that made me smile.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:57 PM on November 11 [7 favorites]


it's funny that they're atheists but Angela dresses up like a nun
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:31 PM on November 11 [9 favorites]


There's a bunch of costume clues that Will Reeves is Hooded Justice, from the color schemes of his outfits to the fact that Will wears a hoodie when he's in a wheelchair, to the fact that the movie in the series opening has Bass Reeves wearing a hood
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:44 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


WRT Lady Trieu’s daughter getting memories from the IV, it would make sense of her dream being so familiar to Lady Trieu.

I haven’t read the comics and did the show only thread for the first few episodes but feel I have enough context for these threads not to be spoilery, I love this bonkers show so much!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:08 PM on November 11


Me, just now: “If Will’s last name is a deliberate callback, I wonder if Angela’s is, too?”

does a googles

does a spit take

Uh, yeah, I guess it is?
posted by FallibleHuman at 12:16 AM on November 12 [20 favorites]


Is this meant to indicate that in the alternate timeline of the show, the USA is significantly more nonreligious than in the real world?

God exists and he's American. I suspect faith becomes less of a requirement when you can go back and watch the newsreels anytime.
posted by Molesome at 12:18 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Wait, and if “Abar” is actually Cal’s last name, and we’re in a world that has cloning, that raises some really disturbing possibilities.
posted by FallibleHuman at 12:28 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


re babies back into lake

yes, it was disturbing, but, uh, apparently that is where they grow, since he had the entire lake covered with trap floats and was unloading them from a lobster trap. Let’s hope they never show us what he uses for bait
posted by mwhybark at 1:12 AM on November 12


Is this meant to indicate that in the alternate timeline of the show, the USA is significantly more nonreligious than in the real world?

I think it's meant to demonstrate how much Cal hates lying. Usually even if the parents are atheists they (at least on tv) will sugarcoat the "he's nowhere!" truth drop. But here, Cal gives it to them straight. Thus it also serves to show how much he loves Angela in so far as he's willing to straight-up commit a federal crime by lying to Laurie for her.

It sure seemed like Ozy was BigBlue's prisoner before this episode but, yeah, pretty strong circumstantial evidence that it's Trieu instead. The only thing that maybe has to be explained in that case is why Dr. Manhattan is building identical castles on Mars to the one in which Ozy is prisoner (as he was shown doing in the news reports in the first episode.)
posted by Justinian at 2:14 AM on November 12 [2 favorites]


For another twist on Superman's arrival on Earth, see Brightburn.

Also, am I dreaming this, or did we hear in this episode that "Pa Kent's" first name is Jon? As in Jonathan Kent, Superman's adoptive father (and Jonathan Osterman, Dr Manhattan's human name in the comics). Anyone catch "Ma Kent's" first name? It wasn't Martha by any chance, was it?

Also, "Cal" makes me think of Kal-El, which was Superman's Kryptonian name, of course. My guess is that one's just pure coincidence.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:39 AM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Me, just now: “If Will’s last name is a deliberate callback, I wonder if Angela’s is, too?”

does a googles

does a spit take

Uh, yeah, I guess it is?
Holy crap. Good find.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:20 AM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Some timeline things I'm unclear on. In what order do we think/know the following things happen?

1. All the Adrian Veidt scenes we've seen thus far
2. Lady Trieu buys the Clark House and sees something crash
3. Lady Trieu buys Veidt Enterprises
4. Construction of the Millennium Clock begins

I think they happen in the order listed, but I'm not sure.

Also, how long ago (in comparison to, say, Judd's hanging) did the White Night occur? Six months? Two years? Ten years?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:58 AM on November 12


4 comes before 2 - the Clarks say she’s building the clock down the road.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:49 AM on November 12 [2 favorites]


36 hours later and 85 or so comments; this show seems popular here! I'm still all-in. This episode is the first one that felt merely very good to me rather than mind-blowing OMG this is reinventing comics TV. But still very good! And I appreciate all the discussion here teasing apart the details and grace notes, I think I missed a lot of them.

Pulling in Superman seems like a really weird direction to go in. I'm gonna go with the idea that the showrunners are just being cute and enjoying making a lot of Superman references but we're not going to get an actual superpower baby from another planet. Part of what makes Watchmen Watchmen is there aren't any real superpowers in the universe other than Dr. Manhattan and some occasional hand-wavy science tricks for squid drops and the like.

For anyone else as slow as me; FallibleHuman identified that Angela's last name "Abar" is also the name of a 1970s movie Abar, the First Black Superman. I haven't seen the movie, but reading about it I can't even tell if DC Comics authorized the name. It's a blaxpoloitation film and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Superman story other than him having super powers. (The review I linked suggests he's more like Dr. Manhattan!) Still there's no way the name is a coincidence.

Isn't Cal the perfect husband? He's hot as hell, he's good with his adopted children, he loves his wife and cooks for her and takes care of her. He doesn't ask questions when given a gun and told to defend the house and looks like he can handle a pistol competently. He even manages to understand when his wife wants to pick a fight and somehow defuse it with just the right amount of humor. Did I mention he's hot as hell? Everyone should have a husband like Cal. I love how Laurie has been so wry about him in the previous episodes.
posted by Nelson at 7:09 AM on November 12 [9 favorites]


> rmd1023: 4 comes before 2 - the Clarks say she’s building the clock down the road.

Right, OK that's interesting. I was thinking maybe that the impact was the genesis of her interest in this area, but it couldn't be. Maybe whatever crashed on the Clark farm was being aimed at (or attracted by) the clock?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:24 AM on November 12


> Nelson: Pulling in Superman seems like a really weird direction to go in. I'm gonna go with the idea that the showrunners are just being cute and enjoying making a lot of Superman references but we're not going to get an actual superpower baby from another planet. Part of what makes Watchmen Watchmen is there aren't any real superpowers in the universe other than Dr. Manhattan and some occasional hand-wavy science tricks for squid drops and the like.

Yeah, I think that whatever crashed to earth is Manhattan-adjacent and the references are - at most - designed to set up a mental compare-and-contrast exercise between Dr. M and Supes.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:28 AM on November 12 [4 favorites]


While we're talking about names... Wikipedia on Lady Triệu.

"Our [Vietnamese] history recorded that lady Trieu was a people of Nông Cống district. Her parents were dead all when she was a child, she lived with her older brother Trieu Quoc Dat. At the age of 20, while she was living with her sister-in-law who was a cruel woman, she [Trieu Thi Trinh] killed her [sister-in-law] and went to the mountain. She was a strong, brave and smart person. On the mountain, she gathered a band of 1.000 followers. Her brother tried to persuade her from rebelling, she told him:

"I only want to ride the wind and walk the waves, slay the big whales of the Eastern sea, clean up frontiers, and save the people from drowning. Why should I imitate others, bow my head, stoop over and be a slave? Why resign myself to menial housework?""
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:40 AM on November 12 [12 favorites]


a 1970s movie Abar, the First Black Superman. I haven't seen the movie, but reading about it I can't even tell if DC Comics authorized the name. It's a blaxpoloitation film and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Superman story other than him having super powers.

I sense that they're referring to "superman" in the generic Nietzschean sense, but definitely capitalizing on the popularity of DC's superhero of the same name while also being legally distinct from it. Abar was filmed in 1975 and released in 1977, a year before the first Christopher Reeve Superman film, so I see this as being a complementary thread in the 20th century superhero mythos.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:49 AM on November 12 [3 favorites]


The cinematographer of Abar, Ronald Víctor García, later went on to film the pilot of Twin Peaks. It’s all connected, man!
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 AM on November 12 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I think that whatever crashed to earth is Manhattan-adjacent and the references are - at most - designed to set up a mental compare-and-contrast exercise between Dr. M and Supes.

This seems overwhelmingly likely to be the situation. Lindelof and his team would definitely use echoes of Superman's origin for texture/resonance, but putting him into the show would unbalance it almost immediately.

I mean, if you put Beyonce on a track, it is now a Beyonce song. That's how mega star power works. They wouldn't let this get derailed into being a Superman show.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:16 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


I did find myself wondering if the thing that landed on the farm was (badly) aimed at the clock. If so, I expect it's not from Dr Manhattan, since I'd expect better aiming accuracy from him.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:46 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


The White Night was in 2016. In-show, as in life, it is November, 2019.
posted by mwhybark at 9:37 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


couple more notes on Adrian’s fishing expedition.

in the scene, he first pulls a waterbaby out of the trap and flings it back after a glance. We cut in more closely as the next waterbaby is held by the lamp for examination before being tossed aside as well. In the very short moment that the (creepy, cgi) baby is clearly visible, it coughs up or spits out some water, and, if you pause the scene, it is absolutely clear that the baby’s arms are shaped like rounded paddles. There isn’t a lot of anatomical detail, so we can’t see if they are underdeveloped or if they appear to be adapted for underwater motility.

Beyond that, who lit all the candles in the glass floats, and how do the candles stay lit?
posted by mwhybark at 9:54 AM on November 12


Ok, yeah I was wrong. On rewatch, that’s probably Petey as Lube Boy.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 AM on November 12


Trieu’s “daughter” has a real clone vibe, being fed Trieu’s memories, particularly her memories of the war in Vietnam. I think.

I think this might go a step further, and the daughter is being fed memories of alternate timelines. It seems like she was recalling one of the atrocities of the Vietnam war that happened in *our* timeline, but in the show timeline weren't those almost entirely avoided by having Dr. M show up in the mix on behalf of the US and just end the war overnight?

Oh shit!

Dr Manhattan could only access/conceive/experience events within his own timeline, yes?


I'm not sure if the comic prequels are considered canon for the show or if they're being dismissed as trash like the show is handling the Snyder atrocity, but the Dr. M mini-series showed him actively creating/destroying alternate timelines by adjusting events throughout the course of his own history (even before the intrinsic field accident), up to and including a timeline where he never turned his penis blue (or the rest of him either, or gained superpowers or had an accident at all, really).
posted by FatherDagon at 12:05 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


I suspect "great man" is a somewhat ironic honorific for Lady Trieu. She refers to both Judd Crawford and Adrian Veidt that way, and my sense is she doesn't like great men very much.

She says she never met Crawford, which means she almost certainly did.

Veidt being turned to gold (which is where is thread is heading, evidently) is full of symbolism, but I suppose we should see what happens before coming to any conclusions. My first thought was Midas.
posted by Grangousier at 12:43 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


I appreciated the horseshoe Veidt quoits onto the knife embedded in a Philips' chest.
posted by Grangousier at 12:46 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


that’s probably Petey as Lube Boy

Hm, OK, let's chase some textual clues. X-Files references, check. Guy wearing a suit that makes him look like an alien, specifically a Grey, check. X-Files character named Peattie, check. X-Files episode concerning slippy monster who hides in sewers, check. Say the name with me now: Flukeman! That's good enough for me, I'm on team Petey Lubeman now (also, this all chimes with him sleeping with Laurie, which makes it all a little icky really).

(lol @ wikia shenanigans, creature headshot accompanied by caption: Portrayed by
Matt Walsh - Famously, Matt didn't even need makeup or effects to play Flukeman, as the character is based directly on his monstrous face
)

posted by mwhybark at 1:21 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


The space object crashing into the Clark's field contains Veidt, who somehow will escape his pocket world.

Trieu somehow detected it with her space capabilities. (Her satellite network is what the blue phones use to contact Mars.) She buys the farm to control the crash site.

Since then, she's installed a blue phone in the farm's field, and the bakery etc have sprung up around it, but that's incidental.

Veidt in carbonite, indeed.
posted by joeyh at 2:01 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


I think your first two grafs are spot-on, but I think that action is much closer to contemporary than the creation of that strip mall/shopping square. The clock is fairly recent and she mentions it in the exchange with the Clarks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:57 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


The space object crashing into the Clark's field contains Veidt, who somehow will escape his pocket world.

Yeah, that's what I'm leaning towards as well. If you follow the train of thought that she is the one who kidnapped and imprisoned him, then him coming back would be... unfortunate. So she picks him up and keeps him as a trophy.
posted by codacorolla at 3:18 PM on November 12


Going by one theory following the birthday candles on the cakes in each episode, they'll meet up in episode 7 when Veidt's timeline and "now" of the story join up. So, yeah, that's more likely Veidt crashing down on the farm than Dr. Manhattan. I'd be surprised now if we see any confirmation of Dr. Manhattan at all this season. Since the push seems to be to harness the power to create another or "better" version, his individuality seems irrelevant. Or not and the superbeings will fight.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:27 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


A loose thread: can't find any info on what Cal was reading in this episode, or if he had books to hand previously, what they were. Books in a shot have been a clear hint vector all season. Anybody got better info?
posted by mwhybark at 6:32 PM on November 12


This episode was Things Fall Apart, for what it's worth.

Someone else will have to provide the litcrit, though.
posted by Kyol at 7:11 PM on November 12


(1) I miss Panda. Peteypedia is fine, but I would like some mini-episodes that are just Panda reading the Tulsa PD training manual.

(2) Brideshead Revisited Murder Island
posted by betweenthebars at 7:16 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


Small prediction: we will eventually find out that the vibrator isn’t actually a vibrator, because that would be a great punch line.
posted by neroli at 7:24 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


Isn't Cal the perfect husband?
Yes. TOO perfect. I'm worried about it, because everything in watchmen is about how the people who become masked adventurers are people who have fucked-up relationships.

Since then, she's installed a blue phone in the farm's field, and the bakery etc have sprung up around it
I don't know where this is coming from, it was not the impression I got. It seems like the blue phone is downtown by the greenwood cultural center and that's where the bakery is too?

Prediction: Veidt is imprisoned by Dr. Manhattan; The Watchmaker's Son play is really just to troll on the big blue dude (and/or the clones have some kind of collective memory and the play is to firmly imprint Veidt's angle of who their captor/creator is onto that memory). Veidt isn't necessarily trying to escape, he's doing these experiments to gather data and get information (e.g. the notebook where he's writing down the telemetry of where thee catapulted corpses disappeared). Eventually, he'll send the information required to kill Dr. Manhattan to his earthside ally, Trieu.

Trieu already has the telemetry to Mars via the Blue Phone network, and she's building the millennium clock which is actually a weapon to kill Manhattan. But she's missing some crucial info, and that's what Viedt sends her via meteor, which is only as accurate as his steampunk tech can muster and that's why Trieu has to buy the land so quickly. When Trieu tells Reeves they've got "three days", which could plausibly be 11/2, the squidiversary, but this time they're gonna take a different meaning of "kill Manhattan" than they did in 1985.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:02 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Yeah, seems there’s a network of those phone booths in all the cities so people can pray or whatever to Dr. Manhattan.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 PM on November 12


Not sure if it's above, but Calabar is a port in Nigeria: "Since the 16th century, Calabar had been a recognized international seaport, shipping out goods such as palm oil. During the era of the Atlantic slave trade, it became a major port in the transportation of African slaves and was named Calabar by the Spanish."
posted by Grangousier at 12:29 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I don't think I've ever seen anything else buy Damon Lindelof except ...*checks* ... Prometheus and Tomorrowland. OK. Anyway, I recognise a lot of the second guessing from reading the original Watchmen - thing is, everything seemed to fit together, and on the whole most things did (because Alan Moore has that kind of a mind, amplified by very strong cannabis). But it was easy to get a lot of false positives, especially if one was smoking a bit of cannabis oneself. After nearly thirty-five years, it's possible but hard to remember what it was like half-way through in the thick of mad theories, most of which didn't come off.

Anyway, from what I remember, Moore made up Watchmen as he was going along (and it came true anyway), which is probably why Lindelof got into such a muddle (reputedly) with Lost. You need a lot of hair and a lot of cannabis to get away with something like that. On the other hand, he had a huge piece of paper with a plan for Big Numbers and it drove the illustrator mad, burned out his assistant and had to be abandoned after two issues, so maybe making it up as you're going along has something to be said for it.

By the way, my maddest theory is about Lady Trieu, who I'm enjoying a lot. But if there's to be a mirror Big Plot, which aims to achieve a good thing with a massive violent act, I suspect that Lady Trieu, with her perfection of industrial cloning, intends to wipe out men. This wouldn't, as a plot point, annoy me, but it would annoy a lot of people at all cardinal points of the argument, so that would be interesting.

On the other hand, it's many years since I've smoked any cannabis at all, so who can say?
posted by Grangousier at 12:42 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


I appreciated the horseshoe Veidt quoits onto the knife embedded in a Philips' chest.

"I don't need that", he says. "Not yet."

He rides horses on the regular, so he must have some other use than the mainline one in mind. But I have no idea or theory what he is talking about.
posted by thelonius at 2:17 AM on November 13


(Oh, it just struck me that that prediction might be felt a bit more extremely than I meant it. In the spirit of the original - in 1985, dropping a giant interdimensional squid on New York, was an absurd cartoon notion that invaded almost-reality. After 2001, it looks different. By the same token, I've known RadFems who'd quite like to exterminate men, or at least profess so, and it struck me as a similarly cartoonish notion to drop into this almost-reality.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:24 AM on November 13


And enough time passed in that wipe during the episode title sequence that the baby Lady Trieu delivered could have grown up to be Topher (according to the Law of Narrative Efficiency). Despite the fact that her daughter is the same age as she is today.
posted by Grangousier at 2:00 PM on November 13




At first I was like Ultraman, what are you doing here?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:59 AM on November 14


>Since then, she's installed a blue phone in the farm's field, and the bakery etc have sprung up around it

>>I don't know where this is coming from, it was not the impression I got.


I know where it came from: there was a fade from panning over the field at the couple's house to panning over Tulsa, where instead of one image fading into another, individual elements of the streetscape popped in one by one. I remember thinking "this looks neat but I'm pretty sure people are going to be confused by this and think it's a construction time-lapse" and, well
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:45 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


pretty sure people are going to be confused by this and think it's a construction time-lapse

yep, thank you liz

It is a bit of a conundrum because there’s zero possibility this interpretation was not pointed out in production, which means they wanted us to bugtussle on it
posted by mwhybark at 4:57 PM on November 14


Okay, what's with all the elephants in Lady Trieu's accessories?

(Elephants on her hourglass, painting on her wall in the Vivarium, etc).

Is it that "an elephant never forgets?"

Memory are certainly an important theme in detective fiction, and even moreso in the canon of sf (Blade Runner, Total Recall) not to mention how important it was in Watchmen to give us various histories/memories from different points of view. Is that the only link to elephants?

I do remember elephants as being on the logo of Gunga Diner throughout the comic.

Also Wikipedia:: Cultural_depictions_of_elephants - memory and intelligence stand out as notably Asian. Nothing specifically Vietnamese on that page.
posted by artlung at 10:27 AM on November 15


The first elephant-related reference that comes to mind is Samantabhadra, a Mahayana Buddhist bodhisattva that rides an elephant. His main teaching is that having wisdom is all well and good, but the main thing is putting it into practice. An emphasis on deeds over good intentions.

I don't have any idea whether that is what is intended or not.
posted by Quonab at 4:07 PM on November 15


I love the idea of Petey as Lubeman; if there's anyone who could and would research a new city's sewer system as an escape route, it's Petey. (Now I'm imagining him getting a solo assignment to Derry, Maine, to look into creepy clown sightings...)

Also, I had to think a bit about the actor playing Cal, and then recognized him as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who also played Black Manta in Aquaman and opposite Anthony "Falcon" Mackie in an episode of Black Mirror.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:32 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]




His own follow up tweet is even better:
Clearly the move for President Redford’s victorious Democrats would have been to split Vietnam into ten or so states, creating a massive cache of electoral votes and senate seats. Why am I thinking about this
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:18 AM on November 16 [2 favorites]


To me Lady Trieu is related to Veidt's helpers in Antarctica because she has a vivarium just as he did. If Veidt is actually the statue that would be a nice bit of symmetry given how the helpers were killed and left behind frozen (preserved) in the Antarctic one. I had to pull out one of my copies of Watchmen to see if the helpers were named once she showed up but didn't notice anything. Luckily my comic book shelf is within reach of where I sit to watch tv so it is easy to do so.

I'm on the fence about if she is working with/for him or if she has her own thing going. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:01 AM on November 16




Mwhybark: epic find!
posted by artlung at 2:47 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]


If you, like me, quit the Twooter like ages /eyeroll ago, allow me to suggest a gander at DoT’s Weigel twitstrim link is likely to be worthwhile and chuckle-inducing.
posted by mwhybark at 5:04 PM on November 16


A bit too late to contribute to the whole Superman discussion here, but are you guys aware that one of the songs in the OST of the show is called Orphans of Krypton?
posted by BruxoPimba at 4:20 AM on November 20


Hello. Here I am, a time-traveler from the past just getting caught up on episodes. I know you've watched beyond what I have, and I hope you remember that if you choose to reply you should keep it spoiler-free for those like me who may be trailing a bit.

"One little detail I found interesting was that Cal and Angela are apparently atheists (or Cal, at the very least, doesn't believe in an afterlife), and how the show didn't dwell on it. I think it's especially interesting because offhand I can't think of another example of a show where atheist beliefs are presented to children in a neutral way. Is this meant to indicate that in the alternate timeline of the show, the USA is significantly more nonreligious than in the real world?"

I think it's meant to be nothing more than a parallel to a scene we hadn't seen yet: Veidt pulling pre-babies out of the water (their nothingness) then taking them from being a baby to a child to youth to adulthood - and then sending them back into the nothingness. I believe Cal's speech was just a bit of foreshadowing, nothing more than that.

And as of right now I'm working on the theory that Veidt managed to find something insulated enough to protect himself and then launched himself from his terrarium and Lady Trieu saw it coming, bought the land, and either imprisoned Veidt or kept him in the protected state he imposed on himself. Like encasing himself in carbonitebronze.
posted by komara at 7:51 PM on December 6


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