Watchmen: This Extraordinary Being   Books Included 
November 24, 2019 10:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Deep under the influence of Nostalgia, Angela gets a firsthand account of her grandfather's journey.
posted by DirtyOldTown (94 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked that Angela's grandfather's makeup as Hooded Justice was an inversion of hers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:18 PM on November 24 [29 favorites]


It's a retcon, but one that I approve of. The only thing that I'm not really crazy about is the whole "hypnotic light" gimmick; something like Nostalgia as a flashback drug is one thing, but having an actual hypno-ray back in the thirties and forties is basically introducing super-science before Doctor Manhattan, and the original GN was pretty good about not doing that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:23 PM on November 24 [4 favorites]


First takes: Inkspots, yay!

The central metaphoric images here, of media being used to project self-loathing into people of color, of a black man wearing whiteface to act as a bringer of justice, are pretty effective.

The Cyclops handsignal would seem to be inspired by the “OK” handsign apparently in use by the American alt-right earlier this year and at the same time it functions as an echo of Dr. Manhattan’s self-inscribed forehead sigil.

When Angewill (Willgela?) crashes through the window of Fred’s shop and timestops, in my opinion, it is a reference to, a detourning, a transformation of, the opening sequence of the book, of Eddie’s battered and semi-conscious body flung through a window into the Manhattan night, a scene replayed in frozen moments throughout the book.
posted by mwhybark at 11:24 PM on November 24 [24 favorites]


I see incomplete credits up so far: was Fred played by Glenn Fleshler (late of the first season of True Detective?)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:25 PM on November 24


This was excellent.

The origin story for HJ is so perfect that I want to argue it's not a retcon even though I'm sure it is. He wears a noose around his neck! Come on! How can this not be considered canon!

The fedora and red hat dudes who won't watch this because of SJW cooties are really missing out but they're so incapable of empathy and understanding of nuance that they'd probably hate it anyway.
posted by Justinian at 11:42 PM on November 24 [11 favorites]


How does the memory of Will killing Judd make it into the Nostalgia pills?
Will already has the pills in his pocket when Angela captured him right after the killing. Even if he still has nanobots or whatever harvesting memories at that time , how did the memory get into the pharmaceutical pills?
Perhaps the memory didn’t ... maybe Lady Trieu passed it to Angela through the IV drip when she was in a coma (like Trieu has been apparently passing memories of American soldiers committing a My Lai style massacre on her Vietnamese village to her daughter ). But then.... if that were true , how / why was Blake able to capture audio of Angela in her coma trance talking about Will killing Judd? Is Trieu cooperating with/using Blake?
posted by Bwithh at 3:05 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


you guys

I think this show might actually be pretty good after all
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:04 AM on November 25 [13 favorites]


Not sure what it means (if anything), but there's a reference to David Lynch's Inland Empire in one of the new Peteypedia documents!

How does the memory of Will killing Judd make it into the Nostalgia pills?
I got the impression that Trieu and Will made a new batch of pills and left them in the car when it was dropped out of the sky. So they weren't necessarily the same ones he had on hand when Angela picked him up.

...how / why was Blake able to capture audio of Angela in her coma trance talking about Will killing Judd?
Angela talked about Will killing Judd while she was talking to Looking Glass, when he knew Blake had a mic at his desk.
posted by tomorrowromance at 4:42 AM on November 25 [7 favorites]


I thought that this was the best episode so far. I love how they're using the silent movie and the TV show to comment on the "real" action in the series in the same way that the pirate comic did in the novel. I like the idea that the story of the Minutemen was white-washed and sanitized for popular consumption in the same way that we sanitize our history.
posted by octothorpe at 4:53 AM on November 25 [9 favorites]


How does the memory of Will killing Judd make it into the Nostalgia pills?
I got the impression that Trieu and Will made a new batch of pills and left them in the car when it was dropped out of the sky. So they weren't necessarily the same ones he had on hand when Angela picked him up.


Ooooh, interesting, I'll check that out!

...how / why was Blake able to capture audio of Angela in her coma trance talking about Will killing Judd?
Angela talked about Will killing Judd while she was talking to Looking Glass, when he knew Blake had a mic at his desk.


Good point, however in the Peteypedia memo she wrote, Blake states that Will has working mind control tech, which Angela didn't know about until she had the Nostalgia experience.
posted by Bwithh at 4:58 AM on November 25


So basically Lady T's plan to save humanity is to cull white people? Will is in on it and wanted Angela to live his life to explain why he came to this decision? That would be an interesting way to go.

Overall, I still can't make up my mind about this series. It's heart seems in the right, but I'm having trouble swallowing all the narrative paths it takes to get where its going.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I have the same qualms about the overall narrative, magnified by Lindelof's history. There's only three episodes left and there are so many hanging threads.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Good point, however in the Peteypedia memo she wrote, Blake states that Will has working mind control tech, which Angela didn't know about until she had the Nostalgia experience.

Blake's in Tulsa to investigate Judd's death, so it follows that she would want to record any discussions/interrogations with Angela after she heard Angela admitting she knows who killed Judd.
posted by tomorrowromance at 5:12 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


The OK sign off the forehead looked a lot like the, "Be seeing you," gesture from The Prisoner. I am curious about the conspiracy that has been using the 7th Kalvary as their catspaw and what Veidt did to get stuck on Jovian moon. As far as super-science is concerned I think that it is just one of those universes. Moloch's Solar Ray predates Ostrander's transformation and other non-Manhattan super-tech does show up in the original. It just isn't as shiny as the blue guys, 'miracles'.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 6:15 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


Further notes, questions.

Dollar Bill poster seen in press conference, a poster depicted also in the book.

In Peteypedia, Blake confirms that the sequence showing Will hanging Judd via a mindcontrol flashlight was a memory that Angela experienced. How did Will get that memory into the bottle of pills he already had with him at the scene? I guess maybe when he called Angela after the hanging and before returning to the scene to sit in his wheelchair.

If we take the scene as portrayed in the episode tonight as in-universe factual, Judd was neither beaten nor in a fight prior to his death. This would cast Looking Glass’s weirdly predeterminative claims of struggle and injury based on an eyeballing of the dangling corpse into some question.
posted by mwhybark at 6:44 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]




Amazing episode. I went into it sort of like "eh flashback episode" but everyone here (me, mrs jq., son) agreed it was outstanding by the end. Super intense. I wouldn't liked 30 more minutes tbh.
posted by jquinby at 7:10 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Oh - also, am I just incredibly dense? I hadn't caught the Superman typology until the newspaper guy basically laid it right out. We were all like YES OF COURSE.
posted by jquinby at 7:11 AM on November 25


I missed it too, jquinby. My jaw dropped when the news guys laid that out. Dumbfounded both that I had missed the obvious and how perfect it was to have Will go through that.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:15 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


my comment above should've read "I would've liked 30 more minutes". MOAR.
posted by jquinby at 7:18 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I need to finish my re-read of the book and then I want to just binge this whole show again once it finishes.
posted by octothorpe at 7:35 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]




I've been a fan of Bastien for a while and wish that she was more widely read.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 AM on November 25


Dollar Bill poster seen in press conference, a poster depicted also in the book.

The racist bank poster also showed up in episode 1. This was a good episode filling in some interesting backstory (though parts were predictable), beautifully filmed and decently acted. Main complaint is same as someone says above: it didn't advance the main story much at all with only 3 episodes left.

Two quibbles: June's transformation from primary encourager to "I hate what you've become and I'm leaving!" was a classic telling-not-showing example. Yes, she didn't want him to join Captain Metropolis but then we get a years-long montage to the Inkspots of her as Happy Homemaker while Will continues his vigilantism in the next room with what we can only assume is her approval. But then suddenly we're presented with a scene where Will is rubbing the makeup off his son's face and she's screaming "you can't take it off!" and running away? It didn't make much sense. He single-handedly takes out a KKK mind control mass murder plot, then reacts negatively to his son trying to emulate his vigilantism, and *that's* the moment the show uses to first present her as appalled at what he's become? It felt rushed and vague, though I did love the free jazz noisy percussion (right out of Birdman) in that scene, though.

Second quibble: the strobe light horror moment with Reeves and Judd, heavy on the 80s synth soundtrack, seemed really hokey.

Ok, third quibble: the Superman references are overblown at this point. They seem heavy-handed to me and their relevancy seems a bit forced.
posted by mediareport at 8:02 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Ok, third quibble: the Superman references are overblown at this point. They seem heavy-handed to me and their relevancy seems a bit forced.

I think you've voiced my overall hesitation with the show, thanks!

It feels, at this point, that the overall themes of the story are being welded into the Watchmen story. Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn't for me, but overall, I would have preferred this story be told outside of the Watchmen world.

It's not terrible that's it being done this way and can understand why, but having to ground it within Watchmen ultimately feels like it's constantly being held back.

I cheerfully admit this might be my personal view as black man in America.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:11 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


Still trying to digest the episode, but I'm leaning toward really liking it.

So many wonderful little moments. One was that I was remembering the fight scene in the grocery store as depicted in an earlier episode with the one from Will/Angela's memory, and it was giving me cognitive dissonance in real-time.
posted by ishmael at 8:45 AM on November 25


we get a years-long montage to the Inkspots of her as Happy Homemaker while Will continues his vigilantism in the next room with what we can only assume is her approval.

That is absolutely not the read I got from that scene. It looked to me like she was desperately unhappy except for the moments with their son.

Also the fact that June is the baby he rescued made the whole thing really different. I got the read that he wasn’t very good at being either a father or a husband and that Watchmen is essentially asking some questions about that - does rage make it alright to be less present with the ones you love? Does that change when the rage is justified and the threat is real?
posted by corb at 9:07 AM on November 25 [18 favorites]


I like the ways this interpretation of Hooded Justice fits into the existing text of the original Watchmen comics, including the inclusion HJ/Cpt Metropolis affair, and I love the inversion of HJ's and Angela's makeups.

The pool balls are all scattered across the felt and ready for all the combo shots to start happening. Get to it, folks. I want to see some resolution this season.

Is this the first time we've had an episode with no Veidt in it?
posted by rmd1023 at 9:23 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Is this the first time we've had an episode with no Veidt in it?

Sometime in the last couple of week, I'd read an interview with one of the writers that stated that there was one episode where they left out the weekly Veidt check-in* because it would upset the flow of the A-plot. In the case of this week's episode, I'm glad they didn't cut away from Will's story or undercut it by putting a Veidt bit at the end.

(* I think it's been stated elsewhere on the Watchmen Fanfare posts, but the Veidt plotline was set down in stone and completely shot before a single frame of the rest of the show, because they only had a month to shoot in Wales. Which I guess gave them a nice spine to build the other episodes around.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:52 AM on November 25 [8 favorites]


So far I haven't seen any recappers (or the show's creators) acknowledge the apparent Easter egg vis a vis the inclusion of secret Klansman "Fred T." Coincidence?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:55 AM on November 25 [9 favorites]


I'm still digesting this episode. I had to take my library copies of Watchmen back to the library (it's in high demand! Could not renew!).

The original structure of the Watchmen comic has all these interlocking gears and mechanisms, something about inevitability, about cause and effect. Dr. Manhattan's father being a Watchmaker magnifies the point.

This episode of television manages to insert, without any disruption, a new mechanism into that clockwork. It takes one of narrative parts that was mysterious, fills it in, and it fits perfectly. As it started to dawn on me that Officer Reeves was really and truly going to become Hooded Justice I tried to think of reasons to preclude this being internally consistent and could not think of anything. In fact, that noose on that costume, for an American costumed adventurer, what other allusion could it be making except to American lynching? That the comic implied Hooded Justice as perverted - but closeted and black makes the rationale for the incredible feat of keeping his real identity a mystery makes it all the more real, and magnifies how clever Will needed to be to pull it off.

As to the storytelling: fascinating realization of what accounts for a "true hallucination" in black and white (with hints of color!).

Captain Metropolis was realized well. In the comic at several points he's shown to be mostly feckless - and the way that his costume highlights and emphasizes his blondness feels sickly appropriate in an episode that highlights the harm done by white supremacy. His grandiose claims about doing good are undercut by his own racist blind spots and desire for notoriety.

There's a lot in this episode I'm still gnawing on. But: heartbreaking and nerve-racking television.
posted by artlung at 10:27 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


I'm still digesting this episode. I had to take my library copies of Watchmen back to the library (it's in high demand! Could not renew!).

Does your library give you access to Hoopla? If it doesn't you can check out a digital copy there. There's also a ton of great comic books on there for free.
posted by octothorpe at 10:31 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Also, I keep unpacking bits of this episode. How do I feel, as a woman of color involved in movements, about Hooded Justice being lured onto the Minutemen by the promise of doing something for the causes he cared about, only to be told that those things "aren't really our thing" after he's already given them the legitimacy they needed to be taken seriously, while the group states that they're taking on "A megavillain who's trying to blot out the sun" instead of the issue of communities literally being destroyed?

...complicated. Fucking complicated.
posted by corb at 10:33 AM on November 25 [27 favorites]


Justinian wrote: The origin story for HJ is so perfect that I want to argue it's not a retcon even though I'm sure it is. I also find my brain rejecting "retcon" as the right term for this. No past continuity was changed or harmed for this show to be consistent with the comic, if anything it magnifies. The "retro" part of retcon feels like retcon is meant more for things like Maleficent or Wicked, where a prior villain is made sympathetic. But language is fluid, so maybe "retcon" can carry the meaning of "enriching the past" as practiced here.
posted by artlung at 10:34 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


As far as I know, you don't have to change any of the text or images from the original for Hooded Justice to be black, just your assumptions when you read it. And yeah, it makes so much more sense for him to be African American that in retrospect, any other interpretation seems wrong.
posted by octothorpe at 10:39 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


I like the idea that a black guy started the whole thing but got written out of history and white people got rich and famous on it. Sort of like Rock'n'Roll.
posted by octothorpe at 10:41 AM on November 25 [20 favorites]


As far as I know, you don't have to change any of the text or images from the original for Hooded Justice to be black, just your assumptions when you read it.

I have a lot of trouble believing that people wouldn't recognize a black man's voice underneath the hood. Specifically in the scene where he was talking to the press before being cut off
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: I have a lot of trouble believing that people wouldn't recognize a black man's voice underneath the hood.

I get the feeling Will could be pretty excellent at code-switching. I was listening then too and felt ambivalent about whether it would be a "tell."

Speaking of Superman, those glasses managed to preserve "Clark Kent" pretty well.

I'm also reminded of an exchange from 30 Rock, which is a show I'm obsessed with, which was often marvelously deadpan about racism:
Dick Lemon: Hey, Liz. It's your father, Dick Lemon.
Liz: Dad, you don't have to say your name every time.
Dick Lemon: Telephone etiquette is important, Liz. It lets people know your race even when they can't see you.
posted by artlung at 10:52 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


As far as I know, you don't have to change any of the text or images from the original for Hooded Justice to be black, just your assumptions when you read it.

The one bit I think needs some explaining is the quote from Mason's book where he says:
"Before Pearl Harbor, I heard Hooded Justice openly expressing approval for activities of Hitler’s Third Reich, and Captain Metropolis has gone on record as making statements about black and Hispanic Americans that have been viewed as both racially prejudiced and inflammatory, charges that it is difficult to argue or deny."

Unless that's a lie Mason is using to throw people off the trail of the identities of HJ and CM; or things those two said for the same reason, to give a wrong impression.
posted by dnash at 11:16 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


In an interview, Lindelof suggests that this was part of HJ's cover:

Part of Will Reeves’s camouflage in terms of hiding his true identity required making statements like that in the presence of the other Minutemen so as to throw off the scent of who he truly was.

I like the idea that this + some throwaway comments inspired by the "watch over this boy" flyer Will has to have read over and over could have cohered to create the impression of a Nazi sympathizer. You could imagine HJ saying something like "well I hear black people used to get treated better in Berlin than in Baltimore", and having that get parsed as pro-Nazi by his fellow Minutemen, especially in the context of general anti-German jingoism
posted by rishabguha at 11:22 AM on November 25 [16 favorites]


It's a retcon, but one that I approve of.
Not quite a retcon - HJ's identity was never actually confirmed in the Watchmen canon, just a lot of suppositions and a public disappearance coincidental with the discovery of dead strongman. In the prequel comics (which I don't consider canon, but still may be source material here) they go a step further and clearly show that Rolfe Muller was a serial killer that HJ fought.

The only thing that I'm not really crazy about is the whole "hypnotic light" gimmick... having an actual hypno-ray back in the thirties and forties is basically introducing super-science before Doctor Manhattan, and the original GN was pretty good about not doing that.

The intrinsic field subtractor that creates Dr. M in the first place was superscience, and of a much grander scale than 'strobe creating suggestible temporal epilepsy states'.

then we get a years-long montage to the Inkspots of her as Happy Homemaker while Will continues his vigilantism in the next room with what we can only assume is her approval.

That entire sequence read to me as 'she has a home and their son and is trying to have a life and is completely isolated from Will, who has one singular fixation and no contact with either of them even tho they share some space.' Singularly tragic, definitely not a happy home.

Also note - the Cyclops=Klan element is also rooted in actual history (and current events), and the handsign/secret coding (of which white nationlists have heaps) being a mod of the alt-right 'nawww it just means OK hurr hurr hurr' signaling is just icing on the cake (provided the cake is a pile of on-fire dead racists). Even Looking Glass has a history of fighting the Klan Cyclops!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:43 AM on November 25 [11 favorites]


Isn't much of the source for what we knew about HJ the book Under the Hood? If so I can equally believe that Hollis Mason had no idea who HJ really was or that he did know but decided to keep his identity secret.

Also, I find it hard to believe that Veidt wouldn't have met Will Reeves at some point in the past. Wasn't Veidt's first meeting with the Comedian a result of his looking into Hooded Justice's death? If Will and Veidt did meet and Veidt got hold of the mind control lights then he would have had the resources (time, money, intelligence) to do quite a lot with them - such as making an 8 hour video played to the President of the USA and other high ranking officials. As would Lady Trieu if she met Will more recently.

What if the grand plan isn't to cull white people but some memory/empathy broadcast to share the experience of oppressed people with them?

I find it funny that we all engage in conspiracy-type thinking when watching the show, "how does this connect, what if these things are all related". This is fiction not real life so things do intentionally connect, or intentionally don't connect, but it has us all going down rabbit holes nonetheless trying to find hidden meanings behind everything in it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:56 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Some very interesting notes on Lady Trieu on the Peteypedia for this ep - including that she was raised in a fashion specifically designed to encourage super-intelligence and megalomania in a manner akin to Veidt, aaaaaand that "after becoming a billionaire from the success of Nostalgia, Lady Trieu turned her attention to space exploration. Since 2010, Lady Trieu has launched 50 Voyager-class probes into the galaxy". So pretty much a guarantee that it was one of her sats that was doing the flyby of Veidt's Jovian holo-prison.

Also, regarding Trieu's mother: "Bian My did have one unforgettable encounter with Mr. Blake. In 1971, Mr. Blake and his battalion of ‘Blazin’ Commandos’ passed through her village outside My Lai. Their uniquely warm demeanor made quite an impression on her." So Trieu's daughter was definitely being induced with her grandmother's memories of tragedy, just as Angela was experiencing Will's memories of the same.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:09 PM on November 25 [4 favorites]


Excellent, excellent episode and I just wish I hadn't seen theories online about Will Reeves being HJ because it would have blindsided me completely otherwise. In any case it worked for me as a sincere payoff to the first episode, plus setup for the shape of things to come. I loved so much about this episode. It was neat how all the Superman/Dr Manhattan red-ish herrings so far resolved themselves into Will being their absolute peer/equivalent by dint of being The First. Also, I'll never not enjoy hearing the Inkspots or being gratuitously reminded of Birdman.

It looked to me like the episode was filmed with an eye to more of those Quantum Leap-y visual transitions/substitutions of Angela for Officer Mode Will, but for whatever reason (I'd like to think ART i.e respect for the actor's performance and trust in the audience's comprehension, rather than budget) we didn't get so many once the thrust of the episode got going.

It really is interesting how the series has managed to carve out its own space as being set in the Watchmen universe but 30+ years later so not about the OG Watchmen, then started folding in the corner characters and elements as part of the main story. Definitely feels like it's successfully having its cake and eating it.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 12:14 PM on November 25 [6 favorites]


My wife was home while I was watching and she was taken in by it - she hasn't seen any of the rest of it or read Watchmen. I take it as proof that if nothing else the show has been compelling viewing.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:22 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Just thinking how both Angela's and Will's closest "friends" happened to be white and also happened to be using both Angela and Will as cover, of sorts. Another layer of obfuscation.

Also, in the play Oklahoma! from which the second episode got its title, pore Jud hanged himself.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:27 PM on November 25 [13 favorites]


The casting of Jake McDorman (Brian Finch from Limitless, Mike Pratt from Shameless) as Captain Metropolis is so spot on.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:36 PM on November 25


Metafilter: it has us all going down rabbit holes nonetheless
posted by jquinby at 1:23 PM on November 25


As to whether June and Will's relationship became strained after he became HJ, I think the strain had more to do with Will's sexuality. It was his realization that he was queer that had much more to do with it. It was one more mask he had to wear. And you can see it in the scene with them in bed when she tells him she's pregnant. It's subtle, but it's there. I don't think that he doesn't love her or is even questioning whether he loves her, he's realizing he doesn't desire her.

I love the reframing of the scene that Looking Glass watched dramatized on TV and which we previously thought was maybe porn, now being acted out in real life, except in this version, HJ isn't white.

His queerness is important. I think with all the closets and masks and double identities, it's not as evident as his race, but from his perspective, it's probably more dangerous.
posted by Stanczyk at 1:29 PM on November 25 [10 favorites]


A bunch of people seem to be pushing back against the idea that this origin for HJ is a "retcon", so I'd like to emphasize that I don't see this as a negative, necessarily; point of fact, Alan Moore did a lot of retconning in some of his best-known work--his Swamp Thing was never Alec Holland, and his Marvelman/Miracleman's origin was changed from that of an ersatz Captain Marvel to a black-ops superscience project in which Dr. Gargunza made up the fake origin after picking up a Captain Marvel comic in the cafeteria. And the whole thing about a good retcon is that it neatly fits the existing evidence, with any discrepancies easily explained away, as with HJ's alleged Nazi sympathies. (Another possible explanation--not only for that, but for the introduction of the whole Rolf Müller theory--is that Hollis Mason, directly inspired by HJ and also a cop, introduced those things into Under the Hood deliberately to throw people off of Will's trail, maybe even because Hollis figured out HJ's secret ID.)

Also, FWIW, I don't consider Before Watchmen canon, because it's crap, and a poor use of Darwyn Cooke's (and others') talents.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:35 PM on November 25 [5 favorites]


So far I haven't seen any recappers (or the show's creators) acknowledge the apparent Easter egg vis a vis the inclusion of secret Klansman "Fred T." Coincidence?

Good, it's not just me:

Vox: It sure seems like Watchmen turned Donald Trump’s father into one of its racist villains

Bustle: The Trump Reference In 'Watchmen’ Is So Sly, You Might Have Missed It

Apparently Fred Trump also owned the first supermarket in Queens before getting into real estate. I do admire the writers' restraint in not calling any further attention to what they were doing there; It's specific enough to be a noticeable detail but vague enough that they have plausible deniability if Trump gets wind and starts a tweetstorm about it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:58 PM on November 25 [14 favorites]


The thing that Alan Moore did - at least in his earlier work like Swamp Thing and Miracleman - was to turn the premise of his source material upside down without disturbing anything, so that nothing was retconned, everything was recontextualised, and the original text could still be read, but in the light of the revised version had different meanings, which I think the makers of this are successfully doing here. It's certainly the first Moore-derived work that I think he doesn't really have much justification in complaining about - whether or not it's as good as the original, it's interesting enough in its own right to stand independent of it.
posted by Grangousier at 2:15 PM on November 25 [11 favorites]


I don't have a problem with the Hypno-ray trope. Super-science rays of all kinds were common in pulp sci-fi and comics of that era and even hypno-rays specifically. Action Comics 362 has Clark Kent hypnotized by the rays from the eyes of a robot.
posted by octothorpe at 2:37 PM on November 25 [3 favorites]




About the hypno-rays and super-science, it's worth noting that although Dr Manhattan is often described as having the only superpowers in the book's universe, there's also at least one psychic - Robert Deschaines, whose cloned brain Veidt uses to construct the alien squid.
posted by whir at 4:43 PM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I love this bit from the Blake memo in the latest Peteypedia:

Yeah, Petey, I read your fucking memos. A little weird, considering you could just turn to me and say any/all of this shit as we are currently occupying the same physical space, but why do that when you could write an 80-page essay and zap it off to all of our co-workers instead?
posted by whir at 4:56 PM on November 25 [9 favorites]


FWIW, in terms of 'super science' in the original novel, Archie has some pretty impressive capabilities, especially in terms of 80s tech. A vehicle of that size with the ability to fly silently and hover, and the hover bikes that Dan and Rorschach use to approach the Vivarium, are all super-sciencey, and at least in the text, are developed by Dreiberg independently using none of the tech derived from Dr. Manhattan (although Moore never takes steps to clarify, so one could assume that the more impressive capabilities are using stuff taken from Doc).
posted by codacorolla at 5:01 PM on November 25 [4 favorites]


The Hooded Justice retcon is more of a crossover with another DC Comics character - details from Comics Beat
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:08 PM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Wait, was that . . . a real live bisexual on TV? Amazing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:21 PM on November 25 [17 favorites]


Favorite subtle callback to the graphic novel: Captain Metropolis saying the Minutemen can’t solve “black unrest.” Years later, while trying to form the Crimebusters, “black unrest” is one of the problems Captain Metropolis tacks to his soon-to-be-incinerated (and Ozymandias-inspiring) map.
posted by ejs at 9:14 PM on November 25 [9 favorites]


I remain a bit suspicious that that final "memory" is actually a memory. First, it's unclear how it got into the pills, though we can always think something up. Second, Looking Glass mentioned it looked like there had been a struggle. Third, how did he hang himself with his feet so far off the ground? Plus the shoe off means it must have been a long drop -- did he somehow climb the tree when our gaze was averted? And fourth, I feel like there would have been more dialogue between the two about why he was being directed to hang himself, what he had done, etc. It had the truncated feel of "footage" that had been edited -- though I'm probably just imagining all this having gone down the plot-twist rabbit hole...
posted by chortly at 9:40 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]


The pills were out of Angela's possession for the entire time her car was missing. It doesn't have to be the exact same bottle you first saw.
posted by yonega at 12:46 AM on November 26 [4 favorites]


“Intramuscular hemorrhage, fractured laryngeal skeleton, and ligature marks are all consistent with violent asphyxiation. Both his palms got rope burns. He’s got fibers in his fingernails. He was alive the whole time. Until he wasn’t.”
Sounds to me like LG's description is consistent with what we saw: that the mind control flashlight was turned off after it was too late for him to escape from the noose, and he spent his last moments desperately scrambling to survive
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:50 AM on November 26 [7 favorites]


chortly: "I remain a bit suspicious that that final "memory" is actually a memory."

Could be a false memory, of course. Planted for some reason. TBH, I sometimes wonder if Judd is really dead or if there is some long game thing going on with Trieu, Reeves and Judd, and that all of them will end up as "heroes" in this world.

Best moment for me of this episode was the head fake when Reeves brings in Fred T., and Fred flashes his privilege, and the white cop steps up and admonishes Fred for calling Reeves a "spook," and hauls him off. It felt like Hallmark had stepped in to save the world from racism, and I even bought it for a minute. Then, the darkness. Much more realistic, unfortunately.
posted by chavenet at 2:22 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


In the previous discussion I said something about worrying that using Tulsa 1921 and emphasizing the injustices done to African Americans might just all be appropriation and go nowhere. This episode certainly felt like they were paying it off. In some sense it's Racial Injustice 101 (Crooked cops, lynchings, ...) but it all felt real and the story was interesting and complete.

The most poignant thing for me was Reeves putting on whiteface make up under his hood so no one would know he was black. Way back in the first episode (or second?) I noted that the actor playing Hooded Justice in American Hero Story was white, because you could see through the eyeholes. Reeves was doing that deliberately with makeup. Even with a full costume he still has to work extra to hide who you are.

Also the homosexual closet. Not Captain Metropolis, for whom it is hard to feel sympathetic. But Reeves. They don't really make it clear what Will's sexuality is. He loves and married this woman that he grew up with, but their relationship seems more brother/sister and about the social justice work than it does romantic love. But they have a baby together, so it's a sexual relationship. Had Reeves stepped out with other men? Is he on the DL? Does June know? She seems to suspect.

Where did June get her name, anyway? She's a foundling orphan. She's credited as "June Abar" but I'm not sure if we heard the name spoken. Given that Abar / Black Superman connection I'm really curious how she picked up that name.

I agree with the comments before about how well this new story was inserted into the main Watchmen comic. Without breaking anything, and with it fitting in so well with with the Watchmen universe while also reflecting contemporary 2019 social reality. Good stuff.

This is a small thing but in some of the flashbacks when it's Angela we see, she's shown with Harriet Tubman hair.

My favorite thing about this episode was how all the flashback stuff looked like a comic book. The playing off black and white with color, particularly the insert of the hallucinatory player piano. The general distortions of reality, like the police precinct door floating in space. That frozen frame of Hooded Justice's escape, flying through the scattered glass. (Is that a direct reference to the Watchmen comic book? The Minutemen press conference sure was.) But most comic-booky and most chilling was the scene right after Reeves refuses the ride "to a beer" from the cops, and they accelerate past him and the car is trailing two black men's bodies. Those are drawn in color. Absolutely devastating visual effect, and very comic book.
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on November 26 [12 favorites]


Justinian: The fedora and red hat dudes who won't watch this because of SJW cooties are really missing out but they're so incapable of empathy and understanding of nuance that they'd probably hate it anyway.

Psst, Justinian, he's standing ... right ... there

DoctorFedora: you guys

I think this show might actually be pretty good after all


Oh, it's cool, he gets it.


Halloween Jack: ... having an actual hypno-ray back in the thirties and forties is basically introducing super-science before Doctor Manhattan

For me, the link to mesmerism (Imgur gallery of two stills, with a bonus of June telling Will that Hooded Justice shouldn't join blondie, I mean Captain Metropolis), aka Animal magnetism (Wikipedia) is a decent way to say that isn't super-science. Also, Cap Met says that Moloch the Magnificent is "planning to harness the sun's energy into a deadly solar weapon, threatening every man, woman, and child in New York." Now mesmerism doesn't sound so crazy.

And it's an extra slap in the face that a solar ray is more "the Minutemen's cup of tea" than mind control, which Cap Met writes it off, like the (corrupt, racist) cops who said the riot is the "same thing that always happens when you put a bunch of animals in the same cage." Except Met is "polite" enough to call it "black unrest," though after saying "William, you of all people should know. The residents of Harlem cause riots all on their own."

In the words of June: "you are an angry, angry man, William Reeves. [...] It's okay. Most of us are."


Brandon Blatcher: I have a lot of trouble believing that people wouldn't recognize a black man's voice underneath the hood.

People believe what they want to believe, and will see and hear what they expect. There are plenty of experiments (see Derren Brown's person swap "trick") where people literally miss what's right in front of them.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:26 AM on November 26 [7 favorites]


Where did June get her name, anyway? She's a foundling orphan. She's credited as "June Abar" but I'm not sure if we heard the name spoken. Given that Abar / Black Superman connection I'm really curious how she picked up that name.

An important detail in the Tulsa/Krypton parallel is that Will isn't a baby like Kal-El in that scene. June is. It's June that escapes the destruction of a civilization that she will never remember. And like Clark Kent, June goes on to become an intrepid reporter in the big city.

We've been so caught up in the Will-as-Superman parallel that we missed the more fitting one. After watching a movie about a masked vigilante, Will sees his parents violently murdered after leaving the theater. He later channels this rage into wearing a black cape and beating up criminals like the ones who killed his parents. But because systemic racism denied the survivors of the Tulsa Massacre their inheritance, Will doesn't have the same access to his legacy (wealth, a home with a cave, etc) that Bruce Wayne had. He's Batman without the toys and bougeois theatrics.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:21 PM on November 26 [28 favorites]


Nelson Gardner’s last will and testament is a damn barnburner. Mr. Reeves would seem to have inherited a Bruce Wayne-sized estate sometime in the 70s, assuming he was tracked down and accepted it. (Apologies to those kids in the audience who can’t read cursive, I hope it’s just a rumor that there are kids who can’t read it).
posted by artlung at 1:15 PM on November 26 [5 favorites]


Where did June get her name, anyway? She's a foundling orphan.

This is pure speculation, but the Tulsa massacre ended on June 1st.
posted by FallibleHuman at 1:18 PM on November 26 [4 favorites]


(To clarify, I don’t think anyone named her after the massacre. But if Will wandered a bit before being found by an adult, “June” seems like the kind of thing an adult would latch on to while making a name up on the spot.)
posted by FallibleHuman at 1:24 PM on November 26


I'm not sure young Will would know this, but you could read June's name as a reference to Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating emancipation.
posted by whir at 2:09 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


I wish we could tag Lindelof skeptic comments with Have Seen The Leftovers/Have Not Seen The Leftovers, because while I'm sure there are skeptics in both camps, I'm also pretty sure the overwhelming majority are Have Not Seens.

I'm not even particularly interested in trying to change anyone's mind, only in nudging as many people as possible to go back and watch The Leftovers, because it's great.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:17 PM on November 26 [5 favorites]


Plus, more Regina King. This Watchmen show is the spiritual heir to The Leftovers as far as I'm concerned. Prime time high gloss HBO Sunday night cheeky WTF.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on November 26


DirtyOldTown, yes. There is a lot of "auteur theory" about Lindelof as I see commentary here and elsewhere. But this show feels like the product of many hands and influences. This show feels like a wide variety of "voices" in this show is the product of a rich writer's room. But that's speculative.

I have managed not to watch much of his tv work, but The Leftovers being mentioned so positively and consistently has it on my list of to-watch. Lost, for the pieces of episodes I managed to watch, seemed like a meandering but interesting exquisite corpse. Lindelof sure does manage to inspire lots of feelings though.

As to whether the ending of this, and the threads, will be resolved -- I don't find myself wondering that. I wonder what will happen next.

One thing about the comic, 12 issues and done, no sequels, and at the time when it was done the open-endedness of what might happen next - the death of Rorshach, the going away of Laurie and Dan, the exodus of Manhattan, there was finality and I found it satisfying.

I do wonder about the fact that the business motivations of television demand that there be more of something people like will alter the approach. I would prefer this story to end definitively, but I wonder if, in television, it's even possible. Or more, possible to do well. It's far easier to think of tv shows that end with people upset they didn't end it well than ones that ended satisfyingly.
posted by artlung at 2:31 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


I'm near the end of the first season of The Leftovers, and while it's decent thus far, I don't love it the way I love Watchmen.

Also, while I'm here, is it just me, or is Tim Blake Nelson kind of... attractive? in this role? It's just me, isn't it.
posted by dogheart at 2:33 PM on November 26 [5 favorites]


Stay with it, dogheart. Season one is good, but season two is where it takes off into the stratosphere and never looks back.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:54 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


Maybe the most relevant thing when bringing up The Leftovers while discussing Watchmen is that virtually everyone agrees (I believe even the original author) that the series became something altogether more resonant and amazing after season one when Lindelof and company had finished adapting the original novel and started staking out what amounted to a sequel in spirit.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:02 PM on November 26 [2 favorites]


“Special Agent Dale Petey”, with the memos! Hadn’t caught that Twin Peaks reference before..
posted by rajbot at 3:35 PM on November 26


The scene of Judd's death (complete or not, as noted above) - is it meant to be a Rorschach test? The only proof of Judd's guilt that Will has claimed to have is the Klan robe in his closet; in the memory, we see Judd object to Will's interpretation of that evidence. With what she's been seen now, will Angela see his death as justice, murder, mistake...?

It gives me a small moment of pause that, according to the society article, Lady Trieu has gifted televisions to a large number of local households.
posted by mersen at 5:05 PM on November 26 [4 favorites]


Lady Trieu has gifted televisions to a large number of local households.

I noticed that too - "newly legalized HDTVs," no less. Along with Trieu having the mind-control ray from Will, this would seem to be setting up a Halloween III: Season of the Witch scenario.
posted by whir at 5:24 PM on November 26 [5 favorites]


I...I just love this episode so much, y'all.

I'm recommending it to people who have never even heard of the comic and those who have never watched even a second of the previous episodes: just go straight to episode 6 and watch it and be amazed.

On a meta-level, I'm floored by the universe bringing the Ink Spots into my life so strongly right now. My daughter (13) and I have started playing Fallout 4 and we both loooove the soundtrack, where the group has several songs, with "It's All Over (But the Crying)" being our favorite. And now here they are featuring prominently in a jaw-droppingly amazing episode of one of my favorite shows. What's the universe trying to tell me?!

(By the way, someone pointed something out to me today that I can't believe I missed w/r/t the Superman references -- don't know if it's been pointed out in a Fanfare episode before: Angela's husband is named Cal. Cal/Kal. It would be a hell of a thing if his pre-marriage last name started with an L. But how did I miss that? :-D )
posted by lord_wolf at 6:25 PM on November 26 [1 favorite]


DirtyOldTown, yes. There is a lot of "auteur theory" about Lindelof as I see commentary here and elsewhere. But this show feels like the product of many hands and influences. This show feels like a wide variety of "voices" in this show is the product of a rich writer's room. But that's speculative.


Vulture has a great interview with Cord Jefferson about this episode:

What was the racial breakdown of the writers’ room?

There was me, Stacy [Osei-Kuffour] is a black woman, Christal Henry is a black woman. Ryan Lipscomb is the writer’s assistant — he’s black. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was in the room — he’s black. Janine Nabers was in the room — she’s black.

And then, there were seven white people — Jeff [Jensen], Lila [Byock], Carly [Wray], Nick [Cuse], Damon, Claire [Kiechel], and Tom [Spezialy] — but only four of whom were white men. The room was half black and half women. Damon did his due diligence and sought out voices of color and women. He’s told me that this is the most diverse writers’ room that he’s ever amassed. He took it very seriously.

posted by oneirodynia at 6:27 PM on November 26 [25 favorites]


If you are a podcast person, Cord is also interviewed on yesterday’s episode of The Nod.
posted by FallibleHuman at 8:59 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


Some very interesting notes on Lady Trieu on the Peteypedia for this ep

Some VERY interesting notes considering I just watched the Watchmen directors cut movie. Not sure if this happens in the comics too, but the Comedian shoots a pregnant Vietnamese woman who was telling him they would need to talk about their baby, while Dr Manhattan looks on, and then calls for a medic as he leaves. What if this was Bian My, Lady Trieu’s mother, and the reason she wanted Lady Trieu to join the ranks was because she felt it was denied to her initially? Would also make for some very complicated feelings - especially around race, which the show seems to be deep diving into - around Laurie Blake, who the Comedian treated very differently.
posted by corb at 10:51 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Yes, that happened in the comics.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]


If you thought the best part about Lost was all the loose ends that never got tied up or how all kinds of unexplained new shit got shoved into the last few episodes, well the The Leftovers is definitely for you.
posted by sideshow at 7:52 PM on November 29


There was me, Stacy [Osei-Kuffour] is a black woman, Christal Henry is a black woman. Ryan Lipscomb is the writer’s assistant — he’s black. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins was in the room — he’s black. Janine Nabers was in the room — she’s black.

I noticed for the first time this episode that Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is listed as a consulting producer on the show. He's a playwright, and his play, An Octoroon, is one of the best things I've ever seen on stage. It also does similarly interesting things with time and memory and source material.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:04 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I saw where they were going with HJ in the episode, but I was definitely along for this ride. What an amazing continuation of Moore's story. I'm sure this series drives all the Snyder fanboys nuts.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:53 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


if they stick the landing, this show could be a great contribution to the conversation about race that's going on in our media
posted by kokaku at 3:42 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Given the showrunner's history that's a big "if" but we'll know within two weeks.
posted by octothorpe at 7:25 AM on December 1


As someone who was very leery of the show's direction (and still is to some point), I'm pretty happy that even if they don't stick the landing, it's gone in some wonderfully unexpected places.

But yeah, don't Weiss out and Benioff this up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on December 1 [5 favorites]


FWIW, Emily Nussbaum in this week’s New Yorker on the show, paywalled I assume.
posted by mwhybark at 11:57 PM on December 3




Thank you Ellie.
posted by mwhybark at 9:03 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


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