WATCHMEN Episode 2 Review by Mance Fine

“Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship”

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PREVIOUS: Episode 1 Review

After a disorienting, yet very enticing first episode, the second episode of Lindelof’s sequel series opens with yet another example of the racial history of our country. While it was nice to come into this episode with a vague idea of what the plot and characters would be, Lindelof continues to throw the viewer curveballs.

Episode 2 opens with another racially-charged scene from American history; African-American soldiers laying down their lives in WWI for a country that currently saw them as 3/5’s of a person. We follow a pamphlet carried by an African American soldier from WWI to the Tulsa race massacre, to “Will” — the wheelchair-bound man claiming responsibility for the shocking murder of Don Johnson’s Tulsa Police Chief Judd Crawford. As much as I’d like to leave politics out of the review, I don’t think that Lindelof is going to let me. And, considering the source material he is drawing inspiration from, maybe that’s appropriate.

After being arrested by Regina King’s Angela (who is understandably shaken and irate after what happened to her mentor and friend), Will claims that he is the one who murdered Chief Crawford and strung him up with his “psychic powers” and that he “could be Doctor Manhattan.”

More misdirection, though the playful twinkle in Will’s eyes leads me to think that he’s more friend than foe.

The only piece of useful information Will gives Angela is that her mentor was not what he seemed and that he had skeletons in his closet. Surprisingly, Angela takes his word for it and goes to Chief Crawford’s home to investigate.

At first, we think Angela is going to comfort and seek comfort from his wife, but after faking a panic attack, Angela finds a literal skeleton in his closet in the form of a KKK robe adorned with a sheriff’s badge in a hidden, Batsuit-esque storage compartment. We don’t get much more detail on this, or how the seemingly brave and honorable Chief Crawford —  who has obviously mentored and guided Angela and other African American officers — is a racist creep.

In Episode 1, we also saw a picture of Crawford (in his closet nonetheless) with the racist boy who taunted Angela’s daughter in school. What all this means, and especially how Angela wouldn’t know of the connection to the child who is in his daughter’s class, is an intriguing mystery that I can’t wait to see unfold.

As Angela balances being interrogated by her fellow officers who are just as distraught as she is with keeping Will hidden from them, she creatively finds a way to test his DNA to see who he really is. The result is shocking to Angela, clearly known to Will, and confirms that Will is the one depicted in the Flashbacks.

Could it be that Angela’s grandfather was once Hooded Justice, the member of the Minutemen depicted in the serialized cut scenes flashing in and out throughout the episode? There seems to be a definitive tie in with Angela, Will, and the celebrated hero.

Enter Ozymandias. I think so far, Jeremy Irons’ performance is the most intriguing to me. While he hasn’t been confirmed as Adrian Veidt by name, as I previously mentioned, it is quite clear that Irons is depicting an aged Veidt who is still obsessed with Doctor Manhattan.

This time, we see his servants performing in their starring roles that Veidt promised in Episode 1 in a reenactment of Manhattan’s origin and his ascension to godhood. Until that is, Veidt burns his leading man alive, only for his twin to descend in his birthday suit painted blue. It’s then revealed that Veidt has many disposable clones of his servants, and that he doesn’t much care which one is “Mr. Phillips” that day. It’s so creepy, and you can tell that Veidt is still obsessed with John, and likely still on the crusade that he was on in the graphic novel.

All things considered, it seems that the surviving characters from Alan Moore’s graphic novel will play a somewhat significant role going forward. The big question on everyone’s mind is if/when Doctor Manhattan will decide to return to Earth, and for what reason. My money is on Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman teaming up with Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern.

Yep.

What?

The episode ends with Will blasting off into the sky like the obvious badass he is. More questions, more mystery.

HBO and Lindelof are knocking this out of the park, at least after 2 episodes. If you are a fan of comics, superheroes, creative social and political commentary on both sides of the aisle, and just damn good storytelling, you need to watch WATCHMEN. I know I seemingly give everything an A in these reviews, but I guess I’ve just been fortunate to review some amazing content. Thanks Jett! – Mance Fine

GRADE: A