“Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship”
October 27, 2019
Germany, 1917. A stenographer who speaks English is called into an officer’s office where he dictates to her a message for one very specific audience: African-American soldiers.
Yup, this, like the Tulsa Race Riot, was real.
The flyers are dropped from planes, and one soldier fortunate enough to catch one: the father of the little boy from the previous episode’s cold open. In fact, it’s on the back of this very flyer that Dad wrote the “WATCH OVER THIS BOY” note, meaning this bit of (not entirely inaccurate) propaganda is the only thing The Boy has of his parents when it is all said and done.
And in fact, that note is on his lap while he waits for Angela Abar to see what he has done to Captain Judd. Once she arrives, and once she processes what she is seeing, she wheels the old man into her car, drives him to her bakery, where she handcuffs him, takes his note and his pills, makes him a cup of coffee and storms into her superhero room to finally have some emotions.
After a good screaming fit, Angela becomes Sister Night, returns to the old man, and demands to know who the hell he is. The Old Man insists that he is the one who strung up her chief of police. Sister Night reminds him that he’s 90-fucking-years-old, and Old Man replies that actually he’s 105, and she curses too much.
Instead of telling this man to not fucking police her fucking language like the filthy-mouthed wife that she is, she demands to know how, exactly, it is he managed to lynch Captain Judd all by himself. Old Man suggests that maybe he can manipulate matter with his mind, maybe he’s Doctor Manhattan himself, did she ever consider that? But Sister Night rejects this: for one thing, Doctor Manhattan fucked off to Mars years ago and anyway, he can’t make himself look like humans. I’m not exactly sure why not, but OK.
As Sister Night gives Old Man his pills, she asks him once again who he is, and once again he insists that he is the one who strung up her chief of police. So Sister Night takes a different tack: why? If he is the one who lynched Captain Judd, why did he do it? And Old Man explains that Judd had skeletons in his closet and that there is a “vast and insidious conspiracy at play in Tulsa” — he has to give it to her in pieces because if he told her all at once:
And finally, he tells her his name: Will.
Who is she?
At that moment, Sister Night is paged and she returns the call managing to fake shock at the news about Judd coming from the other end. On her way out, she bags Will’s coffee cup and takes it with her. BYE. TRY NOT TO LYNCH ANYONE WHILE SHE’S GONE.
And then there is a very interesting short scene at a newsstand where a newspaper delivery guy brings the day’s edition of The New Frontiersman:
It appears that Tulsa wasn’t the only city to be pelted with squid slime; Vancouver, Jakarta, Leningrad were also hit at the same time. The delivery guy thinks that it’s because of some “interdimensional shit” while Newsstand Guy calls bullshit on this: it’s obviously a false flag operation designed to distract the masses while “they” take away everyone’s rights.
The delivery guy suggests that “Keene” must have Newsstand Guy’s vote then, but Newsstand Guy rejects this out of hand.
And then a small girl in a beret arrives, Newsstand Guy gives her a bundle of papers, and she drives off.
Elsewhere, Sister Night returns to the oak tree which has now become a crime scene. But before she can leave her car, Looking Glass climbs into her passenger seat where he declares it’s obvious the Kalvary is responsible. He also informs Sister Night that Judd suffered — in fact, he was alive the whole time, so that’s horrific. Looking Glass mentions that Jane, Judd’s wife told him that they had dinner with Angela’s family the night before, and wonders if Judd had been acting strange at all. Sister Night insists he wasn’t, maybe he’d had a couple glasses of wine, might have done a little blow … Looking Glass notes that it sounds like quite the party, to which Sister Night snaps that her kids were there.
“YOUR kids,” Looking Glass sneers back.
This does not go over well with Sister Night who suggests Looking Glass go fuck himself before demanding to know if he’s interrogating her now. After all, he’s a “cold motherfucker.” If that’s the case, Looking Glass wonders, why is he crying under his mask.
And that’s when the photojournalist wearing a giant pair of mechanical wings slams onto the hood of Sister Night’s car. Red Scare proceeds to beat the crap out of the “moth” until Looking Glass calls him off, prompting Red Scare to wonder if Looking Glass is in charge now, and if not, who the hell is?
As the three masked detectives lower Judd’s body from the tree, Sister Night is flooded with a memory:
Christmas Eve, two minutes before midnight. Angela’s husband Cal is watching the clock closely, insisting that he’s going to open his present the moment it turns 12. However, as the clock strikes midnight, a man in a Rorschach mask bursts into their home with a shotgun and begins blasting. Angela manages to make it into the kitchen where she grabs a knife and stabs the gunman. She grabs his shotgun, but before she knows what happens, she’s shot in the gut by another Rorschach-masked gunman.
When she comes to, she’s in the hospital, and Captain Judd, also in a hospital gown and rocking some sort of arm injury, is in her room staring at her. He explains what happened in what is being called “The White Night”: they came for everyone in a coordinated simultaneous attack. 40 homes, all police most of whom were asleep in their beds. Judd was home, he explains, when a Rorschach fucker came in through his window and shot him. But Judd shot his face off, and he understands that Angela got her guy, too.
Angela asks about her partner, Doyle, and Captain Judd has bad news for her. He and his wife were both dead in bed when they found them. Their son, Topher, took his baby sisters and hid in the closet. Angela is FUCKING FURIOUS and wants to round up all the racist motherfuckers, but Judd has to point out there’s no one left. The cops who weren’t attacked are resigning, now that they know the Kalvary has their names and addresses. “WELL, I’M NOT QUITTING,” Angela swears. So Captain Judd promises he won’t quit either.
In the present, after the masked detectives remove Judd’s body, Red Scare suggests they head over to Nixonville and crack some skulls. Sister Night suggests that’s really not necessary, giving Red Scare pause: she loves beating the shit out of these racist fuckers, what gives?
So they arrive in Nixonville, and Red Scare explains that the residents will get into the paddy wagons or they’ll tear down their Nixon idol. Instead, someone throws a bottle at Red Scare — which is exactly what Red Scare and the cops wanted. Skulls are promptly cracked.
Sister Angela insists that the violence is unnecessary until a man takes a swing at Looking Glass and her with a baseball bat. She proceeds to beat the everliving shit out of him.
Sometime later, Angela takes the Old Man’s mug to the Tulsa Cultural Heritage Center which appears to be devoted to the history of the Tulsa Massacre — because in this universe, unlike our own, it’s actually acknowledged. There, she goes to a kiosk that plays a video featuring the Treasury Secretary, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a.k.a. “Skip.”
The video of Treasury Secretary Skip explains that he can check “Will’s” eligibility to receive reparations for the Tulsa Massacre (as only survivors and direct descendants of victims are eligible) through DNA testing that will be done there at the center. Angela swabs the mug, deposits the sample and gives her phone number as the person to contact with the results. God bless America.
When Angela returns home, Bobby from Supernatural is on her porch, demanding to see her kids as it’s his visitation day, but she’s able to make him go away with a check. (He calls them “Redforations” so we can be thoroughly assured he is Not a Nice Guy.)
Inside, Angela informs her husband that she hasn’t yet arrested Old Man despite his insistence that he killed Judd, and that he claims he’s Doctor Manhattan who has made himself look like a human. “He’s on Mars and he can’t do that,” Cal insists.
So, based on TV show logic:
1. Doctor Manhattan is back on Earth and
2. He definitely looks human.
Cal worries that they aren’t safe, but Angela assures him that they are. He then informs her that Judd’s wife is having people over to the house that night — he’ll stay with the kids, but Angela needs to make an appearance.
Angela goes upstairs where she find Topher playing with some sort of levitating magnetic building toy, and Angela asks to talk. She explains that some dumb people believe that the world is fair and good, but she and Topher, after what happened to their parents, they know that’s not true, the world is really black and white.
She then tells him that Uncle Judd is dead, that someone hung him from a tree. Topher, clearly angry and sad and unwilling to show it, replies, “OK. He was a policeman. Policemen die.” He then asks Angela to not tell his sisters — he’ll handle that. Topher finally gives in to his anger and knocks the building he was creating across the room before asking if he can go watch TV.
And the TV that he chooses to watch: American Hero Story, which comes with a stunning number of warnings that it contains graphic language, violence, racism, misogyny, hate crimes, sexual assault, anti-semitism and pretty much every other horror you can possibly imagine. Under no circumstances should young viewers be allowed to watch, even with adult supervision.
Topher watches anyway.
That night’s episode is about Hooded Justice, considered the first “masked adventurer” in the Watchmen universe. The episode begins with a body of a circus strongman washed up in Boston Harbor who is NOT our Hooded Justice, but he wants everyone to believe it is. It then details his second known appearance: when, in 1938, he busted through the window of a supermarket while it was in the process of being held up by a team of gunmen. Hooded Justice, in his red executioner’s costume with a noose around his neck for extra symbolisms, he beat the everliving shit out of the robbers, some to death.
Then there’s a long monologue from Hooded Justice about his anger and masks and not feeling comfortable in his own skin and identity while Angela drives to the Crawford home because do you get it? SHE’S JUST LIKE HIM.
At the Crawford house, Angela meets Joe Keene, the Oklahoma senator who is apparently running for President? And for whom Jane Crawford used to work for? Stick a pin in this one, I think we’ll be returning to it later.
ANYWAY, Angela suddenly faints, so Jane takes her upstairs to her bedroom for a lie-down. After Jane leaves, Angela breaks out her Nite Owl x-ray vision goggles and heads into their closet to search for skeletons.
And skeletons she finds:
Angela shoves the robe into her bag, and hurries out, passing the very painting this episode is named for. (Sort of):
And then we head back to Jeremy Irons Land where he appears to be celebrating his second “anniversary.” After, he has his servants perform the play he’s been working on, “The Watchmaker’ Son,” which, apparently, is just Doc Manhattan fanfic.
His butler, Mr. Phillips, recreates Jon Osterman’s fateful entry into a nuclear test chamber, only to have his master literally blow him up with dynamite. Then, another man, blue, naked, masked, he descends from the ceiling, declaring that he’s no longer Jon Osterman, he’s Doctor Manhattan.
Applause, applause, applause, and it turns out that the actor playing Doctor Manhattan looks EXACTLY like Mr. Phillips, as do all of the stagehands, while all the musicians look exactly like Ms. Crookshanks, Jeremy Irons’ faithful maid.
This entire scene:
Anyway: good news, the watch the original (?) Mr. Philips had made for Jeremy Irons, it has not stopped despite being trapped in the firebox with Mr. Phillips … “It’s only just begun.”
SO. Back to the bakery. When Angela arrives, Will is not only out of his handcuffs, somehow, he’s hard-boiling some eggs. Angela, furious about the Klan robe she found in Judd’s closet, demands to know WHAT THE FUCK? Did Will plant it there? YOU KNOW, WITH THE WHOLE “SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET” THING? Will points out that he’s in a wheelchair, so unless Judd’s bedroom is on the first floor, it’s unlikely he had anything to do with it.
Will notes that she clearly doesn’t want to arrest him — if she did, she would have by now. Not that it would matter. He has friends in high places.
And that’s when the phone rings, with news for Angela: “Will” qualifies for Redforations and he has two ancestors and two descendants, one of them, a granddaughter, named Angela Abar.
As Angela hangs up the phone, Will asks her what she wants to know, and she answers: why is he here? And Will has a simple answer: he wanted to meet her, he wanted her to know where she came from.
Now, thoroughly pissed, Angela announces that he’s under arrest and furiously wheels him out to her car where she has to lift him out of his wheelchair, hugging him the same way she hugged Judd’s body earlier that day.
She places him in her minivan, but before she can load up his wheelchair, she notices a whirring noise above her. A bright light shines down, as well as a heavy magnet that plucks her minivan up, lifts it into the sky and flies away with it. As Will zooms out of her life, his WATCH OVER THIS BOY flier flutters down and into Angela’s hands.
So, contrary to what Lindelof said in several interviews ahead of the release of this series, it’s becoming clear that having at least some knowledge of the original Watchmen material is pretty goddamned crucial to understanding what the hell is going on in this series. And while I applaud the cleverness of using this American Hero Story construct as a means of introducing us to the characters of the original story, I’m not sure that it’s entirely enough.
To that end, let’s meet three characters from the original series: Hooded Justice (who was introduced in the episode), Doctor Manhattan (who was mentioned thriveteen times in the episode) and Ozymandias (who was in the episode, murderizing clones).
So, this Hooded Justice guy, who I mentioned earlier is considered the first “masked adventurer” or superhero in the Watchmen universe, what is interesting about him is that he is the only hero whose identity has never been revealed.
He started fighting crime in the late 1930s, and was one of the founding members of the Minutemen — along with his secret lover Captain Metropolis. In the 1950s, during the hearings for the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Minutemen were required to reveal their identities to one member of the committee, but Hooded Justice told them to fuck off and eventually disappeared.
It was assumed by many that Hooded Justice was a circus strongman named Rolf Müller who was suspected to be a child murderer. Around the same time that Hooded Justice disappeared, Rolf’s body — which had been shot in the head — washed up on a Boston shoreline. In the original series, it’s never conclusively determined if Hooded Justice and Rolf are one and the same, but in this series, Lindelof seems to be saying that they were not, and, in fact, Hooded Justice murdered Rolf as a cover.
We can’t leave Hooded Justice without noting his costume, which is heavy with symbolism, particularly for this series. In the original comic, his costume is supposed to reference an executioner, down to the executioner’s noose which is wrapped around his neck. However, particular in light of the events in this episode, Hooded Justice’s costume assumes a different (but related) meaning: the Klan. It’s hard to not see his pointed hood and that noose around his neck, and not associate it with the lynchings in the deep south and, of course, Judd’s Klan robe.
This, plus the super-easter-eggy fact that Hooded Justice’s character was originally imagined as being named “Brother Night,” and of course the Ku Klux Klan’s original name was the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, it gives his entire character a much more menacing air, and brings to question this entire loaded idea of “superheroes,” what their motivations are, and whether it’s a good idea for people just taking justice into their own hands.
Hey, did I mention that according to the notes of Alan Moore, the creator of the Watchmen series, Hooded Justice’s original concept was a character named “Brother Night?” You know, like “Sister Night?” We’ll come back to this in a bit.
Next character: Doctor Manhattan.
So, Doc Manhattan’s name was mentioned A BUNCH of times in this episode, and if I were a gambler, I’d bet that he’s the one character that even those of you who have not read anything else Watchmen-related have heard of.
The most important things to take away about Doctor Manhattan: 1. he’s the only actual character with superhuman powers, 2. he’s a “quantum” superhero, meaning he has control over matter at a subatomic level and he experiences all time simultaneously and, 3. he’s blue and naked like, almost all of the time.
Jon Osterman is born in Germany in 1929 to a Jewish clockmaker (and in fact, one of his most cherished childhood memories was when his father gave him a clock for his birthday to teach him that time has “weight and power.”) In 1939, his family fled Germany for obvious reasons, and his father hid him in a box to try to smuggle him across the border. (Sound familiar?) His mother was killed by the Nazis, but he and his father made it to New York City.
Jon is 16 when the United States drops the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In response, his father declares his watchmaking profession outdated and urges Jon to study atomic science. He does and after attaining his Ph.D., he’s involved in an accident in which while trying to retrieve his girlfriend’s watch from a nuclear test chamber, he’s locked inside and his “intrinsic field” is removed. Everyone assumed he was blasted into nothingness, but, somehow, his consciousness survived as an electromagnetic pattern or somesuch and he recreates his physical form, fully returning in the blue form that we are familiar with three months later.
A year after that, the government recruits him to be their superhero, and they are the ones who name him Doctor Manhattan. Stuff happens, and when President Nixon comes to office, he asks Doctor Manhattan to end the Vietnam War, which he does within three months. This makes Nixon incredibly popular, the 22nd amendment is repealed and in 1985 Nixon is serving his fifth term. (According to some show math, it looks like he would serve two more terms, with his Presidency ending in 1993. In real life, Nixon died in 1994, so it’s not clear if he was voted out of office in 1992 in favor of Robert Redford or if he died in office.)
In the 70s, people began rioting against the heroes, and though they were eventually outlawed by the Keene act, Manhattan continued working for the government because why not.
Later, as the Cold War tensions escalate, Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) begins formulating Operation Giant Psychic Squid, but he knows to pull it off, he has to first get rid of Manhattan. To that end, he started spreading rumors that Manhattan gave those closest to him cancer, and as people began chasing this story, Manhattan is like, “YOU KNOW WHAT, YOU UNGRATEFUL ASSHOLES, I’M OUTTA HERE,” and he fucks off to Mars.
He returns to save humanity after a conversation with Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre II, whom I suspect we will discuss in the next post. However, they return too late to stop Operation Giant Psychic Squid. Veidt/Ozymandias points out to the heroes that his plan seems to have worked — everyone is more concerned about being attacked by multi-dimensional alien squids than one another — and that revealing what actually happened, that it was all a conspiracy, might doom humanity. So everyone agrees to keep the truth hidden except for Rorschach. So Manhattan kills him.
Manhattan then decides to leave Earth again, and as he departs, Veidt/Ozymandias asks Manhattan if Operation Giant Psychic Squid worked out in the end, to which Manhattan replies, “nothing ever ends.”
Which! Attentive viewers will note is what Jeremy Irons says in this episode following his play about Doctor Manhattan, because Irons is Veidt/Ozymandias.
I’m going to pause here for a second to note that a friend who was passingly familiar with the original material asked me who Irons was, and when I explained he was Ozymandias, it confused him as to how old these characters are. So let’s briefly discuss the timeline: there are basically two generations of heroes in the original comic: the original guys, Hooded Justice, Captain Metropolis, the original Silk Specter, The Comedian, the original Nite Owl, and some others. Then there is a second generation of heroes, who emerge in the late 50s, early 60s, which include Silk Spectre II, the second Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias. Doctor Manhattan is in his own category.
As for Adrian Veidt, he is the son of wealthy German immigrants and incredibly brilliant — in fact, he might be the smartest man on Earth. His parents die at 17, and Veidt gives away his inheritance to charity. He then embarks on a personal quest, following Alexander the Great’s route, culminating in a hashish-induced vision that instructed him to become a superhero: Ozymandias.
(Ozymandias, as I’m sure you know, is the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, and the inspiration for the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem of the same name.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
So, you know, a bit of foreshadowing is at work here.)
Now, because Veidt was the smartest man in the world, he predicted a couple of things: that Doctor Manhattan would be the end of costumed adventurers and that the whole superhero thing would fall out of popularity by the late seventies. He also began to question what the heroes were even doing fighting crime which was so small potatoes compared to the real threat to the world: nuclear war.
Two years before the Keene act was made into law, Veidt publicly retired from superheroing and started a very public company that marketed his Ozymandias persona, building a fortune. However, Veidt Enterprises also funded Dimensional Developments, Pyramid Deliveries, the Institute of Extraspatial Studies, and an Antarctic island retreat called Karnak. Through these entities, Vedit plotted to save the world through Operation Giant Psychic Squid (which also involved poisoning the people closest to Doctor Manhattan to accuse him of giving them cancer; killing some of the old superheroes; and staging an assassination attempt on himself to throw people off the scent). And what I’m saying is don’t be surprised when we learn that Jeremy Irons is not somewhere in the English countryside, but on an island somewhere unexpected, like Antarctica.
Anyway, on November 2, 1985, Ozymandias teleports the giant psychic squid to Manhattan which explodes upon arrival, unleashing a psychic shockwave that kills 3 million people. And he gets away with it because “the greater good.”
One last thing about Veidt that I just found (and I’m sure other people have pointed out elsewhere): Chapter 11, “Look on My Works, Ye Mighty,” is when the other heroes arrive at Karnak and Ozymandias explains his whole plan, and gives them the bad news: he’s already launched it. “I’m not a republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I’d explain my masterstroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago.”
ANYWAY, the chapter ends with an interview with Veidt where he is asked if he believes we’ve harmed the environment “beyond repair” ~cough~ or if we might have a nuclear war.
“Of course. Of course, I do. I’d be ignoring the facts if I didn’t accept those things as strong possibilities. As I said, it all depends on us, on whether we, individually, wat Armageddon r a new world of fabulous, limitless potential. That’s not such an obvious question as it seems. I believe there are some people who really do want, if only subconsciously, an end to the world. They want to be spared the responsibilities of maintaining that world, to be spared the effort of imagination needed to realize such a future. And of course, there are other people who very much to live. I see twentieth-century society as a sort of race between enlightenment and extinction. In one lane you have the four horsemen of the apocalypse …”
Interviewer: “… and in the other?”
Veidt: “The seventh calvary.”
So that’s where that comes from. I should also point out that the “Seventh Kalvary” is most certainly also a reference to the Seventh Calvary that was led by George Custer. The regiment was created specifically to protect homesteaders and raid Native villages, so, you know, racist manifest destiny shit.
As for this episode, there’s a lot to get our hands around. But my big takeaway from it was that this was the moment Angela crossed the first threshold in her personal hero’s journey. She is leaving the world of the knowable, the world in which everything is black and white: there are easily distinguishable good guys and bad guys and nothing in between. (Even her costume reflects this binary worldview.) But now she is entering a new and unfamiliar world, one in which the one good man — the best man — that she knew, he may not have been so pure after all.
SO THAT KLAN ROBE, Judd’s skeleton in his literal closet. I started thinking about the symbology of those robes, wondering what they were supposed to evoke, and I remembered being told once that they were supposed to look like ghosts to scare their victims. But after this episode, and the inclusion of Hooded Justice, I wondered if they weren’t supposed to be an invocation of an executioner’s hood. In my search, I found this very informative — but difficult to read — article about how the white robe/pointy hat Klan costume came to be the standard for the organization (spoiler alert: it’s from Birth of a Nation), but as for where the inspiration for that came from: Freemasons? European traditions? The fever dream of the costume designer? No one seems to really know.
Ultimately, it’s not so much about what the hoods symbolize, at least in terms of this particular series, as much as what they are: a mask. Like all the other masked characters on the show, Klan members believe that they are the real heroes at work, but that their real identity must be protected at all times. (SPOILER ALERT: The Klan is never the heroes.)
Obviously, we don’t know the whole story there, whether Judd was active in the Klan, or had once been active but was no longer in the Klan, or if it’s his father’s robe (because one thing Lindelof loves is a good daddy issue), or what the deal is, and I’m not jumping to any conclusions just yet.
That said, I do think we are being led down a road in which Judd was involved in the “White Night.” Hey! Remember what I told you the Klan’s original name was? The KNIGHTS of the Ku Klux Klan. The White Knights, if you will?
Now, I’m not saying that it’s going to be as simple as Judd = Bad Ku Klux Klan Man Who Wanted to Kill a Bunch of Cops. Instead, in keeping with the general themes of this series, I suspect the White Night will turn out to be conspiracy enacted by a few for the “greater good.”
OK, so remember that strange little scene at the newsstand? In the original comic, there is a newsstand character, Bernard, who serves as something of a Greek chorus character, the voice of the “common man” in this universe of extraordinary heroes. He dies in the giant psychic squid attack. So this scene in the show is an allusion to both Bernard but also the giant psychic squid attack itself, in that it helpfully explains that the squid shower in the first episode 1. occurred in multiple cities around the world simultaneously and 2. is being explained as some sort of interdimensional event related to the original giant psychic squid attack of 1985.
As we all know, the original giant psychic squid attack in 1985 was not interdimensional in nature at all, but instead was a manmade conspiracy designed to inspire fear and distract. So, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in language describing the squid shower to which Judd uses to describe the events on White Night: a “coordinated, simultaneous attack.”
What I’m thinking is that Judd, and possibly other muckety-mucks (perhaps Senator Keene, who wrote The Defense of Police Act which allowed police officers to wear masks following the events of the White Night — and who is the son of the Senator who outlawed heroes in the first place) felt that officers are too restricted by President Redford’s liberal policies and they staged the attack by inciting violent racists. Meaning, the Seventh Kalvary is very real, but they are being manipulated by policing forces who want their power back. Furthermore, I think that it’s Judd who shoots Angela — intentionally shooting to wound, not to kill — but to radicalize her, to create his own fierce and vengeful hero: Sister Night. As for Judd claiming that he was also attacked during the White Night, Adrian Veidt staged an assassination attempt on himself so that he wouldn’t be suspected of the murders he committed. False flags are part of this universe.
So now Angela is torn between two men: the black stranger who is her grandfather, who is claiming to have killed her white mentor because he had skeletons in his closet. This dichotomy between the two men is fascinating to me — very Jacob and Man in Black, if you will (and you Losties will, dammit). One man, Judd, helped create and nurtured Angela’s alter ego, Sister Night, while the other man, Will, after disappearing from her entire life, reappears to urge her to strip herself of the costume, to be herself. Will is attempting to tear the blinders from Angela’s eyes, to expose her to some truth, some vast conspiracy at work. And because Will seems to be operating as a foil to Judd, this makes me think that Judd must be a large part of said conspiracy, actively obscuring the truth from Angela, leading her, as Ozymandias did with the world, towards a lie, ostensibly for her own good.
BUT WHO KNOWS?
Two final thoughts on Will as we head into the next episode: 1. Who, exactly, are his friends in high places who literally carried him up into the sky before he could be properly detained and 2. is his dark red jacket supposed to evoke or allude to the dark red costume of Hooded Justice? Is Will Hooded Justice? If he is 105 years old, he would have been 24 in 1938, the year that Hooded Justice began his adventures. And Hooded Justice’s ultimate fate has never been determined — he might very well still be alive out there. While American Hero Story portrays him as a white man, it would be a delightful and appropriate-to-this-series twist that America’s first superhero was actually a black man (who, in turn, was inspired by his silent film hero, The Black Marshall).
Just something to chew on.
Alright, because this has gone on ENTIRELY too long, I’m going to wrap up with a few other comic easter eggs that I don’t think actually mean a whole lot in the scheme of things, but that gives some added dimension to the story:
When Angela comes home, Cal is playing with his daughters, one of whom is dressed as a pirate and the other is an owl. These are references to the hero Nite Owl, and to a comic book that is read by a boy who hangs out at the newsstand, about a pirate who is forced to lash dead bodies together to make a raft. (The fact that Cal is a ghost worries me about his safety down the road, that it might be some foreshadowing. Or it could be some sort of nod to the recurring theme of people being hidden, of the Klan robes and heroes’ masks. This is taking me down a whole other path, wondering where, exactly, Cal went on the White Night, why he wasn’t shot, too … OH MY GOD, WAS HE IN ON IT WITH JUDD? Stick a pin in this one, we might have to come back to it.)
When Topher destroys his toy building in a fit of rage, it’s a nod to Doctor Manhattan destroying his creations on Mars.
Angela uses X-ray glasses in Judd’s closet, the second piece of Nite Owl’s technology that we’ve seen used by the police so far.
The “moths” might be a reference to one of the original Minutemen, Mothman.
It’s brief, but we get a glimpse of the “Hiroshima Lovers,” a recurring image in the comic:
And, of course, the repeated close-ups of clocks with the hands nearing midnight, a repeated reference to the Doomsday Clock in the comic.
ALRIGHT. TICK TOCK, GET ENOUGH ALREADY.
Watchmen airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.