“She Was Killed By Space Junk”
November 3, 2019
When we first meet Laurie Blake (nee Juspeczyk) (but we’ll get to that later) she’s in some sort of space phone booth where one can leave messages for Doctor Manhattan.
Just go with it.
There, she begins telling her ex-boyfriend a joke about an expert bricklayer who, in teaching his daughter his trade, designs and builds a backyard barbecue. After everything is meticulously measured and every brick accounted for, he has built a beautiful barbecue. Problem is, there’s a brick left over, which upsets the bricklayer so much that he is ready to take a sledgehammer to his design. But his daughter stops him — she has an idea. And to that end, she picks up the spare brick and throws it as high up into the air as she can and …
… wait …
Laurie’s messed up the joke. Forget that one, she’ll tell another …
But before we get to that, Laurie walks into a bank, begins firing her gun in the air and as her accomplices reveal themselves, demands the teller hand over the money. Right on cue, a smoke bomb goes off and a Party City Batman swings into the bank to save the day. Laurie takes a hostage to stall Fauxman, before wondering how he knew this robbery was going to take place, maybe an anonymous tip? Maybe from –OH SHIT– the FBI? You know, considering that it’s illegal to run around in a mask trying to be a superhero? When Laurie and her accomplices, including her hostage, reveal their badges, Fauxman turns to leave, only to have Laurie shoot him in the back.
Fortunately, Fauxman’s body armor protected him from her bullet, not that Laurie gives a shit, and as he’s loaded into an ambulance, a crowd jeers the cops for arresting a “hero.” Laurie sneers that he’s not a hero, “he’s a fucking joke.”
Laurie goes home where all she wants is to listen to a little Devo and have a little, let’s say “Laurie” time, but she’s interrupted by that smarmball, Joe Keene Jr. who congratulates her on catching Fauxman, peeks at her pet owl, Who, and explains that he is sending her to Tulsa to lead the investigation into Judd’s death. It’s assumed the Seventh Kalvary are responsible, but what if it’s a masked vigilante?
See, the thing is, Keene here, he came up with DOPA (“You called it ‘DOPA‘?”) which allowed Tulsa cops to hide their faces, and the last thing he needs is a war between the cops and the Seventh Kalvary to undermine his signature act. Especially as he’s gearing up to run for President. And, as Keene points out, if he’s President, he’ll have pardon power which he can use for anyone, including her “owl.”
So Laurie attends the FBI briefing on the situation where we go over material we already know about: the Tulsa riots, Redforations, the Seventh Kalvary, how they’re racist, how they killed a bunch of cops this one time, how everyone’s guns were taken away and now the cops have to wear masks to protect their identities. And now Chief Judd has been lynched. You know: pretty much everything we’ve gone over in the first two episodes.
Agent Petey tries to sneak a slide about Rorschach’s journal in for good measure, but the Deputy Director is NOT INTERESTED. The Deputy Director explains that Agent Blake is going to be in charge of the investigation, but she announces that she’s going solo. When the Deputy Director insists that she take at least one other person, she chooses Petey, the Projector Jockey.
The two take off in a private jet — because apparently, that’s how FBI agents travel in this alternate universe instead of in economy on Delta — where Petey reveals that he’s brought along his Lone Ranger mask to Laurie’s irritation.
As they pass over the Millenium Clock — which we will learn about next week, I am fairly sure — Petey quotes Ozymandias the poem, not Ozymandias the superhero: “Look on my works ye mighty and despair.” He explains that this is what Lady Trieu — the woman who bought Veidt Enterprises — said at the groundbreaking for whatever the hell this thing is.
Petey begins asking Laurie about her relationship with Veidt, prompting Laurie to sigh heavily and ask him if he wants her autograph. But Petey corrects her: he did his doctorate thesis on the Police Strike of ’77 when she and her ex were in D.C., and anyway, she’s the one who brought him on this trip, he didn’t ask to come along, so don’t treat him like some kind of fan. Laurie sighs heavily that she knew Veidt, and that she’s not a fan, either.
The first place they visit upon arriving in Tulsa is the hanging tree, followed by the Crawford house to visit with Jane.
Petey and Laurie then swing by a warehouse complex that serves as the Tulsa police force’s secret interrogation center — which, for a secret location doesn’t seem that difficult to find if these two are there within hours of arriving in town — and Laurie marches in, looking for Looking Glass. She finds him in his pod and plays with the controller for his “racism detector” as she reveals that she knows his name. Looking Glass removes his mask and asks for the control back. (Which is just some A+ wordplay.) Laurie asks about Judd’s autopsy, and Looking Glass reveals that there were ligature marks, but that a tox screen wasn’t run because the cause of death was so obvious: hanging.
Laurie also asks about the raid on the cattle ranch — which Looking Glass makes a point to note that he did not participate in (INTERESTING) — and Looking Glass explains that Sister Night was the one who got the location for the raid through a “secondary interrogation” that had nothing to do with his racism detector. Laurie then reveals that she knows that Sister Night is the secret identity of one Angela Abar, and asks where she is. Looking Glass explains that she took the day off to work on Chief Judd’s eulogy, as his funeral is in a couple of hours.
Petey and Laurie arrive at Tartarus Cemetery and per the police guards’ request, surrender their guns upon entering.
At the grave, Laurie introduces herself to Angela and Cal and asks Angela if they can grab a coffee sometime. Angela reminds her that she’s not a cop anymore, but Laurie persists, handing her her card while asking if she knows how to tell the difference between a masked cop and a vigilante. When Angela replies that she doesn’t, Laurie shrugs that she doesn’t either.
While Angela delivers her eulogy, which is just her singing “The Last Roundup…”
… a Seventh Kalvary member emerges from a tunnel in a nearby mausoleum, bombed-up.
He walks out of the mausoleum, screaming that the bomb is attached to his heart, so if it stops, everyone is dead. The terrorist then calls for the “race traitor” Senator Keene, who surrenders himself. But before the Kalvary member can do anything with Keene, Laurie shoots him in the head with the gun she snuck in on her ankle holster.
But, surprise, motherfuckers, the device really is connected to his heart, somehow, and begins beeping furiously. As everyone screams for everyone to GO GO GO GO GO, Angela manages to throw the terrorist’s body into Judd’s grave, before shoving Judd’s coffin on top. The bomb explodes, the coffin explodes, the flag atop the coffin explodes. It’s a mess, but everyone is safe.
That’s when we visit Jeremy Irons Land, where Jeremy Irons is working on some sort of project. Diagrams are drawn, leather is tanned, glass is cut, metal is welded, and when all is said and done, Jeremy Irons is strapping a Mr. Phillips into an old-fashioned diving suit and sending him into the “great beyond.”
Except: whatever this experiment is, it doesn’t work, and the next time we see this particular Mr. Phillips, he’s frozen blue. Jeremy Irons is INFURIATED, and after stomping the body for a bit, he announces that they need a “thicker skin.”
To that end, Jeremy Irons rides out on his horse, past what looks like a Jolly Roger flag, and proceeds to shoot and kill a buffalo with his bow and arrow. However, before he can skin the creature, someone on a ridge shoots at Jeremy Irons’ feet, and Jeremy Irons retreats.
But BOY HOWDY is Jeremy Irons PISSED, and when he is greeted by Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks with his third-anniversary cake, he throws it to the ground in a fury.
Later, Ms. Crookshanks interrupts Jeremy Irons’ meditation to deliver him a letter from The Game Warden. The letter warns Jeremy Irons that he is violating the terms of his captivity and that the shot at his feet is and will be his only warning. Also, thanks for the tree tomatoes.
In response, Jeremy Irons dictates a letter to Ms. Crookshanks, noting that he’s not some “republic serial villain,” and that his activities are “purely recreational.” Furthermore, he would never transgress the terms on which they agreed, but he is available to discuss this matter further in person.
Best wishes and encouragement: Adrian Veidt — the least surprising reveal of all time.
Veidt then demands that Bucephalus be saddled up, he will hunt again at midnight. And with that, he gears up in his old Ozymandias costume, looking fabulous. EXCELSIOR.
Back in Tulsa, Keene holds a press conference at the cemetery gates where he thanks law enforcement, the real heroes, before noting that the Seventh Kalvary has targeted him because they recognize in him someone who can’t be terrified.
A reporter asks Keene if he’s concerned about the Russians building an intrinsic field generator, but he dismisses this: his concern is to defend the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic; the Russians aren’t his problem.
With that, he ends his press conference, and Laurie returns to the mausoleum where Angela is investigating the tunnel with her Nite Owl x-ray glasses. As Laurie offers Angela a coffee, she explains that she thought the terrorist was bluffing about that whole bomb-attached-to-his-heart thing — they always claim that, but never take the time to do it — and she thanks Angela for saving them all. Angela protests that Judd threw himself on the grenade, she just gave him a little push.
Laurie notes with disappointment that now they won’t be able to exhume Judd’s body, and Angela snaps at her that it’s not funny. Laurie assures her she’s not joking — the funeral was scheduled so fast, especially for an active murder investigation, that she had planned a discreet exhumation for the next day. While everyone is pretty sure the Kalvary is responsible, they still need to investigate other possibilities. For instance: Laurie noticed tire tracks at the base of the tree where Judd was hanged. Angela asks what type of vehicle left the tracks but Laurie’s like, “Did I say vehicle? Because I meant wheelchair.” The point being: Angela and the other cops, maybe they’re too close to this case to investigate it properly.
I mean, for instance, did Angela know that Judd had a secret compartment in his closet? When Laurie’s dad was murdered, they found a secret compartment in his closet, and ever since, Laurie has always checked people’s closets. Angela asks what was inside the secret compartment, but Laurie demands that Angela tell her: Jane Crawford told Laurie that Angela was the only person in their bedroom since Judd died, and Angela doesn’t exactly strike her as the fainting type. Laurie then shares that all that was inside the compartment was a “big naked bust” but that she thinks something was on that bust, and wonders if Judd asked Angela to get rid of it. At first, Laurie considered that Angela and Judd were having an affair, but that doesn’t make any sense because Cal is super hot. All Laurie knows is that men who end up hanging from trees who have secret compartments in their closets think of themselves as good guys, and those who protect them think of themselves of good guys: but that she, Laurie (Juspeczyk) Blake, she eats good guys for breakfast.
But Angela, she ain’t intimidated. She shudders in mock fear and then dumps the coffee into the tunnel before stomping out of the mausoleum.
That night, Laurie breaks out The Briefcase, but this is no mystery box that we have to wait multiple episodes to learn its contents: it’s a giant — and I mean GIANT — blue dildo complete with attachable balls, and an old Esquire magazine cover featuring Laurie with Doctor Manhattan.
But Laurie apparently thinks better of it and instead spends the night with Dr. Petey Projector.
Later that night, she went to the Doc Manhattan phone booth to share a couple of jokes, the first of which we have already heard. She follows up with another:
Three heroes arrive at the pearly gates where they are met by God who is determining whether they should go to heaven or hell. The first hero, the one who dressed like an owl, approaches God. God notes that he gave Owl Guy great ingenuity, what did he do with this talent? Owl Guy explains that he used it to make a bunch of cool shit and helped bring peace to the city “Cool,” says God, before asking how many people Owl Guy killed, and Owl Guy offended, replies, that he didn’t take a single life. God snaps his fingers and sends him to hell for having too soft a heart.
The second hero approaches God, and God’s like, “I gave you all the smarts, what did you do with it?” Smart Guy replies that he saved humanity by dropping an alien squid on it and killed some 3 million people in the process.
God snaps his fingers and off to hell with him.
There’s one hero left: and this hero is pretty much a god himself. For the sake of telling them apart, this god-hero is blue.
And he has SUPERPOWERS. God asks him what he did with said superpowers, and Blue God replies that he fell in love with a couple of women, won the Vietnam War and mostly stopped giving a shit about humanity. God wonders if he should even ask Blue God how many people he killed, but Blue God notes that it doesn’t matter: he knows he’s going to hell — he’s already there. ~SNAP!~ and Blue Hero goes to hell.
A woman then appears, and God is like, “The fuck? Where did you come from?” She explains that she was standing behind the heroes the whole time; he just didn’t see her. God asks if he gave her any talents or powers, and she tells him he did not. Embarrassed, God admits that he doesn’t know who she is, so she looks at God and tells him that she’s the little girl who threw the brick in the air. At that moment, the brick falls on God and knocks his brains out.
And where does God go when he’s dead? He goes to hell. Snare drum, curtains, good joke.
Laurie is alerted that her Doc Manhattan phone time is almost over, and she sighs that she doesn’t know why she keeps calling him to tell him jokes — he never had a sense of humor in the first place. Still, it’s nice to pretend that he gives a shit, but she knows that humanity isn’t worth giving a shit about anyway. With that, she wishes Jon a good night and leaves the phone booth.
And as she steps out into the town square, there is a rumbling from above and suddenly,
a brick Angela’s minivan drops from the heavens a foot from where she is standing, alarming Laurie at first, but then sending her into fits of laughter.
Before I go on with the second half of this recap, I just wanted to apologize for the sheer length of these recaps. Lindelof PACKS his shows with allusions, clues, wordplay, and it’s almost impossible to get through a scene without it feeling like it might be IMPORTANT. So, unlike other shows that I recap, it feels like every line, every detail might be valuable and worth noting. Needless to say, this can be exhausting. Apologies and get enough already.
Let’s begin with the confirmation that Jeremy Irons is, indeed Veidt/Ozymandias.
This comes as no surprise, but we are still left with a ton of questions: WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHY? HOW? Namely, who are these Mr. Phillips, Ms. Crookshanks clones running around and who is this mysterious Game Warden? What is Veidt up to, a jailbreak? When is all of this happening, have three years passed in VeditLand since the series began? Three Earth years? WHERE ARE THEY? Clearly, Veidt is being detained by … someone for … something … but where? The deep-sea diving suit and Mr. Phillips’ condition following the little experiment certainly suggests that they are near cold water: and an Antarctic island is neither out of place in this Watchmen universe nor is it unrelated to Veidt. But there is a part of me — the part of me that runs around in tinfoil hat — who also feels like that answer is too obvious, and I’m leaning towards outer space somewhere. I KNOW, THAT SEEMS STUPID, but if Doctor Manhattan can fuck off to Mars, I don’t know why Veidt can’t be contained in some sort of outer space outpost. But if he is being detained in some sort of prison, arctic island or otherwise: why? What did he do? And how did he, the “smartest man in the world” find himself in this situation?
(Also, let’s stick a pin in the name “Game Warden.” I know we’re supposed to associate it with the buffalo — the “game” — Veidt was caught killing, but Lindelof loves nothing more than clever wordplay and our “Game Warden” could actually be supervising some sort of game as in sport or play. Just putting that out there for now.)
What is interesting to me about Veidt being imprisoned or contained in some way is Keene’s passing mention that Ozymandias’ fellow superhero, Nite Owl, also appears to be imprisoned somewhere.
But before we can untangle all that, let’s discuss who Laurie, Nite Owl and The Comedian are.
Laurie Blake was born Laurie Juspeczyk to Sally Juspeczyk (Sally Jupiter, as she renamed herself) in 1949. At the time, Sally was married to Laurence Schexnayder, but even from a young age, Laurie didn’t believe Laurence was her father. Instead, she believed Hooded Justice was her dad because her mother, who was also a superhero — Silk Spectre — was a member of the Minutemen and romantically linked to the masked hero. (But it was all for show as Hooded Justice was a closeted homosexual.)
Sally pushed her daughter into the family business, even though Laurie wanted to work with animals and wanted nothing to do with the masked hero nonsense. But by the time she was in her teens, she had been molded into Silk Spectre II, and her career was managed by her mother.
When she was 16, the “Crimebusters” — a successor group to the Minutemen — was convened by Captain Metropolis, and Laurie attended their first (and only?) meeting. There, Laurie met The Comedian (Edward Blake) and sort of felt sorry for him until her mother interrupted their meeting and explained that The Comedian had sexually assaulted her back in the day.
Later, Laurie met and fell in love with Doctor Manhattan, and the two of them lived together in Washington D.C. In 1977, they worked together to suppress the riots during the police strike. The Keene Act, making masked adventurers illegal, was a relief to Laurie who never wanted to be Silk Spectre in the first place. Around this same time, Doctor Manhattan was growing more and more removed from humanity, and as a result from Laurie.
Not long after The Comedian’s murder, Doctor Manhattan fucks off to Mars, and Laurie becomes romantically involved with Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite Owl. The two of them break Rorschach out of Sing Sing (where he was being held after being framed for murder), and soon after, Doctor Manhattan brings her to Mars where she comes to the realization that The Comedian is her father.
Doctor Manhattan finds this so unlikely and miraculous that he decides that humanity is worth saving after all, and he returns to Earth with Laurie to try to stop Veidt, but TOO LATE, Operation Giant Psychic Squid has already taken place and 3 million people are already dead. The heroes agree to keep their mouths shut about it (except for Rorschach, whom Doctor Manhattan is forced to kill). After, Laurie and Dan have sex. Doctor Manhattan finds them asleep together and apparently fucks right back off to Mars.
The comic ends with Laurie and Dan assuming the names Sam and Sandra Hollis, and a suggestion that they would continue with the superheroing, but with different identities and costumes.
As for Dan Dreiberg, he’s far less interesting. He grew up the son of a banker and idolizing the original Minuteman Nite Owl. Dan was a tinkerer who studied aviation and ornithology along with engineering, and when Nite Owl retired, he gave Dan his blessing to carry on his name.
In 1965, he and Rorschach became crime-fighting partners and eventually were invited to join the Crimebusters. However, the organization didn’t last, and Dan was bummed. Dan retired after the Keene Act was passed, though his partner Rorschach continued his masked vigilantism.
When The Comedian was murdered, Dan was the first person Rorschach warned, and it is at The Comedian’s funeral that Dan is reunited with many of the other heroes. Later, he and Laurie begin a relationship, and the two break Rorschach out of Sing Sing.
While Laurie is on Mars with Doctor Manhattan, Dan/Nite Owl and Rorschach investigate the crimes against heroes. Dan’s mentor, the original Nite Owl is murdered, enraging him and he swears vengeance. Eventually, he and Rorschach come to realize that all of the crimes lead to Ozymandias and they head to Antarctica together to confront him. Blah blah, Operation Giant Psycich Squid, blah swear to secrecy, except for Rorschach, blah he and Laurie get together, the end.
Then there’s The Comedian. Edward Blake is born in 1924 and has a rough childhood, though not much about it is known. In 1939, he becomes the masked vigilante, The Comedian, and manages to single-handedly clear out organized crime from the New York Harbor through his brutal beatings.
He joins the Minutemen, and one night he attempts to rape Silk Spectre. Hooded Justice catches him in the act and beats the shit out of him, infuriating and humiliating The Comedian. He’s kicked out of the Minutemen after the attack.
However, years later, he and Silk Spectre have a consensual affair and she conceives Laurie. Around this same time, he’s stabbed by a small-time hood and he changes his costume, donning a leather outfit with a small smiley-face button. He also fights in World War II, becoming a war hero (although there is plenty of suggestion that he committed plenty of war crimes in the Pacific theater).
Later, in the 60s, he becomes a secret government operative. Captain Metropolis invites him to join the Crimebusters, but at the meeting, The Comedian tells the group that it’s pointless — being a crimefighter, stopping muggings and robberies, isn’t going to save people from real danger: the inevitable nuclear war. This would be the conversation that inspires Veidt to publicly retire as Ozymandias and begin his plan to “save” humanity with a giant psychic squid.
The Comedian is with Doctor Manhattan in Vietnam when Doc Manhattan single-handedly ends the war. As for The Comedian, he murders a Vietnamese woman he impregnated, though not before she manages to slash his face, giving him his characteristic scar. Nice guy.
After the Keene Act is implemented, The Comedian and Doctor Manhattan are the only adventurers who are registered with the government and allowed to operate as masked heroes. In 1984, Blake discovers Veidt’s secret island and his collection of scientists and artists who are designing a giant psychic squid. Veidt murders Blake before he can reveal this plot, throwing him off his high-rise balcony and setting into motion the events in the comic.
(And just an aside that doesn’t have anything to do with the events in this show: The Comedian may have something to do with Kennedy’s assassination; is suspected of having murdered Woodward and Bernstein thereby preventing Watergate; and freed the Iranian hostages.)
OK. SO. What’s new in the series is that Laurie Juspeczyk is now Laurie Blake: she’s taken her father’s name and apparently, something of his persona — that of a jokester. Or “jokester.”
And what’s most interesting to me is just how layered and complicated this gesture is: on the one hand, Laurie Juspeczyk, a woman who never had any control over her own life or identity, a woman who was forced into a role she never wanted — in the 30 years since, she has clearly chosen who she wants to be, she has finally chosen her own destiny. But it’s messy: Laurie has taken her father’s last name, Blake, but she has also made it her life’s work to fight the very thing her father was: masked vigilantes.
Of course, it could also be argued that she’s leaning into her father’s identity, what with the jokes [or “jokes”] and the fact that she, like him, is a government agent … it might be that in her attempt to separate herself from her past, she just ties herself more tightly to that part of herself that she didn’t previously know. Which, actually makes me think of Angela and her relationship with the mysterious Will — both are women who are trying to control their destinies; both are women who discover something life-changing about their biological history; both are women who can not escape a past a male relative created.
There are also several parallels being drawn between The Comedian and Judd. Both are father figures, both have secrets hidden in their figurative and literal closets, both are ostensibly “good guys” working on the side of the government. And both series open with their mysterious deaths, deaths which are part of some larger conspiracy, deaths that serve as an opening salvo in something much so much larger than the characters themselves can fully comprehend.
Here’s where I’m going to get into some SYMBOLISMS, but stick with me. This episode seemed to be filled with Axis Mundi symbolism — trees, tunnels, graves, towers … phone booths. The Axis Mundi, for those of you who weren’t around for my Lost lectures, is a symbol of the connection between heaven – earth – the underworld. Axis Mundi very often take the form of trees, extending both into the earth and sky, and serving as a messenger service between all three realms. That said, towers and tunnels represent this passageway between dimensions, between spheres.
Obviously, the tree that Judd is hung in, which has been seen in every episode, it serves as some sort of sacred space, an important connection between worlds. Judd passes from this realm into another via a tree/Axis Mundi. Also, there is that phone booth (that also bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the blue dildo) …
… that Laurie uses to call Doctor Manhattan — she is literally using the Doc Manhattan phone booth to contact a God — or Blue God, as the case may be. The phone booth is a LITERAL Axis Mundi: and maybe it works? Maybe, contrary to Laurie’s belief that Doctor Manhattan (a.k.a. God or “Blue God”) doesn’t give a shit about humans, maybe he does? Based on the fact that he appears to have answered her prayer/call?*
Similarly, keep your eye on the tunnel that the Seventh Kalvary utilized to terrorize the funeral; and the Millennium Tower, whatever the FUCK that is. An important note about that: towers, though they might seem to represent power and control, often represent the exact opposite: the loss of power, of destruction, of over-extension, if you will. In the major arcana tarot, the Tower Card “is associated with sudden, disruptive, revelation, and potentially destructive change.”
And — interestingly — the Tower Card is related to, WAIT FOR IT! — the planet Mars.
And while we’re having this conversation about the underworld being connected to some sort of higher plane, I should just mention in passing the name of the Tulsa cemetery where Judd is buried: Tartarus. Tartarus is one of the concepts that helped shape the Christian notion of Hell: the ancient Greeks understood it to be a deep abyss where Zeus imprisoned the Titans after he rebelled against them. It’s also where souls are judged upon death, and assholes were tormented for all eternity for sinning against the Gods. SO NOT EXACTLY THE PLACE WHERE YOU’D WANT TO BURY YOUR MAWMAW.
There are three things about this: 1. Like I said, it’s not exactly the thing your common Oklahoman would name a cemetery on account of its pagan roots and of course ALL THE HELLSCAPE CONNOTATIONS but 2. Adrian Veidt: he was obsessed with ancient history, particularly that of the Greeks and the Egyptians and the Romans — is it possible he had something to do with this cemetery or funding thereof? (By the way, his horse is named Bucephalus which was the name of Alexander the Great’s horse, in case you missed that connection.) and 3. what does it say about Judd that he’s being buried in Tartarus? That he’s another hero being sent to Hell?
Finally, let’s talk about that phone call which in its own way is basically a prayer: Laurie is having a one-sided communication with a missing god, whom she has to take on faith is listening — even though she has her doubts. So, Laurie tells these two jokes, which she sets up as being unrelated, but their actual interconnection is the punchline of the joke — the brick the little girl hurled into the air kills God sending him to Hell with all the other heroes. My sister had a very insightful question about the jokes, which was: “what in the show is the brick?” Meaning, what is the thing that the show has shown us, threw away and told us to forget about that is going to come crashing down on our heads at the end of all of this? And the short, lazy answer is: I don’t know.
The thing to remember about this series is that it is a sequel to The Watchmen, a deeply satirical (if not particularly “funny”) examination of a particular political moment, the fraught 1980s at the height of the Cold War. It was our world but refracted through a superhero comic prism.
And so, the detail that caught my attention upon my second viewing of this episode might end up being completely meaningless, maybe not — but it is rooted in the politics of this show and our current political environment, just as the original Watchmen was rooted in the politics of its day:
Senator Keene holds that press conference after Judd’s funeral and the terrorist attack. He praises law enforcement and talks about how the reason they targeted him is because he stands up to terrorists or some such bullshit. Then a reporter asks him about the Russians building their own intrinsic field generator. He waves off the question insisting that defending the nation from enemies domestic and foreign is his concern, the Russians are not.
I know this is going to sound cuckoo and far-fetched and impossible except only in a fictional universe filled with clones and x-ray vision goggles and giant psychic squids, but what if there was a politician running for the Presidency and what if he, say, took some help from the Russians to get himself elected. And what if in the effort to get him elected, he and the Russians stirred up racial tensions and anxieties? And what if in exchange for helping him get elected, the politician promised once in office, he would look the other way when the Russians did things that would otherwise be considered a threat to our national security like build a Doctor Manhattan machine of their own, or, you know, burn down Western democracies and invade allies.
I KNOW, I KNOW, IT’S TOO CRAZY TO EVEN CONSIDER BECAUSE GOD KNOWS THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN IN THE REAL WORLD, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WOULD BAND TOGETHER TO PREVENT THAT FROM TAKING PLACE, CERTAINLY.
OK, some quick odds and ends for this episode:
BUT FIRST, here are some documents HBO released related to the previous episode that I neglected to include:
An article about Judd’s death. 1. It’s worth noting that he and Angela were two of three survivors of the White Night, 2. he was a lieutenant at the time — so he was promoted after the event …
and 3. he served under Captain Robert S. Mueller in Vietnam.
Here is a memo from Agent Petey on American Hero Story, which basically provides some background information on some of the heroes and the whole Rorschach/Seventh Kalvary thing.
And here is a legal document laying out the argument for reparations for the descendants of the Tulsa Massacre. Note that it is written by Johnny Cochran and Charles James Ogletree, Jr. Love it.
As for this episode:
Here’s another Petey memo on American Hero Story, taking issue with their depictions of Hooded Justice, The Comedian and the original Silk Spectre.
This is an editorial in The New Frontiersman having a tantrum about President Redford appointing a liberal (John Grisham) to the Supreme Court. It’s unhinged and hilarious. In fact, in this episode, during the bank robbery, we can see a newspaper that has a headline about Grisham retiring from the Supreme Court.
And perhaps the most interesting of the documents so far: a letter about the painting that gave the second episode its title: “Martial Feats of Commanche Horsemanship.” The letter is written to Judd’s father by Senator J. David Keene, the author of the Keene act, and Sentaor Keene’s father. The letter explains why the painting (and the episode) do not bear the proper name, “Commanche Feats of Martial Horsemanship” as well as some loaded racial language and some weird weird weird secret society shit at the end. We’ll probably need to come back to this one later.
Finally, a few little easter eggs from this episode:
Petey wears a mask when he has sex with Laurie, which could very well be a wink to Nite Owl who had trouble performing sexually until he and Laurie had returned to their costumes. Laurie’s pet owl is also a nod to Nite Owl.
Laurie ends her joke with “Good joke. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.” This is taken directly from Rorschach’s journal following The Comedian’s death, where he tells a joke about a depressed man who goes to the doctor. The doctor tells him to go see the clown Pagliacci, only to have the man reveal that he is the clown Pagliacci. Rorschach ends his entry with “Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”
The Jolly Roger flag that Adrian rides past is a nod to the pirate comics that are popular in the Watchmen universe.
Adrian signs his letter to the Game Warden, “All best wishes and encouragement!” which is how in the comic he signs the introduction to his self-improvement book, The Veidt Method.
ALRIGHT. THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT, though I imagine I could have found plenty more to say about this episode. See you on the other side.
* Yes, I have seen this week’s episode. I know this is more complicated. We’ll get to it.
Watchmen airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.