In the ‘Watchmen’ recap, the Seventh Kalvary returns to Tulsa, Oklahoma, setting off a potential war between the police and the white supremacist group who take on Rorschach’s identity…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s been a long time coming but Damon Lindelof’s “remix” of the classic comic book series ‘Watchmen’ finally arrived on HBO on Sunday night.
Lindelof has been a lifetime fan of the ‘Watchmen’ and talked about the original book quite often when he first landed in the spotlight as one of the co-creators and showrunners for ‘Lost’. In fact in one of the newer versions of the ‘Watchmen’ trade paperbacks, Lindelof is quoted as saying it is “the greatest piece of popular fiction ever produced”.
So it’s safe to say Lindelof loves ‘Watchmen’ and his updated version that essentially serves as a sequel to the original material absolutely pays homage to the story from the comics on numerous occasions.
With that being said, it’s highly recommended that if you haven’t read ‘Watchmen’, it would help following along with this series much easier, although we will do our very best to include as much backstory as possible to ensure everything happening makes sense to our readers.
Beyond being the basis for this show, ‘Watchmen’ really is an incredible achievement of writing and art from the great Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The attempts to adapt the ‘Watchmen’ into a film took many years but eventually Zack Snyder took a stab at it with his 2009 movie — and despite some puzzling response from critics, he actually did a solid job with his version.
That said, Lindelof has made it clear that his version of ‘Watchmen’ follows the source material like a bible of sorts. He’s not making any changes to the original comic but rather carrying on the story with the tone and look of his HBO series.
Based on the pilot, Lindelof really knows his material with more than a few “Watchmen” Easter eggs stuffed throughout the pilot with plenty more coming as the season moves forward. He also really knows the mystery and wonder that surrounded the original “Watchmen” comic and it’s clear he’s trying to master that same feel in his remixed sequel.
There’s a lot to dig into with this episode so with that said, let’s recap the debut of ‘Watchmen’ titled ‘It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice’…
Watch Over This Boy
The story starts in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.
A young black boy is watching a silent movie featuring a fictionalized story about a real U.S. Marshal named Bass Reeves, who was the first black deputy west of the Mississippi. Reeves was largely credited as the inspiration for the Lone Ranger but in this version of the story, he actually gets to live out the heroics as himself saving a group of townspeople from a corrupt local sheriff.
The boy is enthralled by the story while his mother plays the organ to dramatic effect as the musical backdrop to the exploits of Bass Reeves. Sadly, his night at the movies is interrupted by an explosion and the movie house shaking as his mother jumps up to protect him.
A few moments later, the boy’s father arrives — dressed in military green, he takes the boy and his mother along with a rifle as they navigate the streets of Tulsa during one of the most horrific real life incidents in American history. The Tulsa Race Massacre that took place in 1921 is all too real and saw hundreds of people slaughtered after a group of angry white citizens went to a predominantly black part of town to seek vigilante justice following reports of a white woman being assaulted by a black teenager. It’s an example of one of the most horrific acts of racism in U.S. history and here it’s played out in tragic detail as this family of three tries to escape as the fights break out all around them.
The boy’s father leads the family to a barn where one of his friends is leaving town but he has no more room in the car. The boy’s father asks that they at least take his son for safe keeping and before he leaves, they tuck a note in his pocket that says ‘Watch Over This Boy’.
Hours later, the car carrying the boy has toppled over and crashed in a field somewhere outside of town. The boy wakes up to find the friends of his father are dead and the only people left alive are him and a baby that remained unharmed following the car crash. The boy picks up the baby and that’s where we leave this story from 1921 before flashing forward to present day in 2019.
The Return of the Seventh Kalvary
We’re back in Tulsa, Oklahoma but this time in a modern day where a man driving a pick-up truck is pulled over by police. The man is obviously nervous as he gets pulled over and the police officer questioning him is almost immediately suspicious. The man being pulled over jokes about the police office revealing his identity and that’s when we’re greeted by the site of the cop wearing a yellow mask covering his face. The reason behind the mask is explained in just a bit.
For now, the cop asks for the man’s identity and registration and when he cooperates, he reaches into the glove compartment to retrieve the paperwork. That’s when the police officer spots a mask — similar to the one the vigilante known as Rorschach wore once upon a time — and that’s a signal to him that he could be in trouble.
The officer returns to his car to run the plates on the vehicle while calling back to dispatch to ask for his weapon to be unlocked. In this alternative future, police aren’t allowed to carry firearms but rather they must show due cause before they are allowed to draw their own weapons.
After haggling with the dispatcher named Panda (who we later learn is actually a dude wearing a giant panda head), his weapon is released but it turns out to be too late. The cop is gunned down by a silenced machine gun from the man in the truck who is now wearing that Rorschach mask. The cop gets shot and the man tosses a head of lettuce into the car after telling him that’s what he was hauling in his trailer.
The scene then shifts to a production of “Oklahoma” with an all black cast where Chief Judd Crawford is sitting in the audience alongside his wife. He’s interrupted by one of his officers, who arrives to tell him about the police shooting that has just taken place.
Judd goes to the hospital where he meets with Looking Glass — a masked vigilante on the police payroll. Looking Glass is helping to lead the investigation into the police officer who was gunned down and barely clinging to life following the shooting. Judd makes it crucial to protect his officer’s identity, going as far as ordering Looking Glass to do background checks on all the doctors and nurses who have seen his face and visiting with the fallen officer’s wife to ensure he never told anyone that he was a cop.
Before leaving their house, Judd tells the officer’s wife to pass along a story that her husband was returning home from school when he was car jacked and that’s what led to his shooting.
Back at the police station, Judd begins to realize that this wasn’t some random act of violence but rather the re-emergence of the Seventh Kalvary — a separatist white supremacy group, who wreaked havoc for years before they finally went into hiding. The Seventh Kalvary all wear the mask inspired by Rorschach, except their mission is to stamp out anybody who doesn’t fit into their version of a white America.
The mere mention of the Seventh Kalvary seems to send shivers down Judd’s spine but he tells Looking Glass not to alert Sister Night or the Red Scare — two more masked vigilantes who are also police officers — until morning.
That next morning we meet Angela Abar — who’s masked identity is Sister Night — but during the daytime hours she pretends to be a chef preparing to open her own bakery. That day she’s at her son’s school giving a demonstration on separating yolks from egg whites, perhaps a subtle jab at the racial politics happening on this show, before revealing she was previously a police officer in a past life.
Angela reveals that on one tragic evening during an event called the ‘White Night’, an unknown number of cops were targeted by a militia sent to kill them. Because Angela had been identified as a cop, she was one of the police officers targeted, which led to a horrific act being carried out upon her own family although the full details weren’t released just yet.
While she’s speaking we get a glimpse of part of the alternate history originally set in ‘Watchmen’ as a poster shows past presidents of the United States. Among them are George Washington, Richard Nixon (who in the original comic served multiple terms as president while leading the U.S. to win the Vietnam War before then engaging in a tense nuclear standoff with Russia) and finally the current president — Robert Redford.
One of the boys in class asks Angela if she was able to open her bakery as a result of “Redfordations” — seemingly a stab at reparations that perhaps were paid out to the cops involved in that fateful White Night tragedy — but before she can react, her son flies across the room and attacks the other boy.
On the way home, Angela speaks to her son about accosting the other child and he believes the kid is racist but she’s not as quick to judge — although she throws in his actions make it seem like he’s off to a good start in that direction. That’s when an alarm sounds and Angela is forced to pull over to the side of the road when a storm of mini-squids start falling from the sky, blasting the car, streets and sidewalks with thousands of the little sea creatures.
In the original ‘Watchmen’ comic, Adrian Veigt — also known as his superhero counterpart Ozymandias — was determined to stop the oncoming nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia. His plan involved a tragedy so great that the two super powers would be forced to stop fighting each other and instead ban together against the greater evil. So Veigt orchestrated an ‘alien invasion’ with giant squid like creatures that attacked major cities around the world, killing millions.
His idea was that these alien attacks might cost a lot of people their lives but at least the end goal would stop the nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia that could wipe out life itself on Earth. Veigt’s plan works because the U.S. and Russia put their tension behind them to fight against the common enemy, thus stopping a potential war.
It appears these little squid that fall from the sky are further proliferation of the lie started by Veigt to make it appear Earth was invaded by alien attackers.
After she finally makes it home, Angela is reunited with her husband and daughter when she receives an urgent page that reads ‘Little Bighorn’. The code forces Angela to burst into action as she leaves her family and runs to the “bakery” she’s opening that’s actually covert base of operations where she transforms into the vigilante known as Sister Night.
Before she enters the building, she runs into an old man outside sitting in a wheelchair who asks her if she believes he could lift 200 pounds over his head. She nods and plays along before rushing into the bakery to begin putting on her outfit. The man sitting in the wheelchair reappears at the end of the episode in a rather stunning moment to close the pilot.
After turning into Sister Night, Angela goes to a neighborhood known as ‘Nixonville’ where people haven’t exactly acclimated to the world in 2019. Sister Knight busts into a trailer where she takes the man living inside, putting him into her trunk before returning to the police station.
There she watches a manifesto released by Seventh Kalvary saying that they are back in operation and unless the police concede to them, there will be more dead cops as a result.
“Soon all the whores and race traitors will shout save us and we will whisper ‘no’. We are the Seventh Kalvary. We are no one, we are everyone, we are invisible.”
The declaration is a take on the classic phrase from Rorschach in the comics where he says “all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘save us’ and I’ll look down and whisper ‘no’.” Obviously, the Seventh Kalvary have taken up Rorschach’s cause, although he was never a white supremacist, which leads to you believe they’ve perverted his right-wing cause for their own needs.
Regardless, Sister Night meets with Judd after the meeting where the cops are authorized to use their weapons for the next 24 hours as a result of the Seventh Kalvary’s attack. While Panda — the dispatcher from earlier disagrees with the move — the police chief believes this is the only way to protect his officers while they knock down a few doors to pick up some potential perpetrators who are involved with the crime.
That’s when Sister Night tells him that she’s already taken that step, assuming Judd would eventually order it anyways. She’s captured a potential member of the Seventh Kalvary and she places him in the ‘pod’ where he will endure an interrogation at the hands of Looking Glass.
The interrogation involves flashes of photos including a look at Mount Rushmore, which now features Richard Nixon carved into the side, as Looking Glass questions the suspect while asking him ‘trigger’ questions to see how he responds. Among the questions, Looking Glass asks him if he believes the trans-dimensional attack (aka the giant alien squids) was a hoax while also questioning him repeatedly if he was a member of the white supremacist group known as the Seventh Kalvary.
One important note — at the end of ‘Watchmen’ after Veigt’s plan is revealed and carried out, Rorschach promises to return and expose his lie. Dr. Manhattan — the only superpowered superhero in the original comics — knows that at this point undoing Veigt’s plot would only lead to nuclear war so the truth can never come out. He ultimately zaps Rorschach out of existence before leaving Earth all together.
In the final moments of the comic, a local newspaper is digging through a box of conspiracy theories floated at them and in the pile of paperwork sits Rorschach’s journal, which he used to document his detective work. It’s possible that this newspaper printed a version of the alien invasion story questioning its legitimacy, which then lead to the questions about whether it was real or fake.
In the end, Looking Glass determines that the suspect knows more than he’s telling them but it’s going to take some coercion to get him to comply. Sister Night is more than happy to beat it out of him — which includes a stream of urine and blood coming from the room where she gets her answers — and with that the police are dispatched to a local cow farm where the Seventh Kalvary apparently as a base.
When Sister Night and the rest of the troops arrive, the Seventh Kalvary members are pulling batteries out of watches and putting them into big buckets. An alarm is tripped, which alerts them to the cops’ presence so the group goes outside and opens fire on the police while the rest of the members try to get away.
Sister Night eventually makes her way inside the compound after the Seventh Kalvary members are stopped. She fights with the one last remaining member inside but just as she gets the upper hand, he takes a cyanide pill to ensure he won’t be able to talk. Inside, Sister Night also spots a framed photo for ‘National Bank’, which features the superhero known as Dollar Bill.
In the original comic before the Watchmen came along, there was another heroic group called the Minutemen. Dollar Bill was a member of the Minutemen, but he was largely just a paid sponsorship for a bank that funded his inclusion as a symbol of protection that they used in advertisements.
While Sister Night comes up short getting any information, she spots two more members of the Seventh Kalvary about to make their getaway in a plane that was parked outside. The Seventh Kalvary soldiers get the plane into the air when Sister Night calls for backup — and that’s when we find Chief Judd Crawford and ‘Pirate Jenny’ flying inside Archie — the ship that originally belonged to Daniel Dreiberg aka Nite Owl II. Archie plays a prominent role in Snyder’s ‘Watchmen’ movie as the big owl looking ship that he flies around when he teams up with Silk Spectre II to rescue Rorschach from prison.
In this version, Judd and Pirate Jenny give chase but as the plane starts to climb higher in altitude, they are forced to fire at them because Archie can’t follow them. Unfortunately, Archie is struck by debris from the destroyed plane and the entire ship is brought back down to the ground.
Sister Night rushes to check on the chief, who emerges unscathed much to her delight, because it’s clear she counts Judd as a friend and mentor of sorts.
From there we are transported to an unknown countryside manor where a man is riding a horse before arriving at his home where he’s met by his servants, Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks. Inside, the man pecks away on a typewriter sitting totally nude while Ms. Crookshanks tends to him.
Later, the servants present a cake as a celebration of his ‘anniversary’.
Judging by everything we know, this man is Adrian Veigt aka Ozymandias — the mastermind behind the alien attack that staved off a nuclear war. The anniversary would appear to be the day that he launched the attack that led to millions dead but ultimately stopped a war between the U.S. and Russia.
Earlier in the episode, a newspaper is shown that says Veigt was confirmed dead but it seems that was all a rouse as he appears alive and well, living in some kind of secluded cstle in the middle of nowhere.
Veigt enjoys his anniversary while his servants seem less than apt to assist when Mr. Phillips attempts to cut the cake using a horseshoe instead of a knife. Something tells me Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks might be the “Westworld” version of servants that have been created by Adrian Veigt in this futuristic place where he’s widely regarded as the smartest man on Earth.
Veigt then tells his servants that he’s working on a play right now called “The Watchmaker’s Son” and when it’s finished he intends on Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks to play the starring roles.
Now this play seems to reference Dr. Manhattan — the all powerful being who was created after a scientist named Jon Osterman was trapped in an experimental chamber that essentially transformed him into an omnipotent being capable of manipulating matter of all kinds, while also giving him god-like powers to see into the future.
Before he became Dr. Manhattan, Osterman was the son of a watchmaker who was following along in his father’s footsteps until the atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. From there, Osterman’s father was convinced that atomic science was the future and he put his son’s focus there instead of on watchmaking.
Veigt was long obsessed with Dr. Manhattan in the original comics and it appears that fetish is still alive and well 34 years after the initial events in ‘Watchmen’.
The only glimpse we get of Dr. Manhattan in this episode is a brief look at a news story on television touting that video has captured him living on Mars where he’s seen building and destroying a building.
After stopping the Seventh Kalvary from escaping while still not getting any answers about why they’re back, Angela and her family go to dinner with Judd and his wife, who are obviously very close friends. They chit-chat about going to see the all-black version of “Oklahoma” when Judd is encouraged to sing one of the songs after he played a role in that same musical when he was in high school.
Judd serenades the group before snorting some cocaine, which leads to you believe that he has more going on that just being the local chief of police.
Later that night as Angela prepares to leave, she talks to Judd about the events of the past couple of days and what this means going forward. Angela is concerned about the watch batteries that they confiscated from the Seventh Kalvary — these are the old synthetic batteries that reportedly gave people cancer.
In the comics, Dr. Manhattan creates a type of lithium battery that transforms energy sources around the globe, which eventually leads to the extinction of fossil fuel use with all cars now being powered by this electric batteries. In his plot to keep Dr. Manhattan out of the way while he orchestrated the mass alien invation, Adrian Veigt made it appear that people exposed to him for too long as well as his batteries were coming down with cancer.
The revelation of this sickness eventually led to Dr. Manhattan leaving Earth, which then allowed Veigt the freedom to carry out his mission. When Angela mentions those old batteries, it appears that lie perpetrated by Veigt was never exposed and people still believe they can get sick from them.
Either way before leaving, Angela is convinced that the Seventh Kalvary will be carrying out their mission very soon and Judd can only smile while telling his wife that they’re only discussing the end of the world.
Later that night, Judd gets a call at home to tell him the police officer who was shot has woken up from his coma. Judd decides to pay him a visit so he puts on his uniform, disregards his wife’s request to have someone drive him, and he leaves on his own to the hospital.
Along the road, Judd listens to the radio where a report talks about the presidential race between Robert Redford and Joe Keene, who appears to be the son of the original Senator who enacted the Keene Law that forbade masked vigilantes from existing in the United States. It appears Keene’s son is now running against Redford in the next election, looking to take back the legacy started by his father.
As he’s driving, Judd’s tires blow out and when he goes to inspect what happened, he finds a roll of spikes laid across the road that was just waiting for him. A second later, a bright light is blasted in his face and Judd is obviously frightened by whoever is shining it at him.
Back at home, Angela receives a mysterious phone call from somebody who knows her double identity as Sister Night and orders her to meet him at a nearby location. Angela arms her husband and takes a gun of her own as she ventures out to meet this mystery person who seems to know her true identity as a masked vigilante.
When she arrives, Angela is hit with that same spotlight but when the light drops, she sees the same old man in a wheelchair who greeted her earlier in the episode. He’s seated in the wheelchair with a note on his lap that reads “Watch Over This Boy” — which seems to indicate this is the little boy who was thrown from that crashed car when escaping the Tulsa Race Massacre years earlier.
More shocking is the fact that this man has hanged Judd Crawford and he’s currently dangling from a tree branch much to the horror of Angela Abar. The final shot shows a drop of blood falling from Judd down to his police badge and as it lands it looks similar to the iconic shot from the ‘Watchmen’ comic when Edward Blake aka the Comedian was killed and a single drop of blood fell over the smiley face button he used to wear on his outfit.
Now we don’t know who this mysterious wheel-chair bound man is yet but based on a documentary series called “American Hero Story” that’s teased throughout the episode, it seems possible that this man is Hooded Justice — the original superhero who was a member of the Minutemen, whose identity was never actually revealed. Is it possible that the little boy who survived the Tulsa Race Massacre and the subsequent car crash went onto follow in Bass Reeves’ footsteps and became Hooded Justice?
Only time will tell as Angela seeks answers to find out why her mentor had to be killed. It would appear Judd had more going on that meets the eye but we’ll have to wait for future episodes to find out what the Tulsa chief of police was doing behind closed doors.
‘Watchmen’ returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on HBO with a brand new episode.