‘Watchmen’ Recap ‘Little Fear of Lightning’: The Architect of Fear

In the “Watchmen” recap, Wade Tillman’s origin story is revealed as he goes beyond the looking glass and the greatest hoax in the history of the world is exposed…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s tough to fathom the initial shock that Wade Tillman felt after he survived the interdimensional squid attack that killed 3 million people on Nov. 2, 1985 but it’s probably akin to the lightning bolt that shot down his back after discovering that an event that has shaped his entire existence since he was maybe 16 years old was nothing more than an elaborate hoax.

The latest episode of “Watchmen” is told as an origin story for Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass beginning with the fateful night in November 1985 all the way through the revelation that none of it was real.

The journey not only explains a lot more about why Wade wears that reflective mask all the time but there were several more jaw-dropping moments this episode including the revelation of the leadership behind the current incarnation of the Seventh Kavalry.

It’s all witnessed through Wade’s point-of-view including the moment he betrays his co-worker Angela Abar while simultaneously saving her life.

While the bulk of this episode takes place through the eyes of Looking Glass, there is also an interesting aside as we finally discover where Adrian Veidt has been stashed all this time, although we’re no closer to finding out who put him there.

There’s a lot to get to with this episode so let’s recap the latest “Watchmen” titled “Little Fear of Lightning”…

11-2-85

Long before Wade Tillman was a masked member of the Tulsa Police force, he was a Jehovah’s Witness, who traveled to Hoboken, New Jersey aka “the whore’s den” with a group sent to speak to the sinners who would soon die when the doomsday clock reached zero hour and a nuclear war was sparked between the United States and Russia.

A devoted Wade tried to preach to a group of teenagers, who belonged to the gang faction known as the Knot Tops — a counterculture gang that was part of the original “Watchmen” comics as well — but they blew him off and knocked all of the watchtower pamphlets out of his hands. Thankfully a girl took pity on Wade and invited him into a funhouse with her where he could give his testimony.

Once inside, the girl begins flirting with Wade before eventually removing pieces of his clothing as she flirts with him about having sex before the nuclear holocaust happens. Once she removes his underwear, Wade is terrified yet aroused — until the girl grabs his clothes, mocks his religion and runs away to embarrass him for attempting to preach to all those sinners.

A few moments later as Wade chastises himself in the mirror for falling prey to temptation, a giant blast is heard outside. Wade’s ears are ringing but he’s still alive when the noise dissipates. When he walks outside, Wade is horrified to find nearly everybody at the carnival is dead minus a few random survivors.

The shock washes over him like a cold shower as he screams out in terror. As the shot pulls back away from Wade and then deep into the heart of downtown Manhattan, we see the giant alien squid that traveled through an interdimensional portal, landed in New York and unleashed a psychic blast that killed 3 million people and traumatized millions more.

Wade was spared because he was inside that funhouse, surrounded by mirrors, which apparently deflected the psychic blast that killed those millions. More than 30 years later, Wade is still haunted by memories of that night and in many ways, the alien attack on New York has shaped every event in his entire life from that moment forward.

Back in the current time, Wade works as a consultant for focus groups testing out products and it’s his job to tell the companies involved what people really think of what they’re selling. Wade has an innate ability to read people, which is why he’s become such an effective interrogator for the police. Like all cops these days in Tulsa, however, Wade has to work a “day job” to hide the fact that he’s actually a police officer.

On this particular day when Wade goes into work, he’s greeted by an impatient Angela, who is still waiting on answers about her grandfather’s pills that she handed over to him to get tested. It seems he’s still waiting on his ex-wife to get the results but the conversation is soon interrupted when he’s asked to head into Laurie Blake’s office for a meeting.

She’s not only taking over the Tulsa Police Department but she’s changing course in regards to plans to tackle the Seventh Kavalry. Instead of busting the heads of every right wing nut job in Oklahoma, she’s told the police to begin searching for the place where the Kavalry could be hiding — starting with the church where they filmed the video that warned the cops that they were coming for them.

During the meeting, Laurie asks “Mirror Guy” several personal questions including his experience during the 11-2 massacre and how it’s affected him ever since. She brings up a substance called “reflectatine”, which apparently blocks out psychic attacks. Wade uses that material to create his mask as Looking Glass and he also wears a hat lined with the stuff because he’s been living in constant fear for more than 30 years that the aliens would one day return and attack again.

The conversation is kept brief but just before he’s leaving, Laurie asks him about the pills.

It seems she bugged Wade’s desk and Laurie just heard Angela ask him about the pills. He plays it off as a medical issues that Angela asked him to help her with, which means legally he can’t discuss anything to do with the pills.

That night when Wade returns home, he picks up his mail that includes a pair of letters addressed to his ex-wife Cynthia along with a catalog from EDS — Extra Dimensional Security. Inside, Wade removes his hat, which is lined with reflectatine and he puts on another Looking Glass mask that he keeps in a safe at all times. He sits down with a can of baked beans for dinner while watching the latest episode of “American Hero Story”, which features an erotic hookup between Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis.

In the middle of watching the sex scene between superheroes unfold, Wade hears an alarm go off and he races down into the doomsday bunker he’s built in his backyard. It seems Wade has purchased an alarm that will sound during any psychic attack should another alien squid land somewhere on Earth. When the alarm won’t stop sounding, Wade is forced to rip it off the wall and complain to the company about the defective product.

It seems Wade’s paranoia about another attack has constantly gotten the better of him over the years because he not only demands a replacement sent to him in 24 hours but he even sleeps with the Looking Glass mask over his head.

The next day, Wade goes to visit his ex-wife Cynthia at her job — where she works at a pet cloning facility with the slogan “the splice of life” where they make exact replicas of dogs, cats and whatever else people might want to duplicate rather than watch die.

Cynthia tells Wade that the pills are Nostalgia — which was originally a perfume produced by Veidt Industries in the comics — but here it seems this particular medication contains memories belonging to somebody in particular. Apparently Nostalgia was banned years ago because it caused psychosis in many of the people who took them but somebody still has a ready supply filled with all the memories from the past.

Before leaving, Cynthia asks Wade if he’s researching these pills as a favor for a lady friend. She asks him if he’s still making bad choices when it comes to women who constantly want to kick him in the balls. Wade did make the right move picking Cynthia apparently but then she spent seven years of their relationship trying to convince him that she wasn’t going to leave him standing naked without his clothes.

The Architect of Fear

In his spare time away from the police station, Wade leads a group therapy for people affected by the interdimensional attack that killed 3 million people back in 1985. Some folks were directly connected to the blast, others were children of people who lived through that attack but they all share similar stories of trauma.

During the meeting, a woman shows up and joins the group after Wade asks her if she’s a “friend of Nemo”. That explains the title of the episode — it’s a line from the Jules Verne book “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” when Captain Nemo pilots an advanced submarine and eventually encounters a giant squid. The line from the book reads “if there were no thunder, men would have little fear of lightning”.

The woman doesn’t say much but after the conclusion of the group therapy session, she speaks to Wade by his car. At first it’s just small talk about the meetings but it soon moves into something more personal when the mysterious woman asks Wade to follow her.

The two of them end up at a bar having beers where Wade tells her about his job finding the truth in focus groups and she tests him by lying about her job before finally revealing that she’s a radiologist. The conversation eventually turns towards 11-2 after Wade shared his story about the horrifying events of that night and how it’s haunted him ever since.

It seems this woman’s story isn’t quite as personal because she’s obsessed with a movie called “Pale Horse” that was directed by Steven Spielberg. In this alternate “Watchmen” world, “Pale Horse” is essentially Spielberg’s take on “Schindler’s List” except in this movie he follows the events of the alien squid attack on New York City.

“Pale Horse” references a band that was playing at Madison Square Garden that night when the alien squid landed and everybody was killed. This woman is both haunted and comforted by this movie and she’s constantly thinking about the events that unfolded on 11-2. The only time she doesn’t get consumed by it is when she’s watching “Pale Horse” or when she’s fucking.

The flirtation catches Wade’s attention but soon she suggests retiring for the evening as she calls a friend for a ride from the bar after she’s had a few too many drinks. Outside while she smokes a cigarette — which is apparently banned in this version of 2019 — she shares a kiss with Wade just before her friend shows up at the bar.

Wade tells her good night but as she pulls away in the truck, he spots a head of lettuce falling out of the back bed.

Back in the debut episode of “Watchmen”, a Tulsa police officer is shot and killed by a member of the Seventh Kavalry, who was driving a truck filled with lettuce in the back.

After verifying that the police never recovered that truck, Wade decides to go in pursuit of the vehicle in hopes of finding out the location where the Seventh Kavalry calls home. When the truck finally arrives at an abandoned apartment store, he sees the woman and her friend exit the vehicle with both wearing Rorschach masks.

Wade calls for backup before deciding to apprehend the suspects himself. He searches the truck and finds a gun in the glove compartment and he goes inside searching for the Seventh Kavalry.

When he finally gets the drop on the group, Wade is horrified to see that the Seventh Kavalry are using an interdimensional portal similar to the one that was activated on Nov. 2, 1085 that ultimately led to the giant alien squid crash landing in New York and killing millions.

He attempts to arrest them but Wade soon finds out that this entire situation from the encounter with the woman at his meeting to the head of lettuce that fell from the truck, it was all orchestrated to lead him back to this place. The Seventh Kavalry wanted to lead Wade here so they could finally share the truth with him.

He’s then taken to a separate room covered in televisions where he meets the leader of the Seventh Kavalry — none other than Senator Joseph Keene Jr.

Apparently, Senator Keene took the reins of the Seventh Kavalry just recently and along with his old pal Judd Crawford, they led different factions of the radical group in order to prepare for a plan that will be unleashed on the world in just a few days. It’s confirmation that not only is Keene part of the Seventh Kavalry but so was the Chief of Police, who was so beloved by his officers.

Senator Keene then offers Wade the chance to know the truth that will set him free. He also asks that Wade turn in Angela Abar for killing Crawford or covering up information related to his murder in order to take her off the board for a few days as he prepares to enact this mysterious plan. The alternative is the Kavalry goes to Angela’s house and murders her entire family because Keene already knows everybody’s true identities.

Finally, Keene plays the video for Wade that was first shown to him when he joined the Senate.

The footage features Adrian Veidt speaking directly to the camera in a recording made on Nov. 1, 1985 but he’s actually talking to the future. Veidt made this video for Robert Redford, who he knows will be elected as president in 1992.

In the video, Veidt not only takes responsibility for leading to the election that put Redford into office and removed Richard Nixon from the same role but he also explains the alien attack 24 hours before it actually happened.

“Nuclear holocaust between the United States and Russia is imminent. Fortunately, I planned for this, too. And the only way to stave off mankind’s extinction is with a weapon more powerful than any atomic device. That weapon is fear and I, Mr. President, am its architect.
“In 24 hours’ time, that’s seven years ago for you, an extra-dimensional monster will materialize in Manhattan unleashing a psychic blast that kills half the city’s population and traumatizes millions more. Yet the monster will not have come from another dimension at all. It will have come from me. A hoax, Mr. President. An elaborate, meticulously engineered hoax to save the world.”

Wade is floored by the revelation — if this video is true, everything in his life has been built around a lie and a conspiracy larger than any other in human history.

Drops of Jupiter

The only other story that takes place this week is one revolving around the architect of fear — Adrian Veidt.

After numerous teases about his location and how he’s been kept captive for the past four years, we finally get some answers after Veidt puts on a diving suit similar to the one he made for a past Mr. Phillips before he returned frozen solid as a rock. Once Veidt is locked and loaded, he climbs into the giant catapult with a rope tied around his waist and he’s launched into the sky.

But he doesn’t fall back to Earth — instead Veidt passes through whatever world he’s trapped inside and he comes out on the surface of a moon orbiting Jupiter. Yes, Adrian Veidt is trapped somewhere in the dark reaches of outer space on one of Jupiter’s moons.

Once he lands on the ground, Veidt immediately begins gathering the broken bodies of all the Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks that he had launched through the air. He arranges the bodies to spell out the words “SAVE ME” and he finishes just before a Jupiter probe circles around the moon.

He’s obviously trying to get someone’s attention to come rescue him — but who put him on a moon around Jupiter in the first place?

It would seem to make perfect sense that Dr. Manhattan is involved in some way — most likely as the person who orchestrated Veidt’s personal prison. Because who else could create such an elaborate world in the middle of a cold, dead planet except for a god-like creature named Dr. Manhattan.

Just as he finishes the distress call spelled out in broken bodies, Veidt is pulled back down to his cozy world where he’s greeted by all the Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks, who are still alive. His arrival is soon met with somebody else — another Mr. Phillips clone but this time he’s the mysterious “game warden”, who was previously referenced in a past episode.

It seems the game warden is rather unhappy with Veidt’s decision to escape this place and now punishment must be doled out. Veidt fires back taunting the game warden that his god has abandoned him — he’s abandoned them all, which seems to cement the fact that Dr. Manhattan created this world.

Back in the original comic just before Dr. Manhattan decided to leave Earth and set up residency on Mars, he had just found interest in the human race again and told Adrian Veidt that perhaps it would lead him to create something new. These clones of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks could be the life that Dr. Manhattan created, which would explain the lake filled with fetuses that turn into grown adults after a quick zap in the microwave.

But it seems this world was created and later abandoned by Dr. Manhattan but he still uses this as the prison where Veidt is housed — or at least that’s where somebody has kept him for the past four years.

Squid Pro Quo

In the aftermath of watching the Adrian Veidt video where he confessed to orchestrating the greatest mass murder in world history, Wade returns to work the next day tasked with the job of getting Angela Abar out of the way for a few days or risk her entire family being slaughtered.

So Wade sets her up by telling Angela that the pills were Nostalgia and then asking her for details knowing that Laurie Blake would be listening. She explains how the pills belong to her grandfather and that he took credit for Crawford’s murder but as a 100 year old man, she knows he couldn’t have done it. So Angela covered up the crime in order to conduct her own investigation.

That’s all Laurie needs to place Angela under arrest but before the handcuffs can be applied, she swallows all of the Nostalgia pills. These pills were already outlawed and Angela may soon find out why as she awaits a flood of memories into the brain that don’t belong to her. The consumption of somebody else’s nostalgia pills may even be deadly.

As for Wade, he returns home after betraying one of the only people he might have called a friend and he finds the EVS package waiting for him. He throws it away at first but then goes back to retrieve it — 30 plus years of trauma and paranoia don’t just go away overnight.

Once inside, a van pulls up to Wade’s house and four members of the Seventh Kavalry pour out with guns in hand. Now that Wade got Angela out of the way, has Wade’s usefulness to the Seventh Kavalry already expired?

We’ll find out more when “Watchmen” returns with a brand new episode debuts next Sunday night at 9 p.m. on HBO.

 

 

 

 

 

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