In the ‘Watchmen’ recap, Angela begins investigating Judd’s murder but the mystery just gets deeper and the World’s Smartest Man puts on a play…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
If the first episode of ‘Watchmen’ was an introduction to the new cast of characters from creator Damon Lindelof, the second episode started to delve deeper into the overall mythology of the original book from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
While there were hints at the events that took place in the ‘Watchmen’ comic book — from tiny squid falling from the sky to a brief look at Dr. Manhattan on Mars — the debut episode mostly set up the context around this new story taking place in 2019.
In episode 2 as Angela Abar begins investigating the murder of Tulsa Chief of Police Judd Crawford, she begins to discover some awful truths about the people she trusted not to mention her own ties to the mysterious man in the wheelchair who claimed to kill her boss. In the middle of all this we get another look at Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias as he puts on the play he was writing a week ago that tells the origin story of Jon Osterman’s transformation into Dr. Manhattan.
The show within a show aspect also continued this week — much like the comic — except this one is called ‘American Hero Story’ and it’s telling the origin behind the first masked superhero named “Hooded Justice” and there’s no chance this is being told by coincidence with so many questions remaining to the overall plot.
We also get a look this week at the tragic event known as ‘White Night’ where members of the Tulsa Police were targeted by the Seventh Kalvary in a mass shooting that hit 40 homes and left many cops dead.
And by the end of the episode there’s a giant flying machine picking up a car by a magnet and swooping Will Reeves away from potential arrest.
There’s a lot to dig into this week so with that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Watchmen’ titled ‘Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship’…
Ball of Confusion
The episode starts with another flashback — this time to World War I when Will Reeves’ father was fighting as part of the Allied forces. Will is the little boy who was sent away to safety to escape the Tulsa Race Massacre from the debut episode and we saw that his father was wearing a military uniform
Obviously, Will’s father was a soldier but this episode features an interesting twist featuring German commanders typing up propaganda that would be dropped down upon black garrisons. The propaganda essentially asked by the black men were fighting for an America that treated them as inferior with far fewer rights and privileges while the Germans have never done anything to them.
Will’s father picked up one of those papers and brought it home with him — and it’s the same paper that he writes ‘Watch Over This Boy’ before sending his son away from Tulsa to save him.
Fast forward 99 years to 2019 and we find Will sitting in his wheelchair next to the body of Chief Judd Crawford, who has been hanged by his neck until dead. Angela Abar arrives at the scene, much like she did in the debut, except this time we see it through Will’s point of view.
After Angela sees her friend and mentor strung up in a tree, she quickly decides to shuffle Will away from the crime scene before taking him back to the bakery that is actually a front for her superhero hideout.
Once inside, she handcuffs Will to his chair as she goes to change into her Sister Night outfit and once she returns she hands him a cup of coffee while seeking some answers about Judd’s murder. Will, who is 105 years old, claims that he killed Judd all by himself and perhaps he did it all by using his mind to manipulate matter.
Maybe he’s Dr. Manhattan — but Angela quickly shoots down that notion although the questions about the ability to assume a more human form than the blue glowing demigod that we know so well from the comics is an interesting idea to keep an eye on as the series moves forward. Will admits he’s not Dr. Manhattan but he also claims that he alone killed Chief Crawford while stringing him up.
He then tells Angela that there is a ‘vast and insidious conspiracy’ happening in Tulsa right now but it’s so far reaching that he can only explain it to her in pieces. In fact, Will claims he’s been telling her things already — like the fact that Judd was hiding a lot of skeletons in his closet — but she’s not been willing to listen.
Before she can dig any further, Angela gets a page that alerts her to the cops finding Chief Crawford’s body. Obviously she acts shocked and surprised at the news as she’s still trying to figure out how Will is involved in Judd’s murder. She takes the coffee cup that he drank form, wraps it in a plastic bag and heads out to the crime scene to once again look at Judd’s dead body hanging from a tree.
Along the way we stop at a newsstand where the proprietor and the delivery guy talk about the latest headlines including the alien squid that keep falling from the sky. The newsstand owner is suspicious at best about the falling squid and how he believes President Robert Redford may be involved. Then again, the newsstand owner definitely isn’t on board with Senator Joe Keene, who is now running for president while carrying on the legacy that his father started. In the comics, the Keene Act is the law enacted that eliminates masked superheroes from acting as law enforcement in America.
As for Angela, she arrives to the crime scene dressed as Sister Night when she meets with Looking Glass, who has already started his investigation. He learns about Judd’s dinner Angela and her family from the night before when the chief enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and some cocaine for dessert. Before long it sounds like Looking Glass is starting to question Angela, which she recognizes almost immediately.
She accuses Looking Glass of being a “cold motherfucker”, which he answers back by saying that he’s crying underneath that mask he’s wearing. The two of them are interrupted by a reporter in some kind of flying contraption, who has been shot down from the sky as he attempts to get video of the chief’s dead body.
It must be noted that ‘Watchmen’ has started with the murder of a prominent character who apparently had secrets to keep. This mirrors the original comic book where The Comedian, Edward Blake, was killed at the beginning and Rorschach took it upon himself to investigate the murder, which eventually led him to this vast conspiracy orchestrated by Adrian Veidt.
Also, if you’ve noticed there are no cell phones or fancy electronics in ‘Watchmen’ and that is explained by the events in the original comic book. When Adrian Veidt orchestrates his plan to fake an alien invasion in order to stave off a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, he first has to get Dr. Manhattan out of the way because he has more than enough power to stop his plans from coming to fruition.
So Veidt begins revealing that many people who have come in contact with Dr. Manhattan over the years have contracted cancer, including his ex-girlfriend Jenny Slater. Dr. Manhattan is so grief stricken at the possibility that he’s responsible for giving people cancer that he ultimately decides to leave Earth to live on Mars instead. But getting Dr. Manhattan out of the way also led people to believe the energy technology he had been developing was also tainted, which was eluded to in the debut episode when Angela mentioned how the Seventh Kalvary had a bag full of ‘synthetic batteries’ taken from watches and Judd jokes that maybe they are building a cancer bomb.
Obviously in the aftermath of Veidt’s plan to make the world believe Dr. Manhattan was one big carcinogen, it has now forced people to be fearful of technology. That explains why Angela carries a pager rather than a cell phone and why technology seems somewhat out dated despite the fact that this story takes place in 2019.
As for Angela, she grasps onto Judd as his body is brought down from the tree and it brings her back to a fateful night from years earlier when she faced the Seventh Kalvary for the first time.
A few years earlier, Angela was spending Christmas Eve with her husband Calvin as they slow danced to “Santa Baby”. At the time, Calvin’s greatest concern was unwrapping a big present left for him under the tree while Angela was just enjoying the moment being together.
That is until she hears a sound that alerts her to someone being inside their home.
She quickly reacts to move Calvin out of the way as she pulls the plug on the Christmas tree as a gunshot rings out from a man wearing a Rorschach mask weidling a shotgun. Angela is able to escape to the kitchen where she gets the drop on the intruder by stabbing him in the neck and killing him. Sadly she didn’t see the second gunman, who fires a shot straight into her belly as she falls to the floor.
The Rorschach-wearing gunman stands over her and points a double-barreled shotgun at her face as she fades to black.
When Angela wakes up, she’s in a hospital bed three days later and Judd Crawford is by her side. At the time, the two of them were barely acquainted but he explains that Calvin was perfectly fine and he just went home to get a change of clothes after staying there ever since she was hospitalized. Judd’s arm is in a sling as well but he was also able to fend off the gunman who came into his home.
Judd then explains that there were 40 attacks that night, all on the cops from Tulsa, with numerous police officers slain in the mass shooting. Even Angela’s partner Doyle and his wife were slaughtered as part of the attack, which left their three children without parents. The oldest boy’s name was Topher, which now explains that Angela is raising Doyle’s kids as her own after their parents died during ‘White Night’.
Judd then tells Angela that the police force has been ravaged — the cops who werern’t killed are now quitting and leaving the job rather than continuing to move forward knowing their lives are in danger. But Angela isn’t going anywhere — in fact she can’t even shed a tear for her partner’s death becuas she’s enraged and seething for revenge.
She tells Judd that she won’t be leaving the force and at that moment the bond between the two of them began.
Lollipops and Rainbows
With Judd in a body bag, Red Scare is thirsty for justice and he wants to go rattle the cages over in ‘Nixonville’ where members of the Seventh Kalvary are known to congregate. Angela is hesitant at first to get behind the plan but she eventually gathers with Looking Glass as they head over to the trailer park community searching for answers.
Red Scare is ready to draw blood as he calls out to the people living there to come quietly and load into the paddy wagons or risk the police pulling down the statue they’ve erected of former President Richard Nixon. Of course the threat then turns to violence, which is exactly what Red Scare wanted as he jumps into the fray and the fighting begins.
Angela stays out of the battle, which seems curious to Looking Glass, who assumed she would want revenge for Judd’s death. She finally snaps when someone swings a lead pipe at them and Angela tackles the perpetrator and beats him into a bloody pulp, letting out all of her frustration from that entire day on him.
Before going home, Angela takes a trip to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage, which serves as a memorial to the tragic events of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Outside there are protesters, who have an issue with the reparations that were paid to the people most affected by this horrific piece of American history.
After the first episode of ‘Watchmen’ aired, a lot of people commented that they had never even heard about this racially motivated attack in Tulsa and that’s largely because it’s almost been scrubbed from the history books that are used in schools. It’s a terrible reminder of the way events like these are forgotten but thankfully everybody watching ‘Watchmen’ is learning more about that particular atrocity.
Inside the cultural center, Angela gets a bit of a history lesson about this massacre before plugging in the DNA she captured from the coffee cup of her mysterious prisoner to see if he’s connected to Tulsa.
When she finally returns to her house, Angela is forced to tell her son Topher that ‘Uncle Judd’ has died but not before she encounters her children’s real grandfather. It seems he gets to see the kids once a week or perhaps once a month but with everything happening after Judd’s death, Angela feels it would be better to delay this particular bit of quality time. To finally get him to leave, Angela actually has to cut him a check!
As for breaking the bad news to her family, Topher has already lived through tragedy after his parents were murdered right in front of his eyes while he heroically saved his sisters from being killed as well. Topher’s grace under fire and unflinching willingness to save those who needed saving let Angela know right away that they were more alike than any other two people living in this house. She knows that Topher understands the world isn’t all “lollipops and rainbows” and it’s because of that they can deal with the fallout of Judd’s death.
He asks to wait a day before telling his sisters the news because they are obviously still recovering from the death of their real parents.
Under the Hood
The story within a story this week features the second installment of the show “American Hero Story”, which apparently tells the origins behind the first masked superhero named Hooded Justice.
The episode begins with disclaimers about the subject matter that will be covered in this show before starting with a dead body being discovered floating in the water. The voiceover talks about a strongman who was found dead that authorities believed may have been the person behind the mask that belonged to Hooded Justice.
In the comics, it was largely theorized that Hooded Justice was a German strongman named Rolf Muller, who was later shot and killed. But in this story that appears to be based at least partially on the Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl) autobiography “Under the Hood” that told his life story including his part in the original superhero group known as “The Minutemen”, Muller wasn’t actually Hooded Justice but rather it was somebody else entirely.
The episode then goes onto tell one of the stories from Mason’s book where he talks about Hooded Justice crashing through a window to stop a grocery store robbery. Hooded Justice was so vicious in his execution of these criminals that he was immediately one of the most feared men in America.
His identity was never revealed and after the Minutemen disbanded, Hooded Justice seemingly disappeared. Last week, I theorized that Will Reeves was the man behind that hood, especially after he saw that Bass Reeves movie in the theater that saw the lawman string up a crooked sheriff with a lasso around his neck and the central theme to this fictionalized version of a real man is that he’s always seeking justice. It would stand to reason that perhaps Will took on this moniker and became Hooded Justice but again that’s not been confirmed yet.
Nothing Ever Ends
Back at the unnamed castle in an unknown part of the world, Adrian Veidt (who technically still hasn’t been named but it’s almost a foregone conclusion at this point that’s who we’re dealing with) is riding his horses and eating fruit from a tree ahead of a planned performance of the play he’s just written.
He passes along some instructions to his actors — Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks — about what he expects in this performance.
Later that night, Adrian watches in awe as his two actors carry out the scene that portrays Jon Osterman’s transformation into Dr. Manhattan. The play is called ‘The Watchmaker’s Son’, which is obviously referencing Jon Osterman, whose father was a watchmaker before he witnessed the power of the atomic bomb and put his son into science rather than the family business.
In the play, Adrian carries out Jon’s transformation as closely as he’s ever heard the story (some details are off but that’s because Adrian wasn’t there in the first place) and he watches as the fateful scientist returns to a chamber to retrieve his girlfriend’s watch only to get trapped inside.
After he’s torn apart particle by particle — and in this high school version of the play he’s actually set on fire — Jon Osterman is destroyed and he’s reborn as Dr. Manhattan (complete with a blue penis). Janie turns to Dr. Manhattan and asks if this is the end and he remarks that nothing ends — nothing ever ends.
Those words were the final things said to Adrian by Dr. Manhattan before he disappeared from Earth and presumably returned to Mars back in 1985. At the time, Adrian was asking Dr. Manhattan about the greater good after he slaughtered millions with his staged alien attack in order to stop the nuclear war between the Americans and the Russians.
Before leaving, Dr. Manhatten utters those words “nothing ever ends” before leaving and Adrian is left perplexed, wondering exactly what he meant.
Adrian is impressed by the play and nearly brought to tears by the performances but he still needs to see it again. That’s when we learn that all of the stage hands working the play are copies of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks — undoubtedly clones that Veidt has made through his vast scientific genius.
He then appoints one of the clones as his new Mr. Phillips before telling him to dispose of the charred body of the old Mr. Phillips. Veidt also comments how all of these burned up clones will be put to good use one day.
The Adrian Veidt storyline is clearly a massive question mark surrounding ‘Watchmen’ so far but remember he was the mastermind behind the “alien invasion” in the original book that killed millions in order to save billions from nuclear war. It’s entirely possible he’s cooking up another plot in 2019 or perhaps he’s trying to find a way to bring Dr. Manhattan back from Mars. Throughout the original comic, Veidt seemed almost obsessed with Dr. Manhattan and his powers but he had to send him away in order to orchestrate the “alien attack”.
Maybe now, Veidt wants him back.
Skeletons in the Closet
A memorial is being held at Judd Crawford’s house where his wife Jane is meeting with friends and colleagues who want to honor her fallen husband, Angela goes to pay her respects when she meets Senator Joe Keene for the first time. It turns out Jane Crawford used to work for him, which further connects this family to an infamous politician who wanted to wipe out masked superheroes.
Before Angela can mourn the loss of her mentor and friend, she passes out and wakes up in Judd and Jane’s bedroom. Jane offers her some water and asks Angela to please make the people who killed her husband pay for what they did to him. She leaves Angela alone to recover, which was exactly what she wanted.
Angela jumps out of bed and puts on a pair of x-ray goggles that allow her to investigate the room. She searches and doesn’t find much at first but then Angela discovers a hidden closet behind a wall — and inside she gasps as a Ku Klux Klan uniform is found with a police badge attached to it.
Was Judd Crawford behind the Seventh Kalvary or at least a part of the rogue white supremacist group?
As she leaves the Crawford house, Angela takes a look at a painting hanging in the hallway — it’s the inspiration for tonight’s episode titled “Comanche Feats of Horsemanship” by George Catlin, which depicted the skill of Native American warriors riding on horseback.
Angela then arrives back at the bakery where she finds Will has uncuffed himself, left to go get groceries and he’s currently cooking an egg on the stove. She tells him about the Klan outfit and Will almost laughs it off because he didn’t literally mean “skeletons in the closet”. She then threatens to take him into custody if he doesn’t give her some answers but Will brazenly says that if she wanted to arrest him, she would have by now and if that was the case, he would have been rescued because he has friends in high places.
That’s when Angela receives a phone call with the results of the DNA test she ran earlier in the day.
The automated phone call reveals that Will did live through the Tulsa Race Massacre and some of his relatives are still living in the area. She asks if her name is one of those related to him and Angela is shocked to find out that Will Reeves is her grandfather. She also watches in stunned silence as Will reaches his hand into a pot of boiling water to retrieve the egg he’s been cooking. She finally asks why he came here and Will responds that he wanted to meet her and show her where she came from — perhaps the superhero lineage that she’s carried on.
Finally fed up with half-truths and mysteries, Angela decides to arrest Will and take him into custody. She rolls him out to her car in his wheelchair and proceeds to place him inside. A second later before Angela can join him, a bright light comes down from the sky followed by a giant magnet that latches onto the top of her SUV before hoisting the car and Will into the air.
Angela watches as this mysterious flying object takes away her car — and Will Reeves — as she can only look on from the ground. Just then a paper falls back to Earth — it’s the same note that Will has carried with him since he was a child. On one side is the German propaganda leaflet and on the other side are the words “Watch Over This Boy”.
Nothing happens by accident and maybe this was Will’s way of leaving another clue for his granddaughter to follow as he continues leading her closer and closer to this conspiracy that’s happening inside Tulsa.
‘Watchmen’ returns next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and you can check out a preview below as an FBI agent arrives in Tulsa with a famous last name…