Now that HBO's pseudo-sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' celebrated comic book series Watchmen has been unveiled to the world – it seems the world's liking what they're seeing so far from Damon Lindelof's "remix". Even die-hard Watchmen purists appear to be slowly coming around – and they should.
Bleeding Cool didn't exactly pull any punches when praising just how powerful the Nicole Kassell (Castle Rock)-directed series premiere "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice" was (check out our review here). The Kassell-helmed, Lindelof/Nick Cuse-written "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship" keept the momentum going by deepening the conspiracies at play (review here). Jean Smart's Agent Laurie Blake took center stage in "She Was Killed by Space Junk", elevating the tension while serving as "devil's advocate" for the viewer (review here).
Which brings us to "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own", directed by Andrij Parekh and written by Lindelof and Christal Henry. This week, viewers were introduced to trillionaire Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) – who arrives with an offer.
Meanwhile, Angela (Regina King) looks to Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) for help when Agent Laurie Blake's (Jean Smart) investigation starts hitting a little too close to home. Then there's The Lord (Jeremy Irons), who finds himself having to train two new servants – in-between attempts at going somewhere…
This was the "fun" episode – which I know might sound a bit odd since there's not a whole lot of pleasantness being thrown around. No, this was the "fun" one where Parekh, Lindelof, and Henry were able to put the season's heavy themes on auto pilot and start throwing gallons of gasoline on the conspiracy fires. From trillionaire Lady Trieu's odd-on-the-surface real estate buys in Oklahoma and her clandestine dealing with Angela's grandfather Will (Louis Gossett, Jr.) to Looking Glass' interesting observation about Judd's (Don Johnson) Klansman robes – and more we'll detail in a minute – I found myself having to rewrite my Watchmen "scorecard" about a hundred times.
So with that said, let's dive into the highlights:
● The symbolism of "eggs" isn't lost on us so far this season, both as something that brings forth life as well in the context of the phrase "sometimes you have to break a few eggs." When it comes to the latter, we have none other than Adrian Veidt (Irons) – who proved in his past life that he's more than willing to break a few million "eggs" for what he thinks is a greater good.
Well, that hasn't changed – though the harvesting and "steampunk centrifuge incubator" process in the new world he currently resides/is imprisoned in offers him a seemingly endless supply of "eggs" to crack to escape his bonds. Or for any particularly violent mood swings which may arise…
● We need to take a moment to share the wonderful frustration we're feeling as we wait for Angela and Laurie to finally start working together. I use "wonderful" because the reasons why they are dancing so trepidatiously around each other have been well-grounded and established. With Laurie, we have Moore/Gibbons comic book series to refer back to while the past three episodes have given us enough of Angela's backstory to see their similarities.
Except there's those damn masks… and all the societal ill-wills Laurie has seen that comes with them.
Can you blame her? Early on in the episode, we see a minor example of what Laurie knows will happen when you start giving badges to masks. In order to find out about the new "branch" in her family tree, Angela becomes Sister Night and reports a phony break-in at the community center to cover her break-in.
● At this point, we're putting our money on Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) being Dr. Manahttan.
In this episode alone, Cal came across very "Blue Man Group"-ish when he explained death to the kids, he made it a point of trying to get Angela to trust Laurie, and there's that exchange between Angela and Laurie when Cal and Dr. Manhattan's names we're used in some interesting verbal sparring. Let's not forget from earlier this season, when Cal really wanted to emphasize that Dr. Manahattan can't change his appearance.
We'll be making our case in more detail during the season… but remember you heard it here first!
● Chau, King, and Smart definitely need more time on screen together, with Chau in particular just tearing up her time on screen. If you get a chance, go back and look at Smart's facial expressions during this sweason – especially as she (and we) realize that Trieu's way of doing things strikes a little too similar to Veidt's. The fact that Trieu has a statue to honor Veidt doesn't exactly help her argument – but why does it look like current Veidt? Is Veidt a guinea pig in the middle of Trieu's "new world" experiment? Part of the deal when she took over Veidt's business? Hmmm…
● In perfect (and appropriate) "old movie serials" fashion, the episode ends on a darkly ominous note, as Will looks pretty hearty for a 100+ year old – proving he's still committed to the "deal" he has with Trieu. But what could they have planned to take place in three days? Are the Seventh Kavalry a player in this, or being used to cover the bigger story?
More important, what is it that has Will feeling Angela will hate him when it does happen?
The Road to HBO's "Watchmen"
From Damon Lindelof and set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, this drama series embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. The cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, and James Wolk.
In the following featurette, Lindelof explains how the original comic book series influenced him to take the core themes of the series and find a way to apply them to a modern society. King offers more details on both the terrorist group at play during the season as well as the personal conflicts that arise when one dons a mask in the name of the law:
In the following clip, King takes us behind the scenes on production with a set visit to show us anything and everything Watchmen – or at least what Lindelof will allow:
HBO's Watchmen stars Regina King as Angela Abar, Don Johnson as Chief Judd Crawford, Tim Blake Nelson as Det. Looking Glass, Louis Gossett Jr. as Will Reeves, Adelaide Clemens as Pirate Jenny, Andrew Howard as Red Scare, Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias, Frances Fisher as Jane Crawford, Jacob Ming-Trent as Panda, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Cal Abar, Adelynn Spoon as Emma Abar, and Jean Smart as Agent Laurie Blake – as well as Tom Mison as Mr. Phillips, Sara Vickers as Ms. Crookshanks, Dylan Schombing, James Wolk as Senator Keene, Hong Chau as Lady Trieu, Dustin Ingram as Agent Dale Petey, and Lily Rose Smith.
Watchmen is produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television; executive producer-writer Lindelof; executive producer/director Kassell; executive producer Tom Spezialy; executive producer-director Stephen Williams; and executive producer Joseph Iberti.
Based on the iconic graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Gibbons and published by DC.
Nine Inch Nails duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are on board to compose music for the series.
In May 2018, Lindelof shared a series of Instagram posts to update fans on progress on the project (with a pilot directed by Kassell) and to emphasize that his vision was not a direct adaptation of the original graphic novel, but rather a "remix" that utilizes important elements from the original story while telling its own narrative. Here are some excerpts from those posts:
"We have no desire to 'adapt' the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbons created thirty years ago. Those issues are sacred ground and will not be retread nor recreated nor reproduced nor rebooted.
They will however be remixed, Because the bass lines in those familiar tracks are just too good and we'd be fools not to sample them. Those original twelve issues are our Old Testament. When the New Testament came along it did not erase what came before it. Creation. The Garden of Eden. Abraham and Isaac. The Flood. It all happened. And so it will be with 'Watchmen.' The Comedian died. Dan and Laurie fell in love. Ozymandias saved the world and Dr. Manhattan left it just after blowing Rorschach to pieces in the bitter cold of Antarctica."
"This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built…but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary. The Old Testament was specific to the Eighties of Reagan and Thatcher and Gorbachev. Ours needs to resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless. And speaking of Horsemen, The End of the World is off the table…which means the heroes and villains–as if the two are distinguishable–are playing for different stakes entirely."
"Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising yet familiar set of eyes…and it is here we will be taking our greatest risks…"