Now that HBO's wonderfully authorized pseudo-sequel to [REDACTED] 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). "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own" (review here), introduced us to trillionaire Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), saw Angela (Regina King) look to Wade aka Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) for help when Laurie's investigation started hitting a little too close to home, and revealed how Adrian (Jeremy Irons) "trains" new servants – as he attempts to escape wherever he is…
With "Little Fear of Lightning" (our review here), we learned Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass' "origin story" – and possibly his final days – as Agent Blake places Angela under arrest… but not before Angela starts feeling a little "nostalgic".
Which brings us to the revelations that awaited in "This Extraordinary Being" – and our MAJOR SPOILERS review:
"Watchmen" season 1, episode 6 "This Extraordinary Being": Deep under the influence of Nostalgia, Angela (Regina King) gets a firsthand account of her grandfather's journey. Written by Damon Lindelof & Cord Jefferson; directed by Stephen Williams.
So I'm imagining some fans of the [REDACTED]-Gibbons source material are probably going to end up punch-typing their "moral outrage" about the nuances and layers "This Extraordinary Being" adds to Hooded Justice, The Minutemen, and the history we've been told so far.
If you're one of them, then in a way you're making one of the very points the episode was trying to make for it: the idea of living in an "idealized" past, resistant to anything that might cast doubt, call into question, or even offer not-so-pleasant details on something you stubbornly grasp onto as some kind of incontrovertible truth.
It also means you've pretty much missed the point of the past six episodes – and the point we made in our review of the first episode.
Racism is this nation's ultimate "super villain" – but in this episode, they took the concept and presented it in a kind of "comic book way" with the introduction of "Cyclops. A dramatic cover name for a vast KKK conspiracy that ties directly into the Seventh Kavalry in our times, the use of "Cyclops" as a kind of graphic novel representation of "The Man" was a daring one – and one that works… and continues woring to this day.
Why does it work? Because as we've seen since the first minute of the series, it's everywhere. Will Reeves' story has been our tragic tour guide through numerous examples of this: a nation's history filled with stories of people of color who fought and died on behalf of a nation that didn't even consider them equal as a person.
Didn't matter if it was in the military.
Didn't matter if it was on the police force.
Didn't matter with the Minutemen.
So it's only fitting that the one-man manifestation of "white privilege pretending to be woke" would be Nelson Gardner aka Captain Metropolis. Looking to bring Will Reeves' Hooded Justice onto the team, Gardner at first can't bring himself to believe a black man could be a superhero – even with Batman-quality intel staring him in the face.
But when Gardner does find out, he finds ways to "use" Will not much different than what we've seen happen before – fucking him over literally and figuratively. Gardner is no different from Will's police sergeant or Will's father's commanding officer: another white man making gains off the work of people of color.
That was never more evident than at the warehouse, when Will has the drop on "Cyclops" and their sublminal messaging cameras. In one phone call, Gardner distills down the very essence of what we've seen – dismissing his concerns as "his problem" while coming on to him like he's nothing more than some breeding bull.
Even in a world of masks, Will just can't seem to wear enough. And they're suffocating him.
Thankfully, he gets "goddamn angry"…
● We've discussed cultural appropriation in our previous reviews, but "This Extraordinary Being" shoved our face in it by having Will Reeves – a black, bisexual man – be Hooded Justice. But even being a masked hero, Will was forced to wear two additional masks: one to hide the color of his skin, and one to hide his sexuality.
But forces like "Cyclops" and their influences would never let a black man be given credit for being the "alpha" hero who started the wave of masked do-gooders – much like our history book continue to "whitewash" the contributons of people of color. So Hooded Justice became a myserious figure – and over the years, the rumors and reporting all shifted towards the "white guy vigilante" stereotype, effectively burying Will's heritage.
When American Hero Story "dares expose the truth", all it does it further sell the lie.
● We all know that the reference made to Action Comics and Superman is going to come into play, right? You also know it'll probably come into play better than it is over at Doomsday Clock. From our perpsective, it just add more fuel to our theory that Cal's (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) Dr. Manhattan – who would definitely find Angela's family tree pretty fascinating.
● That first-person perspective on Will's lynching made my throat feel tight – uncomfortably pulled off in all the ways it should've been. I'm not sure what this says about me, but I found it interesting how my attitude towards Judd's death changed. Not saying I had a bloodlust for his head on a platter, but his murder felt like "divine justice" – and a bit of wonderful irony considering some "interesting" modernized tech was used to "convince" him to do the deed.
● We're still curious about the fate of Wade aka Looking Glass…
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. Wade Tillman aka 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, Jean Smart as Agent Laurie Blake, 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…"