Watchmen episode 4 preview
In the last episode, Watchmen both brought us closer to the original graphic novel, and expanded the world of the show. Now that the show is not just about Angela Abar, but also Laurie Blake, the questions just keep mounting. We have to find out about Will, and the conspiracy, and the deal with Judd, and who has that flying magnet. And now we also have to find out why Adrian Veidt is building a rocket and what he wants with Doctor Manhattan. I’m starting to wonder if Doctor Manhattan is going to show up for real. There is no actor credited with playing him as of yet, but you never know. He could show up in the last episode.
I also wonder how the stuff with the Minutemen is going to—or not going to—connect with the themes introduced in the first couple episodes. One of the most compelling elements of the show is how Watchmen envisions race relations in an America bent on, at least superficially, making reparations for racial violence and injustice. Episode three does mention that the tension in Tulsa stems in large part from white resentment of a booming black middle class fueled by these reparations. But the episode definitely takes a step back from the theme of race relations in order to deal with Laurie’s role in the FBI and her torch for Doctor Manhattan. I’m not wishing for less Jean Smart, but I am hoping Laurie’s issues don’t detract from what has, early on, proven to be a very strong narrative engine.
Watchmen is proving to be a very dense show, maybe even more dense than Game of Thrones. Sure, there were a ton of characters and a lot of settings on GOT, but we rarely wondered how they related or how various plots connected. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just how that narrative worked. Most of the theorizing for GOT had to do with either the driving question of the story—“who will sit on the Iron Throne”—or trying to figure out pieces of meta-narrative, like prophecies. Watchmen, however, is going in like nine directions at once, and every possible narrative path feels totally viable.
I’ve mentioned before that Star Wars is a small narrative. Well, Watchmen is what a big narrative looks like. The graphic novel is dense, packed with themes ranging from critique of superhero comics to Cold War politics to gender relations. The show is, so far, building off all of that and trading the Cold War for modern race relations in America. That’s a necessary pivot since the Cold War has ended, but the novel is rich enough to support the change—the show is like looking at a corner of the world the novel never got around to addressing.
The two sides of Watchmen are Laurie and Angela, and the question is how they come together. Judd’s death is the fulcrum around which almost all action revolves—we can’t see yet how Adrian Veidt factors in—so there must be some thematic bridge between Laurie and Angela that will connect them beyond circumstance. At least, I hope so. If it ends up just being a circumstantial connection (they’re both investigating the same crime), that would be surprisingly shallow for a show that has, so far, swum in the deep end.