Even though episode four, “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”, adds another new character to the Watchmen pile, several threads also start coming together. The cold open introduces a nice childless farming couple who live next door to a giant and mysterious clock that is under construction. The farming couple are a device to introduce Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), the trillionaire overseeing the building of the giant clock. She presents them with a bargain: Sign over their farm in three minutes or less and gain their much longed-for child. They do this, of course, though later assumptions made in the episode make you wonder what kind of devil’s bargain they actually signed. It is pretty clear Lady Trieu is the villain of our story.
Nothing about Lady Trieu screams “villainy” except for her astounding wealth and her desire to build a monument that cannot be destroyed, and she admires Adrian Veidt. (His superhero name is “Ozymandias”, the connection between that and Lady Trieu’s quest to build a monument that will stand the test of time is a nice touch.) In fact, it is Lady Trieu who begins to bring the Veidt portion of the story into focus. We know now, for sure, he is in exile, trapped on the estate. The rocket is not to reach Doctor Manhattan, it is to escape. All of Veidt’s plans seem to be about escape. And the clones are not his doing, though he is certainly callous in how he deals with them (that lake scene, though). We learn that Lady Trieu bought Veidt’s company when he disappeared, which sounds an awful lot like she forced him into exile and took his company.
We also learn that the mysterious Will is working with Lady Trieu. He dropped the car in front of Laurie Blake, seemingly doing so just to get some mysterious pills to Angela. This makes me a little sad for Laurie, who really is shouting into the void when calling Doctor Manhattan, but it also clears a path for Angela and Will to have another confrontation. Something big is going to happen “in three days”, which will, hopefully, illuminate some of the story around Judd and Angela. There are only five episodes of Watchmen left. This episode starts moving things into place so you can just kind of make out where we might be headed, but we are also still piling questions onto the table. Like who was that sewer-slide guy?! Is he also working with Will? Is there a whole network of vigilantes in Tulsa? We have enough to deal with already, thanks. We don’t need spandex-men sliding into sewers, too.
But we are still on hiatus from the show’s opening examination of race in America. We do now know that Will’s last names is Reeves, which is another interesting connection to Bass Reeves, referenced in the series opening scene. It seems that is the name Will chose for himself after the Tulsa riot. And he refers to himself as a “traitor”. What or whom has he betrayed? And what does that have to do with Judd? I am much less fascinated by Lady Trieu’s giant f-ck off clock than I am the questions surrounding Judd’s death and his maybe-secret life as a racist. (I love the exchange, “Do you think he’s racist – He’s a white man in Oklahoma,” though I have a lot of family in Oklahoma and it did make me wince a little.)
These last two episodes have piled on plot without really expanding on the themes introduced in the beginning, or introducing any new themes. As great as the world-building is, and as much as I love watching all these great actors chew scenery at each other, I’d really like to get back to thematic storytelling. The first two episodes of Watchmen feel so rich and rife with possibility, while these last two feel a little more rigid. We’re building out the world but not necessarily deepening it. Right now, I am trusting in the so far excellent writing to pay off all this table-setting down the line. Lady Trieu seems like a central piece in the puzzle, placed to bring together all the disparate threads. I just hope the payoff has something to do with the question represented by Bass Reeves and carried on by Angela, which is what does justice look like when it is dispensed by a black person imbued with the righteousness of the law?
- The costumes are quite DIY-friendly. I expect to see plenty of Sister Nights and Lady Trieus during con season next year.
- OF COURSE a history nerd like Agent Petey hates the prestige drama about the Minutemen, and OF COURSE his reaction to it sounds an awful lot like how some fans reacted to Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.
- I simply love how Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’s score switches from synth to symphonic when changing between scenes in Tulsa and scenes at Adrian’s house. That’s a great sound cue.
Attached - Hong Chau at the Watchmen premiere last month in LA.