It’s 1985 in Hoboken, NJ. A school bus of Jehovah’s Witness school boys lets out. Their chaperone extols that it’s 1 minute to midnight, though after a couple of minutes, I think he means that figuratively. The clock on the street corner reads 11:15. They’re there to pray for people. The scene focuses on one of the missionary boys, who sees all matter of vice on display. When some thugs get in his face and steal his tie, he’s rescued by a punk girl who takes him into a hall of mirrors at the street fair. It’s revealed he’s from Tulsa, because everyone is on this show. Wait, is this Judd as a boy? Glass? The punk girl undresses Mr. OK JW. Ha, he’s wearing tighty whiteys, well, momentarily anyway. Unfortunately, once she gets him down to his socks and nothing else, she runs out with his clothes. He’s berating himself in the mirror for falling for her ruse when Ozymandias’s giant squid hits New York City, the repercussions of that mindwave felt as far away as Hoboken. Almost everyone outside is dead. It sends the JW from OK into screams of madness. It’s interesting that we’re finally getting a scene set during the original events of the Watchmen comic. The camera pans out over the river to midtown, where the giant squid lies dead. Side note: it looks much cooler here than it did in the Watchmen movie.
In 2019, NYC is going through a tourist and resident drought. Looking Glass, in his civilian identity of Wade, looks in on a focus group involving an ad trying to convince people into moving back to New York. It even has Michael Imperioli of HBO’s The Sopranos eating calamari. Wade explains to the ad people that the group lied, none of them want to move to New York City. They said they would, but only because they didn’t want to sound weak.
Laurie announces to a group of assembled police and masks that she wants to hunt down the Kalvary. It’s interesting that in all her talk about the Kalvary, we don’t get anything about her thoughts about Rorschach.
Sister Night follows up with Looking Glass on his ex checking on Will’s pills. He’s still waiting to hear back.
Laurie confirms that the young man from the first scene is Glass. Thinking about it more, it’s cool that Watchmen set the origin of the mirrormask wearing character in a hall of mirrors. Laurie is surprised to read some things in Glass’s file, that he was in New York during the giant squid incident and that he joined the force right after the White Night. He credits that to there being a need for justice, not to any connection with the Kalvary. She also admits to bugging his desk and wants to know what pills Night left with him. He makes an excuse about it being a personal medical matter of Angela’s and clams up.
At Glass’s house, mail arrives addressed to Wade, and a woman named Cynthia with the same last name. Looks like Wade is a divorcee or at least separated. He watches some Watchmen superhero porn, but turns it off when the squid sirens start clanging. He rushes outside to a secure bunker and locks himself inside. All his hats have the same mirror material lining them that his mask is made of. It’s a psychic shield. HIs bunker looks straight out of Dilton’s on Riverdale. He freaks out on his siren when it won’t turn off and places an angry phone call with the company who sold it to him, demanding a replacement ASAP. He even pays for overnight shipping, despite it being almost as much as the unit itself. Wade doesn’t play when it comes to the squids. I wonder if he sleeps in this bunker every night. He’s doesn’t sleep on either bunk bed, but on the couch. The couch looks well used, and the beds look perfectly made. Sad Wade.
It’s another day and another focus group. Wade gets a text from his ex, Cynthia, to come get his pills. She works at some pet cloning company. It’s the ultimate pet insurance! When the dog Cynthia is working on isn’t a perfect clone, it’s incinerated. Damn, this is a cold blooded business. The pills are Nostalgia, which are illegal in Watchmen world, because “putting memories into pill form leads to psychosis.”
Wade attends a support group for people who were traumatized by the original squid attack in Watchmen. They’re called the Friends of Nemo’s. A guy talks about not wanting “to be one of those nutters with their heads wrapped in magic tinfoil.” It causes Wade to give him a look, and also to tell the folks his views on the squid attack. He thinks the squid attack was good at uniting people. They even have their own version of the Serenity Prayer. “We know there are other dimensionals to this one. But this is the dimension where we live. And we will not live in fear.” After the meeting, he tries to convince a newbie to come back to the next meeting, but she says she won’t and wants him to follow her. He does.
They head to a bar and talk about his focus group job over more than a few beers. She refills from their shared pitcher weirdly, pouring a tiny bit of beer into his half-full pint glass from their half-full pitcher. I’m pretty sure she could have filled those glasses up all the way. She shares her squid story with him. Hmmm, interesting side note, instead of Schindler’s List, Spielberg made a movie in ’91 called Pale Horse, about the Times Square incident. It was named that because Pale Horse was on the Madison Square Garden marquee on the night of squid attack. The movie even had his girl in red in an entirely otherwise black and white movie just like Schindler’s List employed. The lady casually says that she is always losing her mind unless she’s watching that movie or fucking. That gets Wade’s attention. Another interesting side note: tobacco is a controlled substance in the world or Watchmen. She blows smoke in his face (gross!) but he’s into it enough to kiss her outside the bar. Her ride arrives and she drives off in a pickup truck. A pickup truck that drops a head of lettuce as it drives off! Wade puts two and two together quickly and follows.
Both the lady and the driver exit the pickup truck in Seventh Kalvary masks and head into a warehouse. Wade searches the truck and finds something sinister hiding under the lettuce, and a gun in the glove. He takes the gun and sneaks into the warehouse. It’s full of movie set style facade, like a fake church from the Kalvary’s video from the first episode of Watchmen. A flash of light goes off and a basketball falls from a portal. The Kalvary are working on teleportation! These aren’t just a bunch of hicks! They’ve got a whole science setup. Wade pulls his gun and tells everyone to get on the ground. The lady from the bar is happy to see him. She says they set him up to get him there, including rigging the lettuce to fall out of the truck to get his attention. A guy sneaks up on him as she’s talking. Wade seems him and fires at him but the guy doesn’t fall. The lady explains they put blanks in the gun. Two guys grab him and drop him on a chair in front of a rig of screens. They want to show him something, but what? The woman from the bar seems like she’s in charge, or at least high on the Kalvary totem pole. Another Kalvary guy comes to talk to him. He knows Wade’s other identity. And Wade knows his. He recognizes Senator Keene’s voice immediately. Keene takes his mask off. The Senator says that both he and Judd are Kalvary, but are there to control their teams and keep the peace. Wade theorizes that they’re going to perform a squid attack on Tulsa, but Senator Keene says they’re not into sequels and are planning new. He wants a favor from Wade and uses the term “squid pro quo” (too soon, Watchmen, too soon!). The Senator thinks Angela is behind Judd’s death. He wants Wade to get her off the board “while he wraps things up.” He then shows Wade a video. It’s government classified. It’s a video from Veidt congratulating Robert Redford on his inauguration in 1993. But he recorded it on 11/2/85. He brags about not only predicting it, but planning it. He then admits to being behind the psychic squid attack about to happen on New York later that day. The squid is even standing behind him. He also admits to the smaller scale “interdimensional” events that followed. The video is an olive branch to Redford, looking to form a partnership. It’s also a few hours long, but we’re spared watching more of it as the show cuts to present day Veidt.
Vedit tries on his latest space suit of amor and loads himself onto the catapult. Mr. Phillips fire the catapult, sending Veidt into outer space. He launches himself all the way to the moon, tethered by a an oxygen tube stretching all the way back to Earth! Frozen Mr. Phillips and Ms. Croonkshanks litter the moonscape. He piles them up into a giant message on the face of the moon. It says “SAVE ME D” (Whatever the third word is was cut off). Could it be DR. MANHATTAN? Speaking of Doctor Manhattan, anyone else thinking that all these Mr. Phillipses Ms. Crookshanks are clones of Jon Osterman, pre-Doctor Manhattan transformation? It’s something that’s been nagging at me since Ozymandias’s play in episode 2.
Veidt is excited to have succeeded, his excitement only broken up by being violently pulled back to Earth. The Game Warden meets him upon his landing. He’s not happy with Veidt and pulls a sword. He uses the sword to pull off Veidt’s helmet and tells him he’s placing him under arrest. When Veidt talks back, the Game Warden kicks him in the face.
It’s another focus group, and Wade is there, his hat on his head. He’s not really there though, as he’s paying no attention. Instead, he’s thinking about the original Watchmen squid attack. Later, at the police station, he gets a call from Angela, two desks away. She wants to know if he has the pills. He responds by asking her “Is anything is true?” She gets in his face, and he gives her back the pills. He wants to know whose memories those pills are for, and tells her he wants to help. She tells him everything, and by extension tells Laurie too thanks to Laurie’s bug. She tells him about her grandfather admitting to Judd’s murder and to her covering up his presence at Judd’s murder site. Laurie storms out of her office, gun drawn and places Angela under arrest, but not before Angela can down the whole bottle of Nostalgia.
A red box is waiting for Wade at his door when he gets home. It’s the replacement part for his bunker’s alarm. He trashes it. And then he thinks better of that and brings it inside. Right after that, a Kalvary van empties a group of fully armed men at his house. They’re not there to play. Looks like Wade should have paid attention to the lyrics of Careless Whisper, which played twice during this episode during his prior scenes. “Should have known better than to cheat a friend,” indeed. Even when they’re filling you in with the truth, Wade, the Kalvary is playing you.
I feel like this episode was also a commentary on our America’s growing distrust on who to believe. When news is coming at us from so many sources, some of them legitimate, some of them completely fictional but given the same space on sites like Facebook, it can be hard to to dismiss fact from fiction and leads to a society where people can decide that their truth doesn’t need to equal someone else’s, digging themselves deeper into their own silos.
Looking Glass, after this episode in particular, seems set up to be the show’s Rorschach. Like Rorschach, he’s a loner who doesn’t know who to trust. He’s a bit grimy. He even subsists on a steady diet of beans. And of course, he has the coolest mask in Watchmen.