WATCHMEN logo on an old TV set. A documentary plays about Jon Osterman, aka Dr. Manhattan. It goes into how Dr. Manhattan changed the course of history in the world of Watchmen. We’re in an old video shop in Saigon. Hello, 1980s Watchmen universe. A young Angela picks up a blacksploitation movie called Sister Night. If you were wondering what inspired Angela’s vigilante alter ego, here it is. Angela finds her parents. They don’t approve of her movie choice. Her father tells her, “People who wear masks are dangerous. They’re hiding something.” To drive the point home, scenes from last week’s Hooded Justice origin flash by.
Angela’s memories are blending with William’s. The Tulsa Massacre and her own memories of the suicide bomber who killed her parents mix together. Angela (Regina King) wakes up in the home of Lady Trieu (Hong Chau). Apparently detoxing from Nostalgia is no fun at all. Angela is living a 50 First Dates loop right now, her short term memory is shot. Trieu explains to her yet again that how her detox plan works. Clearly she’s told Angela this more than a few times already.
Angela wants to talk with her grandfather, William, but Lady Trieu advises against it. “You won’t know where you end and he begins,” she warns.
Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) attempts to see Angela, but Lady Trieu’s security won’t let him in. Bian (Jolie Hoang–Rappaport), Trieu’s daughter, greets him in holographic form. They can’t let him in, on account of the Millenium Clock being activated soon.
Agent Blake (Jean Smart) listens to a tape of Angela, her thoughts super muddled with William’s. Blake’s subordinate checks on Looking Glass’s house. Five dead Kalvary bodies are littered around his bunker, but there’s no sign of Glass.
Blake pays a visit to Mrs. Crawford (Frances Fisher). She’s there to break the news that William killed Judd. She’s trying to ascertain if she knows anything about Cyclops. Blake has a theory that the 7th Kalvary is Cyclops in its newest form, and that Senator Joe used them to kill a bunch of cops in order to be able to put all the cops in masks, “so that nobody could tell the good guys from the bad guys, and everyone is pledging loyalty to their newly elected leader, President Joe.” Jane admits to it all immediately, surprising Laurie. And then, in the best comic moment of the episode, presses a malfunctioning trap door button from an 80s remote control until it works, dropping Laurie Blake to the basement.
Bian gives Angela a series of psych profile questions. She’s not there as part of Angela’s therapy. She’s working on her dissertation. This scene seems mainly to set up how smart Bian is compared to others her age. And that Bian is on Nostalgia too. She has dreams about being an old woman.
After her parents died, Angela went to live an orphanage. Two Saigon cops show up to interview Angela about what she saw the day of the bombing, and see if he can identify the man who gave the bomber his bomb. Angela ID’s the guy, who is taken away. She wants to listen to the man get executed. This impresses the cop she’s talking to enough for her to give Angela a badge, and tell her “When you come of age, come find me.” I wonder if this is the badge she wears on her Sister Night costume.
Vedit (Jeremy Irons), in his Ozymandias costume, faces trial. The Game Warden stands as judge. All the Mr. Phillips (Tom Mason) and Ms. Crookshanks (Christie Amery) are there as prosecutor, court reporter and jury. Prosecutor Crookshanks walks us through Ozymandias’s crimes from the end of the original Watchmen. She lays out a good case against him, but winks at him at the end. Veidt represents himself. His sole defense is a big fart. Sorry, but this is still not funnier than the malfunctioning remote control. The Game Warden relieves the jury, saying they are not Veidt’s peers, and assembled a new jury full of his actual peers. Are we about to see a bunch of Watchmen superheroes flood the courtroom? Nope, instead we get a bunch of pigs, literal pigs. The squeal of one is all it takes for all the assembled Crookshanks and Phillips to shout “Guilty!” repeatedly at Veidt.
Lady Trieu explains to Angela that Bian isn’t Trieu’s daughter, she’s her cloned mother. When Angela asks if her dad is here too, Trieu says, “He will be.” Hmmm, is her father Jon or Adrian? I’m guessing Adrian based on that life sized statue of him on the grounds. Trieu asks Angela about Cal, about their moving to Tulsa from Saigon after Cal’s accident, an accident that robbed him of all of his memory, leaving him a blank slate. Apparently William knew all about this, but how?
Laurie awakes bound to a chair in the Kalvary facility from two episodes ago. Joe Keane (James Wolk) is there to meet her when he wakes. Joe claims Cyclops isn’t racist, and then goes into the same “it’s extremely difficult being a white man in America right now” bullshit you’ll find on any alt-right message board. But then he says he’s going to “try to be a blue” man instead. This gets Laurie’s attention. I assume he doesn’t mean these blue men.
Angela watches Lady Trieu’s keynote speech for the Millenium Clock’s launch. Seeing her opportunity, she follows her IV tube to William’s room and bangs on his door. When she doesn’t get a response, she smashes the lock to find a room full of elephants hooked up to tubes. There’s an elephant never forgets joke somewhere in here. She pulls the device off her arm and falls into a mix of her and William’s memories. A young Angela meets her grandmother for the first time. She’s there to take Angela from the orphanage. She only found out her son had died when a letter she wrote to him came back as deceased. When Angela asks her if she has a grandpa, her grandmother quickly changes the subject. Her grandmother tells her they’ll watch Sister Night together in Tulsa. Unfortunately, she drops dead of a heart attack as they’re getting in their cab to the airport.
In the present, Angela awakes and sneaks around Trieu’s facility. She gets to some sub-basement, where she finds a darkened room with a glowing globe. Touching part of the globe shows a woman talking in one of the Dr. Manhattan phone booths. She presses the Tulsa location and brings up Laurie’s call to Jon. Lady Trieu approaches Angela. She says that Dr. Manhattan isn’t listening, isn’t even on Mars, but instead is living in Tulsa pretending to be human. Holy shit, is Cal Dr. Manhattan???
Lady Trieu reveals the 7th Kalvary’s plan. They plan to capture Dr. Manhattan, destroy him and take his power. Angela thinks Trieu is crazy and storms out. Trieu wonders why Angela didn’t ask her who Dr. Manhattan is, hiding out among them all. It has to be Cal, right?
Angela drives out of Trieu’s facility. Two of her vigilante cop buddies are there to arrest her as soon as she leaves. She literally drives through their car. The Kalvary watch as she enters her house. Cal is asleep on the couch and stirs when he hears her milling around. Angela tells Cal she loves him, and then says “Time to come out of the tunnel” before approaching him with a hammer. She calls Cal Jon and wallops him in the head with the hammer. She hits him repeatedly in the head. This is tough scene to listen to (all those squishy sounds!) and then tougher to watch, as she pulls a metal ring out of his head. We don’t actually see Dr. Manhattan here, but I’m assuming the glowing blue light in front of Angela’s eyes is him.
Without a doubt, I can see this as having been the most confusing episode of Watchmen to date. In the past, I’ve said this is a series that can be enjoyed, appreciated and understood without having read Watchmen or at the very least, having seen the Watchmen movie. But I’m not sure if I can say that anymore. I can’t see the revelations from this week’s episode of Watchmen or last week’s episode of Watchmen making sense to people who aren’t familiar with who these characters were 35 years ago in the world of the story. If you haven’t read Watchmen, I implore you to do so. Your level of appreciation of the show will be even higher than it is now.