How great was last night’s Watchmen? Holy moley!! Acting as the television equivalent of Watchmen #4 (my favorite comic of all time), we got a chance to unravel some of the show’s key mysteries, such as: how Doctor Manhattan became Cal and how he lost his memories, how Will Reeves got entangled into all of this and knew about the klan robe in Judd’s closet, and how Adrian ended up on a moon of Jupiter. We even learned how Doctor Manhattan created Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks and how they reflect real-life figures he knew in his childhood. And of course, most centrally, how Doctor Manhattan and Angela met and fell in love.
It’s a beautiful hour of television, and tighter than a drum script-wise. One of its most admirable aspects is, much like Watchmen‘s fourth issue, it never wavers from Doctor Manhattan’s perspective and even cleverly inverts last week’s final shot to reflect that POV. Just brilliant writing all around, and I literally cannot wait to see how the finale takes shape. There’s a lot of real estate left to cover (whither Lube Man, for instance?), but this is the most engaged I’ve been in a television show on a week to week basis since Twin Peaks came back. That’s how on-board I am.
LIKELY SPOILERS AHEAD
Speaking of, as you surely know, each week HBO drops new entries on their Peteypedia website; a supplemental bit of material prepared in-universe by Agent Dale Petey (played by Dustin Ingram). These act like the text materials that follow each issue of Watchmen, provided some extra background and hints for things that are to come. It’s an excellent touch, and has given viewers the opportunity learn a little more about characters like Lady Trieu, what Laurie and Dan were up to between the comic and the events of the show, and details about the omnipresent “American Hero Story” series.
This week saw a unique set of entries though, centered on Max Shea. Obsessive Watchmen readers like myself probably recognize that name right away, but if you don’t, here’s the elevator pitch:
Max Shea was the writer of the Tales of the Black Freighter tale that dovetails in an out of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ comic. A comics writer turned novelist, Shea then wrote a book called Fogdancing, which was turned into a film twice. During the events of Watchmen (the comic), Shea was recruited by Ozymandias to work on a remote island on what he thought was a film production. Of course, what he was actually co-creating was the psychic squid that ended up killing millions. Shea was murdered in a boat explosion just before the psychic attack occurs.
This week’s Peteypedia dives deep into Fogdancing (which made an appearance during last night’s episode in Ozymandias’ possession), with two entries written by Agent Petey, the second of which is a summary of the book written during his teenage years. It’s an entertaining enough read and careful eyes might find some parallels within the Watchmen universe. But the primary entry is another report authored by Petey that takes place seemingly after the events of the finale.
In a redacted memo, Petey discusses “the hail of destruction that rained down on Tulsa” and the discovery of two unidentified sets of remains, the possible ids of which are both redacted. He also posits that one of the other corpses discovered could be Agent Blake herself, though he holds out hope for her survival. Afterwards he digs in deep into Fogdancing, with references to Cronenberg that put me in mind of his Naked Lunch adaptation. It sounds like a few of our heroes (and villains) are going to meet a brutal end.
Of course, speaking of Lube Man…it should be noted that in Petey’s description of the titular Fogdancers within the novel they are described as wearing “skin-tight silver suit shimmering with SPF-666”, a special gel that kept them safe from fire and biohazards. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? He mentions that he’s particularly inspired by the novel itself, and gets pretty darn introspective about it. Is it possible that he’s basically admitting to being Lube Man?
Perhaps we’ll find out, with only a week to go before the finale…but man, I sure hope Laurie survives!