Watchmen – S1 Ep4 – If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own Review

Director – Andrij Parekh
Writer – Damon Lindelof & Cristal Henry
Cast – Jeremy Irons, James Wolf, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr, Hong Chau.

Multiple new layers on intrigue were added onto the narrative of Watchmen this week, courtesy of new characters being introduced, new alliances being revealed and more clues being dropped regarding Veidt’s situation. Continuing the high level set by the preceding 3 episodes, this 4th instalment was every bit as good as before. I really do enjoy the show’s potent mix of darkness and bizarre, twisted humour. With one or two call-backs to the original source material thrown in for good measure, this was altogether a highly enjoyable episode.

The introduction of intriguing new character Lady Trieu got the episode off to an intriguing start, interrupting a couple’s cosy existence (nice use of Islands In The Stream, a classic track and no mistake!) and using an extremely novel method of persuasion to get them to sell her their home and land on the spot. Her motivation seemingly is the object that crashes onto their farm from outer space, seconds after the deal was sealed. Who or what this object is remains to be seen. The smart money is on it tying into the enormous Millennium Clock she has erected. Hong Chau’s performance as Lady Trieu was interesting. Seemingly all sweetness and light on the outside, there does appear to be a darker edge to this trillionaire lurking just below the surface. Is she the one behind Veidt’s incarceration? Her acquisition of his company following his “disappearance” would suggest there is something in that…

Her alliance with old Will Reeves promises to reveal much as the season progresses. What are those mysterious pills he left in his wheelchair for Angela to find? As with so much of this show, nothing is spelt out. With so much shrouded in mystery, viewers can draw their own conclusions. As I have said on previous reviews, I love this approach. It broadens the imagination and also helps to deepen the understanding of this fictional world, as viewers are forced to pay a bit more attention, such is the avoidance of spoon feeding.

The true nature of Adrian Veidt’s residence is gradually being expanded upon, bit by bit. His opening scene was quite jarring, as he recovered babies from the lake at his country estate, baked them in an incubator and hey presto, new servants! Having seemingly killed all his existing servants in a fit of rage, the ever resourceful Veidt puts the corpses to good use. His method of testing the limits of his prison is certainly an original one. What is on the other side of the divide? I hope we get to see it sooner rather than later. Jeremy Irons is once again thoroughly entertaining as the one time Ozymandias, chewing the scenery with glee. He stays mostly on the correct side of overacting, but is very watchable nonetheless.

Episode 4 was an engaging, gripping episode. As we approach the halfway point in the season, the plot is starting to form, albeit at a glacial pace. A challenging but rewarding experience, I am for one am thoroughly immersed in the world, a fitting extension of the original world created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. With so much more promised to come, the next 5 weeks are going to be must see television!

Watchmen – S1 Ep3 – She Was Killed By Space Junk Review

Director – Stephen Williams
Writer – Damon Lindelof & Lila Byock
Cast – Jeremy Irons, James Wolf, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Jean Smart, Tom Mison.

For long devotees of the source material, episode 3 of Watchmen delivered some familiar faces, but in a fresh coat of paint. As the saying goes, “What’s old is new”. In an episode that was easily the most entertaining and energetic to date, the mythology of Moore/Gibbons magnum opus was liberally dipped into, and to great effect.

The highlight of the episode was in the introduction of FBI Agent Laurie Blake, played with gleeful aplomb by Jean Smart. Non other than the former Silk Spectre herself, albeit long since retired from her costumed vigilante days, this older iteration of the character is now part of a task force that enforces the anti-vigilante laws. Talk about an about face! Tellingly, she is now using Blake as her surname, the same as her father Eddie, aka The Comedian. There is even a reference to his death during an exchange with Sister Night. Does this mean that she has embraced her heritage? There are so many questions. Was there also a mention of her former boyfriend Daniel Dreiberg, when Senator Joe Keen. Jr offers to get “her owl out of his cage”. As the former Nite Owl, are we to assume he is incarcerated now? Every little tidbit is a tease of the highest degree!

The introduction of such a beloved character has invigorated the series for sure, as her barbed exchanges with all and sundry elevate the pace of the show. There is definitely some of her father in her! The pending reappearance of Dr Manhattan draws ever closer too, with Laurie’s attempts to contact him seemingly bearing fruit. It’s an interesting state of affairs in the world, with pseudo phone boxes set up for the general public to “contact” Dr Manhattan on Mars. Treated as a deity in a world that still needs saving, there is almost a confessional booth vibe to these stations. Hope springs eternal that he will come back to Earth, if not this season next maybe in the next. As another of Laurie’s ex-boyfriends, her possession in the briefcase that is clearly a memento of him has to be seen to be believed. It’s enough to make one’s eyes water…

The conspiracy in play in Tulsa is still a mystery, with little or no further information offered up this week. The late Judd Crawford’s true nature is yet to be revealed following the KKK outift in his secret closet. As each episode comes and goes, things should start to become a lot more clear. I am a fan of this kind of writing, where the audience isn’t spoonfed and events are not telegraphed to the point that they are almost sent recorded delivery! Being made to work for your answers makes getting them all the more rewarding.

One last mention must go to the fantastic Jeremy Irons and his portrayal of the aging Adrian Veidt. Once again, his existence is shrouded in mystery. The world believes him to be dead, yet he is alive and well living in splendid opulence at a country mansion, yet as some kind of prisoner. Who exactly is holding him there, it remains to be seen. What is he working on? His genius level intellect would suggest it is something big, could it be geared towards his escape? Jeremy Irons has always been a charismatic screen presence and his Veidt is no exception. Very believable as the former Ozymandias, his limited screen time is always a treat. The final shot of him in full costume, incredibly comic book accurate, is a fanboy highlight.

A very enjoyable and engrossing third episode, the series is gathering pace now. With only 6 episodes left, there is no time for filler. With writing, acting and direction as strong as it has been to date, it feels as though we are in incredibly safe hands. Challenging without being impenetrable, the show is the highest quality. Hats off to Damon Lindelof and the creative team for their top drawer work. Roll on next week and the intriguingly titled “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”.

Watchmen – S1 Ep2 – Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship Review

Director – Nicole Kassell
Writer – Damon Lindelof & Nick Cuse
Cast – Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Frances Fisher, Louis Gossett Jr.

After an extremely strong start last week with its pilot episode, Watchmen set about the task this week of further establishing its in-show universe. Once again preceding the episode with real world events, this time dating back to World War I, before picking up the main narrative involving last week’s cliffhanger. I must say that this method is extremely effective, as it helps to anchor the show in reality, showing that despite its alt-reality setting, this is very much a real and viable timeline.

In fitting with the cadence and tone of the show, the information and answers given to the audience are very much that of a breadcrumb fashion, refusing to spoon feed viewers and allowing us to question what we are seeing and form our own interpretations. Despite the jaw dropping final moments of last week, which saw Judd Crawford swinging from a noose by close of play, the subsequent arrest of Will, the 105 year old with knowledge of the insidious conspiracy at play was done in an underhand, quiet fashion. The subsequent revelation of his familial connection to Angela demands some explanation, but true to form, we will to work for our answers.

The reason behind Will’s subsequent magnet skyride is also something I await with baited breath. The fact that he seemed never surprised nor frightened would imply that something big is afoot and the payoff should be very interesting indeed.

The magnificent Jeremy Irons was back with a vengeance, with increased screen time from last week. Whilst there still is no explicit confirmation that he is Adrian Veidt, one would assume it is the case. His seeming obsession with Dr Manhattan was given full form this week by way of his “servants” performing his play, the origin tale of Jon Osterman’s transformation into the blue-skinned omnipotent being. Complete with the obligatory blue genitalia that always comes with a Dr Manhattan appearance, Veidt’s motivations here are unclear. With the world thinking him dead, is he a wanted man? Does the world know what he did, courtesy of Rorschach’s journal?

Speaking of Rorschach, the atrocities being carried out in his name are really wide of the mark in terms of the original character’s beliefs. Yes, he was a sociopath, right wing, brutal, uncompromising vigilante, but his calling was to punish the evil and wicked, not to partake in borderline ethnic cleansing. Walter Kovac had no time for the world and all its perceived ills, but a bad person he was not. Seeing how his ideology has been warped into something even more extreme is disturbing, as he has become a poster boy for America’s right wing hate groups.

Another very solid episode this week that continues the high quality work of the show. With a promised debut for Laurie Blake coming soon and the every looming return of Dr Manhattan from Mars, the mythology of Moore/Gibbons’ original work is permeating the show gradually. The quite wonderful glimpse of the former Minuteman Hooded Justice by way of a TV documentary was a great love letter to the source material, which had this old fan smiling in enjoyment. With only seven episodes to go, the remaining weeks should be filler free and high quality stuff.

Watchmen – S1 Ep1 – It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice Review

Director – Nicole Kassell
Writer – Damon Lindelof
Cast – Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Frances Fisher, Louis Gossett Jr.

The wait, the anticipation is over, Watchmen is finally here! After months of cryptic teases and little nuggets of information being dropped to a feverish fan base, the season premiere has at last aired. The big question is, has it lived up to the hype and delivered a pilot episode that feels vibrant, daring and special? In my opinion, the answer to that is most definitely a resounding yes!

The tone of the show is very much that of a Damon Lindelof production, similar to his previous endeavours Lost and The Leftovers. Something feels slightly off-kilter here, throughout the episode there was a palpable sense of unease and tension, even through moments of levity. As the season progresses, I feel as though viewers are going to be in for a challenging and engrossing experience. Speaking of which, the opening to the series is shocking, unpleasant to watch and certainly pulls no punches. Depicting the real life events of the Black Wall Street massacre of 1921, as the black inhabitants of Tulsa, Oklahoma are attacked in a horrific onslaught of racial hatred.

This is an example of humanity as its absolute worst and is one of the most visceral scenes you are likely to see in a mainstream television show. Used as a framing device to bring the viewer up to present day, it is extremely effective. As the current world (in the reality of the show) is fractured, dangerous and close to violence at any given time, this effectively shows that nothing has changed and mankind is still a damaged species.

As the show is set 34 years after the events of the seminal comic book, the after effects of said book still weight heavy on the world. Random storms of falling squid (remnants of Veidt’s original plan?) fall from the sky, the police force have been forced to wear masks to cover their faces and protect themselves from violent retribution and a right wing, violent organisation has risen, calling themselves The Seventh Kavalry. Taking their influence from the legendary Rorschach, in terms of his black and white view of the world and his iconic white mask, tensions are running high. Veidt’s plan may have averted the imminent nuclear war of the 80’s, but it does feel as though the world is ready to catch fire once again.

The show is so full of Easter eggs that hearken back to the original book that any long time devotee is going to have a field day picking up on them. From a tantalising glimpse of Dr Manhattan on Mars, the copy of Under The Hood on an office table and the recurring refrain of the song Unforgettable, there are far too many to list here. Safe to say, this very much feels like a world that has followed on from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ creations.

It would be hard to mention plot specifics without jumping firmly into spoiler territory. The themes of masks and secret identities plays a huge part, as Don Johnson’s Chief of Police Judd Crawford struggles to quell the growing swell of discontent in retaliation to President Robert Redford’s reparations issued to victims of racial violence. The aforementioned Seventh Kavalry have started to spread their hatred through Tulsa, echoing the horrific events at the start of the episode. Working in league with covert police staff such as Regina King’s excellent Sister Night and Tim Blake Nelson’s eerie and sardonic Looking Glass, the situation is a powder keg, which judging by the shocking conclusion to the episode, has found the spark it needs to ignite.

As an establishing episode, this is one of the best pilots I have seen in recent memory. With the promise of beloved characters from the source material making their presence felt as the series goes on, it seems as though it’s going to be quite something. With the glimpse of Adrian Veidt’s existence showcased by Jeremy Irons’ brief turn, despite being dead in the eyes of the world, the way in which the two periods are linked is going to be interesting. As Dr Manhattan lives in a non-linear timestream, there is definitely scope to cover different time periods over the course of the season too.

Overall, this was a very solid start. I certainly look forward to the journey we are going to be taken on each week and episode two simply cannot come soon enough.