The Supervillain Unmasked: We Watch the ‘Watchmen,’ Season One, Episode Four
This week’s episode of Watchmen (“If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”) introduced an intriguing new character, which might even make up for the show’s renewed focus on its dull protagonist. Let’s break it down.
The episode begins with a montage: a woman sits outside a farmhouse, reading next to a stand from which she attempting to sell fresh eggs. Deciding no one is going to come, she stacks up the eggs and goes inside. She meets her husband there, and together they have dinner, work on a puzzle, and go to bed, the picture of marital harmony. Just as they turn out the light, there’s a knock on the door. They answer it to find a stylish, clearly wealthy woman wearing all white. “You’re Lady Trieu,” the wife announces, and the woman at the door responds in the affirmative.
They invite her in and Lady Trieu asks what they have heard about her. They have heard that she is a millionaire building “the big clock down the road.” Lady Trieu corrects them, saying that she’s actually a trillionaire. So already we can tell she’s a fun lady. Then she gets out an hourglass and tells the Clarks that, for the next three minutes, they are the most important people in the world (because they warrant Lady Trieu’s time). Then she tells them that she wants their house. She owns a fertility clinic the couple once went to, and knows that they were unable to conceive. She offers them a child that is biologically theirs if they give up their farm. When the wife objects that she won’t go through the heartbreak of attempting pregnancy again, Lady Trieu clarifies that she has already created the child from the sperm and eggs that were at the clinic. She opens the door, and an attendant hands her the baby. The couple quickly signs away their house in exchange for the baby (and the five million dollars Lady Trieu sets aside so they can raise him). The moment they do, the ground shakes: something blazing down from the sky lands in a field on the property. “That is mine,” says Lady Trieu.
We cut to Angela at the bakery that hides her vigilante lair. She is destroying evidence of Will’s presence — wiping away fingerprints, dismantling his wheelchair — when a message from the cultural heritage center (where she submitted a sample of Will’s DNA two episodes ago) plays on the answering machine. There are further results from the test. Angela suits up and goes to the center, where she calls in a false alarm so that she can break in without making her fellow officers suspicious. She investigates her own family tree and finds that, while the cultural heritage center still knows nothing of Will except his name, it was able to determine his parentage based on the DNA sample. The information we get is mostly a recap of the sequence that began the pilot episode: Will’s father was a veteran, both parents were killed during the Tulsa massacre, and Will was presumed dead as well. Angela takes a moment to pour her heart out to a hologram of young Will about how she would like him to “leave [her] the fuck alone.” How sweet.
A car alarm outside has Angela running out of the cultural center. She comes upon a laughing Laurie Blake, who immediately turns around and pulls a gun on her. We see the smashed-up car behind Laurie, and the blue phone booth on the other side: this is the exact moment last episode ended with. Angela admits that it’s her car and calls in a tow truck. “It fell out of the sky,” Laurie informs her pointedly, but Angela pretends to be surprised. She finds Will’s bottle of pills in the car, and hides those from Laurie as well.
At home, Angela finds her husband Cal asleep with their two youngest children taking up the rest of the space on the bed. Angela takes the bottom bunk in her son Topher’s room, and they have a traumatized heart-to-heart about the violent scene that played out at Jud’s funeral earlier that day. Topher hands his mom his plushie to comfort her, and, eagle-eyed fans will notice, from the shape of the plushie’s ears, that it is based on Bubastis, the genetically altered lynx Adrien Veidt kept as a pet in the comic. The next morning, Angela debriefs her husband on the previous night’s events, and over breakfast Cal settles an argument: Topher told his younger sisters that their Uncle Judd didn’t go to heaven, and Cal tells them that heaven is pretend. The kids seem fine, and the viewer quietly wonders why this scene was included. Pads the run-time, perhaps?
Angela heads to Wade’s house — that’s fellow masked cop Looking Glass, for those of you who missed the one and only time his real name has been mentioned so far — and finds him in a rusty workshop, where he is developing photos of the squid that occasionally fall from the sky. After a brief comment on the oddness of this hobby, Angela hands Wade the pills Will left in her car and tells him to ask his “ex” to look into them — apparently, said ex has access to a lab not under government control. Then she shows Wade the KKK robe she found in Judd’s closet, and asks him to keep it so “the FBI lady won’t find it.”
Later, as she stands on a highway bridge dumping the remains of Will’s wheelchair onto a passing garbage truck, she spots a man dressed in a vigilante suit that somewhat resembles the gray aliens of the classic sci-fi trope. Upon realizing he has been seen, the man makes a run for it, and when Angela almost catches him, he takes two bottles of oil from his belt, pours them on himself, and slips down a sewer grate. Angela brings the belt to the police station, where she runs into Senator Keene on the way in — he thanks her by name, revealing that he knows her identity — and then asks Red Scare and Pirate Jenny if they’ve ever encountered the strange vigilante she just chased. They say no, and that if he’s not Cavalry, the “new boss” won’t care.
Indeed, Angela finds Laurie in Judd’s old office, where she has set up shop. Laurie tells Angela that she has a lead on the car: they dusted it for prints and found some that matched a William Reeves, clearly the same Will we’ve been dealing with. Apparently Will was an NYPD cop in the ’40s and ’50s. Laurie figures that the wheelchair prints are probably his: she’s closing in on the truth. Petey comes in and tells Laurie they have another lead; Angela goes with them to follow it. In the car, Laurie asks if Angela has family in Vietnam (where she grew up), and Angela says she is an orphan. This leads to a conversation about the kind of trauma that leads people to become masked heroes, which in turn allows for some exposition for non-book-readers: namely, that Laurie’s mother, the original Silk Spectre, had been sexually assaulted by her father, a hero called The Comedian.
They arrive at the construction site for Lady Trieu’s “big clock.” We see a technician flying a hovercraft just like the one that absconded with Angela’s car, and Laurie asks for a list of all the people who are able to pilot them. The technician is telling them that she doesn’t have that level of clearance when a young girl — the same girl, in fact, who bought the stack of newspapers in the first episode, and boy has the show dropped that thread — appears and introduces herself as Bian, Lady Trieu’s daughter. She invites Laurie and Angela (not Petey) to take tea in Lady Trieu’s vivarium. Lady Trieu acts generally polite and sinister, and offers the list to Laurie without hesitation. In the guise of offering Angela condolences for Judd’s death, Lady Trieu switches to Vietnamese so Laurie won’t understand, and tells Angela that her grandfather wants to know if she got the pills. Angela responds that he can fuck off. The conversation is interrupted when Laurie recognizes a statue of Adrien Veidt, who, we are reminded, started the company that Lady Trieu now owns.
Cut to a boat on a lake, lit by lanterns in the old-fashioned style we have come to associate with Veidt’s current surroundings. Veidt pulls a fishing cage out of the water, finding it full of human fetuses. He selects two from the bunch and rows back with them. In his manor, he puts the two fetuses in an unidentified machine, then turns on music and eats a slice of cake as they cry. When the machine finishes its work, the fetuses have become two fully grown humans: the same exact humans that Veidt has been playing with and treating like robots this whole time. Apparently, they are clones of some sort.
Veidt introduces himself to the clones as their master, telling them that he is not their creator and that they have no purpose. He brings them into a formal dining room, which is littered with the dead bodies of other clones, and they bring the bodies outside. Veidt has the clones fling the corpses away in a catapult one by one, each time watching with a spyglass as the bodies disappear, implying there is a forcefield of some sort that they are passing through. “Four years since I was sent here,” Veidt monologues. “In the beginning, I thought it was a paradise, but it’s not. It’s a prison.”
Back at the Abar household, Angela confronts Cal about something Laurie mentioned earlier — that she had stopped by the house and talked to Cal. Cal says he lied, but expresses unease with the whole situation and how little information she has. He says he thinks Laurie wants to help Angela, but Angela insists she doesn’t need help.
Cut to Lady Trieu’s…lair? We’re going to call it a lair. Bian wakes up from a nightmare and goes to the vivarium to tell her mother about it. “I was in a village,” she says. “Men came and burned it, and then they made us walk. I was walking for so long, Mom. My feet still hurt.” “Good,” says Lady Trieu, which, nefarious as heck.
She sends Bian back to bed, and we see Will sitting nearby. Now that they are alone, Lady Trieu scolds Will for leaving the pills in Angela’s car, calling the move “passive-aggressive exposition” and saying that he should just tell Angela who he really is if he wants her to know. She then hints that the involvement of a family member might have given him cold feet on the plan that they’re plotting. Will seems to believe this plot is a betrayal of his granddaughter, but assures Lady Trieu that he is all in nonetheless. He asks, “How long?” and Lady Trieu responds, “three days.” Will says, “tick-tock,” in the same menacing way the Cavalry members have been saying it. We pan up to the vivarium ceiling, through which we see a hovercraft taking off and an ominous view of the mysterious clock.
So. Even as Veidt is clearly trapped in a bizarre world with his microwaveable clone servants, we have a Veidt-style player on the scene in Lady Trieu, complete with vivarium. Angela remains awash in curiosity about and anger toward her grandfather. And Lady Trieu’s daughter is…maybe a time traveler? Well. We’ll be here next week to find out.