Folks? For various reason including a trip and then some health issues (nothing major), I got way behind in Watchmen recaps, so I’m going to hunker in and get caught up as fast as I can. Today, let’s dial back to the fourth episode “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”.
We open on a Tulsa farmhouse in what appears to be the recent-ish past. I’m going to take the “Islands in the Stream” on the soundtrack as a cue to the setting. A nice married couple, the Clarks, goes about their farm lives in a montage until the doorbell rings. There’s a Vietnamese woman at the door – Lady Trieu. They recognize her immediately because she’s the world’s first trillionaire. She’s the one building the Millennium Clock we’ve been hearing about. And she has an offer for the Clarks. She wants their house and land immediately. In exchange, she’ll give the infertile couple a child.
But the thing is, she already has that baby with her. She owns the fertility clinic that the couple tried in the past and she made an actual baby from their DNA. They can have the baby and five million dollars in exchange for the land, or they can keep their house and she’ll dispose of their son. (“I’m joking. I’ll find a loving home for him.”) They agree just in time for something to come crashing down from space on their property. Lady Trieu says it’s hers now. In a time lapse, we see the land develop over the decades(?) and it appears to be the land where the Dr. Manhattan phone booth and the Museum of Cultural Heritage now sit.
In the present, Angela returns to the back room of her bakery. She cuts Will’s wheelchair and almost sets fire to the “Watch Over This Boy” note but thinks better of it. Then the phone rings and we hear an answering machine message. It’s a message about the Will DNA she submitted at the museum. They’ve found another branch of his family tree and he can learn about it there. She gets distracted and the note catches fire – she can only salvage part of it.
Angela calls in a disturbance at the Cultural Center – she says she’s going to look into it, so if an alarm goes off, it’s just her. And then she breaks a window to get in. The Henry Louis Gates machine gives her an acorn that she can plant in the greenhouse, and I love the dorkiness of this. It feels very real. They can’t just give you information. You have to plant a fake acorn first. Doing so brings up a virtual family tree and she finds there’s new information about her father’s side of the family. Will is her grandfather with 99% certainty and the system can pull up his parents. And we’ve seen these people – they’re the couple from the opening of the premiere. Will is, indeed, the boy from the beginning of the series and he’s believed dead. It seems like the systems aren’t quite cooperating if they’ve recently received his DNA for analysis, but their computers are well behind ours, so it checks out for me. She talks to Will (to herself) and says now that she knows where she comes from, Will can leave her alone. And then there’s a crash. She runs outside to see her car has fallen to Earth and Agent Blake is laughing hysterically.
Night turns off the car alarm, which is hilarious. Blake, obviously, has questions. She also tells Angela about it falling from the sky (and she knows Angela is Sister Night, because she’s good at her job). Angela fishes Will’s pills from the glove compartment before she leaves. She checks in on her family back home – the girls are sleeping in her bed, so she heads to Topher’s room to lay down. He’s still pretty shook up from Judd’s funeral, as you’d imagine.
She fills Cal in on everything while they make breakfast. The kids fight about whether Judd is in Heaven or not and Cal tells them Heaven is “pretend”. He explains life and death and it’s a lot like Dr. Manhattan in the comic explaining that a live body and a dead one have the same number of atoms. And then… waffles
Angela goes to Looking Glass’ home, which is really more of a bunker. Wade is kind of paranoid about the squid falls and he’s documenting all of them. He believes they’re as confused as he is: “Thirty seconds of life and they spend all of it dyin’.” I love Looking Glass. Angela gives him Will’s pills to see if he can get his ex to tell him what these pills are. He doesn’t seem psyched about talking to his ex, but he agrees. Angela shows Wade the Klan robes from Judd’s closet. Wade tries to come up with a good explanation, but he agrees to hide the robes and the pills from “The FBI lady”. (Wade: “She is extremely weird.”)
Angela costumes up and tosses what I think is the bag full of Will’s disassembled wheelchair into a passing garbage truck. And then she notices this guy in a silver bodysuit watching her. She chases him and before you can catch him, he slides feet first into a sewer. It’s really fluid and weird, and he ditches a utility belt so he can fit. Next, she goes to see Senator Keane who thanks her for saving his life but also makes it clear that he knows who she really is. She brings the utility belt to Red Scare and Pirate Jenny to see if it matches any known vigilantes. They don’t think anybody is going to care about the Lube Man just now, what with Laurie moving into Judd’s office.
She goes to see Laurie who says they dusted her car and there were a set of mystery prints – prints matching one William Reeves. Laurie knows he was a cop in the Forties but he fell off the grid. She figures he must be 100 years old by now. At that point, Petey stumbles in with another lead on her car. Laurie takes her for a ride and talks about her car falling from the sky is a thermodynamic miracle – it’s a thing her ex used to talk about. She pushes for personal information and Angela shuts her down. Laurie tries to speculate why she’s nun-themed and wonders what her trauma is. Angela asks about her trauma and Petey tells her about Laurie’s parents, right down to her father trying to rape her mother.
They arrive at the Millennium Clock. Blake thinks the drones that circle the tower could have taken Angela’s car (and Will along with it), but the techs stonewall her. A young woman named Bian offers to help, and she’s the one who picked up all the papers from the newsstand in the second episode. And she’s Lady Trieu’s daughter! She passes the message that her mother would like to meet with them. Well, with Laurie and Sister Night. Ladies only, Petey! As they walk, Bian describes the clock as the first wonder of the new world, impervious to anything but a direct nuclear blast. And it tells time. This clock is weird.
Trieu is happy to see them. She describes the room she’s in as a loophole – her mother on her deathbed made her promise to never leave Vietnam, but in a room packed with local flora, Vietnam never leaves her. I’m calling shenanigans, since there were no loopholes on the Clark’s farm, but let’s see where she’s going with this. Trieu has questions about the car that was stolen and this scene is three women refusing to give any more information than they have to. It’s pretty great. Trieu tells Angela there’s a Vietnamese saying that’s applicable here, but then she asks “You grandfather wants to know if you got the pills”. Hee! Clever way to leave Laurie out of the loop. Angela responds that he can ask her himself. Laurie notices the statue of Adrian Veidt and we learn that Trieu bought up his company. Also, the statue looks old because “he is old”. She’s using the present tense even though the world believes Veidt to be dead.
And then we cut to a lake where Veidt is pulling up human fetuses (more like homunculi, but fetuses are funnier) from a lobster trap. He brings two of them back home and puts them in a chamber, seals it, and turns some cranks. The homunculi cry while Veidt eats a piece of his cake but the chamber keeps spinning and soon there’s a fully grown Phillips and Crookshanks in there. He welcomes them to the manor and clothes them as he promises they’ll eventually gain the ability to speak. And then he apologizes for the mess in the dining room where we see dozens of dead Phillips and Crookshanks, most of them stabbed. “I had a rough night”, he explains. And then he waves that horseshoe around and I’m getting obsessed. Later, they load a corpse into a catapult and fling it. At the highest point of its trajectory, it disappears. They load the catapult again as Veidt talks about being her for four years. And this just occurred to me – we don’t actually know when this is taking place in relation to the main action. This could be years earlier or later. There’s a bit in an upcoming episode that’s really going to muddle this.
Another corpse is tossed into the air and this one also disappears. You know, this is not at all what I pictured from Watchmen, but I love it.
Angela returns home to find Cal reading Things Fall Apart, and she spoils that the main character hangs himself. He thanks her and she admits she’s trying to pick a fight. She’s mad that he didn’t tell her Blake came by to talk to him. Blake wondered who called the house on the night Judd died. He told her everything he knew, except for Angela’s claim that her grandfather is the one who killed him. Angela asks if he told her about his accident. He didn’t. Hey! Maybe tell us about his accident.
Bian wakes up in a panic at the clock tower. She unhooks what looks like an IV and goes to find her mother. She tells Trieu that she had a nightmare – she talks about being in a village while men burned it down and forced her to march. It sounds like she’s having a memory of the Vietnam War and I wonder if she’s supposed to be a clone. She asks her mother to walk her back to bed and Trieu says no. Wow. Bian gets it and says goodnight to “Mr. Reeves”. And yeah, Will Reeves wishes her a goodnight. Then he and Trieu get back to talking. She says the pills are “passive aggressive exposition” and if he wants Angela to know who he is, he should tell her. He says she won’t believe him and this is the same thing Trieu did to her daughter. Trieu is concerned that he’s getting cold feet and Reeves stands up and tells her “my feet are just fine”. Well, that was a surprise! She tells him it’ll be three days. And then the episode ends with Reeves saying “Tick Tock” and “Time is on My Side” on the soundtrack.
–OK, I’m behind but I’m not going to let things I know from episodes that I’ve watched but not yet recapped work their way in. However, since I’m going to do several episodes in quick succession, there’s not much point in speculating about Lady Trieu or Reeves at this point. Some of the things brought up here are going to pay off in the next episode or two.
So I’ll keep it short and note that the farm family being handed a baby on the night that something from space crashes into their property is another allusion to Superman. Obviously there, the thing crashed first and they got the baby from that. So it’s in the wrong order, but it’s still these images associated with Superman. The family is even named “Clark”, which is pretty funny.
Also, a Watchmen continuity note since Petey only gives part of the story about Laurie’s parents. I can’t remember if I’ve covered this or not, but her parents were the original Silk Spectre and the Comedian. As he says here, the Comedian did try to rape her mother, but Hooded Justice stopped him. Years later, after her husband died (if I recall that point correctly), Sally slept with Blake consensually and that’s when Laurie was conceived. It wasn’t super clear from the way Petey told the story.
Next time, it’s the Looking Glass episode!