Finally, HBO’s Watchmen is here and for the most part was better than I expected. So, really, I just want to jump right into this
The timeline here is important and interesting. In history events in this reality Richard Nixon didn’t resign and continued his presidency until 1986. He also led the US to a victory in Vietnam with the help of the Minutemen including Dr. Manhattan. Because of this Vietnam is now state which explains the new circular United States Flag. Later we even see in the pod that he has his own spot on Mount Rushmore. After his terms in office Robert Redford was elected president and has served ever since.
Then we get into the Graphic Novel with the 80’s heroes being Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach, The Comedian, and Ozymandias. In the comics Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias plots to have one of the Watchmen, the Comedian, killed which leads to a larger conspiracy of trans dimensional attacks to bring about an end to the cold war with the US and Russia, this included dropping a big ass squid in the middle of New York City. The Watchmen agree that this is to stay secret for the greater good but is later exposed by Rorschach.
The opening of the episode is a short silent film that goes against the typical western movie tropes where the black hat is bad and the white hat is good. In this scenario a white hat/white man sheriff is brought to justice by a black hat/black man, Bass Reeves, for stealing cattle. A set up to the last scene of the episode. This is like the comic within the Watchman comic called ‘Black Freighter’ which tells the story of the characters within the story.
The little boy watching the movie is little Will Reeves and probably even related to Bass Reeves in some way. He is rushed out of the theater by his father OB Reeves and takes to friends to get him out of town. The images going on around him are very shocking but what more shocking is this is directly pulled from real American history where the KKK rides into Tulsa to take down Black Wall Street. Black Wallstreet was one of the most commercially successful and affluent majority-African American communities in the United States.
Later Will wakes in a field after they have crashed escaping Tulsa with the only other survivor is the baby who Will then wraps in an American Flag. Now, I am sure there is significance to this baby and may even link to a later minuteman, perhaps the Comedian who also wears the stars and stripes. I also thought maybe Dollar Bill who is a bank-sponsored member of the Minutemen who was created for publicity purposes. While he has no actual superpowers, Dollar Bill was known for having apparently supernatural luck, surviving many things that should have outright killed him. However, both characters are extremely right-wing which wouldn’t make sense in the scope of the show if you look at it as the Right Wing represents sort of the racist 7th Kavalry, although being right-wing doesn’t make a person racist.
We then transition to the same road in present time where an officer is pulling over a man. A lot of things here really set in motion the current events. First off, the police wear masks to conceal their identity, this is later explained to be as a result of the White Night which was an attack on police by members of the 7th Kavalry, a white supremist group that wears the Rorschach masks to conceal their identity. I imagine that they were inspired by Rorschach’s rebellion at the end of the comics where he outed the hoax of the squid. The Rorschach mask also comes into play here when it is seen in the glove compartment.
The officer, Charlie Sutton, heads back to his car and calls in the mask wanting permission to have access to his firearm. He then must go through rules stickler, Panda, for that access however, he is too late and is shot and lettuce by the Rorschach man. If you listen to the clicking of the lights it symbolizes the ticking of a clock which is significant in the Watchmen series and signifies danger. Pretty much this is the moment the powder keg is lit.
We then meet our White Hat sheriff, Judd Crawford, watching what he calls later as “Black Oklahoma”. This is interesting because in the play Oklahoma, Jud is not the good guy and the inspiration for the title of this episode, “it’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice”. In context he was saying that he needs to be buried quickly because his body is going to keep after death. In the context to this episode it foreshadows Judd’s death at the end of the episode. There is also the representation of the church from the silent film in the opening for the background of the play. Judd is called away from the play with the news of Officer Charlie’s shooting.
Are We Making Salad?
As Judd suits up in uniform as the only law enforcement that doesn’t wear a mask, he talks with a character Wade, or the looking glass because of his mirrored mask. Wade doesn’t have any powers but as we learn in the pod later, he is excellent with interrogations. The information he has about the shooting is that they followed up on the driver’s address which led to a boarded-up building. He then asks if he should call in Red and Night which is Red Scare and Sister Night. We see them later but for now Judd wants to keep them out of it, but this is surprising since an attack like this involving the 7th Kavalry is a pretty big deal. Judd’s whole deminer tells us he isn’t really taking this seriously.
When he talks with the officer’s wife, they create a cover story to explain why Charlie was shot since the identity of officers are kept a secret.
We then get introduced to the series main character Angela. There are a ton of Easter eggs here including the Nite Owl and Watchmen logo’s in the eggs as well as the story of breaking down walls, which we see on the news as Dr. Manhattan breaks down walls on Mars.
Her history she explains to the class is that she was born in Vietnam before it becomes a state. This would put her there at the time that the Minutemen were there fighting. She also tells them that she was a police officer there and was also one here until the White Night when she was shot in her home.
The boy here then brings up Refordations when she mentions opening a bakery and I think that these are probably like vouchers or a settlement to the officers that were involved in the White Night. To imply that she received them is perceived by her and her son Topher to a racist comment. As we see later in Nixonville the 7th Kavalry hate Redford because of his liberal policies which would have created these payments to the victims.
In the car ride home, we hear the airhorn like the airhorn during massacre in the opening. Then there is squid raining down from the sky, enough so that there are squid street cleaners. Another thing we learn in the pod is that these ‘Trans-dimensional” attacks are by some seen as a hoax because of the Rorschach’s letters exposing Veidt’s plans in the comics.
Little Big Horn
When Angela returns home, she has a page waiting for her with the message Little Big Horn which is a reference back to Custard’s last Stand, where the 7th Kavalry draw their name from. She then goes to her bakery and suits up in her very Nun-esque outfit.
There are some Easter eggs here as she heads into her bakery. The news paper talks about the official announcement of Veidt’s death, which we know is fake because we see him later. The newspaper also talks about KKK violence and death by squid attacks. The mural here is for Will’s Dreamland, the same Will that was the little boy in the opening which also happens to be the man in the wheelchair that asks Angela if she thinks he can life 200 lbs. The Mural is to represent the rebuilding of Black Wallstreet.
Who Watches the Watchmen?
After taking one of the men from Nixonville, Angela arrives at the precinct in time to see the message sent by the 7th Kavalry. This message is to declare that they are back and that they are preparing for something big. The end of their message is the ‘Tick Tocks’ meaning that time is running out.
Some other things happening here, Judd executes Article 4 which puts guns in the hands of officers without need for direct approval. Panda thinks that this is a bad idea and Judd makes the statement, “It’s my funeral” more foreshadowing of his death at the end. Then the closing Latin words mean, “Who watches the Watchmen? We do.”
After the meeting Angela and Jud meet in his office with her drinking out of the Owl mug, another reference to Nite Owl. The conversation her is that she missed out on Oklahoma the night before which explained the two empty seats next to them. She is upset that he is just calling her in now after a Rorschach attack the previous night. He explains this away as he was getting a clear idea of the scene and didn’t want to overreact. This is when she drops that she may have a man in her trunk that can help them with information. She has a nose for White Supremacy (She may feel different about that later?)
Looking Glass then interrogates the man and I think that I have already covered most of the significant images here, other than those there are just a lot of Rorschach images mixed in. After the questions Looking Glass determines that this man does know something. Sister Night then beats out of him the location of the Cattle Ranch.
The Cattle Ranch
At the Cattle Ranch there are several Kavalry members working to remove the batters from watches. I am sure there is significance here since the Watchman uses clocks almost constantly. The Kavalry are alerted to an attack resulting in a shoot out with Red and Night. Angela follows one of them into the house but he cyanide’s himself before she gets any information. Cyanide was also the way that Veidt’s men were killed in the comics. Dollar Bill is then seen on the poster kicking a black kid out of a bank as racist propaganda.
Some of the 7th Kavalry escape by plane. This introduces us to the owl ship that was used by Nite Owl in the comics. In this scene Judd pushes to bring down the 7th Kavalry so aggressively that he ends up crashing the owl ship as well, which could be suspicious like he didn’t want the men being able to talk afterward. The pilot of the ship is Pirate Jenny who was one of the characters in the Black Freighter comics.
Now, we saw in the newspaper that Veidt was dead, but he is alive and well living in Whales. Notice that his castle bears a striking similarity to the same castle that Dr. Manhattan was building on Mars. Anyway, he is in the process of writing a play which will last five acts about a watchmaker’s son. The Watchmaker’s son being Dr. Manhattan.
Some other things that are happening, these two are obviously androids or something similar. Why else would they mistake a horseshoe for a knife? And they are celebrating the anniversary of the original squid attack that Veidt was responsible for orchestrating. He tells the servants that they are going to have staring roles in this play so imagine that he has something he is putting in motion.
After the Cattle Ranch battle Angela’s family has dinner with Judd and his wife and there are some interesting themes here with the clocks. From above it shows them sitting in similar positions to a clock and while Judd sings a song from Oklahoma, we have the tick tock in the background, yet another clue to his imminent death.
After the dinner Judd and Angela briefly talk about the watch batteries at the scene of the cattle ranch. While Judd thinks it means nothing, Angela is concerned that this could be leading up to this event they talked about in the video. Judd’s parting words to Angela are tick tock.
That night Judd gets word that Charlie Sutton is awake and able to talk. Judd heads out to talk with him and instead of asking someone else to drive, like he promises his wife, Judd heads there alone. On the radio there is a little Easter egg to the comics. The mention that Senator Keene is planning to run for president against President Ford. In the comics Senator Keene was a Republican Senator that creates the Keene act that outlawed masked heroes except for those sanctioned by the government. I can see this being part of the plot with the 7th Kavalry.
As Judd is driving his tires blow out and when getting out to inspect, he finds the tire stripes used by police. Then the bright light shines in his face. After this scene we are with Angela and her husband where she gets a call this person knows her name, her father’s name and that she is police. Angela then arms herself and her husband and heads out to the address. When arriving she too has the light shining in her face, however, when it goes out, she sees that Judd has been strung up in the tree by the man in a wheelchair from earlier. Based on the note in his hands we know that this is Will Reeves, the little boy in the opening of the episode.
The last image of the episode is the badge laying in the grass with a drop of Judd’s blood falling on it like we see on the Watchmen logo.