‘Watchmen’ S1E5 “Little Fear of Lightning” Breakdown!

We have reached the halfway mark through the series! Typically this doesn’t mean much but for the Watchmen it does.(I’ll explain in just a minute) This episode focuses mostly on Wade Tillman AKA Looking Glass but also reveals a ton of information about what has been going on behind the scenes with the 7th K and the plot as a hole.

Hoboken

The episode starts out in Hoboken, New Jersey a few moments before midnight on November 1st, 1985. Little Wade Tillman arrives by bus with his fellow Jehovah’s witnesses to pass out flyers. You can hear a radio broadcast announce that the Doomsday Clock has been set to 1 minute to midnight, just as it was by this point in the book. Wade and the others are supposed to be passing out and talking about the end of the world with the sinners of New Jersey.

Hoboken is just across the Hudson river from Manhattan where the giant squid was dropped in the ‘Trans-dimensional Attack’. The group that Wade meets the pseudo-punks are the Knot-Top group we see in the comics. They even wear the ‘katies’ shirt which is a reference to the drug KT-28 which was used by the gang. As he is picked on by one of the punks a girl pulls him away and into a fun house at the carnival. In the fun house they end up in the hall of mirrors where she seduces him out of his clothes and then takes off with them. He is ashamed and embarrassed but moments later he feels the effects of the psychic blast that killed millions as the giant squid was dumped on New York City. If you listened closely you could hear the soft tick tocks in the music. I am assuming once we learn that this mirror fabric has shown to stop the psychic blast waves, that the mirrors are what saved him from being killed in the attack. As he comes out there are millions of dead around him and we get a look at the giant ass squid in New York City.

Wade Tillman

In current time Wade doubles as not only an officer but with advertisers who work with focus groups to determine if a product will sell. He is the human lie detector and can determine if people like a product. Apparently, New York City never recovered from the 11-2, even 30 years later.

At the precinct Laurie holds a meeting and is steering the department away from the racist detector and wants the focus to be on finding the church from the 7th K church. We are reminded of the lettuce because that is going to come into play later. Angela is putting pressure on Wade about the pills since her learning about her grand father rests on them. He tells her that Cynthia has them and he isn’t going to lean on someone doing them a favor. He is then called in with Laurie who asks him some questions. We learn that he did not become an officer until after the white night and that the material his mask is made of is supposed to prevent psychic attacks. As he is about to leave, she asks what she really wants to know, what are the pills that Angela is talking about? She has bugged Wade’s desk but Wade protects Angela and says that they are for her health.

At home, Wade spends him time mostly in a routine based on fear. He eats his canned beans with his mask rolled up (A habit he shares with Rorschach), watches Hooded Justice porn, but when the siren goes off, we see him race out his bunker. In the bunker he has set up a space safe from attacks. However, this time the alarm malfunctions and he must destroy it to stop it from going off repeatedly. The EDS on the side stands for Extra Dimensional Security and he immediately gets on the line with the company to get a new box.

The Pills

While at work the next day testing sugarless cereal, he gets the page from Cynthia that she has information on the pills. When he arrives, we learn that his ex-wife Cynthia is a puppy cloner and basically a monster (SHE KILLED A PUPPY!) Mostly she notices that he is back to wearing his hat that is lined with the reflectatine, this is an indication to her that he is back in his anxious habits. Of course, he also slips in the broken mirror ‘7 years back luck’ superstation when talking about their former relationship.

As for the pills, these are Nostalgia or ‘Memory pills’. As Cynthia mentions these are now banned. Nostalgia was also the name of a perfume line by Veidt in the 1980s. The brand was brought back by Trieu Pharmaceuticals in 2007 according to a medical Pamphlet (https://itsh.bo/2KG8FpI) on HBO’S website. There is a ton of information that the show has been playing with already. It warns not to take them when pregnant that some memories could carry to the baby. Weather or not Nostalgia was involved we saw something similar last episode with Trieu and her daughter. Each pill can contain 1-5 memories each and it also wants against taking someone else pills. This is going to make things interesting in the next episode.

Support Group

Wade also runs a support group for those still dealing with the aftereffects of 11-2, even though he is still constantly living with the fear of another attack. When talking to people at the meeting he asks, ‘Are you a friend of Nemo’, which is a reference to the novels ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ where Captain Nemo battles giant squids. The pamphlet he passed out is also available on HBO and I will link it here: https://itsh.bo/2QATQrZ. I find it funny that Wade has all the common symptoms, but then on of the counseling suggestions is to get a pet which he denies this episode.

One of the people in the group is a guy who wasn’t at the attack himself but his mother was and he feels like he has inherited her trauma (Again with the genetic memories) In the meeting there is also a late arriver who then talks with Wade in the parking lot as well. Even though she thinks he is full if shit then end up getting a drink together.

 She tells him about her squid story which is only that she saw the Steven Spielberg, ’Pale Horse’ repeatedly. Apparently, ‘Pale Horse’ was a movie showing the events of 11-2. She describes a scene in black and white with a girl walking through the city in a red coat, this tells us that Pale Horse most likely took the place of Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. It is called ‘Pale Horse’ because that is the name of the band that was playing in Madison Square Garden the night of the Squid attack.

From here Wade proves his Ex right in that he is shit for picking partners. He and this girl share a kiss and then she take off when her ride arrive. As they pull away a head of lettuce falls out of the truck.

The Lettuce Truck

Alarmed Wade calls in verifying that the lettuce truck has yet to be apprehended. When they confirm that to be the case he takes off after it where it ends up at an abandoned warehouse. Wade calls in that he is going in and examines the truck finding a loaded firearm.

Inside things take an interesting turn of events. First off this doesn’t seem like a radical group’s hideout, more like a production studio. He finds the eye on the door reminiscent of the squid. Going in further he finds the studio set up for the church in the 7th K video. Then out of nowhere a basketball falls from the sky. A 7th K member then comes and retrieves the ball and takes notes about its location. Then following the man down the hall, he comes face to face with a group of 7th K and a portal window that they are experimenting with.

He is then taken to another room by the woman from the support group. Senator Keene removes his mask and then proclaims that he is going to show Wade the truth, that being, the squid attack was all a hoax orchestrated by Adrian Veidt. He also confirms that Judd Crawford was indeed involved with the 7th K. Keen and Crawford don’t necessarily agree with the agenda of the 7th K, he claims that they run small groups and attempt to keep the peace in Tulsa. What Keene wants from Wade is to turn on Angela because they know, as well as Blake, that she was involved with Judd’s death or knows someone that was.

The Video

I want to talk about the video a moment before moving on since this confirms and explains more about Adrian Veidt’s plan. First off, when Keene hands Wade the remote, he says, “I leave it in your hands now”. This is exactly what New Frontiersman editor Hector Godfrey told Seymour in the comics’ last panel when Seymour reached for a pile of submissions that contained the Rorschach journal.

This episode in a whole demonstrates that what Adrian says in his videos worked even 30 years later. He embedded a fear in the culture so deep that people are still buying alarms and still wearing ‘Tinfoil’ hats. The video was recorded on November 1st, 1985 right before the attack on New York City. What he confesses is basically that he manipulated the entire population of the world. Not only did he arrange the squid attack to stop the war with the Soviet Union and the US, (The Doom’s Day Clock) But he also has orchestrated additional squid launches just to keep people in fear. Fear is the weapon he wielded. He then set in motion the steps that led to Redford (The person this video is for) becoming president because he believes that everyone would live in peace under his presidency.  

Escape Plan

After Adrian’s Video, we see him put in motion this plan he has been working on since the beginning of the series. This time he is in the suit with the Eye of Horus, which is a symbol that means both protection and power. He is then launched but tethered outside of this prison he is in. Where he lands seems to be on the surface of one of Jupiter’s moon.  I thought that he was on Mars, which explains Dr. Manhattan’s presence there. However, now he we see he is close to Jupiter.

He then arranges the bodies of the clones he spend last episode launching out of the dimension he is trapped in. He spells out ‘Save Me D’ just as a satellite whizzed by just as he planned. This is most likely inspired by the protagonist from the Black Freighter that used the body of his ship mates to build a raft.

Just as he celebrates his victory, just as he celebrated the squid attack, he is pulled back into his dimensional prison.  There he is then taken into custody by the ‘Warden’ from the last episode.  The comment about their God abandoning them is in reference to Dr. Manhattan.

Betrayal

After viewing the tape, Wade is essentially shattered. Everything he has thought in the last thirty years has turned out to be a lie. When he arrives at the office, he does exactly what Keene had asked him to do. He gives the pills to Angela telling her that they are nostalgia. He then tricks her into confessing that it was her grandfather that may have killed Judd and she covered it up. Black comes out of her office since Wade’s desk is bugged, and has Angela arrested. She then swallows the whole bottle of Nostalgia, remember that each one can contain up to 5 memories and you also shouldn’t take more than one at a time. This is going to be an interesting next episode for Angela.

That night Wade returns home without wearing his hat. The ESD he ordered the night before has arrived and for a moment he throws it out, but it turns out he isn’t ready for that much change. Although with the 7th K arriving at his house armed with bats a moment later, it seems like it doesn’t matter either way.

Check out All of my Watchmen Breakdowns!

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