If you were to look at a TV show like it was a race, tonight’s episode of Watchmen marks the series rounding the bend and beginning to look at the finish line. This show has been exceptional at character development, focusing each episode on a single character while fleshing out the plot of other previously focused on characters so very well. This week the show leans heavily into the television show recapping the lives of the Minutemen which we’ve seen snippets of over the course of the show. How these 1940s superheroes play into the larger narrative has remained to be seen until today. Angela Abar (Regina King) swallowed a whole lot of pills last episode and each one holds memories within it. Time for a flashback episode!
The premise of this episode revolves expertly around these pills, which allow Abar to experience her ancestor’s memories while the viewer can relive them as well. It connects her legacy to the past while divulging important information. Once again, this show proves the layered nature of storytelling is incredibly well done as these flashbacks inform Abar’s narrative, fill in missing pieces about the origin of superheroes in this universe, and tell a harrowing story about the cost of being a hero especially when you’re African American.
One of the richest elements of this show continues to be lush worldbuilding. As we relive the past with Abar we learn facts have been twisted or changed for the public in the television show which not only reveals ongoing racism but also how time can dement the truth. Seeing what it was like in the 1940s is excellent historical fiction storytelling too. Through at a glance newspaper clippings, we learn Nazis made it over to America and racism was destroying our country. The show is proving time and time again maybe Ozymandias was right in trying to reset the world and get us to stop hating each other.
From a superhero angle, it’s also exciting to see Hooded Justice get a proper origin story. The show is starting to come into clearer focus as we learn Hooded Justice was in fact the little boy in the opening scene. Forget the Superman reference — his origin feels necessary and important, not only to the character but to the world. The show is slowly and expertly revealing how vigilante justice is necessary in times when the power of the mob and shadow figures in every aspect of society can get away with crimes. By the end of the episode, you’ll likely find yourself hoping a new Minutemen superhero team is put together as the world is getting even more dangerous.
Downsides to this episode hang on a reoccurring issue with the series in how it loses focus on other characters so as to bring us a clear focus on one character. It’s clearly a thematic choice, but it can draw your attention away too much from the characters you’re invested in. This is also the first episode without an Ozymandias (Jeremy Irons) scene which is a bummer, but then again his story, as well as Looking Glass’s, ended on such a huge cliffhanger I suspect that’s on purpose to drive us to keep watching. Another slightly obnoxious gripe I had was how often we see Abar in mirrors, or in swooping shoots that show her grandfather and then cut to her in his shoes. After the third time you’ll be shouting at the screen, “Yes, we get it, she’s inside his shoes!”
This is a great episode tying into past scenes as well as the television show within the show, adding new layers and purpose to what we already know. This show juggles social, character, and superhero elements incredibly well, so much so that you won’t even notice it was a puzzle show all the time. Figure out the truth, find it, and root for the good guys in this excellent sixth episode.