How do you outdo the funeral that began the hunt for the deadliest terrorist in history? If you’re David Lindelof and Lila Byock, you bring back one of the most iconic characters in Watchmen history, have her square off against your hero, attempt to kidnap a politician, and top it off with an explosion. New villains, an old hero, and a crooning Angela (Regina King) bring in another A for Watchmen. We’ve got a lot of history to cover this week, so let’s not waste any time.
Let’s begin with the funeral, because wo, is there a lot to dissect there. First, there’s the reference to Tartarus, the Greek version of Hell, where Zeus sent the Titans to roast for life, serves as Judd’s eternal resting place. This makes a strong case for Judd’s direct involvement with the Kavalry. Peteypedia reveals Judd (Don Johnson) was awarded multiple commendations in Vietnam for his “bravery during the purge sweeps.” He’s the great-grandson of “Dixon T. Crawford, a renowned ‘cowboy marshal’ of Oklahoma’s pre-statehood years.” Oklahoma became a state in 1907, which means Dixon most likely led the charge against, or stood by and watched, as Greenwood burned.
Senator Joseph Keene (James Wolk) looks like trouble. Cutting from Ozymandias, the original franchise villain, to Keane in front of the gates of Hell surely means we’re looking at the new series antagonist. His being kidnapped, but not harmed; his grand speeches, gentle southern dialect, and the humble run for president all equals power hungry wolf in sheep’s clothing. But, if he is evil, I wonder if Judd’s wife Jane (Frances Fisher) knows. After all, she used to work for him. Also, why did he bring Laurie into this?
The big question of the week for me: Who is the Game Warden? We now know Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) lives in captivity not isolation. Formerly referred to as the smartest man in the world, Veidt’s ego quakes under lock and key. Putting on his old costume shields him from doubt as he listens to the “Dance Of The Knights” from Romeo And Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev. Methinks we shall have a duel soon. I cackled when he played Desmond Dekker & The Aces’ “Israelites.” Once again, the writing staff showcases their love of the original text. Once, in an interview, Veidt offhandedly mentioned he liked dub music. Before this scene, only classical music accompanied Ozymandias’ scenes.
The introduction of the Millennium Clock, created by Trieu Industries, also changes the story. It’s the first piece of new technology we’ve seen in the show. Too large a device to simply tell time, I wonder what the clock does? Why did they build it in Oklahoma? Any advances in technology hold the potential to disrupt the already fragile balance of the political atmosphere. Liberals who idolize masked heroes and Redfordations want to keep moving in the direction President Redford has taken the country, while the Nixon lovers long for a return to normalcy after the squid drop. The owner of the company, Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) said, “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair” when the company broke ground on the clock. These words may antagonize Ozymandias, as opposed to honoring his memory. The original quote, from a poem of the same name by Percy Bysshe Shelley, depicts the wasteland of Ozymandias’ empire. Things do not look good for Oklahoma.
Growing up, Laurel Jane Juspeczyk’s mother, Sally Juspeczyk, set high expectations for her daughter to become the next Silk Spectre. Laurie resented the grooming she received. The revealing costume and lack of a normal childhood caused a lot of tension between the two women. When she was sixteen, she began dating the thirty-something Dr. Manhattan, leading to a life of isolation and servitude to her partner and the U.S. government. Together for about fifteen years, Laurie found herself serving another’s dream. Most people, including her mother, alluded to the fact that her job was to keep him sexually satisfied and contented. Like any rational human, she resented that life as well. So, she cheated and fell in love with Dan Dreiberg. Nite Owl and Silk Specter hung up their costumes and entered civilian life, or so we thought.
Using Peteypedia and the show’s context clues, I still think this chain of events took place. Between 1985 and 2019, Laurie and Dan decided to fight crime again. Their arrest could be a result of their freeing Rorschach from prison on 11/1/1985, but I can’t be sure. They were caught. Laurie made some kind of deal and joined the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. Dan chose prison time over turning his back on the crime-fighting community.
Laurie became her father, which is hilariously ironic considering her lifelong fear of becoming her mother. Laurie’s bio-dad also fought crime under the moniker The Comedian. A soldier of fortune for the US during the Vietnam War, Edward Blake saw life as a joke. This disassociation from empathetic feelings allowed Blake to commit some of the most heinous crimes known to man. He gleefully killed children and raped women fleeing conflict. One of two masked avengers allowed to continue working after the Keene Act, The Comedian began to crack after Doctor Manhattan arrived. He realized he was no longer needed. Manhattan ended conflicts with the snap of his fingers. Rorschach described The Comedian’s interior state in his journal stating, “He saw the cracks in society, saw the little men in masks trying to hold it together. He saw the true face of the 20th century and chose to become a reflection, a parody of it. No one else saw the joke. That’s why he was lonely.”
Now, Laurie’s in on the joke, too. Maybe that’s why she changed her last name to Blake. She cannot rescue the love of her life from a cage. The career she once resented became her salvation. Then, the government, despots, and amateurs mutilated it until it became her enemy. All of her friends and colleagues left for Hell. Laurie and Dr. Manhattan did not choose their profession. Dr. Manhattan’s accident, coupled with his verbally and emotionally abusive childhood, led him to believe his actions were predestined. When they were together, his disconnection from emotional responsibility drove a wedge from the emotionally intelligent Laurie. Driven by a desire to fix things and people, Laurie believes she can take out a god with a well-aimed brick and a little misdirection.
Interestingly, Byock and Lindelof use the same joke structure that Rorschach used to eulogize Edward to introduce Laurie’s current headspace. Thinking back on the supers she fought next to, Laurie sees herself as clever; but also powerless and forgotten. Like her father and mother before her, she exists in a state of loneliness. Perhaps that’s why she’s craving Dr. Manhattan. This man only wanted to be left alone. He went to Mars to get away from distracted humans. He once offered that life to Laurie, but she chose humanity. Moments later, a man everyone saw as a beacon of human possibility killed three million people.
Sally, her mother, chose to be with The Comedian after he attempted to rape her. She described why to her husband. “Do you know what gentleness means in a guy like that? Even a glimmer of it?” She asked. “It means you reached something. It means you reached some of the magical romance and bullshit they promise you when you’re a kid.” It’s the lie, that up until recently, was sold to all children. A man will be wild and angry until he falls in love. Maybe the next lie we’ve sold ourselves is that we can be detached and informed until we fall in love.
Laurie’s dry wit and ability to assess a violent situation quickly and diffuse it remains her super power, whether she views it that way or not. It’s how she was able to sneak her gun past a very heightened police line, and how she could stroll up to two armed cops and not get shot. She even susses out Looking Glass’ —now known as Wade Tillman—entire game in a matter of minutes. She’s able to do all of this because she has been one of them. It seems to me she longs to be one of them again. Her fast-talking superhero banter delights, and she’s ready to use deadly force at the drop of a hat. This episode begins at the end. Laurie recounts her joke to Dr. Manhattan over the phone after attending Judd’s funeral, after sleeping with Petey (yes, the same one), and after targeting Sister Night. This gives the feeling of a cycle that runs through Laurie’s head constantly. If that final manic laugh at nearly being crushed by a car that fell from the sky is any indication, Laurie may be closer to cracking than she is willing to admit.
- Y’all, isn’t Petey the cutest with his Lone Ranger mask? He learned comedy so fast, he’s smart, and he has a spine. I love him.
- The title is almost definitely a euphemism for Doctor Manhattans junk? Right? I mean she’s playing the Devo song “Space Junk” while pulling out the dildo out Pulp Fiction style.
- The use of a warehouse to interrogate victims comes straight out of a recent headline from Chicago. This show subtly remarks on the horrors of police violence that go by as unremarkable.
- There are two corrections of grammar in the episode. Angela corrects herself I instead of me, and Laurie correct Keane hanged not hung. Laurie begins the clapping as Angela sings at the funeral. I think they’re going to be on the same side sooner rather than later, and all of their enemies will be in big trouble.