Two episodes in, HBO’s Watchmen is complex but worth the homework
There are many excellent reasons that YouTube is overflowing with videos and Google has pages of articles explaining the first two episodes of HBO’s Watchmen. It is mainly because it’s all but incomprehensible to anyone lacking a basic working knowledge of the original DC comic book maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colourist John Higgins.
Even if you are a fan of the graphic novel, and have seen the previous 2008-2009 series – or the 2009 movie – you’re more than likely going to be floundering a bit. This is because HBO’s Watchmen (now streaming on Showmax and DStv Now) is not a remake, or a “make” for that matter. Creator and showrunner Damen Lindelof (who was behind Lost, another confusing piece of television history) says this new series is a “remix” of the limited series.
While it’s a sequel taking place 34 years after the events of the limited series within the same alternate reality, Lindelof wanted to introduce new characters and conflicts that create a new story within the Watchmen continuity, rather than creating a reboot. The result is something that heavily references the original story, but with fresh eyes.
The geeks and nerds, bless them, are in their element and already breaking down each episode scene by scene to explain to the rest of us morons what exactly is going on. Sort of; they’re also guessing quite a bit, and tossing that useful word “foreshadowing” around with abandon, closely followed by a liberal sprinkling of “theories”.
It’s extremely helpful if you want to keep up, and very similar to the homework that had to be done with HBO’s previous massive hit (because this one is shaping up to fill some very big boots) – Game of Thrones, of course.
According to these experts, there is a lot going on – way too much to get into here. Watch tutorials like the one below (save it for your lunch break when you’ll have 22 uninterrupted minutes), read the articles, but be warned: there are spoilers in these links.
Seriously, don’t watch these videos if you haven’t seen episodes 1 and 2 of Watchmen yet.
Personally, I can live with that if it gets me through the next episode without relating hard to the final line in episode two, as spoken by Detective Angela Abar, played by Regina King. You and me both, baby.
When the first episode opened with the Tulsa incident in 1921, when KKK members massacred black citizens, my first thought was “oh, this is fiction.” When I learned it was not, I was mortified at my lack of historical knowledge. It turns out, however, that most Americans don’t know about it either, which is even more shocking. Listen to our internet teachers to learn how and why this event fits into the Watchmen story in the present day, when racial tensions continue. That it is in some parts a commentary on real life shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Want a brief sketch of what the show’s about? Here goes: white supremacist group the Seventh Kavalry have turned on the police. The police are forced to protect their identities with masks, allowing masked vigilantes to join their ranks – like Sister Night aka Angela Abar. This is massively oversimplified – there are many more layers to the show than this, plus mysteries and secrets galore, which will (hopefully) be cleared up as this supposedly limited series progresses.
Alongside King you’ll see Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr, James Wolk and Jeremy Irons.