It is becoming ever more clear Watchmen isn’t simply a comic book adaptation, but a new mystery box of a show to contemplate (and sometimes be confused by). That’s even more apparent with episode 4, as it introduces another character in its opening minutes much like the last episode introduced Laurie Blake (Jean Smart). With that character comes a whole web of possibilities, mysteries, and the maddening desire to understand a character who is an enigma to others and likely themselves. That’s the beauty of a show like this though, as it layers in new mysteries with the satisfaction of a few minor answers to satiate us.
The new character this go-around is Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), who is introduced in an enticing, suspenseful opening few minutes that mixes in sci-fi and even a little bit of horror. Lady Trieu is a geneticist trillionaire who recently started building a giant clock tower-type structure in the middle of nowhere America. She desires the land of two simple middle-aged farmers and knows exactly how to get what she wants in three minutes or less. It’s a riveting few minutes where Chau masterfully performs, and it’ll have you excited to learn more. This cuts to the titles, and the regularly scheduled characters and story. Damn you, Damon Lindelof, and your delicious hooks!
As the episode progresses, Angela Abar (Regina King) regains control of the narrative with much more to do and learn. The mysterious man played by Louis Gossett Jr. gets a bit more characterization and full confirmation of who he is. This episode mixes in Blake too, but it’s evident midway through the show is more interested in dabbling with these once main characters and giving a new character more of a focus. That’s okay though, since we’re still pondering how Blake is pining for Dr. Manhattan, or how Looking Glass is very sad living in a bunker. It’s effective at drawing you into each character and then giving you a shred of detail here and there.
Jeremy Irons continues to play the mad scientist very well. There is a purely diabolical scene involving how he makes his clones that’ll have you wondering how he does it, while also realizing he really is evil. How a man could pull near full-term babies from the bottom of a pond out of a lobster trap is beyond me, but you can’t argue it’s an original idea! It’s quite evident the show is slowly building towards a singular climax for the character likely to end the season and prepare us for Irons’ Ozymandias for season 2, but that’s just fine when his storyline has so many interesting sci-fi elements at work. How his scene ends will have you scratching your head and opening up your imagination as to the possibilities.
The show continues to be strongest when it feels like it is building towards something, which sadly isn’t always the case. Take for instance Louis Gossett Jr.’s character, who is irritatingly obtuse about what is going on for the viewer’s sake. We also already pieced together the fact that he is Abar’s grandfather, but we’re still forced to sit through a lengthy scene of Abar breaking into a museum, analyzing her DNA, and taping away to learn who she is, which was something we already knew. Sure, the ancestry technology is impressive, but it seemed overly long to get Abar up to speed. The show also seems to have hung much of its drama on the mystery of Jeremy Irons being Ozymandias, even though it was obvious from the very first episode. Again, we are witness to confirmation of who he is even though it has been confirmed both subtly and not-so-subtly in past episodes. Details like this make me wonder if the show thought it was being more clever than it really is and there was nothing to be done in post.
The show continues to be expertly edited and composed. Trent Reznor continues to give the superhero scenes a nice industrial rock vibe that makes them seem cool even when they are doing unethical things. If this show doesn’t win for editing or music, the Emmy voters weren’t paying attention.
As we approach the midway point of this nine-episode season, it is quite clear the mysteries unfurling are gaining traction. There is just enough there for viewers to start piecing things together while keeping us in the dark on many others. Upon reflection, it is becoming quite obvious the showrunners hung great ideas and mysteries on the Watchmen franchise strengthening everything in the process. I’m fine with the Watchmen property being the glue on an otherwise interesting and layered show.