Watchmen: This Extraordinary Being

Minute

Back in the old days…

 

They’ve done some good worldbuilding and storytelling in this series. They touch on some things from the original comics, less so the movie, and develop a lot of good new stuff. Now, they combine both those things, as we learn a lot about a character from the comics whose story was never really told in detail. Almost the entire episode is a prolonged flashback in different eras. As with several titles from the show, I’m not sure what “This Extraordinary Being” has to do with anything. For those it bothers, there are flashing lights in this episode. There will also be a few spoilers, because I don’t know how to do this one otherwise.

Continuing their enjoyment of playing with the titles, this weeks “Watchmen” gets covered in cigarette smoke, and, when it clears, it’s “Minutemen,” this world’s original team of heroes. The opening scene is two FBI agents, who don’t seem to be the shining examples of government law enforcement you’d hope for, in a room with Hooded Justice, the first masked hero in that world. They’re trying to pressure the hero to do something for them, blackmail in the age of Director Hoover. Things don’t go as they expect. In a perspective shift, this proves to be a scene from the American Hero Story series we keep seeing referred to, revealed in small pieces.

 

Agent Blake, not a big fan of heroes, orders the cops watching it to “turn that shit off” as she strides by and goes to speak with the doctor about Angela Abar’s condition. Last episode ended with her downing a bunch of Nostalgia pills, which is bad enough normally, but much, much worse when you take someone else’s. These were her grandfather’s, and most of the episode is his surprising story. Blake gives dire warnings while Angela either can’t, or won’t, answer. Her trip begins with a lone drummer playing out a pattern.

 

In the first of many odd visual effects throughout the episode, things shift to black and white. Angela ignores Blake’s demands to know where her grandfather is and slips into the memory, reliving her grandfather’s graduation from the New York City Police Academy in 1938. Racism rears its not-subtle head in the ceremony, but the rookie cop Reeves gets to speak briefly with one of his idols and receives a cryptic warning. Later, he meets a woman named June for some banter, concern about his new job, and a lot of quick flashbacks to the horrific Tulsa Riot.

 

As newly minted Officer Will Reeves walks his beat, a local newsstand has two important events going on that year: the spread of the Nazis across Europe, and the first appearance of a certain Last Son of Krypton that launched an entire industry that this show is part of. Reeves arrests someone in the midst of committing a serious crime, and things go strangely. When the arrest doesn’t play out the way it should, an enraged Reeves confronts the desk sergeant and gets a warning he of course ignores. A bit later, he has what’s effectively an origin as he gets a nasty lesson in the realities of racism on the force, and then stumbles across something that begins his second career as the first “costumed adventurer,” Hooded Justice.

 

He makes it June’s place and she does her best to take care of him, and we learn how far back the connection between them goes. She asks a lot of pointed questions and gives him some good advice. Reeves follows up on an earlier problem, and there are some great special effects as Blake and Cal try and pull Angela out of the coma she’s in on their end of all this. Back in the past, June and Reeves debate politicians of the day when they get a most unexpected visitor with an unusual offer. This eventually leads to a really strange scene where we learn something new and honestly a bit hard to believe about Reeves’ personal life, and see more of the casual racism of the day. It ties back to the opening scene neatly.

 

Later, June tells Reeves some things he doesn’t want to hear, and then some things he very much does. We get to see a very important meeting where Hooded Justice gets an idea of how things will go where he hoped he was going to get help. Things time jump ahead several years, as we see developments at home for Reeves, and then there’s a nasty event that shakes him. Investigating, he learns some troubling things, and gets turned down when he tries to get help. Frustrated at every turn, someone makes a very ill-timed remark and Reeves snaps. In a blend of his Hooded Justice costume and police uniform, he handles things himself and stops a really nasty plot.

 

He gets home to a different surprise, which he doesn’t handle well, and that leads to some changes he didn’t want at all. All of these events lead back to the recent past, and we get some insight on a big event from earlier in the series. After a lot more hurriedly jumbled flashbacks, Angela wakes up. Gasping, she looks around to see she’s under the care of someone she wouldn’t have expected. I’m betting she’s going to have a lot of trouble processing everything she’s just been through. I know I would.

 

What I liked: They did some great visual effects here. It was painful to see, but the racism of the late ‘30s was accurate according to a lot of things I’ve read. It was some great background on a character from the original books who mostly been a mystery up until now.

 

What I didn’t: Some of what we saw was difficult to believe. For all this to be true, Reeves was an exceptionally unusual man, especially for his time. While it was all interesting, I’m questioning taking a whole episode to do this when they only have nine total.

 

This was a well-done episode with some great plot points and history. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.

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