We’ve gotten to the last third of season one of Watchmen, and things are getting stranger and stranger. There’s been an origin for Hooded Justice, which never happened in the original comics, some fleshing out of the elements in their modern world, and a lot of twists and turns. There’s a huge surprise in this episode that I didn’t see coming, and some more history of Angela Abar. There are a lot of things that might cause someone to react with “An Almost Religious Awe.”
This week’s weird title credit shows the Watchmen logo like a flickering old film, which eventually turns into an old documentary about Nazis, Viet Nam, and Dr. Manhattan. Amid a lot of flashbacks (that Nostalgia is powerful stuff), we see young Angela and a pivotal moment in her life. This finally jolts her back to the present, where she falls to the floor and meets up once again with Lady Trieu. Trieu has apparently been caring for Angela for a while now, but, with her new memory issues, Angela is having trouble remembering it. It’s an entertaining scene with some brusque care from Trieu, which leads to Angela getting more meds. In addition to helping with the Nostalgia issue, the meds come with a built in commercial. Good luck changing the channel in your brain. We find out how long Angela has been there, and see there’s a tube running from her arm to someplace out of sight. Trieu also says it’s not a good idea for her to see her husband yet.
Outside Trieu’s complex, a very bored looking Red Scare and Pirate Jenny are watching the main gate. Cal shows up, tries to get in, and is turned away via hologram from Bian, Trieu’s daughter. The suspicious, nosy, and self-righteous Agent Blake is listening to recordings of Angela’s babbling while under the Nostalgia’s influence, trying to put pieces together. She gets a call from Agent Petey, who reports from the scene of last episode’s final cliffhanger, but we don’t get to find out about the main character. Blake decides to pay a house call, without backup, because that’s how she works. She has a chat with Jane Crawford, Judd’s widow, and finds out some surprising things. There’s something that’s both a nod to an old trope and the sort of mundane reality you’d expect from this show. We hear a revelation I didn’t see coming, and then a phone call with a surprising question.
Back at the Millennial Clock facility, there are some ominous warnings in the background as Bian pays a call on Angela to do some research. Something in the questioning triggers another flashback. We get to see more of Angela’s early life, and see something that sparked one of her later interests, as well as her new living conditions. Bian asks more questions when Angela snaps out of it, and confesses something both surprising and faintly familiar.
Time is flowing oddly elsewhere, and we see the trial of Adrian Veidt, AKA Ozymandias, one of the characters from the original comics who has been a big part of the series. It’s an odd affair, as everything in this area has been, made weirder by everyone in the courtroom being the Phillips/Crookshanks clones. From what we hear, this trial has been going on for a year, and Veidt remains unimpressed. Why he’s in costume is never explained. Veidt’s lack of respect for the court gets returned in roughly equal measure by the judge, and it ends with the entire courtroom chanting and pointing. In another great dissolve, Veidt’s face becomes the statue we’ve seen at Trieu’s place. A frustrated Angela tries to figure out where her tubing connection goes but is stymied by a palmprint lock. Lady T shows up and answers some questions, although Angela has some trouble with the answers she gets. The scene also reveals a secret about someone else we’ve seen, and I didn’t really see that one coming.
In addition to jaded and rude, Blake seems to be a stand-in for all the people who complain about comic book stories but have never read one. She wakes up in new surroundings, and has a chat with someone who has been revealed as a villain. Blake steps on the conventions, saying she doesn’t want to hear the master plan, but what she ends up learning gets her attention and, conceptually, terrifies me. Angela watches a recorded speech from Trieu about her past successes and failures, and clearly isn’t that impressed. She traces the tube again, and hammers on the door it leads to, demanding answers. When that doesn’t work, she resorts to more direct, less complicated ways to get in, which illustrate a serous design flaw in this system. Finally gaining entry, Angela is stunned at what she finds. I was a bit surprised myself.
Jumping back to her earlier life, we get some more ideas about how what we’ve seen so far this episode lines up with what we’ve learned about Angela in general, and her family last episode. Things look like they are going to turn around for young Angela when she gets an unexpected visit and we hear more about some characters we saw last episode. But, Angela seems to be cursed, and things don’t quite work out in some horrible timing. Back in the present, Angela gets out of her room again and wanders the complex, finally finding some recordings of another device we saw earlier in the season. Trieu doesn’t seem at all disturbed that Angela is watching these, and offers some commentary that leads to what she’s actually up to. Trieu really is trying, as cliché as they make it sound, to save the world, or at least prevent something seriously wrong from happening. Angela has heard enough and leaves, getting an interesting observation from Trieu on the way out.
The climax is almost here as Angela steals a vehicle and has a run-in with her former co-workers. Angela warns them once, then does what she thinks she needs to. Racing through town, Angela heads to meet up with another character who has been important, but secondary, this season. What happens next was a complete surprise to me, and a hell of a way to end the episode.
What I liked: The world we’ve been exploring is interesting, and I find myself speculating about bits of it, which is generally a sign they’ve got my imagination going. Blake’s two scenes were surprising in different ways, and let us in on the big plot in the background that I didn’t even know was there. Other surprising revelations included Lady Trieu’s confession to Angela, and the really big, mind-blowing one at the end of the episode.
What I didn’t: I don’t care how important they make her, I just don’t like Blake. She’s sneering and overconfident and annoying. I felt really bad for young Angela. She sure didn’t have an easy early life. I was disappointed at learning some characters I liked were bad guys. There wasn’t really a resolution of last episode’s cliffhanger, and I’d really like to know what happened there.
Just on surprises alone, I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5. It’s a great piece of a larger story that has really sucked me in. I’m not sure how they’re going to resolve all that’s left in two episodes, but I expect I’ll enjoy the attempt.