Watchmen’s first three episodes were all carefully-crafted to keep much of this alternate Earth’s more fantastical elements just out of view in order to focus on establishing who the show’s power players are and what they’re fighting for. But now that Sister Night, Laurie Blake, and the rest of the Tulsa PD are all firmly within one another’s orbit and testing one another, things are starting to get weirder and more intense in the best of ways.
“If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” blends Angela (Regina King) and Laurie’s (Jean Smart) stories together as the women inadvertently cross paths in dual moments of emotional vulnerability. The same night Laurie ends up almost being crushed to death by a car that falls out of the sky after her phone call to Doctor Manhattan, Angela’s out and about investigating the veracity of the notion that Will Reeves is her grandfather. Angela can’t fathom just what the centenarian is playing at, rolling into her life just days before Judd Crawford’s mysterious death. But Angela knows that the Greenwood Cultural Center can provide her with a bit more information about who Will is, where he has roots, and how they’re actually connected.
After breaking into the Center after hours, Angela slips a specialised acorn into one of the building’s “Ances-Trees” that grows into a holographic tree representing the whole of her family. Will is indeed her paternal grandfather, and as astonished as Angela is, she’s also genuinely moved to learn how Will’s story was largely lost to history because of the Tulsa Massacre. (Later in the episode, Angela tells Laurie that her parents died when she was relatively young, suggesting that family might have always been a sensitive subject for her.) Angela still doesn’t know what Will’s motivations are or what role he played in Judd’s death, but you can tell that there’s part of her that nevertheless feels an important connection to Will because he’s a part of who she is and she’s his legacy.
But before Angela really has a chance to mull all of this over, she happens upon Laurie – laughing like a maniac – right in front of her missing car that Will was sitting in when it rose up into the sky. Even though both women are still suspicious of one another, they know that neither one of them could be responsible for the car’s sudden reappearance and they implicitly agree that the entire situation is just strange and mysterious...and kind of scary if they’re both being honest. For Laurie, the car’s sudden reappearance is even more evidence that whatever the hell is happening in Tulsa requires her attention, and for Angela, the car’s a sign that she needs to continue digging into the mystery of Judd’s death and his potential connection to the Seventh Kavalry.
Of course, the car falling from the sky leads to an investigation into what happened to it, and Laurie deduces what Angela doesn’t want her to know about Will. Rather than directly confronting her about it, Laurie reasons that she’s better off keeping Angela close and working with her on a legitimate lead. “She Was Killed By Space Junk” hinted at the possibility that Doctor Manhattan might have been responding to Laurie’s joke by dropping the car in front of her, but after thinking about more likely scenarios, the agent settles on the much more sensible idea that the car could have been snatched by someone working for Lady Trieu (Hong Chau, of BoJack Horseman and the upcoming Artemis Fowl), a semi-reclusive trillionaire technologist who’s built a gargantuan clock of some sort in Tulsa.
Lady Trieu. (Image: HBO)
Though Lady Trieu might have looked up to Ozymandias at one point in her life – before she bought his company following his disappearance from the public eye – she’s more of a sinister, calculating figure than he ever was. She obviously wants to change the world and she understands that drastic, dangerous plans like Ozymandias’ squid attack are almost always certain to fail, but she’s not above manipulating people and playing on their deepest emotional weaknesses in order to bend them to her will.
When we’re first introduced to Trieu, she’s demanding that a local family hand over their house in exchange for a genetically-engineered baby that the husband and wife never thought they would be able to have. But she doesn’t show up merely promising to make the baby, the baby’s already been made and were the family to wait too longer to accept her offer, she makes it clear that she’ll merely dispose of the baby and acquire their house via other means. She’s quick to say that she’s joking about destroying the baby, but she does make it clear that she would ensure the baby never got the chance to know its biological parents, and the couple would be robbed of their opportunity to continue their blood line.
Unlike Angela and Laurie, who both have complicated and difficult relationships with their respective families’ legacies, Lady Trieu has a clear-eyed vision of what kind of impact she wants her family’s legacy to be. Acquiring Veidt’s business put Trieu in the position of being one of the most powerful people in the world, but she’s using her operation in Tulsa to make a gleaming statement about her own ambitions and her plans to radically define the future on her own terms. All of this makes the idea that someone might have used one of Trieu’s high-tech construction drones to snatch a car and then drop it in downtown Tulsa sound rather odd, but as Angela and Laurie meet with the mysterious woman, everything about her demeanour suggests that she really might just be out there doing wild things with her fancy toys at night.
Ozymandias admiring his handiwork. (Image: HBO)
The episode digs even deeper into the idea of a person’s family being integral to one’s legacy with a horrific return to Ozymandias’ luxurious prison. Given Ozymandias’ history with genetically-manipulated living creatures (see: his old pet lynx and the telepathic squid), it makes sense that his prison palace is staffed by dozens of clones he seems to enjoy killing for fun. What’s alarming, though, is where the clones come from. Essentially, they grow underwater in a swamp where they must be harvested, checked for defects, and then tossed into a spinning oven-like contraption that speeds up their ageing in a gruesome, violent, and painful process that lasts for a few seconds. The entire thing happens in a flash, but the sounds of the newborn clones screaming as their bodies transform is likely to be one of the most disgusting things Watchmen will end up doing this season.
Slowly, but surely, the shape of Ozymandias’ plan is coming into focus and it’s clear that he’s using the clones and his many monstrous experiments to figure out a means of leaving the estate, and it’s here that it becomes obvious that wherever he is might not necessarily be anywhere on Earth. What’s much less apparent is just what Lady Trieu is trying to hide from Angela and Laurie, neither of whom trusts the woman at her word. And they shouldn’t – because not only is she working in league with Will, she’s also staked her claim on an actual piece of space junk that no one else seems to know crashed into town recently.
Like Ozymandias, both Trieu and Will have plans for the world, and they’re playing their cards close to their chests. They’ll reveal what they’re up to in due time, but for now, we’re all being kept in the dark and left to our own devices as we try to piece this sprawling puzzle together piece by piece.
Featured image: HBO