If you’ve been watching the Watchmen and have questions about the first episode as well as where the show could be heading then this is the article for you.
Throughout this we’ll be recapping all of the first episode of HBO’s Watchmen and discussing where things could be going in the future.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t got Doctor Manhattans’ ability to see everything all at once and don’t want anything spoiled for you then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that out the way I just wanna give a huge thank you for clicking this, now let’s get into our breakdown of Watchmen.
Watchmen Episode 1 Plot Recap
Similar to the original graphic novel, Watchmen jumps about from time setting to time setting with relative ease, showcasing different moments in the story at different times.
The majority of the storyline takes place 30 years after the original graphic novel. Due to the events of the book, the world is a vastly different one to the one we know. Robert Redford has been President for Three Decades. Doctor Manhattan now lives on Mars and Rorschach has become a symbol for white supremacy. In addition to this police officers now wear yellow masks to protect their identity after an incident known as The White Night in which criminals tracked down police officers outside of working hours and shot them in their homes. Throughout there is an undertone of people being forced to hide their identities in order to protect their beliefs and it’s one of the main driving forces of the narrative.
Our story mirrors this masked identity aesthetic and begins in Tulsa 1921 with a young boy watching the story of a hooded vigilante taking down a villain. The character is revealed to be Bass Reeves, one of the first-ever Black U.S. Marshals who stands strong as a role model for the young onlooker as, similar to Reeves, he is also African American. Now, this is a time period in which there was little representation of other races on screen and the joy that the boy finds from seeing a hero that looks like him is short-lived when his parents pick him up and escort him outside into a riot scene headed up by the KKK.
These white supremacists wiping out a predominantly black city because of the way they live acts as the origin story for the young boy and it instantly cements the work as something special. Anyone who’s ever read a comic before will notice the instant similarities to Bruce Wayne with both watching a hero onscreen in a theatre before the death of their parents. Bruce had Zorro, the boy has Bass Reeves and both have a childhood fraught with tragedy that has inspired them to take a certain pathway in life.
We watch as the boy walks down a long road, holding the only other survivor of the massacre which just so happens to be a baby. Instantly you get the gravitas of the situation and we are then propelled to present day where we once again once another confrontation that is steeped in racial politics. This involves a traffic stop on the same road, however, here the dynamics are polar opposites with the cop being a black man and the person in the car being white.
HBO’s Watchmen Racial Tensions
We discover that both the policeman and the man being stopped both use masks and thus they represent symbols of their respective sides and beliefs. After the cop discovers that the man at the stop is a member of The Seventh Calvary, the group that apparently follows Rorschach, the situation escalates into a shootout with the policeman being brutally shot several times whilst he sits in his car.
It really kick starts the show with a level of drama and tension and lets you instantly know that the show isn’t pulling any punches. Whereas the original graphic novel focused on the threat of Nuclear War, the HBO adaptation very much center’s around a potential race war that is very much a comment on modern society.
After the policeman’s wife, Roberta Sutton is informed of the shooting and we learn the backstory of how the police live in fear of retaliation and have to lie about their jobs and so on in order to remain safe.
We All Wear Masks
Now, one of the main things that stopped the policeman from being able to retaliate during the stop is that there exists a law that all police must adhere to. In order to draw their weapon, policemen must first get permission from their superiors and from the off I believe that this stands strong as a statement that there should actually be measures in place to stop innocent bystanders from being shot by trigger happy police.
This comes into question when The Seventh Cavalry release a video discussing how the black, accumulated filth will be hosed from the streets of Tulsa and the streets will turn into extended gutters overflowing with liberal tears. This has clear allusions to the original speech from Watchmen made by Rorschach and though they have clearly misinterpreted his words as their message, similar to their idol I doubt there will be any compromises. They utter tick-tock repeatedly and we get the feeling that, like Watchmen, the Doomsday clock is counting down.
It’s clear that we need something more powerful that Police to stop the threat and this comes in the form of a superhero known as Sister Night aka Angela Abar who is an ex policewoman that was shot during the White Night and now masquerades as a vigilante, hunting down the Cavalry. Angela pretends to run a bakery but you do get the feeling that this will be revealed to be a front later in the show as it is never open and onlookers often remark about its lack of customers.
Sister Night works with the police who have several other vigilantes in their rankings, this includes a panda and also a character known as Looking Glass who may or may not be a Cavalry mole, depending on what fan theories you believe. This guy is pretty much the Rorschach of the show and it’s awesome seeing him interrogate a Cavalry member brought in by Sister Night.
Now, what this interrogation implies is that there is an undercurrent of society that believes that the original squid attack from the graphic novel is a hoax. It also shows that the police have methods of interrogation that can indicate whether someone is lying or telling the truth.
There’s a nice little nod to Rorschach beating up Big Figure in the prison with urine running from behind a closed door but overall it indicates that perhaps the brutality in order to get to the bottom of things is still much in place.
This leads to a raid on a cattle farm which is by far the episode’s high point. The Cavalry become aware of the infiltration and go Rambo on the police and heroes whilst trying to escape. It’s an awesome set piece that shows this series is going to pack some big punches and that life as a masked hero has its dangers.
However, they have the means to fight back and watching the police get their own Archie in order to chase down the Cavalry’s ride is outstanding.
We also learn of Ozymandias’ fate. After the staged alien attack, the character faked his own death and now lives in the countryside, waited on hand, leg, and foot by his android servants. He gets a big yellow and purple birthday cake, which fans of the comics will know are his colours but there’s a hint of sadness to the detachment from society. He is presented a watch with reminds him that there is a countdown to the end of society that he must intervene in similar to how he did in the source material. He mentions a play he is writing called ‘The Watchmaker’s son’ which is a reference to Doctor Manhattan who was the son of a Watchmaker.
Now, where this storyline goes remains to be seen but the episode concludes by divulging that Sister Night and the Police Captain are friends outside of work and that there is also a bigger mystery going on. That is The Cavalry’s mission and I love how there’s a ticking clock in the background of the finale that cements how everyone is living on borrowed time.
Watchmen Episode 1 Ending Explained
This includes the Police Captain, who in the episode’s big twist, is captured and killed during a callout. When exiting his car there is a strobe light flashing and this may indicate that Looking Glass could be behind the attack. It’s definitely part of his toolkit and he is someone that would have access to the Captain’s itinerary so would, therefore, know which road that the character would be traveling on.
Angela discovers his body after being called out to it by the disabled man that was outside of her bakery and we see the blood drop down onto his police badge, similar to the blood splash that dropped on the comedians in the original work. This closes out the episode and the note left with the disabled man hints that someone may know that Angela and Sisternight are one in the same. Going forward I do think that we will discover there is a mole within the organisation and that the Cavalry will continue their attacks, eventually leading to a face off between the two sides.
I think the man in the wheelchair will be revealed to be the boy from the beginning of the episode and he may possess some powers that we are as of yet unaware of. It looks like Ozy is ramping up to unleash an attack on civilization to once again unite them and this could definitely lead to more disruption in the future. Either way, I’m massively excited about what’s to come and I can’t wait to watch episode 2 next week.
Watchmen Episode 1 Review
But what did I think of the episode overall? Well, I did have some difficulty fully getting into it as I feel certain aspects were slightly heavy handed such as the whole police being good, white people being bad. This kinda struck a nerve with me as I think that police, in general, is definitely the main factor in racial tensions across america with there being so many that are involved in the deaths of innocent black people. However, casting that to the side, as far as first episodes go, this was an enjoyable one and I definitely had a lot of fun returning to this world, especially after I was left so disappointed by the DC Sequel, Doomsday Clock.
Overall, I think this has a lot of good things in store and I can’t wait to see what’s in the future for Watchmen.
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on Watchmen episode 1 and where you want to see the show go in the future. Comment below and let me know!