HBO's Watchmen series [Watch Over This Spoiler-All]

Welcome to the spoiler thread for the new Watchmen sequel TV series, where we discuss things like...

Spoiler:

...Don Johnson's character essentially being the Comedian of this narrative.

Have at, Goodjers!

A link to the Peteypedia, the show's version of the prose text at the end of each issue of the original comic series.

I'm not sure yet, but this feels like a sequel to the comic, rather than the movie.

Spoiler:

It's the squids.

This is definitely not a sequel to anything. The comic and movie are pretty much exactly the same. This show is in a different universe with a completely different history. The watchmen of the movies/comics is a tv show in this universe. One major player from the comic/movies that died is alive in this show. The US flag is different and the states aren't the same.

I really liked the first episode. I didn't know about the big world change they did. I only seen one trailer and that didn't have anything about it in there. Very interesting take on the police force, it felt like something that could happen. Well I guess faceless cops are a thing in some countries and do wear masks sometimes here. I look forward to see where they take this show.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

This is definitely not a sequel to anything. The comic and movie are pretty much exactly the same. This show is in a different universe with a completely different history. The watchmen of the movies/comics is a tv show in this universe. One major player from the comic/movies that died is alive in this show. The US flag is different and the states aren't the same.

What? It's 2019 rather than 1986. A lot can happen in 30+ years, including more states being added by 30 year President Robert Redford. But Nixon's still prominent, on Mount Rushmore even. There was a show about the Watchmen but there are shows depicting the Civil War too, that doesn't make it fiction. The Seventh Kalvalry wasn't inspired by a comic book, they were quoting Rorschach's journal in their video.

And the police chief had a copy of Hollis Mason's Under The Hood on his desk, which the TV series American Hero Story that was advertised a few times might be another iteration of.

Yeah, I, too, agree that this is a sequel of sorts, and, to the extent it matters, a sequel to the comics rather than the movie. The events of Watchmen happened, and this is carrying that universe forward by a few decades.

That opening scene was hard to watch. Especially the parts that involved peril to babies. Oof.

So, the man played by Jeremy Irons in the interlude is Adrian Veidt, right? At some point earlier in the episode, we see a headline referring to Veidt's death. I don't know if that would mean that this scene is set in a different time or if it reveals that he faked his death or what. I suspect his two assistants there are robots? Or maybe products of genetic engineering experiments or something like the pet that he had in the comics? It certainly looks like this sequence is set up as the equivalent to the pirate stuff from Watchmen, a side story not directly connected to the main narrative but thematically relevant. But maybe I'm wrong, in the "season ahead" clip it did look like Jeremy Irons might be interacting with part of the main cast somewhere in there.

It's funny, in that whole sequence where Police Chief Don Johnson was having dinner with Baker Cop and they were having this idyllic evening with the Chief breaking out into song and everything, I could tell that of course this was all a setup for a turn. But even when that turn was starting to play out, with the Chief getting a call and heading out on his own and against his wife's advice, I assumed the turn was going to be that actually Don Johnson is evil, not that he was going to be murdered. I like that twist slightly less, mostly because I enjoyed his performance in the episode and was looking forward to seeing more of him, but also because it was a bit stupid of him: why did he go off on his own, without any help, and just stop the car and get out when he fell into the trap? Ah well.

The masks stuff feels a little derivative of The Private Eye, but it's certainly being used differently, and it is funny to see all the different cop costumes. Watching with subtitles is funny because the subtitles will refer to characters by names we're not given--"Pirate Jenny" spoke several times and I don't recall her ever actually being identified as such by the show. Oh, and Irons' character was referred to once in the subtitles as something strange--I don't recall exactly but it was something along the lines of "The Sophisticated Man", which was odd.

When I heard HBO was making a Watchmen series a year or two ago, I was so not interested, but I'm glad this is so much different than what I'd expected.

mrlogical wrote:

Yeah, I, too, agree that this is a sequel of sorts, and, to the extent it matters, a sequel to the comics rather than the movie. The events of Watchmen happened, and this is carrying that universe forward by a few decades.

The squids definitively point to this being a sequel to the comics.

So, the man played by Jeremy Irons in the interlude is Adrian Veidt, right?

He's been credited in HBO press material as "Probably Who You Think It Is."

Ozymandias I presume?
I was not interested in this at all but Don Johnson's performance in the trailer was definitely selling this for me and Regina King is kicking so much ass, she is compelling me to watch it.

Spoiler:

If he does get murdered, hopefully he gets more screen time in flashbacks...

After The Leftovers removed any fears I had of both Lost and additions to finished stories, I was pretty excited about this show. The one promo I had seen about it was the 7th Cavalry in their Rorschach masks giving the recorded speech, and Don Johnson's "Just talking about the end of the world. Tick tock, tick tock" line.

I was not expecting to start with a nearly 100-year old flashback, and I'll be looking up Tulsa 1921 in history sometime soon. I think the show had an incredibly strong first episode: Regina King and Don Johnson were perfect; the background hints to the state of the world are well-done; the tone is just right, able to be morally conflicted about the police force while still sympathizing with the police.

I knew the show was a sequel (that doesn't feel correct, since over 30 years have passed after the comic), but it was the squid-storm that should have made it totally obvious that this was the case. I had read the Jeremy Irons was Ozymandias, so them trying to be coy about it was a little annoying - I guess it's possible that we're going to be seeing 2 different time lines (like in Westworld) since Don Johnson is listed early in the credits and the newspaper "confirming" Veidt's death, but that might be too derivative. I still expect flashbacks to Don Johnson's Judd, though.

I worry that this show is going to be really divisive, with the racial themes and the police/fascism angle, but until it gets shut down, I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

fangblackbone wrote:

Ozymandias I presume?
I was not interested in this at all but Don Johnson's performance in the trailer was definitely selling this for me and Regina King is kicking so much ass, she is compelling me to watch it.

Spoiler:

If he does get murdered, hopefully he gets more screen time in flashbacks...

Spoiler:

That's why I said I think he's the Comedian in this narrative, someone who's killing sets the plot in motion and who despite being dead is still present through flashbacks. Technically in the comics, the Comedian was already dead so we never saw him "alive."

I enjoyed it for the most part, but confused as to why they showed the kid from the start all grown up/old and showing the note? I don't understand why the 7th Calvary if they are white supremists, killing the police chief, but not the old man? Or will that be explained in a future episode? Read the Watchman omnibus that included the comics the movie was based on and saw the original movie.

I think that's a big question for the episodes ahead! How is the grown-up version of the kid involved in this and why. Spoilering stuff they showed in the "next time" previews at the end of the episode, in case people think those things outside the bounds of a Spoiler-All:

Spoiler:

They show a scene between Regina King's character and Old Man Kid in which it appears that the old man is saying he's the one who killed the Chief and RK is saying no way, that's not possible. But the implication, at least, is that 7th Kavalry didn't spare the old man, either the old man is a part of them, or he did the killing without their involvement. How that could be seems like a mystery we will be exploring.

I don't think having read the Watchmen comics will affect anyone's ability to know where any of this is going. It surely would enhance one's understanding of the past of this world, filling in some details and showing up some Easter eggs, but I gather that this is its own thing.

I had super low expectations going into this based off the trailers (and Damon Lindelof), but the first episode has me super hyped for the rest of the season.

It's 100% a sequel. Lindelof has said it is.

On top of that, though, Redford was a presidential candidate at the end of the comic. This just fast forwards 3 decades into the Redford presidency.

Ozymandias' plan obviously succeeded, but for some reason reminders of the squid attack come back now and then. I'm assuming this is a mystery box for later.

Sister Night is clearly from Vietnam (now a state along with dozens of others going by the pictures of the flag), so it's in the continuity of Dr. Manhattan helping the US to win wars across the planet that it lost otherwise.

I could go on. It's definitely a sequel. I have problems with the idea that cops would be that directly antagonistic to white supremacists, but we'll see what they do with that. Clearly in the world of Watchmen there's abundant energy of some kind (even the pickup was electric). So maybe the world took a turn into not tolerating system racism the same way we do.

It's definitely a provocative start. Not sure how long I'll hang with it.

I'm liking it. Based on the image of the squid, I agree it's a sequel to the graphic novel, 30+ years later. Set in a world that parallels our own.

mrlogical wrote:
Spoiler:

They show a scene between Regina King's character and Old Man Kid in which it appears that the old man is saying he's the one who killed the Chief and RK is saying no way, that's not possible. But the implication, at least, is that 7th Kavalry didn't spare the old man, either the old man is a part of them, or he did the killing without their involvement. How that could be seems like a mystery we will be exploring.

Spoiler:

I need to go back and re-watch it, but I think he just said he hung him up, not that he killed him.
These little distinctions usually end up being important. Earlier in the episode, he asks her if she thinks he can lift 200 pounds, which we might now assume refers to the weight of the chief.

Spoilering some speculation:

Spoiler:

Jeremy Irons is Veidt. The alien attack frame-up worked, at least for a while.

One of the questions in the interrogation scene asked something to the effect of "do you believe extra-dimensional attackers are a conspiracy". I need to re-watch it to check, but I think this refers to the New York attack and hints at the publication of Rorschach's journal. Given the masks, it looks like the Seventh Kavalry has twisted Rorschach's moral absolutism to fit their own agenda.

Like our own reality, now that they are no longer under imminent threat of a global nuclear apocalypse, other threats to global security are gaining prominence. When Watchmen was published, the Wall was still up and the Cold War wasn't over. We ended up solving the problem presented in Watchmen in our own way.

I think all of this is the beginning of a new plan being set in motion by Veidt to "solve" the current issues of the world, and it needs the world to think he's dead.

BTW, the captioning has the name of the group as "Seventh Kavalry". I'm assuming it's a combo of Seventh Cavalry, Custer's regiment (hence the Big Horn pager messages), and KKK references.

On another note, I kept trying to Shazam and Soundcloud the music with no luck. Turns out it's a new score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which would explain why I liked it so much. https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/10/trent-reznor-and-atticus-ross-watchmen-release/

FYI Imdb is not ambiguous at all in regards to who you think Jeremy Irons should be...

Speculation re: the squid storms (which is now an Instagram filter, apparently):

Spoiler:

Maybe they're intentional, to keep reminding people of the "threat" 34 years after the big one was teleported into New York. Or it's Veidt trying to push back against the conspiracy theory that likely sprouted from the publication of Rorshach's journal.

I thought it was spectacular. The world building was excellent, the performances are all incredible, and the cinematography is on par with Handmaid's Tale. To repeat what DSGamer said, this is 100% a sequel to the comic. Lindelof considers Watchmen one of the greatest novels ever written, and has done several interviews talking about how influential it's been for his career. This one with Alan Sepinwall is particularly good.

Also,

Spoiler:
"Did you find any croutons?"

Yeah, I'm sold.

Turns out there is a "end of the issue text thing" after each episode.

Edit: The final link to the "Rorschach's Journal" memo contains a great deal of revelations about what happened in the immediate aftermath of the original comic, such as:

Spoiler:

* Laurie becoming the Comedienne for a time, as was implied by her final lines in the book.

* The squid storms started almost immediately after the event in New York.

* Dan Dreiberg is in federal custody, which makes Laurie becoming an FBI agent more intriguing.

* Mr. Godfrey, the editor of the New Fontiersman*, used the Rorschach journal to stoke right-wing sentiment.

* Dan and Laurie were captured in 1995.

* Robert Redford was elected president in the Blue Wave of 1992, but won't run again in 2020.

* = The "Veidt Declared Dead" link mentions that New Frontiersman is owned by a company run by Roger Aisles.

Put me in the minority because I didn’t enjoy it all. I thought the world building was incredibly weak as there were way too many questions/confusion at the outset. My wife kept asking what the backstory was - which I couldn’t remember properly. I don’t think I have the patience to see how it plays out.

I also suspect there will be a lot flashbacks and/or non-linear storytelling which I’m just not down for. I'll give it another couple of episodes to grab me but I’m not digging it yet.

Crazy theory of mine:

Spoiler:

Louis Gossett Jr.'s character isn't just the child seen in the prologue, he's Hooded Justice.

On Rat Boy's theory:

Spoiler:

I think that's not crazy at all! As I watched that intro movie, I was waiting for the heroic figure in the film to be Hooded Justice, but then I realized the timeline didn't make sense. However, it would make sense if that young boy watching the movie about the hooded hero were inspired to don his own hooded costume 20 or so years later. Also, Hooded Justice had that noose imagery, and old Chief Judd was hanged. Interesting!

Also, I just started looking through the HBO 'backmatter' that was linked earlier and wow is it interesting. Bad news: In this future, "electronic mail" is called El-Mail. Yuck. Also Doctor Oz (the crappy TV doctor, I assume) is the Surgeon General. Looking forward to reading all of this when I get the chance.

And looking at those PDFs, a little more on Rat Boy's theory:

Spoiler:

The article about the "Trust in the Law" film gives a lot more support to the idea that the young boy we see watching the film could have grown up to be Hooded Justice:

The Bass Reeves of Trust In The Law!—played by Louis De Boulder in a charismatic and touching performance—represents an attempt to give his viewers their own cowboy hero like the ones played by Max Aronson, a white superstar of silent cinema. Micheaux also drew upon another influence, this one less familiar to audiences, regardless of color: the first pulp serials, made in France, most notably, Judex, a righteous avenger reminiscent of another relic of the thirties pop culture, The Shadow, and, of course, Hooded Justice, Nite Owl, and other real-life figures from the mid-century fad of costumed adventurers.

and

Trust In The Law! must have been a complicated experience for black moviegoers suffering increased persecution and torn between untenable choices: turn the other cheek and do nothing in the face of white oppression or fight back and risk destruction. The fact that this was the film playing at the Dreamland as Tulsa burned in 1921 illustrated the sharp divide between fiction and reality. The title might have struck some as an ironic joke. How could they trust in the law when it was continually used to deny them the most fundamental of human rights? Yet it’s hard to imagine them not being moved by Micheaux’s Bass Reeves, a wish-fulfillment ideal of the way things ought to be, where there’s liberty, justice and opportunity for all, where respect exists for people of all colors and creeds. For them, The Black Marshal of the silver screen wasn’t representative of the law. He was the redemption of it.

I think I found a major hole in my theory:

Spoiler:

The second excerpt from Under the Hood from the comics' second chapter had the line, "Before Pearl Harbor, I heard Hooded Justice openly expressing approval for the activities of Hitler's Third Reich."

I'll give it a few more episodes but nothing in that episode was enough to hook me. I don't know that I really want a show where the two sides are authoritarian cops and white supremacists right now.

Also, not enough Tim Blake Nelson.

iaintgotnopants wrote:

I'll give it a few more episodes but nothing in that episode was enough to hook me. I don't know that I really want a show where the two sides are authoritarian cops and white supremacists right now.

Also, not enough Tim Blake Nelson.

That was my wife. I recommended she try it and at the end of the episode she was like, "No thanks".

I can see her perspective. Similar to how people didn't think it was the right time for "Joker" I can understand people saying it doesn't feel like the right time for a show like Watchmen.

I had to check it out based on the things people are saying in this thread, and wow--it did not disappoint. It's probably isn't the right time for a show like this, which is why it I think it scratches my hopeful-yet-cynical itch so good.

On the squids

Spoiler:

government running with the alien fear distraction?

Especially considering it popped up during interrogation as mentioned above

First episode was all over the place for me. I'll give it a chance because the world/concept interests me.

Didn't love the opening scene or that we are in Tulsa? Have nothing against Tulsa but I don't get the fit yet.

Small town America can work. It did in Breaking Bad. I'm just not sure yet how it does here.

I’m assuming they’re making race a big theme. The attack on Black Wall Street is one of if not the most infamous examples of the terror of post Civil War white America.

Loved last night's episode, too.

Strangely given this is a 'sequel', it's the first piece of art/entertainment/whatevs I've come across in the last couple of years that I enjoy because it feels like it's new, and not because it connects back to earlier times in our culture. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's the best I can put it right now.

Okay, I loved that there Snyder-esque action happened in the (heavily warned) television drama about the superheroes.

Also really enjoyed Angela getting into character as Sister Night before she could start her interrogation, definitely reminded me of the comic, these pathetic, violent people who need costumes to feel powerful.