Watchmen: Episode 4 Season 1 “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” Review

What is a legacy, really? Can we escape the missteps of our forebearers? Do we have a choice or are we doomed by genetics?

Warning: Spoilers!

Eggs have a weighted significance in this mysterious little series of Lindelof’s. But, to be fair, eggs have a weighted significance in our mysterious little world too. Eggs symbolize, above all else, fertility. Life. But, eggs can embody hope, the fragility of survival, and, of course, sustenance. Orange you glad I didn’t mention the word egg again? Yolk aside, I mention the white (or brown) ovals because they begin an episode that is heavily focused on the concept of legacies. Yes, Watchmen once again proves it cannot be subtle, not even when it tries.

Meet the Clarks, they run an egg farm business that is failing. Lucky for them, Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) – currently the world’s only trillionaire – has shown up on their doorstep in the middle of the night with an unbeatable offer (egg pun? You betcha!). She can give them a legacy, immortality, all for the cost of their house and land. At first they balk – who wouldn’t? But, once she makes it clear she’s serious, they easily give in. I feel like there’s a side moral about the ease with which the wealthy take what they want from the poor, but I’m gonna go ahead and give the Clarks their win. 5 million and a baby? Not too shabby. Don’t worry, I can come back to the moral a little later. For now, let’s move on.

Eggs connect us from Lady Trieu to Angela, who’s returned to her bakery to wash away any traces of the man she’s only recently discovered is her grandfather. You may recall Will made himself eggs. She’s broken down his wheelchair, mopped up, and is about to burn the letter when she gets a call from the cultural center. The letter somewhat survives! And Angela gears up to break into the cultural center and learn more about this blast from her past.

Most people might take the sudden appearance of a long lost relative in a positive way. Angela’s a complicated history with family, for one thing, and this relative just happened to kill a dear friend of hers (allegedly). So, when she gets the new view of her family tree she’s none too pleased. In awe? Definitely. The look on her face telegraphs her mixed feelings. Here’s where I think the series branches off from the normal definition of legacy (another pun!? Yes. All the puns!). Which makes sense because this is Watchmen, and nothing this series does is normal. So, what other kind of legacy is there? How about emotional? Psychological? Institutional…This is, after all, a show about racism – and superheroes and how masks change people, but largely racism. The legacy, for many black Americans in this country, is pain, and Angela’s a perfect example of this.

Angela comes from a long line of pain. Her great grandparents died in the tragic Tulsa massacre; their only child survived but not without cost. We’ll see Will’s journey soon enough, but what we do know is that Angela’s parents died when she was little (the specifics are coming, just you wait). Hell, even Angela’s partner and his wife are killed on the White Night, making her children – specifically Topher – haunted by loss. Is death Angela’s legacy? Is pain? We don’t know what the future holds (well, I do at least in terms of this show, but overall for the character I’m in the same boat as you!), but as Angela is exploring her past a little thermodynamic miracle brings her back to the present.

In case you’ve been a little lost with the timeline, this episode provides a clue in. While in the cultural center (which she broke into as Sister Night), Angela hears a car alarm go off. She runs outside and sees Agent Laurie Blake at the scene of the commotion. The source of that commotion? Angela’s missing car. You may remember it from the second episode when it was whisked away by a UFO. The next time we see it is the previous episode when it falls from the sky nearly killing Agent Blake. That was the night of the Captain’s funeral, after Blake vaguely threatened Angela. We’re starting, essentially, where we last left off.

The next day, after breakfast with her family – where Cal tries to explain Atheism to their kids – Angela goes to see Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass. He is holed up in a fallout shelter in his yard, and is obsessed with the random rain of squids. Sure, he’s weird, but all things considered, who isn’t? Despite their brief conversation in episode two, they now come off as friendly with each other. I mean, friendly enough that Angela trusts him to hide Judd’s Klan robe and gives him the bottle of pills she took from her car (knowing Laurie would probably comb through it). Wade’s suspicious, but agrees to help; even offers his own explanation for Judd’s robe – maybe it’s a family heirloom? Honestly, I had the same thought…

What happens next is probably one of the weirdest scenes in the whole series, which is saying something. It’s mostly unusual because it is a one-time circumstance. Whereas many of the things that happen in this series are thematic, and appear repeatedly, this one is…different. As Sister Night is disposing of her grandfather’s disassembled wheelchair she notices someone out of the corner of her eye. She turns and sees a man dressed head to toe in silver spandex standing across the road. Did he see her get rid of the bag? Does he know what she’s done? Only one way to find out! Sister Night gives chase, but this quick silver has a trick up his sleeve, er, belt. Meet “Lube-Man”, dubbed so by Red Scare. A nobody, one-off character, that eventually is hinted at as being Agent Dale Petey. Despite this being his only appearance, Lube-Man became a fan-favorite. Why? I honestly have no fucking idea. I wasn’t a huge fan of how this moment happens and is never reference again, kind of reminds me of the whole Jim Beaver thing, but fans are weird.

I will say that since we were speaking about legacies, and it does have to do with history, it’s not such a stretch to think that the superhero history buff might one-day take a more hands on approach to his subject matter? I mean, he got to sleep with the second Silk Spectre, while wearing a mask! Bit of a gateway if you ask me…

Back to the plot at hand. Laurie has made herself at home in Judd’s office, which displeases Angela, but it gets better. Laurie’s not letting Angela’s returned car go, in fact, her, Angela, and Petey are off on a field trip to Lady Trieu’s. Why? Because the tech-trillionaire has the only aircrafts capable of lifting a car, flying it somewhere, then dropping it back while looking like a UFO.

The ride in the car is one of my favorite scenes in this series. Firstly, let’s consider the blocking. Angela and Laurie are upfront. Laurie is driving while Angela rides shotgun, and Petey is relegated to the backseat. Even better is the conversation. Angela’s inquiry as to why Laurie gives a fuck about her missing car results in an exchange which will mean a lot more the second view around. There’s also the connection to our theme – Laurie says that people who wear masks are driven by trauma. This proves to be true for both of the ladies in this car, not to mention the masked heroes we’ll be seeing later on. I suppose it also gives Petey some depth, what trauma is driving him to wear a mask? Lastly, there’s the reveal of Laurie’s past to Angela. Now, normally, since Petey is the resident historian and the only white male within miles of this scene, he would be the one who takes control of this part of the conversation, but, here, he’s made to wait for permission to do so. Laurie controls his contribution to her story. Overall, just an amazing scene.

At Lady Trieu’s, Angela and Laurie are invited to talk to the boss in her vivarium, but Petey is not. Once again, we have a novel situation: a straight, white male has been denied access to a key scene in a story where he would normally be leading the investigation. Mind you, he should be in attendance. Petey is an FBI Agent, he has the credentials that put him above Angela, yet, Trieu only invites the ladies. Yes, I’m going to savor this.

The only point of this interaction is to show us that Lady T is tied to Angela’s grandfather. Well, the only obvious point. The thing you’ll notice second time around is that Lady T never lies in this scene. She chooses her words very carefully. There’s also another hint to our timeline, but I’ll come back to that.

The closure to this episode throws a few things at you quickly. We’ve got Angela and Cal’s conversation regarding what he told Agent Blake (nothing, duh!). We’ve got Bian (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport), Lady T’s “daughter”, who wakes up from a vivid nightmare only to be largely dismissed by her mother. And, then there’s the reveal that Lady T is hosting Will Reeves, who gives us a time table for when things will come to a head: 3 days.

Other things in this episode:

Adrian Veidt’s chronicle continues. We now know he’s trapped somewhere, and he’s trying to escape. He also didn’t clone Ms. Crookshanks (Sara Vickers) or Mr. Phillips (Tom Mison, whom I haven’t seen since Sleepy Hallow), rather, he harvests them as babies from a lake and grows them into adulthood using a machine. Our biggest revelation is that when the dead servants are catapulted into the sky they disappear, meaning that they must pass through an invisible barrier. But then, where is Adrian? Considering the transition from his scenes back to the main plot is the moon, and this show IS NOT SUBTLE, the moon seems like a safe bet.

Lady T’s introduction should have involved more. We learn absolutely nothing about her, save that she’s crazy rich, bought out Veidt’s company when he was pronounced dead, and has made some weird pact with Will Reeves. And trust me, as the series continues, we won’t uncover too much else. It’s frustrating to me. This is a good series in many ways with regards to how it treats women and people of color, but it has noticeable blind spots. The lack of depth in Lady T, and even Laurie, is disappointing.

Finally, our title. In the scene where Angela talks to Cal about his conversation with Agent Blake, Angela tries to pick a fight by spoiling the ending of the book Cal is reading. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe contains the line that is the title of this episode. It makes sense, as a big plot point of the book is Okonkwo doing his best to write his own story, separate from the one his father wrote in terms of legacy. Spoiler, it does not end well for him. Is that a portent to how things will end for Angela? Is she the one who is trying to rewrite her own story? Or…is this title referencing someone else? I’ve got my guesses, and I’ll discuss them once we’ve come to the end of this tale.

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