Watchmen: Season 1 Episode 3: “She was killed by Space Junk” Review

Have time for a really long, not all that funny joke? Welcome to being alive!

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Meet FBI Agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart), she’s a no-nonsense kick-ass lady who does her job with an ironic sense of humor. That shouldn’t really surprise anyone as her father was The Comedian, Edward Blake. For those who haven’t read the comic, episode three of our remix is helped by a history lesson.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Sally Juspeczyk (pronounced “Juice-Pez-Ick”), aka Sally Jupiter, was the original Silk Spectre. She trained her daughter, Laurie, to follow in her footsteps. Laurie Jupiter became the second Silk Spectre, a member of the Crimebusters – the vigilante group that succeeded the Minutemen (who are the focus of “American Hero Story”). She falls in love with Dr. Manhattan, they have a very public affair which the US Government encourages because they think it will keep him happy, and when she leaves him, and he leaves the Earth, Uncle Sam kicks her to the curb. But, she bounces back, shacking up (both figuratively and literally) with the second Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg. At the end of the comic they change their names, fight crime, and keep the dream alive until they’re both arrested in `93.

We meet Laurie as a fully grown adult. She’s shed her Silk Spectre identity to the point where she now uses her father’s last name instead of her mother’s. Though, to be fair, she did fight crime for a stint as The Comedienne. Still, not all of her past is buried in fact it’s because of this past that she joins our story at all.

See, Agent Blake is a member of the FBI’s Anti-vigilante Task Force, and she’s good at it. Following her arrest in ’93, she managed to secure a job – thanks to some hardcore intel – and has embraced her new role with a dark enthusiasm. We get a little peek of this when we see her run a sting operation to capture the vigilante Mr. Shadow (Lee Tergesen). She walks into a bank, begins a robbery, draws out her target, and then shoots him several times in the back as he’s trying to escape. Her colleagues are shocked, one of them asks how she knew his armor would protect him – she doesn’t answer. Did she know? Did she not know and took the chance? Did she not know and not care? It’s definitely something The Comedian would have done. Although, I think he would have enjoyed it more. That seems to be the biggest difference between Laurie and her father, she may scoff and have sarcastic retorts, but she doesn’t look amused by anything she’s doing. She looks at best bored and at worst, depressed. But, angry above all else. Angry to the point that she won’t shout or cry, just wear a stony “fuck-off” face so she can brood in peace.

Following her successful capture of Mr. Shadow, Agent Blake gets a visit from Senator Joe Keene Jr. (played by James Wolk), son of John Keene Sr. who created the Keene Act which outlawed non-government sanctioned vigilantism, he wants her to go to Tulsa and investigate Judd Crawford’s murder. Why? Joe’s thinking maybe their DOPA trial isn’t going so well – no, the D doesn’t stand for drug. DOPA is what Keene Jr. named his initiative where all police offers wear masks following the White Night massacre – the Defense of Police Act – which Laurie rightfully laughs at the naming of. He speculates that since the Kavalry didn’t outright claim the murder it probably isn’t them, and instead it might be local vigilantes who don’t appreciate masked cops. She’s all ready to turn him down when he makes the ultimate offer. Keene’s running for President, if he wins he can grant Dan a pardon (poor Nite Owl is trapped in federal prison, probably since ’93). Seeing as how Laurie has a pet owl (talk about your funny names…), it’s easy for Joe make the connection, and our girl relents. She’ll go to Tulsa, but she won’t be taking an entire team with her. Just one “fan” named Agent Dale Petey (Dustin Ingram).

After speaking with Jane Crawford (Frances Fisher), Agents Blake and Petey stakeout the police department – it’s in a warehouse, naturally. Blake has Petey stay in the car while she goes in to talk to the local detectives. She meets Pirate Jenny (Jessica Camacho) and Red Scare (Andrew Howard) outside, notice she doesn’t say their real names, she does however have a little fun at the expense of one of the potential white supremacists they are bringing in for questioning.

Once inside, Laurie’s face seems to be disturbed by the police harassment that is on display, but to be honest that’s just Laurie’s face. She pretty much looks at everything with this tired, frustrated yet defeated expression. She finds her target: Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson) aka Looking Glass, who she only calls by his real name once they are alone in “The Pod”. I’ve observed that, despite Laurie’s apparent hatred for masked “heroes” she does seem to respect the concept of a secret identity to a point. Never once, in this entire episode, does she address any of the detectives by their real names while in a public place, it’s only when they are alone, or she’s in the presence of another officer (for example, while talking to LG she mentions Sister Night’s alter ego Angela Abar). Oh, she may come off like she doesn’t give a fuck, but she very clearly gives at least one fuck. Actually, more than one…

Our episode starts with a phone call. Yes, we’re doing a bit of a rewind, but believe me, it won’t be too convoluted. Essentially, we see a woman in a blue phone booth calling Mars to leave a message for Dr. Manhattan. Throughout the first let’s say fifteen to twenty minutes of the episode we quickly come to recognize that the woman is Laurie Blake. She’s called Jon to tell him a joke – seemingly two, but it’s really just one – and the joke (not funny at all mind you) references their shared past. It’s about three heroes who wind up in front of God for judgement: the first is Nite Owl, the second is Ozymandias, and the last is Dr. Manhattan. Spoiler, they all go to Hell. This revelation lines up perfectly with Blake and Petey arriving at the cemetery for Judd Crawford’s funeral because the name of the cemetery is Tartarus Acres. Fucking really!? Really!? For those of you confused here’s the link: Tartarus is Hell in Greek mythology. Sure, Plato’s Gorgias says it’s the place souls go for judgement, but it’s also where punishments are divined. I.E. Blake’s joke “ends” with all the heroes in Hell while our former Police Chief himself is being interned there. Man…I have said this show isn’t subtle, but damn.

It’s here that Laurie meets Angela. These are the two most central women in this story, which is a shame. Though, I guess the remix does do the original one better by adding a second significant lady to the roster as opposed to just the one (who Moore admits he added because he felt he “had” to – blech). But, as with most media tales that somehow make room for an additional female character, the two of them do not get along. Granted, this does feel like a more natural rejection given Laurie’s prickly personality, and the standing tension that is always shown between the feds and local authorities. Still, to have these two awesome ladies in the same series and force them to be at odds is kind of sad. Ah well…

The funeral doesn’t go as planned (or maybe it does? Actually, even then, it doesn’t), a suicide bomber crashes the party. While Joe is playing hero, Laurie doesn’t play at all and shoots the man – what? She was pretty sure he was bluffing. Turns out, nope! Luckily, Angela thinks quickly, drags the dead man time-bomb into Judd’s casket, closes the lid, and pushes it into the open grave. She singlehandedly saves everyone. Such a cool character. Naturally, Laurie setting off the bomb doesn’t help her relationship with Angela, not that it matters, Laurie sticks her foot further in her mouth when she finally scores some alone time with Det. Abar.

Laurie tells Angela she found Judd’s secret compartment (guess there are some advantages to having grown up around vigilantes, eh?). She wants to know what was inside, and makes it clear she knows Angela knows. She also reveals that she found wheelchair tracks at the crime scene. She’s testing Angela, seeing if she can break her, but unlike all the men she’s able to make squirm, Angela isn’t easily scared. It’s a fantastic meeting of the minds.

The VO that was used at the beginning of the episode to deliver Blake’s “joke” returns because the joke isn’t over. Neither is the episode. It ends with the reveal that Laurie’s got a blue dildo (fun fact: it was designed for her by Dan out of jealousy). A lot of people speculate that her being in the phone booth and having the dildo means she’s hung up on Manhattan, but I think she’s hung up on Dan. After all, Dan made the dildo for her and she doesn’t use it – well, not here at least – plus, she’s got the owl. A living creature she has to make an effort to care for.

Anyway, our episode concludes with Laurie leaving the phone booth after finishing her joke – there was a little girl who threw a brick at the very beginning of it and the brick finally comes down and kills God – this coincides with a car falling out of the sky and nearly killing her. Hello, episode title tie-in! Was it Manhattan? Did he hear her joke and that’s his reply? I know the answer, but you need to stay tuned.

Other things in this episode:

I made a note of the fact that this is the episode in which the side story’s protagonist is revealed to be Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons). Why? Because, this is the episode where the Watchmen comic really collides heavily with our remix, which is thanks to the introduction of Laurie Blake. Laurie’s entrance not only references Nite Owl, and Dr. Manhattan, but Ozymandias. Now, we know we won’t be seeing Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan is on Mars – allegedly – but Adrian has been hiding in plain sight this whole time!

Adrian’s storyline is simple and breaks up the tension after the failed suicide bombing. Basically, he’s trying to build some kind of suit, maybe a space suit or a diving suit, it’s not clear just yet. We also learn he’s a prisoner to someone named The Game Warden, though, his adversary is also his servant? You’ll see…eventually.

One last observation: While Laurie’s episode features her VO and she heads up the investigation what do we actually learn about her? For those who check out the companion website: Peteypedia, you learn a lot about her, but for those who don’t…maybe not so much. This would be the one episode where understanding a character’s history really helps with her depth, because the episode doesn’t give it to you. Unlike Angela, who we will slowly learn more and more about over the course of the series, Laurie simply is the way she is. I read recently that creator Damon Lindelof originally intended the show to be ten episodes but felt that after the sixth episode there wasn’t enough story for four more. I would argue focusing some attention on Blake’s background might have been…wise. Get it?

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