Sunday, November 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'Watchmen' - Laurie Blake Arrives in Tulsa to Investigate a Significant Murder in 'She Was Killed by Space Junk'

HBO's Watchmen - Episode 1.03 "She Was Killed by Space Junk"

Following a late-night visit from the senator who authored Masked Policing Legislation in Oklahoma, FBI agent Laurie Blake heads to Tulsa to take over the recent murder investigation. The Lord of the Manor receives a harshly worded letter and responds accordingly.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's Watchmen.

"She Was Killed by Space Junk" was written by Damon Lindelof & Lila Byock and directed by Stephen Williams

At its core, Watchmen is a deconstruction of various familiar storytelling ideas and genres. It takes something that is incredibly popular and successful. It then explores the more uncertain and grim underbelly at the core of the narratives and how they would actually play out in reality. It's fun and escapist to believe that masked vigilantes can swoop in to save the day from monstrous threats. But that also operates under the assumption that such broad definitions of good and evil actually exist in the world. Humanity is so much more complicated than that. History can change in a grand sweeping motion. However, people may fundamentally be trapped within the narrative that no one else will ever truly understand the complex makeup of what motivates them in this world. It's easy to classify people as operating in a certain way. But that comes with a complete disregard of the socioeconomic and historic events that inevitably shaped the world and how this person came to be. Laurie Blake was raised by heroes and conditioned to follow in their footsteps. She is a famous and familiar face to the American public. Now though, she is an agent with the FBI who is steadfast in her belief and execution of the law banning all vigilantes. It's not an acceptance that justice must be taken by a select few. Instead, it's a superiority complex where certain people believe that they inherently know what is right and wrong. They are the ones who should act as the entire system to ensure that their form of justice is dispensed. The FBI and local police come across as the justice system as well. They are the ones who have taken an oath to protect and serve the people of this country. They too run the risk of growing so ingratiated with the belief that they wield this power and they get to decide what happens to whomever stands against them in any given situation. But again, real life is so much more complicated than that. Policing can frequently be a corrupt institution. One where implicit bias tarnishes the perspective of so many. The Seventh Kavalry operate as a fringe group that would rather destroy the entire system because that means they would be in charge once more. It's a mission they are willing to give their lives to. They represent the past. They twist the words of a former hero in order to apply it to their ideology. They have taken hold of the Rorschach image. That man was more complex than the members of the Seventh Kavalry would like to believe. Similarly, Laurie Blake is more than just a person who once used to be a vigilante and had a public relationship with Doctor Manhattan. She has a vital story to tell. It may be one well-informed by the past and the failings of man. But it too questions the notion of who gets to judge what is heroic in the world. She sets up a joke by saying three heroes have died and gone to God for their final assessments. Some of them are aware that they will be damned to Hell. Others try to trick the situation to their benefit. But the one person who has long gone unnoticed and under-appreciated is the one to dispel of the system entirely. Again, it can come across as a grandiose notion that the entire system is failed and has been doomed from the start. And yet, it only works in the first place if everyone agrees to certain core values. Right now, the country is at risk of being torn apart. It's gotten to the point where isolationism may win out in the end because it's easier to see the concerns at home as more pressing than those abroad.

The situation in Tulsa is defined by racial animosity. That is a huge motivation that touches the lives of many. That has been the way into this series and its stories. However, Laurie is right to question if the local police are too distracted by the sinister history of the Seventh Kavalry to look into other possible suspects. In fact, the Tulsa police department may be completely incompetent because they failed to notice the wheelchair marks on the ground where Judd's body was discover - which Laurie and Agent Petey are able to notice several days after the fact. Heroism is making the split second decisions to decide who lives and who dies. But that is wrapped up in complicated morality. Laurie may have put more lives in danger simply because she assumed the Seventh Kavalry member was lying when he said his bomb was attached to his heartbeat. Angela's quick actions save the day too even though they destroy Judd's body. She would rather just remember her friend as he is being buried in peace. And yet, he may not deserve peace just yet. He is a man plagued with mysteries. Laurie can't just abide the cover-up of the facts. She clashes with the local police because she views this city as a corrosion of what her task force is working on. She sees no difference between a masked vigilante and a masked police officer. It's such a complicated narrative. One that pits Jean Smart and Regina King against each other in such a marvelous showdown. Both of whom should immediately be seen as awards frontrunners next year. It a showdown of intellects. One where they both feel powerful and threatening. One where they both feel in control. They don't have to surrender anything to each other just yet. The mystery is still just getting started. They feel like they personally are the ones best equipped to get to the truth of what is happening in Tulsa. All of this may be a complete illusion though. A gambit to deceive those who are completely susceptible to such suggestions. The world believes Adrian Veidt is dead. Instead, he's making moves elsewhere in the hopes of achieving some brand new goal. Laurie wants answers as to what happened in Tulsa. Angela wants that as well. But it may ultimately come down to who is the most willing to address the very serious issues at the heart of the world. That confrontation may not ultimately change anything. Laurie keeps calling Doctor Manhattan never knowing if he is actually listening to her messages. She may get confirmation with a car falling out of the sky. And yet, that too showcases how some people are foolish to believe they have control over anything. Laurie operates with power. But it's just as significant to see her let out a laugh over how crazy the universe can be. That too showcases how powerless and small the concerns of man can be even though that has shaped so much of history.