Sunday, November 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Watchmen' - Lady Trieu Exerts Her Influence While Angela Looks for Clues in 'If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own'

HBO's Watchmen - Episode 1.04 "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own"

Reclusive trillionaire Lady Trieu finally enters the stage with a mysterious offer. With Blake getting closer to the truth of her coverup, Angela enlists Looking Glass for help. Meanwhile, The Lord trains two new servants. 

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.

"If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own" was written by Damon Lindelof & Christal Henry and directed by Andrij Parekh

This show has such extreme condemnation towards unchecked power and influence. And yet, it's perfectly blunt in showcasing just how prevalent that is throughout society. That makes way for corruption and disruption in ways that forever shape lives. The white nationalist movement sincerely believes in their superiority. Their blinding rage is so incredibly toxic and life-changing for those caught up in those acts of violence. Meanwhile, the wealthy elite of the world simply have the money and the inherent respect that comes from that to shape reality into whatever they want it to be. Elsewhere, Tulsa cops are suppose to have secret identities. When someone speaks to Sister Night as Angela though, it's a blatant revelation of power that that person now holds over her because it's breaking the fundamental law in order to prove a point. Angela is always fighting for her own personal safety. She has to protect her family no matter what. And yet, she also chooses to operate as a lone wolf. That mentality is incredibly toxic as well. She is closed off from the world because she doesn't believe anyone else can truly offer her the help she needs. She certainly reaches out for favors when she requires them. She gets a clue from her biological grandfather, William Reeves, about what he may potentially be up to. She goes to Wade for help identifying the substance. But it's all fundamentally treated like a game. One where people are constantly looking for the boundaries to see just how far they can go with any given action. Again, no singular person should have the ability to judge and immediately condemn another person. And yet, the police are tasked with that exact responsibility where they are forced to make split-second decisions. Angela and Laurie may have saved lives during Judd's funeral. However, they may have traumatized people as well. They may still be scared too. They knew what actions to take and did them. However, that may not be comforting at the end of the day. It may simply make for a good story. Agent Petey is a keen observer of history. He has such reverence for it in a way that doesn't sugarcoat what actually happened. But that's also him presenting as a fanboy for who Laurie Blake used to be. He doesn't understand the woman leading this investigation and trying to get at the truth of what happened in Tulsa. Calvin also tells Angela that he thinks she can trust Agent Blake with whatever is going on. He will always lie for her. However, he doesn't like lying. It's a significant breakdown of human connection. And yet, the show is perfectly frank at being about that as well. Adrian Veidt doesn't see himself as creating new life whenever he forges a new Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks. Instead, it's just a weird process that has become normal and routine for him. It's strange and unnerving. He is literally fishing babies out of a lake and then spinning them around until they present as adults in a matter of seconds. He trains them for specific tasks but that's the extent of their servitude. He is aware that this reality is all a lie. It's simply a prison meant to unnerve and crush his spirit. He is determined to escape. But again, the show is more interested in highlighting just how unusual it all is. This may be Veidt's reality. However, other people are more than capable of carrying forward his legacy and actually succeeding in the creation of new life. Hong Chau joins an already stacked cast here. She presents as Lady Trieu who can gift a couple with their biological son in an instant just to buy up the land that they own. She knows exactly how to get to their core identities. She can manipulate their emotions with a snap of her finger while also being more than confident experimenting on her own daughter. She operates with the certainty of not having to play by the same rules as everyone else. It's up to her if she'll speak with the police when they show up at her business. It may all be a false reality too. One contrived by a nefarious agenda to influence the world. But the ideology she and Will spout out when they join the refrain of "tick, tock" may be completely different from those who see the Seventh Kavalry as a way to put people of color back in subservient roles in society. These are all intriguing and powerful ideas. This episode is the first where it seems as if the show is being more coy and elusive instead of actually presenting a captivating story where every action drives the narrative forward in some way that will all make sense eventually. Right now, it's being cryptic just so it can be vague a little while longer while still fostering some engaging conversations about power and the need to challenge it in all its forms not just those on the immediate surface.