Sunday, December 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'Watchmen' - The Various Agendas Collide as Everyone Strives for More Power in 'See How They Fly'

HBO's Watchmen - Episode 1.09 "See How They Fly"

Everything ends. For real this time.

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 season finale of HBO's Watchmen.

"See How They Fly" was written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye

Heroism is an active choice. Countless people make it every single day. It's such a complicated subject though. Everyone may essentially view themselves as heroic. Others then project their opinions onto those actions. That can then influence what happens next. A person can be labeled as either a hero or villain. It's hard to think of it in such binary terms when it comes to one's own identity though. This show has understood just how complicated the sheer concept of heroism can be. It can be freeing and exciting. It can also be an incredible burden. One that places people in near constant danger in the hopes of doing some profound good. Doctor Manhattan is lifted up in the world as the symbol of some otherworldly power. He is a god among men. However, the public also criticizes him for living his life on Mars building sand castles over and over again. That's a false narrative. He has never been on Mars. Sure, he still built a society on a moon of Jupiter. That was under less surveillance. But he also wanted the simplicity of life known to humanity. He wanted the same opportunities as everyone else. He wanted love. He may have had that once with Agent Blake. However, this series frames it around the connection he shared with Angela for ten years. She chose to fight to protect him no matter how futile it all ultimately became. That's how he knew he loved her. Everything in this story could seem random. Or it could be incredibly well crafted across years of patience. The Seventh Kavalry truly just stumbled along Doctor Manhattan in Tulsa and then concocted a plan to steal his power. That showcases just how closed-minded white supremacists can actually be. It's such a central action to the core proceedings here. The characters of color always have to fight back and make it known that this hatred has never been extinguished even though it no longer has a place in society. Senator Keene views himself as being the hero and savior that the world needs. As a blue man with the powers of a god, he can finally have the respect he has long deserved. He has power though. It's not enough for him to solely be an elected senator with presidential aspirations. That isn't good enough for him anymore because the world has expanded beyond the sheer capabilities of the President being the leader of the free world. Adrian Veidt declares himself to be the smartest man in the world. He could install Robert Redford as president several years before it actually happened. He can meticulously plot out his own rescue when he needs to escape the paradise that eventually turned into a prison. He discovered that he always needs an adversary in order to be engaged by his life. At one point in time, it was simply good enough for Lady Trieu to spy on what Doctor Manhattan was doing deep in space. In that moment, she does receive the reassurance from her father that he recognizes her brilliance and her lineage. He even takes credit for her ingenuity and capabilities in this world. She has disdain for him though. He plays the same story over and over again to continually keep people propped up by the same fear. That may be justified in the end. And yet, it showcases just how delightful and twisted all of these characters have always been. They feel scorned and desperate to prove their own strength. Lady Trieu certainly has power and influence as well. Instead, she viewed having the capabilities of a god as more valuable than any wealth she could accumulate. That is absolutely crushing.

All of this may also highlight just how skeptical the public should be towards anyone who has such extreme aspirations. The people who want this insane amount of power and influence are inherently conceited and toxic individuals. They view that as the only way to justifiably get ahead in life. Adrian refused to give his daughter anything. She didn't really need his financial support. She can be just as spiteful and smugly arrogant as him in the end. Everyone has a competing agenda when they arrive to watch Doctor Manhattan be torn apart with his powers transferring to someone new. Lady Trieu presents herself as the smartest women in the world. She overcomes everything the Seventh Kavalry was trying to do in this endeavor. They all die as a result of that. That too showcases just how callous and impersonal all of this can be for her. She proclaims that she is going to fix the problems of society. However, that may just be a fancy facade to mask her true motivations. She may be too diabolical to be trusted with all this power. That's probably what society should think about anyone worth over a trillion dollars. Lady Trieu built up her success. She was born out of spite for the heinous actions Adrian Veidt took in the past. And yes, he eventually has to pay for those crimes. These characters are essentially battling ideas and those who choose to follow them. Lady Trieu believes in the altruism of her pursuits. She wants her mother to share in the glory of this experience. It's just narcissism really. Adrian falls prey to the exact same construct. He holds himself up in a higher regard because he never wanted to gain the powers of Doctor Manhattan. In fact, he thought it was necessary to eliminate any man who had such power. Again, he may be right. He always failed to do so. His daughter created the machine that made the famed superhero powerless and vulnerable to attack. He just happens to have the technology to destroy the machinery before it successfully transfers to her. The people of this world can be so corrosive with their actions. They often project a greater sense of importance than they naturally deserve. Lady Trieu and Senator Keene believe they will do better with these powers than Doctor Manhattan did. Will ascribes to the same theory. Doctor Manhattan didn't do enough to improve the world. And yes, Doctor Manhattan has regrets. However, he also lived his life exactly as he wanted. It may be simple and isolated. But that's also fitting of what kind of man he was and the volatility of this sudden responsibility. He experienced time in such a strange and unusual way. As such, his final moment of life is full of every single moment he spent with Angela. That is what's most important to him. That may come off as a slight against Laurie who also holds so much love for him. But she is just as vital in ensuring the safety and protection of the entire world. Again, this isn't a power any one should take lightly. It may be too much of a burden. Doctor Manhattan dies. That may be the end of one chapter of the human experience. It could still lead to the creation of something new. His actions helped avert even more disaster. Laurie and Wade arrest Adrian for the crimes he too has committed against humanity. Meanwhile, Angela is left behind to pick up the pieces in Tulsa. That burden weighs heavily on her heart. She has lost her great love. She has gained a new family member who understands the fear that comes from being a masked hero. Being out in the open allows the truth to come to light. Angela understands the message that Doctor Manhattan ultimately left behind for her. And yet, the show leaves it up to the audience to decide if she truly could walk on water in the end. That's a hopeful message. She consumes that egg perfectly willing to consume his genetic material. He wanted that choice for her. It wasn't something that had to be taken away. Instead, it could be a simple offering. That's simple while showcasing that heroism can still be constantly evolving. It comes in many forms. Angela is far from a perfect individual. She too may fail if she has Doctor Manhattan's powers. But that responsibility comes from love and appreciation instead of the bent towards world domination and subjugation. That's a powerful ending while still embracing the complexity of the human existence.