A Mysterious New Character Enters the Fray in ‘Watchmen’ Episode 4 (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Watchmen, Episode 4, “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”]
If you thought Jean Smart had the best character introduction of the series last week, then think again. Downsizing star Hong Chau may have just stolen the entire show with her portrayal of eccentric trillionaire Lady Trieu.
During Watchmen‘s New York Comic-Con panel, Chau described her character as a “boss bitch,” and judging from her opening scene in this week’s episode, it’s easy to see why. The mysterious Trieu saunters into a married couple’s home and demands their house and the land it sits on, giving them until the sand runs out of a timer to make their decision. Her offer? 5 million dollars and a newborn baby. “You have 10 seconds, or I will have to destroy the baby,” she states. “Joking.”
It’s a hell of an entrance, but just who exactly is Lady Trieu, and what does she want with all this land? It’s an answer we get in bits and pieces throughout the episode. Trieu, who was born in Vietnam, got rich making biomedical tech and later acquired the assets of Veidt Enterprises (she even has a statue of Ozymandias in her office). The giant Millennium Clock looming over Tulsa? That belongs to her. And so do the spaceships gliding around town sucking up vehicles from the street.
One of those hijacked vehicles belonged to Angela Abar (Regina King) and was last seen crashing back down to earth right in front of FBI agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart). At the exact same time, Angela, in her Sister Night guise, was breaking into the cultural center to find out more about her ancestry and connection to old man Will (Louis Gossett Jr.). Angela learns that Will was the little boy that went missing during the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. “I know who you are, now leave me the f**k alone,” she says.
However, the mystery of the disappearing and reappearing car not only forces Angela and Laurie to work together, but it puts them right on the trail of old wheelchair Will, much to Angela’s concern. Laurie discovers that the prints in the vehicle belonged to a William Reeves, who was apparently a former cop in New York City in the 40s and 50s. In the context of the comic book, this means William was active in law enforcement at the time of the Minutemen, the original superhero collective.
Angela and Laurie take a trip to Lady Trieu’s local tech facility to try and figure out what’s going on over there and what, if any, her connection is to Will. The car ride is another killer scene, mostly due to King and Smart’s chemistry. “People who wear masks are driven by trauma,” the former Silk Spectre tells Angela. “It hides the pain.” Angela scoffs at that notion. “I wear a mask for protection,” she claims. “Yeah, protection from the pain,” Laurie replies, before asking if the choice in costume was because her parents were killed by murderous nuns.
If there is one criticism I have with this scene, though, it is the exposition-heavy backstory of the Silk Spectre. Laurie asks her partner, Agent Dale Petey (Dustin Ingram), to fill Sister Night in on her trauma. What follows is a sort of fact sheet rundown, which tells us about Laurie’s parentage and how her father, The Comedian, sexually assaulted her mother, the original Silk Spectre. It’s crucial information for non-comic book readers, but the delivery is flat.
The scenes and dialogue at the Trieu facility pop with a lot more personality and intrigue. Lady Trieu puts on the pleasantries as she discusses her Vietnamese heritage and the work she’s doing in Tulsa, though only in the vaguest of terms. Her conversation with Laurie about the Adrian Veidt statue is a particular highlight. “Why make him so old?” Laurie inquires. Trieu explains that in Vietnam, elders are revered. “Well, this is America,” Laurie responds, “and he looks like s**t.” Laurie’s obvious disdain for Veidt will never get old.
Of course, the big revelation here is that Lady Trieu is working with Will, which she divulges in a secret side conversation with Angela. “Your grandfather wants to know if you got the pills,” she says in Vietnamese. “Tell him he can ask me himself,” Angela replies. We know that Angela did get the pills because earlier in the episode, she asks Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) if he can send them to a private lab to be tested.
It’s also revealed at the end of the episode that Will was at the facility the whole time… and he can walk just fine. On top of that, he’s made some sort of deal with Trieu—a deal she is worried could be broken now that family is involved. “The pills are passive-aggressive exposition, just tell [Angela] who you are,” Trieu says. “She has to experience things by herself,” Will explains, which sounds very much like something Dr. Manhattan would say. Maybe he really does know the blue god?
Whatever the agreement is, Will declares that he is “all the way in,” even though he knows the consequences could be tragic. “In three days, Angela will know what I’ve done, and she’ll hate me for it,” he states. “Tick tock.”
One can’t help but wonder if this Trieu plan is related to whatever the Lord of the Manor is working on over in cryptic castle land. This week we learn how Veidt (Jeremy Irons) makes his clones, and it’s a disturbing bit of business. He has a riverbed of chalk-white fetuses that he fishes from the water and then slams into a revolving metal chamber until they come out fully grown. The scariest thing is, he does all this with the sort of mundane casualness of a man defrosting chicken in a microwave.
It’s clearly something Veidt has done countless times, given the amount of massacred clone servants strewn across his dining room, many of them with hatchets stuck in their backs. And it’s also become apparent that the former Ozymandias is plotting his escape from wherever it is he’s been exiled for four years. “At the beginning, I thought it was paradise, but it’s a prison,” he mutters. “One way or another, I will escape this godforsaken mess.”
So where exactly is Veidt? I’ve seen some theories online that suggest he could be a prisoner on Mars. There was what looked to be a castle in the news footage from the premiere, which showed Dr. Manhattan on Mars. This theory would make sense of the ramshackle spacesuit Veidt was crafting last week and the giant catapult he was using in this episode. Is he planning to slingshot himself back to earth? And, if so, the bigger question is, what does he plan on doing when he gets there, and are Lady Trieu and Will involved?
Just when you thought Watchmen was starting to provide some answers, it piles on ten more questions. And I didn’t even get to the weird dude in the alien costume who lubed himself up and slid into a sewer drain! You’d never guess this was a show from the mind of Damon Lindelof, right?
- It seems Looking Glass is working on his own secret investigation into the squid creatures falling from the sky. Again, I need more Looking Glass in my life, so I’m intrigued to find out more about what he’s up to.
- Speaking of secrets, apparently, Angela’s husband Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) suffered some sort of accident? It definitely didn’t sound like a standard fender bender, given that Angela wanted to make sure he didn’t tell Laurie about it.
- And rounding out the mysteries for the week, there is also something going on with Lady Trieu’s daughter, Bian (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport). We see her hooked up to an IV while she’s sleeping, and Will also suggests Trieu is keeping something from her. So many family secrets!
Watchmen, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO