TV Review

REVIEW: Watchmen – Season 1: Episode 5

Little Fear of Lightning

For fans both familiar with the comics and those who aren’t, the mystery behind the bizarre squid-falls is finally shown to the audience in all its’ horrifically tentacled glory. What starts as a crowd-pleasing history lesson turns into a humiliating origin story, before ultimately setting up one character for their doom. It’s a clever opening to the episode from executive producer Damon Lindelof and writer Carly Wray. And although they develop the plot in some intriguing ways, the pace slows down to help build yet another layer into the conspiracy.

Many fans’ predictions ring true (including our own) towards the back half of the episode – with the slippery Senator proving to be more nefarious than he lets on. But it’s Tim Blake Nelson’s Wade/Looking Glass who really takes centre stage throughout the episode with his fascinating history that helps explore the world post-squid. What would the sudden arrival of a giant squid from another dimension do to our society? Not to mention the fact the monstrous being decimated millions of people with the ‘psychic wave’ it emitted in its’ destruction. And through the episode’s exploration of Looking Glass, it cleverly provides yet another reason why the show takes place in Tulsa rather than New York – the entire country is still traumatised by the event.

And while the series explores the meaning behind Looking Glass’ mask and how it relates to Wade’s PTSD, it only does so to further his character development by the end of the episode. There’s a very specific choice he makes later on which we won’t spoil that only works because of everything he’s lived through. While he’s been underused so far, it’s great to see Tim Blake Nelson’s talents come to the forefront of the series for at least a single episode. Although if we had to guess, his actions are going to have some serious consequences going forward.

Towards the back half of the episode, a tape containing a damning revelation completely shatters the way Looking Glass views the world, and it’s done so through Jeremy Irons’ delightfully villainous Adrian Veidt. And while the tape doesn’t seem to be connected to where Ozymandias is being held prisoner, the show does give audiences a surprising answer which will no doubt be integral in the next episode; “This Extraordinary Being”. Does the title refer to Doctor Manhattan, or the giant squid? Answers on a postcard, folks.

Once again, Lindelof’s social commentary bleeds through into the narrative without overwhelming it with a brilliantly ironic line of dialogue clearly meant to land a little too close to home most of the audience “I’m not a murderer I’m a politician…” Interpret that how you will…

While the latest episode of Watchmen is an interesting piece of the puzzle and sets up some interesting plot developments (especially towards the end) it’s hard not to notice that the pacing of the episode feels like the series is starting to sag a little bit. Perhaps it’s the never-ending cycle of questions being answered, only to turn up more questions that makes it feel slightly drawn out. To quote Ozymandias’ Doctor Manhattan play; “Nothing ever ends”. The explanation behind the pills that Will Reeves has been taking was so fleeting that it may have been easily missed by some – and it only came into focus during the cliff-hanger. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how it plays out for Angela in episode six, but let’s hope it maintains the pace a little better.

All this isn’t to say that it’s a bad episode – because it’s still perfectly executed on a number of levels. It just felt a little longer than the previous episodes that were so devilishly entertaining, they were over before you knew it. But then maybe this is just a case of instant gratification versus delayed gratification – the answers and solutions could very well be worth the wait.


Directed by: Steph Green
Written by: Carly Wray, Damon Lindelof
Cast: Regina King, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers

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