Updated: Nov 2, 2019
The second episode’s current timeline begins at the crime scene where the first episode ended. Will Reeves, the mysterious man who asked Angela outside her bakery if he could lift two hundred pounds, confesses to the crime. Will is wheelchair-bound and has a lot to say behind his smirk, as he is the little boy from episode one who survived the Tulsa Massacre.
Angela refuses to believe that an old man like him can strangle a 200-pound man and then tie him to the tree. She takes him to her hideout ( the bakery) and this world of Watchmen opens its shells for the viewers. This alternative 2019 doesn’t have internet or smartphones; the technology has advanced but it is much more analogue and need-based. As the police are in masks and still use pagers, the paparazzi have created winged suits to access photographs of crime. Angela has scanning goggles that recall the ones the Nite Owl wore.
Angela and Will have a lot to discuss, and what I loved most about this old man is that he knows what triggers Angela. Despite her combat skills and presence of mind, Angela is the quintessential hotheaded hero. She loses her temper and beats a Nixonviller senseless. To her, justice is the ultimate goal, but Will presents the point of discord: is her sense of justice just enough? Though she tells Topher the world is black and white, her own judgement of things has become grey. Will is teasing her, and the entire story dynamic changes as she starts to look for skeletons in the closet. Betrayal is best served when one is grieving. I have an inkling, and I hope I am wrong, but I think her husband Cal is up to something as well because something is very fishy about how she survived her attack.
There are more sci-fi and pirate comics, and not a superhero comic book in the newsstand. Newspapers are still the only source of information in this universe, and a similar-looking newspaper stand from the book exists here too. This newspaper stand also introduces us to Bian who buys paper for a mysterious "she" inside the car. And American Crime Story is the show of the nation. The show is publicized on aircraft, bus-stands, and billboards. American Crime Story also brings us the second story within a story, the hero Hooded Justice from the comics gets his own episode, and he narrates in the manner of Rorschach.
Hooded Justice narrates about his fake death, while police fish out the dead body of a Ralph Muller, a ringmaster. Ralph is also a character from the comics, who was an alleged serial killer of children. There is fandom speculation that Hooded Justice is Will Reeves, since in present-day he is seen wearing a red jacket and purple vest with a hood similar to Hooded Justice's costume.
Though this episode actually opens with World War I, the connections were not made until a few minutes later. The German army had dropped flyers on African-American troops, asking them to defect and join the German side, promising better treatment and respect that they never got in America. A little reading and a few YouTube podcasts later, I learned this was indeed a historical fact! The German Army had written the flyers! A woman named Fraulein Muller writes the Flyer in English in this episode; this is the same flyer which Will’s father kept after the war and on which he later writes: "Watch Over This Boy" and places in Will's pocket.
We also see what happened on White Night, and find out how Angela and Judd became the pair they were. And we also learn how Topher and his sisters got adopted by Angela. Despite some of the past and connections being made, Watchmen leaves its viewers with enough easter eggs from the book and the movie adaptation.
We also meet Joe Keene, Jr., who we know is aware that Angela is not retired and offers to help her with resources to track down the terrorist. But his motives don’t look sincere, and Angela walking in with red roses for mourning is a lovely parallel with the book.
I still do not understand the deal with Adrian Veidt! Is he dead and his brain on stimulation? Has he gone so senile that he is making his servants enact the disintegration of Jonathan Osterman? He has been repeating the quotes of Dr Manhattan, too. And his butler and maid are not robots like I had assumed, but clones with no fear of death. I have a feeling that Adrian’s timeline is independent of Angela’s. More confusion arises about Adrian’s true motives and identities as Will discards the idea that Dr Manhattan can’t shapeshift. He keeps emphasizing that he can clone himself very well. And Adrian’s estate is weird; his tomatoes grow on trees, and his horse is named Bucephalus, after Alexander the Great’s horse. We also have seen three versions of his castle, one in the last episode on the blurred screen of Mars, twice in reality, and a lookalike model made by Topher with magnets. It’s interesting to see how Plato’s ideas of forms are being played out.
For comic book readers, the show is like an elaborate puzzle build on infinite small puzzles, this universe is familiar yet so different. There are things from the book but they have evolved. The cold war era is over, fear of war is over, but the clock is ticking down to a violent civil war. Society has moved beyond the tragedy that Adrian caused, yet it is still affected by the crimes committed almost 100 years ago. And I want to know how Angela survived the attack on the White Night?