Watchmen S1E3: She Was Killed by Space Junk
Laurie Blake is finally in on the joke. But the joke is still on her.
This week’s episode of Watchmen is without a doubt hinged around Laurie Blake (Nee Jupiter), the one-time Silk Spectre and now part of an anti-vigilante taskforce who has become involved with the investigation into the murder of Judd (Don Johnson) and potential ties with the mysterious Kalvary.
And first and most obviously foremostly, let’s just take a moment to fan ourselves over how fucking fantastic Jean Smart is in this role. It’s the performance of the season so far by a mile, a scintillating, complex, and witty turn that allows Laurie a fantastic amount of depth as she is introduced outside of her relationships with Nite Owl and Doctor Manhattan. Laurie is not torn between two men here – instead, she is finally in on the joke of her own history, and man, is it good to see her come out swinging in full force like this.
The wraparound of this episode is a joke told by Laurie to an absent Doctor Manhattan, and I can totally see why writers Damon Lindelof and Byock chose this as a framing device: it’s not only a callback to the truth of Laurie’s parentage, as the daughter of the late Comedian, but those punchlines just keep on coming for her character – and this show is not going to let any of them fall flat.
Perhaps the biggest joke on Laurie is the current state of the police force that she has, apparently with some reluctance, begun to work for: after years of trying to pull away from the masked vigilante identity that her mother pushed on her, Laurie is surrounded once more by the vigilantes who have done her and so many people around her so wrong. Her brilliant, brutal bluntness in the face of her meetings with both Looking Glass and Angela leave no room for doubt: she doesn’t see their involvement with police as a good thing, her own history with the masked hero too prevalent for her to forget.
More than that, though, her place in the history of the Watchmen mythos is just as interesting to interrogate through this lens: when her assistant keenly asks her about her interaction with and knowledge of Ozymandias, Manhattan, et al, it’s clear that her own actual experiences with them and as a part of that group are secondary in the reckoning. As she points out in the joke to Manhattan, he’s been on another planet for decades, yet people still worship him; she doesn’t get the same respect, and probably never will, despite her continued work on actual Earth.
Perhaps the best scene for Laurie comes with, unsurprisingly, her first encounter with Angela. She gives Angela The Speech, the speech you know she uses when she needs a zinger or ten to take down a perp, finishing with a classic I eat good guys for breakfast cringe-fest. And Angela responds with a mocking laugh before walking away from the conversation. Laurie is a joke, her old-fashioned attitude enough to keep her from a true connection with the people she needs to connect with, even the female vigilantes who have arguably taken up her mantel. The joke is very much on her, and she seems, exhaustedly, to know it.
I haven’t talked much about Jeremy Irons’ Adrian Veidt in this show so far, mostly because there hasn’t been a huge amount to say apart from the fact that watching him go batshit crazy in a beautiful mansion surrounded by beautiful Tom Misons has been nothing short of a delight – as he moves to take on his presumable captor, though, he dons his full Ozymandias uniform, and it’s both ridiculous and hilarious and also a little terrifying – and now that we finally have a confirmation on his identity, I’m looking forward to seeing where this plot goes moving forward.
And hey, you know, if nothing else: let this be remembered as the episode where we saw a giant metallic blue Manhattan dildo with detachable balls that Jean Smart keeps in a travel suitcase for on-the-road masturbation. If that’s not prestige television, I don’t know what the fuck is.
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(header image via HBO.com)