Up until this week’s episode, Watchmen has been devoting most of its time to new characters. But in “She Was Killed by Space Junk”, it’s time for us to check in with a name from the past: Laurie Blake, aka Silk Spectre. As played by Jean Smart (who is having the time of her life here), Laurie’s costumed days are long behind her, and she’s an FBI agent who has grown just as cynical as her late father, the Comedian. As Angela remains mostly in the background, Laurie charges through episode 3 digging up clues, and reflecting on her storied past.
The Terms of Your Captivity
Before we get to Laurie Blake, let’s let the cat out of the bag about another classic Watchmen character. Yes, Jeremy Irons is indeed Adrian Veidt. The first two episodes played coy and avoided giving away the character’s name, but in this week’s episode, Veidt reveals it himself. We also learn a little bit more about his situation – although it remains overall mysterious.
Just where is the castle that Veidt is inhabiting located? And why is he there? During the Veidt scenes, we watch him working on several experiments. He crafts a steampunk-looking space suit for one of the Mr. Phillips clones, and asks: “Are you ready to venture into the great beyond?” Whatever that means, and wherever Veidt sends this Mr. Phillips, things go wrong, and the poor clone ends up dead. Not just dead, but frozen solid.
In a rage Veidt rides off on a horse to a field full of buffalo, killing one with a bow and arrow. He appears ready to skin the dead animal, but before he can do so, a mysterious masked figure on a horse shoots at him.
This figure is, apparently, someone called the Game Warden. We learn this via a letter the Game Warden writes to Veidt, and it’s through this letter that we get our most tantalizing bit of info regarding the man formally known as Ozymandias: he’s a prisoner. According to the letter, Veidt’s coming to this castle involved working out the “terms of [his] captivity.”
Why is being held captive? And by whom? We don’t know just yet, but we do know Adrian still has his old Ozymandias costume, and he dons it before we leave him.
Comedy Begets Tragedy
Welcome back, Laurie Juspeczyk. Or should we say, Laurie Blake? The former Silk Spectre has now fully adopted her father’s last name, and she’s gone from costumed vigilante to an FBI agent who leads an anti-vigilante task force. She even attempts to gun-down a Batman-like vigilante during a sting. What a difference 30 years makes.
Much of “She Was Killed By Space Junk” is framed around Laurie placing a very, very long distance phone call. In the 30 years since Dr. Manhattan decided to go live on Mars, Earth has set up the Blue Booth Network – a series of fancy phone booths that (supposedly) let you call up Dr. Manhattan’s answering machine on Mars.
Laurie calls up her ex-lover on Mars and proceeds to leave him a rambling message in the form of jokes. Jokes that recap events of the original Watchmen involving Dr. Manhattan, Adrain Veidt, and Laurie’s ex-lover Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl. Jokes run Laurie’s family, after all – her father was the Comedian, and a close-up of an American Hero Story ad sums up Laurie’s existence with the tagline “Comedy Begets Tragedy.” Even after all these years, Laurie is still clearly haunted by her own legacy. She’s also grown bitter, cold, and, well, funny. Jean Smart’s performance is dynamite through the entire episode, firing off droll one-liners and regarding everything with sharp intelligence. Laurie is sent down to Tulsa to look into Judd’s death, and it’s clear from the jump she’s figured a lot of things out for herself.
She finds wheelchair tire marks at the base of the tree Judd was hanged from. She finds Judd’s secret compartment in his closet and the empty bust that once held the Klan robe, and (correctly) assumes that Angela took whatever was on that bust away. And she seems to know the secret identities of all the costumed detectives in Tulsa – including Angela.
Accompanying Laurie on this journey is accompanied by FBI agent Dale Petey (Dustin Ingram), who is something of an expert on the events that we know from the original Watchmen comic. The back and forth between Laurie and Petey is contemptuous at first, but one lonely night – after clutching a gigantic Dr. Manhattan-style vibrator – Laurie ends up heading to Petey’s motel room for a late-night tryst (insisting Petey wear a Lone Ranger-style bandit mask for the act).
While in Tulsa, Laurie attends Judd’s funeral, which is interrupted by a Seventh Kavalry member attempting to take Senator Keene hostage. Things don’t go according to plan: Laurie shoots the 7K member dead, which triggers a bomb attached to his heart. Angela thinks fast, throwing the dead man/time bomb into Judd’s grave and then flipping Judd’s coffin on top, shielding the brunt of the explosion (and destroying Judd’s body in the process).
As the episode ends, Laurie finishes her call to Mars and then gets quite a shock: Angela’s car drops out of the sky right in front of her. Where has it been? Who took it? And where is Will, who was sitting in the car when it was stolen by an unidentified flying object?
- The title of this week’s episode comes from lyrics of the Devo song Laurie plays, “Space Junk.”
- In the first episode, the cake celebrating Veidt’s “anniversary” had one candle on it. Episode two brought out a similar cake, but this time it had two candles on it. Here, in episode three, Veidt gets yet another cake (which he smashes in a fit), but this one has three candles. Something tells me the timeline of the Veidt storyline is vastly different than the main story involving Angela. Supplementary materials reveal that Veidt vanished in 2012.
- The motel Laurie is staying at is called the Black Freighter Inn and Suites, a reference to the Tales from the Black Freighter comic found in the original Watchmen comic.
- We learn this week that Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl, is in prison, although no one comes out and says that. But when asking Laurie to head to Tulsa, Senator Keane indicates that when and if he becomes president, he could possibly grease some wheels to “get your owl out of that cage.”
- The act that allowed cops to wear masks was Keane’s idea and is called Defence of Police Act, or DOPA.
- Laurie, perfectly summing up Looking Glass’s Pod: “It’s a racist detector!”
- From the sound of things, Tulsa is the only place where cops are allowed to wear masks – but other cities and states are considering the idea as well.
- While flying to Tulsa, Laurie and Petey pass a huge structure called the Millennium Clock. It’s the brainchild of a mysterious figure known as Lady Trieu, who purchased Veidt’s company before he disappeared. Just go ahead and tuck that knowledge away in the back of your head for the future.
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