‘Watchmen’ episode 5 review: will Dr. Manhattan ‘save’ Adrian Veidt?

*Spoilers for 'Watchmen' episode five 'Little Fear of Lightning'*

Watchmen really started filling in the blanks this week, dispensing an important chunk of plot from the comics while adding a few typically eccentric new story elements of its own.

What happened in Watchmen episode 5? 

We quite literally went ‘through the looking glass’ in episode five, which was told largely from the perspective of Tulsa detective Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) and recounted his experience of the NYC squid holocaust – in which a giant cephalopod plopped down in the Big Apple killing a whole lot of people –  that took place in the 1980s. A fairground hall of mirrors shielded him from the squid’s psychic blasts, we discovered, leading to his obsession with the “Reflectine” material that serves as his mask (and lines his baseball cap).

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No expense was spared with the money shot of the squid’s sudden appearance in New York, and all credit to the crew and VFX team for pulling off one of the all-time great one-shots. The camera zooms out from a young Looking Glass and takes in the devastation of the three million dead, ultimately finding the squid with its tentacles draped over a burning Midtown skyline.

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Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) in ‘Watchmen’ episode five. Credit: HBO

Who was Adrian Veidt sending a message to?

Veidt’s scenes have felt almost standalone until now, but were given more context this week as Looking Glass discovered Veidt/Ozymandias was behind the squid attack (a fact that has apparently made him no less fearful of a second round of squid carnage).

President Redford and high level government officials’ knowledge of Veidt’s involvement helps explain the latter’s gilded prison, which he was probably put in because of this ultimate act of ‘vigilantism’ (the squid successfully, but brutally, pre-empted a Cold War that would potentially have wiped out the whole planet).

In episode five, Ozy successfully catapulted himself out of whatever strange bubble he’d been shut in, only to find himself on a remote, icy planet. Stacking the corpses of Phillips and Crookshacks’ clones, we saw he had formed the words ‘SAVE ME D-‘, with the rest of the phrase cut off. Some have theorised that he was spelling ‘DR.’, the message aimed in the direction of Dr. Manhattan on Mars. With Veidt being yanked back to the ground and scolded by the “Game Warden” (also a Phillips?), it remains to be seen whether Dr. Manhattan comes to his aid or if his escape attempt is over for good.

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Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt during ‘Watchmen’ episode five. Credit: HBO

What pills did Angela take?

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Sister Knight aka Angela Abar (Regina King) took a back seat this episode, but will likely return in a big way next week given the trajectory she’s just been put on. Cuffed and removed from the police station after Blake discovered her involvement in the cover up of Judd Crawford’s murder, she quickly swallowed all of the red pills in the bottle Will had given her at once.

We now know that these pills are ‘Nostalgia’ – memories in pill form, and Will previously promised they hold the secret to her past. We also know that they can induce psychosis, so it sounds like Angela is going to have quite the time in that jail cell. Yikes.

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Regina King as Angela Abar in ‘Watchmen’ episode five. Credit: HBO

Is Senator Keene Jr. in league with the Seventh Kavalry?

Episode five concluded with a honeypot trap that saw Looking Glass lured to a Seventh Kavalry stronghold. Here we learned that Senator Joe Keene Jr. is the secret leader of the white supremacist group, though he claims this is simply to control their activities from the inside. We also saw 7K members testing out teleportation devices, terrifying Looking Glass who fears they’ll be used to transport another squid. 

This brings us back to that precipitation of mini squid earlier in the season, and the mystery of who is behind it. Veidt? Lady Trieu? The Seventh Kavalry? Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) seems the most likely right now, given her interest in making people flee the Tulsa area so she can develop the land as she sees fit.

This week’s was a busy episode even by Watchmen standards, but as usual the enjoyment is found not in the big plot points and reveals but in the fun little moments of world building. This time we had Pale Horse – an Oscar-winning movie from Steven Spielberg about the 1985 squid attack, a flawed marketing campaign designed to get people to return to New York that starred Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos making a bad taste calamari joke, and a dog cloning facility where imperfect puppies are put in incinerators as readily as last night’s dinner is shoved in the microwave. Keep ’em coming, HBO.

‘Watchmen’ premieres on Sky Atlantic in the UK at 2am each Monday and is repeated at 9pm

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