Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Watchmen Wednesdays: Episode 7

Hey all, I've been pretty unconcerned about spoilers so far in these posts, but I did want to make a quick note that there is a major spoiler in this episode. If you intend to watch the show and haven't yet, I'd suggest you stop reading until you've caught up.

In episode seven, "An Almost Religious Awe," we begin to get some answers. Angela is having her grandfather's memories flushed from her system; Lady Trieu is administering the procedure; and Laurie Blake is continuing her investigation by talking to Chief Judd Crawford's widow. In Veidt wonderland, he's been under trial for 365 days by a jury of the clones for trying to escape his prison. 

Veidt during his trial by the clones.

As part of Angela recovering from taking the Nostalgia pills, her own memories flashback. She remembers the death of her parents after Vietnam became the fifty-first state. They are killed by a suicide bomber screaming: "Death to the Occupiers!" While this is just a small moment, it motivated Angela to becomes a police officer as a small child, which creates an interesting link between not only violence and the police, but the police as a colonizing force. I'm interested to see where this theme goes in the final two episodes. 

Laurie Blake has figured out that Chief Judd Crawford was a white  supremacist and confronts his wife, suggesting that their plan was to use the Seventh Kavalry to help make Senator Joe Keene (a Kalvary member) president, but Blake was thinking a little too small. The Seventh Kavalry have bigger plans, as Joe Keene reveals when he gives a speech about how hard it is to be a white man in the US. While he comes short of saying the word "genocide," it seems like that's where the Seventh Kavalry is headed--by capturing, killing, and turning one of their own into Dr. Manhattan. 

Yes, the blue wonder is revealed in this episode! Frankly, I'm surprised and impressed I didn't see it coming since it's totally clear in hindsight that Angela's husband Cal did not have nearly enough to do in the show, plot-wise, considering he was in almost every episode. The scenes between Lady Trieu and Angela fill in the backstory. Angela left Vietnam with her husband Cal after he had a car accident that gave him total amnesia. They start a new life in the US, except, as the end of the episode shows, Cal isn't exactly what he appears. Angela says he wiped his memory so they could be together and proceeds to burst open his skull with a hammer and pull out a familiar image--Dr. Manhattan's forehead mark. 

As might be expected, most of Twitter started freaking out over the biggest reveal yet on Watchmen. At the same time, though, I want to point one of the other powerful moments in the episode, at least for me, anyway: white supremacy being taken seriously as an actual threat. In the scenes with Lady Trieu and Angela, Lady Trieu reveals her plan to save humanity--from white supremacists. Not only are they a threat, but the Seventh Kavalry is the threat. While Watchmen isn't the first piece of media to do this, I appreciate it's also localized. The Kavalry is making a huge impact in Tulsa, OK, but also in the police force across the country, as shown in Will Reeves' memories. In addition to that, they have plans for the presidency through Senator Joe Keene, which become superseded by the idea of using Dr. Manhattan. In other words, the Seven Kavalry isn't some bungling group of a handful of racists trying to steal a nuke, they are a wide network across the US.

At a time when it would be easy to turn the Seventh Kavalry into a punchline, Watchmen demonstrates how truly threatening white supremacy can be and the measures that should be taken to stop it.  


Phoebe Wagner currently studies at University of Nevada: Reno. When not writing or reading, she can be found kayaking at the nearest lake. Follow her at phoebe-wagner.com or on Twitter @pheebs_w.

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