Hong Chau

Watchmen (2019) s01e07 – An Almost Religious Awe

Seriously, they couldn’t come up with anything better? This episode has a bunch of reveals and every time it’s… really, this reveal is the best thing presumably well-paid writers could come up with. Worse, it starts like it’s going to be a Regina King episode and therefore safe but… no. King doesn’t get her own memory flashback episode to herself, she has to share it with the regular cast because… it’s unclear. I don’t think I’ve used this many ellipses for effect in the same paragraph in a long time. Because, I suppose, nothing’s deserved it. But “Watchmen: The HBO Event Series?” Seriously… they couldn’t come up with anything better?

Why even bother.

King doesn’t even get the biggest shaft it turns out. Jean Smart’s experienced vigilante turned experienced FBI agent is a numbskull who walks into very obvious traps. It was already a pointlessly thin part in a vanity series but it gets even worse this episode. Pretty much everyone gets worse this episode.

Like Hong Chau; she’s not good this episode, partially because it all hinges on a mystery involving Lou Gossett Jr. but also because she’s being super-secretive with impromptu patient King. See, even though Gossett was helping Chau bring about whatever end of the world type thing she’s planning on, he didn’t have a timeline for King taking his memory pills so they were unprepared for her to need medical help.

“Watchmen” is full of logic holes, narrative shortcuts, and all sorts of storytelling laziness. It’s exactly what it appears to be.

The best part of the episode is how Jeremy Irons, now on trial by his clones, only gets a line. He doesn’t deliver it well—Irons’s gruff American thing is a wee tiring after thirty years of it—but at least it’s only one line.

The episode ends on what could be considered a big cliffhanger but only if there were any reason to be invested in the show other than morbid curiosity or intellectual self-loathing.

It’s nowhere near as offensive as last episode—though the scene of older white women Smart and Francis Fisher sitting around and talking about being a Black man who has to become a white superhero to find justice is a little ick, especially with how poorly the scene’s executed—but it’s still pretty bad. The waste of King, the waste of Faithe Herman as young King… at least the show’s almost over. Soon it’ll just be a remembered viewing regret.

Really good performances in the supporting cast—Valeri Ross, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jolie Hoang-Rappaport—just make you sorry for them, not happy they got screen time.

Though I’m finally curious why Jessica Camacho is in so little of the series. Did her part get cut before or after they shot it….

Watchmen (2019) s01e04 – If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own

I’m not sure what would be a more unpleasant way to spend an hour, listening to “Watchmen”… “creator” Damon Lindelof talk about Alan Moore or listening to him talk about way too influential screenwriting professor Robert McKee. McKee has some profoundly insipid advice on writing and the creative process in general, which Lindelof seems to have imprinted on his DNA, if this show is any indication. Because this episode is all about the show’s “stakes.” Turns out they’re really low.

It starts with the reveal last episode’s OMG moment with the space junk falling out of the sky is actually a message for Regina King and not Dr. Manhattan still caring about vigilante turned Fed Jean Smart, which just teams up King and Smart, who have even less chemistry as strong women working together than they did as strong women not working together—most of it is the writing (starting last episode and continuing into this one, “Watchmen: The HBO Event Series” is shaping up to be far more what one would expect than the first couple episodes). But then there’s also a draining of the import of Don Johnson’s secret Klan history. Of course he’s a racist in the Klan, he’s a white man in Oklahoma. What did King actually expect? It seems like it should be a problematic plot point but… it’s not. It also seems like it’d piss off the Oklahoma film office and the tax breaks but maybe they demanded any white man in Oklahoma be shown to be in the Klan.

Anyway. There’s a scene with Tim Blake Nelson, because all he gets are single scenes. It’s nice to see him out of costume since you can’t see him act in the costume. And he and King do have some solid rapport.

Much of the episode involves new player Lady Trieu (played by Hong Chau, and named liked Lindelof telling you how he’s better than Alan Moore would be worse than the McKee mansplain); she’s building some mysterious giant clock in rural Oklahoma because it’s all connected. She also knows Lou Gossett Jr., who it’s still nice to see in such a big production but it’s wasting his time. In some ways, wasting Gossett’s time is worse than wasting King’s time, since King will go on to good projects after this one. “Watchmen” could be it for Gossett and non-Christian movie projects.

What else… oh, Jeremy Irons. We get more about his situation. Lindelof and co-writer Christal Henry are all about revealing the weird stuff in Irons’s life, which is all just for shock value. Steampunk-y shock value. Eh.

At least Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is still good. And it’s not like King is ever not going to be excellent, she’s just wasting her time. Also… does Lindelof really think the tick tock clock motif is the most important thing from Watchmen? He did go to NYU film school back before it was clear NYU film school wasn’t actually going to produce many good, much less great, filmmakers… so… yes?

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