Warning: Watchmen Season One, Episode One Spoilers Ahead...
The episode begins with a flashback to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. The opening follows a young boy and his parents as they attempt to navigate the real-life race riots that occurred in Tulsa at the time. The young boy’s father hands him off to friends who can help him escape and the kid is left with a note that reads, “Watch Over This Boy.” The cart carrying the escapees doesn’t make it far, and the adults are killed, leaving the boy alone with a small baby. That’s when the series shifts to present-day Oklahoma.
The first present-day scene follows a masked cop pulling over a man in a truck who ends up having a Rorschach mask in his glove compartment. It's later revealed that the white supremacy group, the Seventh Kavalry, uses the now-deceased Rorschach's journal as a guidebook for their hateful agenda. When the officer sees the mask, he goes back to his car to call headquarters and request permission to unlock the gun in his car. By the time his gun is set free, the man in the truck opens fire on him.
We soon meet Angela as she gives her adopted son’s class a baking demonstration. She shares that three years earlier, she was shot during the “White Night,” which saw the Seventh Kavalry finding and killing cops in their own homes, which is what led to the police taking up masked identities. She claims she's now retired and is gearing up to open a bakery, but it’s soon revealed that she’s still a cop, and goes to the station to learn about the shooting from the night before. Some of her key co-workers include Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson), Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson), and Red Scare (Andrew Howard). During the meeting, Crawford announces that he will evoke “Article Four,” which will allow cops easier access to their firearms.
After interrogating a suspected member of the Seventh Kavalry, the police team attempt to infiltrate a cattle ranch, and a shootout ensues. Angela almost apprehends one of the members, but he takes a poison capsule and kills himself while the rest of the suspects escape. Crawford arrives in a flying vehicle that resembles the Owlship from the Watchmen comics alongside another masked detective, Pirate Jenny (Adelaide Clemens). They crash, but both make it out unscathed.
The show then jumps to the mysterious “Lord of a Country Estate,” played by Jeremy Irons. While the show doesn’t reveal that the character is Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias from the comics, it’s pretty clear based on clues such as his ornate purple and gold cake. The suspected Veidt is living an odd life with two servants who refer to him as "master" who insist on celebrating a special anniversary. One of the servants gifts him with a timepiece, and “Veidt” reveals he wants to put on a play titled The Watchmaker’s Son, which is likely a nod to his former ally in the comics, Dr. Manhattan.
It should also be noted that earlier in the episode, a newspaper headline read, “Veidt officially declared dead.” This means, if Irons truly is playing the character, there’s more to his living situation than meets the eye.
After a friendly dinner with his wife at the Abars, Chief Crawford is seen driving alone on a deserted road when his tires blow out from a trap. This takes us back to the Abar's house, where a mysterious phone call warns Angela, “I know who you are.” She sets out to meet the caller, but not before she arms her husband, Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), and tells him to shoot anyone who comes near the house. This is when we learn that Cal is aware of Angela’s secret profession and is clearly supportive.
Angela goes to meet the mystery caller, only to discover Chief Crawford dead and hanging from a tree. He’s next to an old man (Louis Gossett Jr.) in a wheelchair who was seen earlier outside of Angela’s “bakery.” He’s holding an old note that reads, “Watch Over This Boy,” confirming that he was the little boy from the beginning of the episode. "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice" ends on a shot of Crawford’s bloody badge, which is reminiscent of the famous comics image of the Comedian’s smiley face.
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Watchmen airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.