The fifth episode of HBO’s Watchmen, “Little Fear of Lightning,” just aired and answered some big questions as well as revealing a major flashback from Alan Moore's comic. Last week's episode saw the introduction of Hong Chau’s Lady Trieu and revealed that Angela Abar’s (Regina King) grandfather, Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.), is in cahoots with the trillionaire. This week’s episode focused on Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) and how Watchmen’s history has important ties to his own.
Warning: Spoilers For Watchmen’s Fifth Episode Ahead…
“Little Fear of Lightning” opens in Hoboken, New Jersey on November 2, 1985, when the Doomsday Clock stood at one-minute until midnight. Fearing that a nuclear holocaust was imminent, a young man is seen spreading the word of Christ in an attempt to help save people from the impending doom. It’s soon revealed that this young man is Oklahoma-born Wade Tillman, who would later become Looking Glass. While attempting to spread his gospel, a flirtatious girl takes him to a house of mirrors where she strips him of his clothes only to steal them and run away. Moments later, a sonic boom hits and knocks Wade out. After he comes to, he exits the funhouse and is confronted by hundreds of dead bodies, including the girl who stole his clothes. The shot zooms out to reveal the giant squid that dropped on New York at the end of the Watchmen comic.
Present-day Wade is seen next at his cover gig as a market researcher where the state of New York is attempting to boost tourism 30 years after 3 million people lost their lives. The episode then takes Wade to his real job at the police precinct where FBI Agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) urges the cops to find a church where the Seventh Kavalry might be located.
After the meeting, Angela approaches Wade and asks if he’s been able to get information on the pills her grandfather left behind (however, she doesn't mention her grandfather so Wade doesn't know where the pills came from). The subject of pills catches the attention of Laurie, who bugged the cactus on Wade’s desk. Laurie calls him into her office to press for details, but he insists the pills are a personal matter between him and Angela.
Later at home, Wade is watching the latest episode of America Hero Story when an alarm goes off and causes him to flee to a bunker. It’s revealed he’s just running a drill, but he becomes frantic by the discovery that the alarm has broken. When he calls the extra-dimensional security company to complain, they say the drills should only happen once every six weeks, revealing that Wade must run them excessively and that the fear of another “alien” attack consumes him.
Wade later visits ex-wife, whose job it is to clone people’s pets (we’ll spare you the details of what happened to a puppy who didn’t look exactly like its predecessor) and she explains that Angela’s pills are called Nostalgia, a drug that plunges people deep into memories that was outlawed for leading to psychosis.
Wade’s next stop is the Extra-Dimensional Anxiety support group he leads, which features the appearance of a new woman, who Wade takes out for drinks afterward. During their conversation, Wade revealed that he always knows when someone is lying and mentions how Doctor Manhattan won Vietnam. His date revealed that her “squid story” is about Steven Spielberg’s film, Pale Horse, which is this reality’s version of Schindler’s List.
Wade and his new friend end up making out while she waits for her ride. When the truck comes, a head of lettuce falls out of the bed, and Wade instantly becomes suspicious since lettuce was discovered at the scene of the crime where a cop had been shot at the beginning of the series. Wade opts to follow the truck and discovers the church Laurie mentioned in her briefing. Once inside, he learns the Seventh Kavalry are experimenting with portals.
It’s soon revealed that Wade was led to the Seventh Kavalry's location on purpose so that he could learn the truth about the giant squid attack from 1985. He’s taken to a room and greeted by Senator Keene (James Wolk) who has “assumed leadership” of a branch of the Seventh Kavalry “to prevent the White Night again” and that the late Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) did the same to “maintain the peace.” Wade assumes they’re messing with portals to drop another squid, but Keene ominously replies, “No, we’re gonna do something new.”
That’s when Keene proposes some “squid pro quo” and tells Wade he believes Angela either killed Chief Crawford or knows who did, and if Wade doesn’t turn her in to Laurie, he will send the Seventh Kavalry to kill Angela and her family. Keene then shows Wade a video recording of Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) from the day before the squid attack happened in Manhattan. Adrian addresses the video to President Robert Redford seven years later and reveals that the squid was not only an elaborate hoax set up by him to “save the world,” but that he had set the plan in motion for Redford to eventually become the president.
This takes us to present-day Adrian, who catapults himself into space, landing on a moon that resembles Jupiter’s Europa. He then uses the dead bodies of his former servants to create the message “save me,” which is ultimately spotted by a satellite. He then gets pulled back to the planet by the Game Warden who says he defied the laws of the land once again and “must bear the consequences.” Adrian snaps back by saying “your God’s abandoned you” to which everyone agrees. While they didn’t specify that “god” was Doctor Manhattan, it’s certainly implied, which begs the question: Where is Doctor Manhattan now?
Back at the precinct, Wade gets Angela to admit the truth about her grandfather, so that Laurie will overhear in the cactus bug. Laurie then calls for Angela’s arrest, who decides to swallow all of her grandfather’s memory pills in the moment.
The episode ends with Wade returning home to discover the new alarm he ordered. At first, he throws it away but then goes back to retrieve it, proving it’ll take more than Adrian’s video to heal him of his trauma. As he goes inside, the Seventh Kavalry appears and storms his house.
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.