The second episode of HBO's Watchmen debuted tonight, weaving a pretty epic continuation of the iconic DC Comics storyline. The television series, which is set in an alternate version of the present day, follows a struggle between the police and a white supremacist organization in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the center of it all is Angela Abar (Regina King), a police detective who operates under the moniker of Sister Night. The series' pilot episode ended with a shocking turn, as Angela found that her captain and close friend Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) had been hung from a tree, with an elderly man named Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.) sitting below him. This week's episode dealt with the fallout of that pretty significantly -- and may have dropped some major clues about what Will's real identity is (and no, it's not who you're thinking). Spoilers for this week's episode of Watchmen, "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship", below! Only look if you want to know!
Shortly after finding Judd's body, Angela took Will into custody, and he began to brag about the fact that he had killed Judd. He also claimed that he was secretly Dr. Manhattan, the blue-skinned superhero who the public believed had made his way to Mars after the original events of Watchmen. Angela (understandably) didn't believe him and secretly took a sample of Will's DNA, which she went to test at the monument for "Redfordations", where African Americans could figure out if their ancestors were victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The DNA eventually came back as a 100% match for someone present at the event - seemingly confirming that Will was the little boy that audiences followed during the Tulsa sequence in the pilot. To make things even more complicated, the test also revealed that Angela was Will's granddaughter.
While Angela - and the audience - are made to believe that Will is an unreliable source of information, some will surely still speculate that he is telling the truth about being Dr. Manhattan. But even then, we can't help but wonder -- could Will actually be a completely different costumed character from the Watchmen world? Could he be the ever-elusive true identity of one of the Minutemen, Hooded Justice?
On the surface, that theory might be a little preposterous, as the original text of Watchmen suggests Hooded Justice might be a German circus strongman named Rolf Muller. But if you look at a wide array of details from the first two episodes, there could be quite a lot of evidence.
In the pilot, young Will is watching a movie about real-life lawman Bass Reeves in the moments before the Tulsa massacre, in which Reeves chases down a sheriff and lassoes him up because he "doesn't deserve" to wear his badge. While doing so, Reeves dons a black hood and carries a lasso, not unlike the costume later worn by Hooded Justice. It's clear that Will was affected by the Bass Reeves movie - and the tragedy that soon followed it - as he appears to have adopted the same last name as his hero. If that's the case, the idea of him embodying the costume of his hero when he eventually becomes a vigilante doesn't feel impossible. Later on in the episode, Will asks Angela if she thinks he can lift 200 pounds -- which he certainly would've been able to, if he was Hooded Justice.
This week's episode also provided context behind the "Watch Over This Boy" message that Will carries with him -- or really, the text on the other side of it. The opening scene revealed that it was a piece of German propaganda (typed, coincidentally, by a woman named "Muller") which was dropped on black soldiers while they fought in World War II. If the piece of paper was all that Will carried with him as a child, it would potentially explain the fact that Hooded Justice is suspected of having Nazi beliefs in the original Watchmen.
There's also the fact that this week's episode featured a lengthy sequence from American Hero Story: Minutemen, the fictional show-within-a-show that citizens are watching. The sequence shown in episode two chronicles what appears to be Hooded Justice's origin story -- with a few big questions. The "episode" opens with Rolf Muller washing up in the Boston Harbor, as narration proclaims that Hooded Justice isn't ready to unveil his true identity yet. If Will is the real Hooded Justice, there's a chance that he could have gone to great lengths to hide his identity and true fate, which this sequence potentially pokes fun at in a pretty epic way. It would also provide an interesting mirror to Angela's work as Sister Night, as they both operate in aesthetically-similar costumes.
What do you think of this Watchmen theory? Do you think Will Reeves could be the real Hooded Justice? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.