HBO's Watchmen passed its halfway point tonight, with an episode that arguably raised just as many questions as it answered. There are a wide array of mysteries still needing to be explored, especially with regard to the ever-elusive Seventh Kavalry, the white supremacist organization that has been inspired by the journal of Rorschach to terrorize the people of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This week's episode took viewers - and Wade Tillman/Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) - deep inside the "Rorschach Gang", and what they found was pretty unexpected. Spoilers for this week's episode of Watchmen, "Little Fear of Lightning", below! Only look if you want to know!
The episode dove into Wade's origin of sorts, which was set in motion during his time as a religious missionary in the 1980s. While he and his group were in Hoboken, New Jersey, Wade was taunted by a local teenage girl, leaving him naked and alone in a funhouse. When he exited the funhouse, he found everyone around him dead in the aftermath of the giant squid attack.
This added more context to Wade's behavior as an adult, including him leading support groups for those affected by inter-dimensional trauma. A woman attended the group and ultimately asked Wade to dinner, but raised some red flags once she left, as she departed in the "lettuce" truck that seemed to have ties to the Kavalry. Wade tracked it down to an abandoned building -- where the woman and a group of men were wearing Rorschach masks. Wade also found them throwing objects into an inter-dimensional portal device, similar to the one used to initiate the squid attack.
The Kavalry soon realized Wade was there, and one of the masked members came over to talk to them. Wade soon recognized the voice as belonging to Senator Joe Keene (James Wolk), proving that he had been working alongside the group all along. Keene openly admitted it, and revealed that Rorschachs were using the technology to plan something new. He told Wade to help frame Angela Abar/Sister Night (Regina King), taking her "off the table" for the Rorschachs. He then explained that in his early days as a politician, he was shown a video, which he since has pirated. Keene set up the video for Wade to play -- and what he found was surprising. The video showed a younger Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) speaking directly to the camera in a private address to President Robert Redford. In the video - which was dated for soon before the squid attack - Veidt outlined his plan, which included both the squid and getting Redford elected into office nearly a decade later.
The video message adds a whole other layer to the motives of the Kavalry, as well as to what the show is trying to say about Rorschach's impact to begin with.
"One of the things that really struck me on my reread of Watchmen, as we were writing the show, was how ineffective Rorschach is," showrunner Damon Lindelof said in a previous interview with Vulture. "He actually doesn't accomplish anything. He finds the Comedian costume in Blake's apartment and then he goes to warn Dr. Manhattan that someone is coming after masks. First off, Dr. Manhattan would know if somebody was coming after him, so Rorschach's theory is entirely wrong. Then his investigative technique is to just walk into bars and break people's fingers. He gets suckered by Moloch and gets thrown into jail. Dan shows up and gets him away, then he shows up in Karnak too late to stop Veidt's plan. Then he insists on exposing it all to the one person who he knows is going to kill him. His journal doesn't out Veidt because everything that he learns in Karnak was not in his journal. So he's not the brightest bulb. He's got some very non-progressive views about the world. He's sad and he's tragic."
"At the same time, I love Rorschach. I loved him as a 13-year-old, and I still love him," Lindelof continued. "When you see the tears streaming down his face when his mask is pulled off, one of the cops is saying, "This little runt is wearing lifts." It just breaks my heart every time. I have such empathy and compassion for this guy who's losing. The world is sickening, and there's nothing that he can do to stop it. He's broken, so he's going to appeal to broken people."