Watchmen Showrunner Breaks Down How the Hooded Justice Episode Came Together (Exclusive)
HBO's Watchmen is being released on Blu-ray next week, so ComicBook.com's JK Schmidt caught up with showrunner Damon Lindelof about the hit limited series. Between addressing a second season, talking about Regina King's excellence, and explaining the importance of tackling racism in America, there were a lot of interesting takeaways from the conversation. There was also a lot of talk about "This Extraordinary Being," the episode that took King's Angela Abar through the memories of her grandfather, who happened to be Hooded Justice, the original masked hero from the comics whose identity had never been revealed until now. We asked Lindelof how the episode came together in such a cohesive way with all of its technical moving parts.
"I'll just say I'm a big fan of the single episode of television. I mean, I love serialized stories, but I also love that this is one of the things about the form of TV that it can do, which is to just give people a solid one-hour long experience that feels like it has a beginning, middle and end inside of the context of sort of a larger story. That's why I love doing TV; every once in a while you get to do that," Lindelof explained. "We knew that sort of the pivotal episode in this entire season was going to be the one where we revealed Hooded Justice's origin because it sort of unlocks everything that the season was about. Obviously, it correlates and connects to Angela in a very personal way. I think that once we sort of figured out the nostalgia pills, we figured out the device, the mechanism on a storytelling level to literally give the granddaughter the experience of the grandfather in this kind of Quantum Leap-y way, everything started to kind of fall into place."
He added, "It was a very difficult story to break for all of us in the writer's room. Cord [Jefferson] and I, for us to write it the real challenge was just cramming it all in there without it feeling like there was never an opportunity to breathe, so we wanted to create quiet moments as well. But I think that as proud as we are of the script and the story, I think all the credit just has to go with the incredible operation in Atlanta and Stephen Williams, who directed the episode. [He] just kind of immediately had a vision, a very envelope-pushing vision for how he was going to execute it. Along with Greg Middleton, who was the director of photography and Chris Cuevas, who was actually the cameraman who was in there doing every scene in kind of like one take, not to mention the incredible actors. I mean, Jovan Adepo doesn't get enough credit for the work that he did as well. Obviously Regina is extraordinary, but even Jake McDorman who plays Captain Metropolis, what a tough part to play. It's almost like that episode is its own pilot because every single character in it we had to cast. With the exception of the Blake-Angela opening and the Angela-Lady Trieu ending, everything else was new from sets to costume design to the period approach where everything is basically taking place in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The ambition was off the charts and everybody just sort of rose to the occasion."
Lindelof concluded, "I went down to Atlanta and saw for about three days while they were shooting that episode. I just sort of sat there with my mouth hanging open. I've been doing this job for a long time, but I couldn't believe that they were pulling it off, especially because it was shot in such a nontraditional way. Stephen would basically block out for the actors and then block out for the cameras. He would basically rehearse for like four or five hours and then shoot it. Versus the way that you traditionally do it, which is you shoot lots of different pieces and edit them together later. He really had it in his head exactly how every single scene is going to fit together. Then when I saw it for the first time in the editing room, I was just like, 'This thing's a miracle, right?' I have no idea how it happened, but I'm just grateful that it did."
Watchmen will be available on Blu-ray starting June 2nd.