REVIEW: ‘Watchmen,’ Episode 6 – This Extraordinary Being

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Watchmen "This Extraordinary Being"

Watchmen returns with “This Extraordinary Being,” the sixth episode of the season. Previously, Watchmen ended with a dramatic conclusion as Looking Glass, aka Wade Tillman, (Tim Blake Nelson) was captured by the Seventh Kalvary and Senator Keane (James Wolk) who it was revealed is working with him. While captured, the Kalvary proved to Wade the extraterrestrial attack from thirty years ago is not what it seems and revealed the truth in the form of a video recorded by Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, (Jeremy Irons) to then-President Richard Nixon.

Following his release, Wade returned to the Police Station and spoke to Angela Abar (Regina King) about the pills she requested he look into. After learning they are nostalgia, an illegal drug that implants memories, Wade makes the decision to no longer hide Angela’s secrets and instead turn her into Laurie Blake (Jean Smart). However, Angela swallows the entirety of the pills prior to being taken into custody.

“This Extraordinary Being” starts with a look at the fictional TV show within the show that details the lives of real vigilantes within the world, “Minutemen.” Prior to this point, I had been mostly uninterested in the moments featuring this fictional show but the scene with Hooded Justice (Cheyenne Jackson) being questioned by two FBI agents about his sex life and work as a crime fighter is the first time I have cared about the character. The ensuing fight is also extremely well choreographed and while fights in small spaces can be challenging to create, unless you are Daredevil, the direction is never too choppy and the characters realistically make use of the settings around them to create a dynamic and interesting scene.

From there, “This Extraordinary Being” transitions back to the present picking up almost immediately after the previous episode. While speaking to Angela, who is now in a jail cell, Laurie explains exactly what Nostalgia, the pills Angela took does. The pills initially started as a treatment for dementia and are have your memories within them, however that limited the market so more people started taking them leading to OD, addiction, and more problematic issues leading them to be outlawed. Having taken so many of her father’s pills at one time, Laurie tries to get Angela to sign a release in order to get her stomach pumped but before she can, Angela begins to experience extreme psychosis, a mental disorder characterized by a disconnection from reality, as she begins to see black and white visions of the past and is input directly into her grandfather’s, Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.) memories.

During this time, Angela starts the scene fully colorized but fades in with everything around her becoming black and white until she becomes a younger Will Reeves. This goes back and forth with Angela slipping in and out only to be replaced by the younger Will. The memories start with Will’s induction into the NYPD and his repressed anger over the senseless racist violence during the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he watched both of his parents die.

The episode also highlights another real historical event, which has become a theme throughout the series. During the flashback, Will Reeves attempts to arrest a man for starting a fire at a Jewish bakery only for his fellow officers to let the man go after flashing each other the white power sign. While at a newsstand, Will sees not only news pertaining to a Nazi march in NYC but also Action Comics, the famed Superman stories which were created by two Jewish immigrants. The show draws parallels between Will’s story and Superman’s. Both Will and Superman were saved by their parent’s sacrifice.

Following his shift, Will heads home only to be ambushed by some of his fellow officers. The violence and racism Will experienced is jarring but also incredibly real. Nazis existed in New York, and probably still do, and people with white supremacist views have always held positions of power. However, following the attack Will overhears a woman in danger and still with a noose around his neck and the cloth over his head, he creates a makeshift mask in order save her.

“This Extraordinary Being” is a character study of Will Reeves who up until this point has more or less been a mystery. The episode also begins to connect a lot of dots between the real historical events the show has portrayed and how it fits into Watchmen’s world of vigilantes and masked cops.

“This Extraordinary Being” is the best episode of the series thus far. Watchmen, the graphic novel, existed to show a world not far off of our own, a world where desperate people are forced to turn to desperate measures because of the political unrest and fear they face due to the Cold War. Watchmen, the HBO show, has recreated that once more but updating it for a modern audience.

Today’s world is dealing with the repercussions of a resurgence of white supremacy because these men and women are unafraid to crawl out from under their rock. Watchmen, like the original graphic novel, feels uncomfortably familiar and so far no episode has created this cognitive dissonance better than “This Extraordinary Being.”

Watchmen is streaming on HBO with new episodes dropping every Sunday at 8pm CT/9pm EST.

'Watchmen,' Episode 6 - This Extraordinary Being
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    'Watchmen,' Episode 6 - This Extraordinary Being - 10/10
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TL;DR

Today’s world is dealing with the repercussions of a resurgence of white supremacy because these men and women are unafraid to crawl out from under their rock. Watchmen, like the original graphic novel, feels uncomfortably familiar and so far no episode has created this cognitive dissonance better than “This Extraordinary Being.”