Watchmen’s seventh episode of the season, “An Almost Religious Awe” follows after Angela Abar (Regina King) wakes up with Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) after swallowing an entire bottle of nostalgia, an illegal drug that implants memories, that belonged to Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.), her grandfather. After reliving his memories in full-detail, Angela learns about his history with the Minutemen as the vigilante Hooded Justice. The pills also revealed that Will was able to kill Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) by using the same strobing mind control device the KKK was using in the Bronx during the 1940s while Will was still an officer of the law. But the parallels don’t stop there, while Angela covers herself in black, highlighting her dark skin color, Will spent his years fighting the scum of the earth painting his face and any visible skin white.
Now, as Angela begins to recover from the hallucinogenic trip, the episode begins with a flashback to Angela’s own childhood. The scene with a young Angela (Faithe Herman) speaking to her parents, trying to convince them to let her rent the movie “Sister Night,” a clear reference to her current police codename, is spliced in with the violence of the Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921 massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Angela relives the death of her great-grandparents through Will’s eyes until it culminates with Angela reliving her parents’ own tragic deaths. The sound design and camera cuts between the two events brilliantly bring the moments together and create more parallels between the two characters, connecting them even further.
After waking up from the nightmare, Angela is given a crash course from Lady Trieu on her treatment. It’s clear that she has woken up and fallen out of bed at this point multiple times as her brain begins to heal and things become less hazy. The show takes an interesting approach to explain the treatment of ODing on nostalgia, particularly ODing on nostalgia that is not your own. After becoming injected with medication, Angela falls unconscious and the show transitions into an informational video from Trieu pharmaceuticals that appears similar to commercials many consumers in the United States see for prescription drugs but mixed with a National Geographic documentary about the brain. The difference is that it is interwoven with memories of the Hooded Justice. The use of TV commercials for prescription drugs in the United States is topic ripe with complicated ethics and seeing it even mentioned within the Watchmen universe is fascinating.
As Angela comes down from treatment, she is overwhelmed by the memories she is experiencing, her grandfather’s and her own, Agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) deals with the aftermath of Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass’s, (Tim Blake Nelson) actions when Agent Petey (Dustin Ingram) finds a group of the Seventh Kalavry dead. Previously, Wade found out the truth about the extraterrestrial attack from the Seventh Kalvary and Senator Keane (James Wolk), who we learned was part of the terrorist organization.
While Petey looks into Wade, Laurie visits Jane Crawford (Frances Fisher) to inform her about Angela’s grandfather’s involvement in her husband’s death. As she explains why Will killed the chief, she also unravels and reveals that Angela spoke while under the influence of the drugs, giving away a lot of her grandfather’s secrets including that he was the Hooded Justice. Having Laurie know this is important if only because she herself was a vigilante at one point and knowing that the man who inspired so many including herself was Black and had to hide the color of his skin, not just his face, like others, is important and relevant.
Laurie’s conversation with Jane proves that is has connected a lot of the dots and is one of the smartest people on the show. A lot of the pieces from the season are finally lining up and Laurie’s character not only acts as a connection to the original graphic novel but also helps viewers see just how everything connects thanks to her detective skills.
“An Almost Religious Awe” uses a lot of the same flashback techniques from the previous episode but this time instead of exploring Will’s past we explore Angela’s. However, her childhood memories are still inwoven with Will’s furthering and strengthening the parallels between the two characters. Watchmen seeks to prove just how similar Angela and Will are despite barely knowing each other. Additionally, In seeing Angela’s childhood in Vietnam, the show is able to explore more of Dr. Manhattan’s relationship with this new universe and set of characters. In the original graphic novel, Dr. Manhattan won the Vietnam War for America so it makes sense that so much merchandise, toys, and propaganda exists of him in that area while Angela was growing up, especially since her father was an American soldier.
“An Almost Religious Awe” also adds more to the ongoing story surrounding Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias (Jeremy Irons). Previously, Vedit was able to leave the atmosphere of his prison but was caught by the gamekeeper. He is now on trial with his various clone servants speaking against his actions. Over the course of the series, he has murdered and mutilated his servants over and over again in an attempt to escape or perform deranged experiments. While his overall role in the story still remains unclear, his connection to the new characters, particularly Lady Trieu, begins to make sense. Irons is pitch-perfect casting as Veidt. He easily walks the line between charismatic genius and dangerous sociopath.
“An Almost Religious Awe” has a lot of beautiful cinematic moments and the episode is another excellent addition to an already incredible season. The focus on Angela’s past and its connection to Will’s is emotionally impactful. King has been the focus of the series so being able to finally see her character in a more vulnerable state is exciting. As the show continues to give viewers more twists and turns it is hard to imagine there are only two more episodes left this season.
Watchmen is streaming on HBO with new episodes dropping every Sunday at 8pm CT/9pm EST.
'Watchmen,' Episode 7 - An Almost Religious Awe
“An Almost Religious Awe” has a lot of beautiful cinematic moments and the episode is another excellent addition to an already incredible season. The focus on Angela’s past and its connection to Will’s is emotionally impactful. King has been the focus of the series so being able to finally see her character in a more vulnerable state is exciting.