NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Watchmen” are present in this review
Watchmen introduced another crucial personality in its third episode, another recognizable face from the original Watchmen graphic novel, in fact! “She Was Killed by Space Junk” takes the interesting direction of focusing entirely on Laurie Juspeczyk, now going by Laurie Blake, who was the lead heroine of the Watchmen comic, where she operated under the vigilante identity of Silk Spectre, a mantle she inherited from her mother, the first Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter. Laurie’s new surname on HBO’s Watchmen series is actually taken from Laurie’s father, Edward Blake as well, a.k.a. The Comedian, the especially violent and amoral vigilante whose murder kicked off the entire Watchmen graphic novel’s series of events.
The obvious implication here is that Laurie has started to take more after her loose cannon father in the events that follow the original Watchmen comic, now working as an FBI agent who is specifically tasked with stopping and arresting costumed vigilantes. This naturally puts the Tulsa case on her radar, with Laurie arriving in Tulsa during the events of this episode, just in time for Crawford’s funeral proceedings. The police may officially suspect the Seventh Kavalry, but like Angela, Laurie appears to have her own theories. She also brings along a young upstart agent as a sounding board, even though his presence is mostly used for Laurie to simply rant about the state of society, and her part in the 1985 events of the original Watchmen comic.
The decision to focus entirely on Laurie’s perspective in this episode nonetheless pays dividends though, raising more interesting mysteries, while also beautifully fleshing out an older and more grizzled post-Silk Spectre Laurie, who now has a very clear hatred and distrust of, “Masks”, including Angela, and the Tulsa police force at large. This begins with a very cool and exciting vigilante takedown in the opening section, wherein Laurie sets up a sting operation disguised as a bank robbery, and this eventually leads into Laurie meeting Angela at Crawford’s funeral, with the full knowledge that Angela is Sister Night. Laurie’s intelligence, resourcefulness and ruthlessness immediately make her a highly engaging character, and Jean Smart plays her beautifully, with a cynical edge layering a thick core of pain, which is also nicely demonstrated with occasional cuts to Laurie telling ‘jokes’ (albeit Rorschach’s idea of ‘jokes’), to Dr. Manhattan using a Mars transmitter.
We also get a nice dose of action at Crawford’s funeral to boot, which once again appears to place suspicion on the Seventh Kavalry. After a Seventh Kavalry member ends up trying to kidnap Senator Keene, with an explosive vest mapped to a vitality sensor, Keene initially capitulates to the demand, and surrenders himself willingly. Laurie, however, opens fire on the Seventh Kavalry man, shooting him dead, only to see that he wasn’t bluffing about the explosive! Laurie very clearly lucked out here, since there’s a positively ridiculous timer on the bomb (seriously, the entire funeral has a good thirty seconds to run away, so why was this idiot ever a threat?), but Angela is nonetheless forced to dump Crawford’s coffin on top of it, destroying Crawford’s body, though at the cost of ensuring that anyone nearby is unharmed.
As much as this would seem like a horrific disrespect to the dead, it does lead to another standout interaction between Laurie and Angela towards the end of the episode, after Laurie busts Angela sneaking through the tunnel that the dead Seventh Kavalry member left behind. Laurie appears to imply that Crawford’s not that innocent, suggesting that there’s more to the ever-intriguing conspiracy that seems to be afoot, even if Angela is naturally not too receptive to the ‘concerns’ about her dead chief. Laurie does nonetheless get an amusing hint forward after this though, after Angela’s car ends up landing in front of Laurie while she’s taking a walk, following her sleeping with the young agent she brought with her on the job. This leads to Laurie hysterically laughing at Mars, nicely bringing home the development of Laurie as a more Comedian-esque government agent, while also continuing to deliver some nice subtle torment related to Laurie’s inability to move on from her famous romantic relationship with Dr. Manhattan, who now appears to have fully forsaken humanity by 2019.
We also get yet another look at the affairs of Jeremy Irons’ mysterious Lord of the Manor, and finally, we also get to learn the identity of said Lord in this episode!… If you haven’t previously read the Watchmen graphic novel, nor seen its 2009 film adaptation, and aren’t really paying that much attention to the blatant story hints, somehow. After the Lord tries more experiments on his clones, freezing one using a prototype suit that appears to be being put together with a trip to space in mind, the Lord tries to hunt a bison for some thicker hide, only to be stopped by a mysterious ‘Game Warden’. Apparently, this mystery person is responsible for keeping up the Lord’s imprisonment, and after the Lord receives a letter, he writes a reply, and signs it, “Adrian Veidt”, before going out to hunt again, in his old Ozymandias costume. Like I said in prior reviews, Irons playing an aged Adrian Veidt is more or less the worst-kept secret in television this year, so the dramatic reveal doesn’t land if you know literally anything about Watchmen outside of this series. It’s very cool, and great casting, but it’s hard to act surprised when the show seemed to make it so glaringly obvious that Irons is Veidt, barring some other extraordinary storytelling curveball, like this imprisoned Veidt being a clone or something.
Regardless, “She Was Killed By Space Junk” stands as another superb episode for Watchmen, which appears to have officially shaken off the stumblings of its pilot episode by this point, and now feels truly worthy of being HBO’s first live-action superhero drama. The exclusive focus on Laurie’s perspective worked very well here, exceptionally inducting Laurie into the show’s lead ensemble, while also bringing some welcome shades of The Comedian into the older Laurie’s character. There’s so much of The Comedian dominating Laurie’s methods in fact that the memory of her more benevolent, well-meaning mother almost appears to be gone by this point, swept away by the destruction wrought by Veidt in 1985, and the subsequent abandonment of Laurie and the world at large by Dr. Manhattan. This is rather tragically poetic in a way, since Laurie was often one of the most noble and upstanding heroes from the original Watchmen graphic novel, alongside her partner and lover, Dan Dreiberg, a.k.a. Nite Owl II, who is implied to be in prison in this episode, with Laurie seemingly looking after a pet owl of his. Laurie appearing to play another part in the show’s over-arching mystery is also no doubt important, and with such an excellent introduction for her here, I’m very much anticipating what this show has in store for the former Silk Spectre II next!
- Memorable, impactful introduction for the older Laurie
- Laurie's tense first encounter with Angela
- More twisted experiments with Veidt
- Veidt's identity reveal isn't much of a twist for established Watchmen fans