Review: Watchmen 1×02, “Marital Feats of Comanche Horsemanship”

Aaron Neuwirth reviews season 1, episode 2 of HBO's Watchmen, “Marital Feats of Comanche Horsemanship" in which Angela digs deeper and new revelations are made.

It’s fortunate to have Watchmen as an HBO series with no need to provide a second episode functioning as a recap of the pilot. “Marital Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” hits the ground running with another flashback to show the forms of racism that have played a role in society via German propaganda from WWI. That ties us back to the site of Judd’s lynching, and Louis Gossett Jr.’s supposed participation. With a season consisting of nine episodes, Watchmen clearly has little time to spare but knows how to pack its minutes with an assortment of imagery, and, presumably, clues to the core mystery as well. Not hurting are the big moments and twists arriving this week. While the first episode delivered a stunning look at a terrible event in American history to kick things off, this follow-up wants audiences to know Watchmen needs to be appointment television for all who are interested.

Much of the episode focuses on Regina King’s Angela trying to understand Gossett Jr.’s Will and his role in what happened. Despite claims that he strung up Judd by himself and (humorously) that he’s a form of Dr. Manhattan, Angela isn’t buying it. I’m not either (as of now), but I like the ways he’s bringing out parallels to the original graphic novel. Because of Will’s words, Angela finds herself checking out Judd’s home, discovering a KkK outfit in the process. So now we have Judd sharing aspects with the Comedian, given his possible secret life, locked away in a compartment in his closet. What does it mean though?

We don’t find out this week, but perhaps need to question the big flashback to White Night. As explained last week, this was a terrible event where members of the Seventh Kavalry coordinated an attack on cops on Christmas Eve. Angela was among those attacked, though she stabbed her first attacker, before getting shot in the chest. Once awake, she’s greeted by Judd, who calms her down, tells her the other cops have all quit, and also plants the need for going after the rest of the Kavalry.

Looking at last week’s episode, little details begin to stick out about Judd, including his choice to leave behind his security when driving out, and his choice to listen to right-wing radio. Will claims Judd had a different side than what Angela knew. It makes sense. This show wouldn’t have much of a mystery to tell if Judd was the completely great guy Don Johnson made him out to be. But where will this lead us?

On the outside, it’s leading to justice being handled by the other police officers and Red Scare. They all make their way to Nixonville to mainly stir up trouble. Tim Blake Nelson’s Looking Glass, still calming down from crying over Judd’s death earlier, watches on, but Angela finds herself forced to bring out her rage over the situation on a Nixonville resident who thinks he can take Sister Night in a fight.

Things at home are only okay as well. Angela tells her son, Topher, about the death of his uncle (keep in mind, these kids have been adopted by Angela and Cal). Topher takes it well enough, first expressing shock, then asking to watch TV after knocking down his neat floating magnet toy. We don’t know much about how this living situation came about. Still, Topher and Angela certainly seem more similar than they may be aware.

In hiding Will from the others, Angela did learn something else – he’s her grandfather. She verified this through a public test facility, and it only adds another wrinkle to this situation. Of course, things get much more complicated by the end of this episode, when Will is whisked away by an electromagnet coming from some sort of ship in the sky. What is this? Is it a space ship? Is it Dr. Manhattan? Is it Veidt?

Ol’ Ozymandias has his role to play this week too. We heard about his five-act play concerning the origins of Dr. Manhattan last week. This week we see it in action thanks to the clones who serve him. Following his rituals, we watch as he observes a modified version of the story of how John Osterman became the ethereal blue figure. It’s changed from how things really happened but presents a form of shock as well in how Adrian has decided to use his clones for the sake of this performance. Where is this all going though?

I suspect Adrian has at least some involvement in the events going on with Tulsa, but time will tell. Perhaps Angela will begin putting more pieces together. According to Will, she’s gotten a lot already but has to look a little harder at what’s in front of her. I have some ideas, but it’s hard to tell how much this show wants to work with ideas and structure based around the graphic novel. As it stands, for now, I’m happy to see the clock ticking away, as I find my place inside this continually intriguing world.

What Else To Watch For:

  • Be sure to check out HBO’s Watchmen website for more info about the world of this series.
  • The title of this episode references this painting, as seen in Judd’s house.
  • “Skeletons in his closet” – So much for hearing everything Will had to say.
  • “Global Squidfalls Baffle Scientists” – No new news on the squids, but happy to see it discussed via a newsstand operator and a customer, evoking the original novel.
  • “He was alive the whole time until he wasn’t.” – Tim Blake Nelson is doing a lot with a little so far, and it’s great.
  • The White Night flashback is a great bit of suspense, knowing this was the night, feeling the build-up to it (seeing time and clocks play their continual role), and watching the battle play out. Of course, we haven’t yet seen how Angela survived her ordeal.
  • “American Hero Story” was hilariously made to look and sound like a Zack Snyder feel, down to the slo-mo ramp-ups and the serious over-the-top narration.
  • Was Angela using Night Owl tech with those x-ray glasses?
  • After burning his Mr. Phillips, Veidt speaks of “others.” This man has a lot of crazy going on at his manor.
  • I got a genuine thrill hearing the Beastie Boys’ “Egg Man” end this week’s episode.
  • Theories on the ship or whatever that whisked Will away?

Written by
Aaron is a movie fanatic and loves talking about such things…a lot. He is from Orange County, California, but earned a degree or two at UC Santa Barbara. He describes himself as a film reviewer, writer, podcaster, video game player, comic book reader, disc golfer, and a lefty. His mind is full of film knowledge and random trivia, but he is always open to learning more, whether it’s through box office stats, reviewing Blu-rays from The Criterion Collection or simply hearing first hand from filmmakers and others about various productions and behind-the-scenes tidbits.

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