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Watchmen Episode 4 Recap – Trillionaire Lady Trieu’s Plan With Will Reeves Explained
One of the hallmarks of good TV writing is balancing pacing and exposition. In its later seasons, Game of Thrones couldn’t figure this out. That’s why episodes were more like a bumpy ride in a jalopy heading down an unpaved road—there’d be whole episodes in which nothing really happened except expository dialogue, followed by an episode of wall-to-wall action. But, in its early installments, Watchmen has seamlessly blended world building while keeping the story puttering along, and they keep up this momentum in Episode Four.
Like Episode Three, which brought back OG Watchmen character Laurie Blake, this episode introduced a new major player. Trillionaire Lady Trieu (played by an amazing Hong Chau) now owns Adrian Veidt’s company and first appears at the humble Clark Acres Farm in the episode’s cold open. There, she offers John and Katie Clark quite the deal—she wants their house and their land, in exchange for a baby that she created for the infertile couple using their DNA, which she lifted from a fertility clinic. As soon as the Clarks put their names on the dotted line, asteroids or some other heavenly body crash land on what was once the Clarks’ property.
“What is that?” asks John. “That,” replies Lady Trieu, “is mine.”
It’s an excellent introduction, showcasing Lady Trieu’s wealth, power, and eccentricity. (She came equipped with a big hourglass to give the negotiations a 3-minute timer. She likes her timepieces.)
Back in the show’s main narrative, Angela spends much of the episode cleaning up the evidence of her grandfather’s involvement in Chief Judd Crawford’s death. She seems a bit torn between loyalty her late boss and mentor, despite having found evidence that he might have literally been a closeted racist, and her newfound ties to Will. In the episode, she protects herself as well as both men by dismantling and discarding Will’s wheelchair and giving the chief’s Klan robes to Detective Tillman for safekeeping. While dropping the wheelchair off a bridge and onto a passing train, Angela realizes she’s being watched by a figured clad in a silver spandex uniform, but when she gives chase, he greases himself up and disappears into a sewer. There aren’t a ton of clues as to who Lube Man is, but given FBI Agent Dale Petey’s fascination with masked heroes and slim build, he seems one of the most likely culprits out of all the characters we’ve met so far.
But Angela’s efforts to destroy evidence aren’t throwing Laurie off Will’s scent. After Angela’s car conveniently fell almost literally into her lap last episode, Laurie dusted it for prints, and found Will Reeves’ identity. Laurie reveals that Will was a cop in New York during the 1940s, which fits pretty well with the fan theory that Reeves was Hooded Justice, the original masked vigilante who inspired the Minutemen and the trend of masked adventurers. Earlier this season, we saw a show-within-a-show detailing the origin of Hooded Justice. In that series, Hooded Justice was played by a white man, which fits with most theories about the masked vigilante’s identity. But, that doesn’t entirely rule Reeves out; he wouldn’t be the first person of color to be whitewashed by Hollywood. Plus, HJ’s identity has never been fully confirmed.
“By my math, he has to be over a hundred years old by now,” Laurie tells Angela of Will. “And do you know how hundred-year-olds tend to get around? Wheelchairs.” It seems Laurie is right on Anglea’s tale, and certainly knows more about than she’s letting on.
At one point in the episode, Angela checks her voicemail, which tells callers: “Hi, you’ve reached the Milk and Hanoi Bakery, where we let Saigons be Saigons.” Of course, that’s a play on the cliche, “let bygones be bygones.” And when Angela then goes to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage and takes in a recreation of her family tree, it’s immediately clear that letting bygones be bygones is pretty much impossible. She kneels to look in the face of a projected image of Will as a small boy, a boy whose parents were killed by racists and whose entire community was destroyed during the Tulsa Massacre. “A hundred years from now, you’re going to roll back into Tulsa and blow my life up,” she tells the picture of her grandfather.
Afterward, Laurie and Angela take a field trip to discover just how Angela’s car managed to fall out of the sky, and along the way Laurie tells a little bit of her backstory, which should sound familiar to readers of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comics. Laurie’s parents were the Comedian and the first Silk Spectre, members of the Minutemen who fought crime alongside Hooded Justice back in the day. Her father attempted to rape her mother, before they later had a consensual relationship, and Laurie cites the trauma of this horrific origin story among her reasons for donning a mask in the first place.
Finally, they reach the only person in Tulsa who has the capability to levitate cars: Lady Trieu. She’s building a giant clock, which her daughter explains will be the first wonder of the modern world. Unlike the Colossus of Rhodes or the Lighthouse at Alexandria, this clock will be able to stand the test of time, including any disaster “short of a direct nuclear blast.” Speaking in Vietnamese so that only Angela, who was born in Vietnam, will understand, Lady Trieu reveals that she’s working with Angela’s grandfather, Will—but on what, she doesn’t say. Later on, we see Trieu and Will together, and they confirm that they’re working on some sort of plan, but what they’re cooking up, they don’t say. We also learn later in the episode that Will can walk, before he imitates the 7th Kalvalry’s “tik-tok.”
Adrian Veidt follows the distinctly alien trajectory of his catapulted clone corpses in Watchmen’s fourth episode.
But we get a hint that Will and Lady Trieu may share a motivation. Trieu’s daughter—who sleeps with some kind of IV drip in her arm—wakes from a nightmare, recalling a dream of being in a village, before “men came, and burned it” and then made her embark on a forced march. Is it possible that Trieu or her family survived the destruction of their community by American forces, just as Will survived the raid of black Tulsa? Could they be united in a crusade against American racism and imperialism? As fans of the comics will remember, it was Doctor Manhattan who was used by the American government to violently win the Vietnam War.
The dream was apparently so vivid that Trieu’s daughter’s feet hurt from walking in it, which makes the experience sound like something more than the average dream. Knowing the trillionaire businesswoman’s appreciation of biological legacy and her ability to produce lab-made babies, it seems likely that her daughter isn’t an average kid. Is she a clone, or was she birthed through some advanced DNA technology like the Clarks’ infant?
Finally, we also catch up with Adrian Veidt, wherever the hell he is. We see how he furnishes his never-ending supply of clones, fishing for fetuses in a lake before cooking them up to adulthood in a giant warp-speed incubator. And the reason he needs a new Mr. Phillips and Miss Crookshanks is that he murdered all the others after having “a rough night.” With the help of his newly-born replacements, he catapults the corpses into the sky—and judging by the way the bodies disappear into the atmosphere instead of falling, his sky is not our own. The “Ozymandias is on Mars theory” is looking better than ever. And he wants out.
“Four years since I was sent here,” he muses. “In the beginning I thought it was a paradise. But it’s not. It’s a prison.”
We’ll almost certainly see some more of his escape efforts in the weeks to come, and hopefully learn more about Will and Lady Trieu’s shared plan. It would also be great to see Angela learn more about her grandfather and the late Chief Crawford. For now, she’s playing for two teams, but she’ll probably soon be forced to pick a side.
Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.