The Watchmen series seems like HBO's big post-Game of Thrones genre gamble, with its killer trailers and stacked cast causing the internet to buzz with anticipation. Well, anticipate no longer because the superhero show premiered its first episode at New York Comic Con - and SYFY WIRE caught the whole thing. Who watched the Watchmen? Well, we did. Did HBO pull off this quasi-adaptation? Well, it certainly makes some choices.
The sequel show from Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers) takes place three decades since everything went down with Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan. Now masks are outlaws, with the Seventh Kavalry terrorists donning Rorschach masks, leading to cops like Angela Abar (Regina King) protecting their identities with masks of their own. Oh, and Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias is back from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' original, this time played by Jeremy Irons (though a newspaper in the first episode claims that Veidt is declared dead). Did we mention Robert Redford is president in this timeline? Lots is going on.
The episode opens with the '20s Tulsa Race Massacre that torched Black Wall Street, which was an incredible set piece leaving two children surviving and the audience prepped to deal with plenty of racial politics. The Kavalry is certainly a KKK analogue here, set against the police (masked and unarmed by policy). King plays a masked police specialist that grabs and tortures whomever the cops need. She, along with a few others on the force, supplement the patrolmen donning bright yellow masks.
The Easter egg-filled episode has an “Unforgettable” needledrop, The Owlship (or AN Owlship) torching a plane, and a surprise death by lynching. Tim Blake Nelson has a trippy interrogation scene, while the effects work does overtime tearing a cow apart with a Gatling gun and raining squids upon sunny Tulsa. And yes, fans get to see a glimpse of Doctor Manhattan and Irons' lives after saving the world...if that really IS Veidt after all. So, yes, a lot happens in the action-packed premiere. And a lot of questions raised.
After the screening, Lindelof joined producer Nicole Kassell and stars King, Irons, Jean Smart, Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Hong Chau for a panel discussion about what's to come for the show. Jeremy Irons finally read Watchmen, though he "finds comics difficult to read." He says if he hadn't met Lindelof beforehand, he would've simply read something else. Gossett Jr. said that he partially took the role because of his superhero roots: "I was raised by Superman."
They showed off sneak peeks of later episodes showing off Smart and Chau, with FBI agent Laurie Blake chatting speculation about Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias, and more. Lady Trieu, the trillionaire that moved to Tulsa and bought up Veidt's empire, got a killer scene where she gets a house from a couple...in a less than savory way. Then, a special guest came out: Dave Gibbons. He was approached by Lindelof at SDCC 2018, during which his ears were talked off by the show creator - who impressed the comic artist with his huge knowledge of Watchmen. Finally, they dropped a sneak peek at the rest of the season, all rolling from the ramifications of the premiere's final scene.
Watchmen premieres on Oct. 20.
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