Warning: This post contains major spoilers for the sixth episode of HBO’s Watchmen.
Watchmen‘s sixth episode featured a living flashback. Angela Abar didn’t just learn about her grandfather’s history as the first-ever masked vigilante Hooded Justice, she experienced it firsthand. The horrifying power of Nostalgia pills also gave us greater insight into what Will Reeves and Lady Trieu might be planning against the “vast and insidious conspiracy” he’s been fighting for more than 60 years. But the episode also showed Will’s old foe never disappeared. It got a new face and some world-changing technology.
Will Reeves spent years investigating Cyclops, a shadow organization connected to the Klu Klux Klan in New York City. The first time he learned about them was in 1938, when he broke up a Klan meeting in the back of a local supermarket. A paper indicated Cyclops was targeting multiple cities on the Eastern half of the United States. He also located “Mesmerism,” a book about hypnotism.
He found out exactly what they were planning in 1947, when Danny Kaye’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was in theaters. A subliminal message caused the theater’s black audience members to inexplicably attack each other with deadly force. Officer Reeves realized a camera had flashed a secret mind-control message to turn them on each other. He followed it to a warehouse owned by a known Cyclops member. Will found they were recording messages to make black Americans murder each other before he killed all of them. Hooded Justice burned down the building and all of the cameras, except for one that he kept for himself.
Will used that same “mesmerism” technology over 60 years later to make Judd Crawford kill himself. His flashlight sent a mind-control message that left the police chief totally helpless, just like that black movie audience. The Chief of Police hanged himself without thought. It’s a terrifying power that could kill millions if it could somehow be amplified to a mass audience.
Which might be exactly why Lady Trieu built her Millennium Clock.
Both Will and Lady Trieu have been victimized by the United States. We know his story, but we’ve been given insights into her past too. Lady Trieu is from Vietnam, which the United States made the 51st state after Dr. Manhattan won the Vietnam War. Many other countries and people believe Vietnam is an occupied state. Lady Trieu, who shares her name with a famous warrior hero who fought against Chinese occupation of Vietnam, almost certainly does too. Her grievances against America are far more personal, though.
Lady Trieu’s daughter Bian woke up from a nightmare she suffered while hooked up to an IV. She described a dream to her mother about men burning down a village. It’s now clear from Lady Trieu’s conversation with Will that Bian’s nightmare was Lady Trieu’s own memory. She gave them to her daughter via Nostalgia. The two are both making their descendants experience their pasts so they understand what they are going to do in the future. In only a couple of days they have something catastrophic planned. All the evidence points to them enacting revenge against white Americans for their past and present crimes.
It’s why Will expects Angela to hate her when this mysterious plan takes place—Angela’s kids are white. Even if they are safe and Will and Lady Trieu only target racists and bigots, the fallout will be unthinkable. It could destroy America entirely.
But they aren’t the only one who are counting down to an event that could change the very face of America. Last week’s episode revealed that Senator Keene, a current presidential candidate, is a leader of the Seventh Kavalary. His intentions seem to be more Machiavellian than ideological, though. He appears to have a real contempt for the racists in his employ, it’s just that has common cause with them. Adrian Veidt’s giant squid led to President Robert Redford. He’s enacted a progressive agenda for more than 30 years, including reparations for black Americans. White conservative Americans resentment over Redford’s administration turned violent on White Night. The Klan was replaced by the Rorschach-idolizing Seventh Kavalry, along with their rage and bigotry.
Ultimately they want a return to the days of Richard Nixon, but undoing thirty-plus years of Redford’s liberal policies can’t happen overnight, even if Keene is elected. To do that, the Seventh Kavalry would need their own world-changing event, one that would reveal the truth of Ozymandias’s lie. And they have his teleportation technology to do it.
They aren’t going to drop a massive squid on Tulsa, but they can drop an unthinkable truth on America. When they do it will be under the banner of Cyclops. Looking Glass walked by the group’s logo in the Seventh Kavalry’s abandoned mall.
Cyclops might not have the power of mind-control anymore, Will does, but they do have the truth on their side, and they have a way to reveal it to the entire world.
It’s why the two vast and insidious conspiracies unfolding on Watchmen are both counting down to the ultimate showdown. If they are both successful will anyone be left standing when it’s over?
Featured Image: HBO