Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Watchmen‘s fourth episode.
When it comes to all-time great introductions, a cape-wearing trillionaire showing up in the middle of the night to surprise a couple with an offer of their lab-grown child and five million dollars – with just three minutes to accept – ranks among the best. But it’s Lady Trieu’s final scene in Watchmen‘s fourth episode that will likely prove more important. It hinted that her and Will are plotting a massive act of revenge on America.
We learned a lot about actress Hong Chau’s mysterious and powerful Lady Trieu in her insane, incredible debut. During her year living in Tulsa she has rarely been outside her Millennium Clock, a gigantic structure she says is “more than a clock,” even though her daughter claims it “tells time”. That leviathan of tech is also the “First Wonder of the New World;” will survive anything short of a direct nuclear blast. Trieu also made her unfathomable fortune in “advanced pharma and biomedical tech”; this helps explain how she can grow people’s biological babies in a lab.
The industrialist from Vietnam also credits her success to the “truly great man,” Adrian Veidt, whose companies she purchased right when he went missing in 2012. She even has her own Vietnam-inspired vivarium in the middle of Oklahoma, just like he had his own vivarium full of plant life in Antarctica. The name of the Millennium Clock also pays tribute to his line of Millennium cosmetics that went on sale after his squid attack in 1985. And of course, she owns a life-sized gold statue of Adrian Veidt as well.
Unless of course that “statue” actually is Adrian Veidt.
(It’s definitely him, right? At minimum, the show wants us to think it might be, and it’s certainly possible. Trieu has incredible technology, including what might have been a spaceship seen falling from the sky. She could be the one who trapped Veidt in his paradise-turned-prison. He did fish fetuses out of a lake like they were lobsters, and she can grow babies. Since his story is in the past, we don’t know where he is in the present. Until we learn the true nature of her relationship with the “smartest man in the world,” nothing can be ruled out about either of them, even the crazy idea of him being transformed into a literal idol.)
As for Lady Trieu’s pharmaceutical advancements, they appear to have given Will de facto super powers. He told Angela those pills were to help his memory. But for a 105-year-old man, he is not only incredibly sharp and lucid – he is in remarkable shape. He can walk and has the strength to lift a 200-pound man with a rope. Also, in episode two, he seemed impervious to heat. He chugged hot coffee like it was a can of soda, and later pulled an egg out of boiling hot water without burning himself.
Those pills are miracles of science, as was the I.V. Lady Trieu’s daughter Bian was sleeping with. It triggered a very specific, very vivid “dream” that Trieu was happy to hear her daughter recount. Trieu’s conversation with Will afterwards indicated that nightmare was something Trieu did – including her daughter’s very real feeling of burning her feet, which Trieu said was “good.”
Watchmen also provided context for why Trieu would do something like that. Will equated the orchestrated “dream” to how he is forcing his granddaughter Angela to explore her family’s traumatic past. There are only three days to go before their secret, seemingly catastrophic plan comes to fruition, and both are trying to make their descendants learn about where they came from. And where they come from are both places that were destroyed by America.
In the world of Watchmen, Vietnam is the 51st state in the union. Dr. Manhattan defeated Lady Trieu’s homeland using his god-like powers to help the United States achieve a quick and decisive victory in 1971. The reaction to the war’s end was so popular, the Constitution was changed so Richard Nixon could be re-elected to a third term. But if Bian’s dream was created by her mother, it might not have been a dream at all. It might have been her Lady Trieu’s own memories.
Lady Trieu clearly doesn’t look back on her country’s annexation fondly. To her it was a terrible event, one she carries with her (literally in her Vietnam vivarium), just like Will carried the literal memory of his parents’ death during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. He held on to that piece of paper for almost 80 years until he gave it to his granddaughter. Neither Will nor Lady Trieu have forgotten America’s past, with its racial injustice and imperialistic conquering of Vietnam.
Whatever they have planned to get back at the U.S. is horrific enough that Trieu is worried about Will getting cold feet, and he knows Angela will hate him when she learns about what he’s done to her family. We don’t know what their plot is yet, but it seems clear America itself will be the main target. And based on Lady Trieu’s “hero,” it’s going to be deadly.
Lady Trieu said “so much” of her success “grew from the seed” of Adrian Veidt’s “inspiration”. What Adrian Veidt did in 1985 was kill three million New Yorkers to create world peace. But America destroyed both Will and Trieu’s home; how peaceful can the world be when its most powerful country still sees white nationalists terrorize black citizens and Vietnam is an occupied country? If Veidt wanted to save the world from nuclear holocaust by killing three million Americans, how many will Trieu and Will be willing to kill to save the world from America?
The episode’s title,”If You Don’t Like My Story Write Your Own,” comes from the very real book Cal Abar was reading, Things Fall Apart. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe’s beloved 1958 novel tells the story of an African tribe colonized by Westerners. It’s a fitting reference, and an ominous sign for Watchmen’s America. As is the name of the woman who is plotting against it. In a world full of superheroes, the mysterious trillionaire in the white cape takes her name from a 3rd century Vietnamese warrior who fought against Chinese occupation of her homeland.
The real Lady Trieu remains a hero in Vietnam to this day. Soon, Watchmen‘s Trieu could be a hero to her people who live under American occupation. How many Americans will die when her Millennium Clock goes tick tock for the last time?
Featured Image: HBO