HBO’s Watchmen returns with the fifth episode of the season, “Little Fear of Lightning.” The episode offers an origin story of Looking Glass, aka Wade Tillman, (Tim Blake Nelson). Previously, Angela Abar (Regina King) entrusted Judd Crawford’s (Don Johnson) secret KKK suit with him in hopes of hiding it from Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) as she continues her investigation into her death. During the investigation, Laurie uncovered that Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.) stole her car, and in speaking with Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) grows closer to learning the truth about Will and Angela’s relationship as well as his involvement in the chief’s death. However, while Lady Trieu and Will’s motives are still unclear, what is clear is that time is ticking.
“Little Fear of Lightning” starts with a flashback to right before the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight as a group of evangelical teen boys warns of the impending doom at a carnival. One of the teenage boys, whom we learn to be a young Wade, is pulled away into a funhouse and tricked by a girl into almost having sex before she steals his clothes and runs off. However, the bomb never drops. Instead, there is an alien invasion that still nearly kills everyone outside, but he is saved having been left in the funhouse naked. The near sexual assault and scene are jarring as the teen is left to grapple with the death around him. Additionally, the song choices during the carnival scene and right after showing the alien invasion are downright brilliant. George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” is slowly drowned out as the attack starts and becomes a high-pitched screech. As the destruction is shown and the extraterrestrial life forms take over the city, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” starts to play.
The scene quickly changes into a marketing pitch asking people to “come back to New York” following the attack. But Wade tells the marketing executives that despite the feedback from their focus group no one is going back to New York and no one is going to forget the attack.
Back at the police station, Laurie Blake has the officers looking into that church the Seventh Kavalry could be based at. Meanwhile, Angela is still pressing Wade about the pills she found on Will, but so far he has not been able to find any information from his ex. But Laurie finds out about the pills by bugging Wade’s desk and after inquiring, Wade sticks to his guns and doesn’t tell the truth. However, it goes to show just how far Laurie is willing to go to get answers.
“Little Fear of Lightning” focuses on Wade’s paranoia and his difficulty to cope with the attack he witnessed 30 years ago. From his conversation with Laurie, we learn the reason he wears the masks he does and the episode offers a very unique insight into why he joined the force. His motivations are complicated and a lot less about justice than what they initially seemed. The episode also shows another look at PTSD. Previously, Watchmen gave us a look at the flashbacks Angela experiences following the attack on her home. Now, with Wade, we have hyper-vigilance and insomnia.
Wade’s PTSD has ruined his previous relationship with his ex because he was obsessed with the night of the attack and unable to move past. Even running a group therapy and going on an impromptu date, Wade’s world revolves around the event. But even though it all, Wade tries to remain focused on his chief’s death and continues to investigate the Kavalry.
“Little Fear of Lightning” is an interesting character study into Looking Glass that also helps establish a lot of the aftermath of the original event that devastated so many lives in the Watchmen graphic novel. Additionally, the final act of the episode flips the script on what has been established from the previous episodes in regards to the Kavalry. My only qualm with the episode is that the focus on Looking Glass means we didn’t see much of Angela, Laurie, or Lady Trieu. That being said, “Little Fear of Lightning” moves things forward in an unexpected but exciting way.
Watchmen is streaming on HBO with new episodes dropping every Sunday at 8pm CT/9pm EST.
Watchmen Episode 5 - "Little Fear of Lightning"
My only qualm with the episode is that the focus on Looking Glass means we didn’t see much of Angela, Laurie, or Lady Trieu. That being said, “Little Fear of Lightning” moves things forward in an unexpected but exciting way.