Bad Boys for Life
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Along with the Lovecraftian inspired Giant Squid attack, Looking Glass's heartbreaking story adds much-needed momentum in "Little Fear of Lightning."
"Little Fear of Lightning" grounds its arc in Wade's journey, which gives the audience a literal human tether, and further still, really, it's all based around one question: "What happened?"
Religion, PTSD, and that insidious plot give us three new themes to marinade in. Plus, they actually drop the squid! Comic book fans rejoice, we have been avenged.
In last week's episode, the ever-cynical Laurie told Angela, "People who wear masks are driven by trauma"... Wade is a prime example of what Laurie said about vigilantes in last week's episode.
As a Tim Blake Nelson fan, I've been dying to know more about Looking Glass since the show began. So what more could I want from a new episode than a deep dive into his backstory and an honest-to-god depiction of the squid?!
There are moments that split our lives in two. Cleaving life into a unique before and after. For Wade Tillman, most often referred to as his alias Looking Glass, such a moment came in 1985 Hoboken.
The episode is a clever subversion of the superhero origin story. None of the Watchmen beyond Dr. Manhattan have real superpowers, but Looking Glass is defined by his weakness and vulnerability, which are not traditionally heroic qualities.
Tim Blake Nelson is a wonderful compliment to Regina King and I truly can't imagine this series without those two.
As recipes for superpower-based neurosis go, this one's an award-winner.
Somehow, Watchmen is able to pull off the whole reveal from Wade's perspective, making this something of a stand alone episode that tells the character's backstory and his personal connection to the attack, along with his lingering trauma.
What's so powerful about "Little Fear of Lightning" is the way that it presents a more complicated story about what it meant to live in the wake of Ozymandias' attack.
This is another perfect example of Watchmen walking the line of grounded reality and superhero fantasy. I think it treads this boundary better than any other attempt at "dark and gritty" superheroes.
With its fifth episode, HBO's Watchmen creates an hour of television worthy of the Watchmen name. Damon Lindelof indulges the flourishes he cemented with The Leftovers, focusing on a broken man living in the aftermath of global trauma.