Stars: Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Hong Chau
Damon Lindelof probably had no business adapting Watchmen for television. With a checkered history of the industry’s numerous attempts at it, as well as Watchmen author Alan Moore’s vocal opposition towards any film or TV adaptations of his work, any remake would be met with skepticism, at the least. More than aware of the criticism, Lindelof claimed that his undertaking with HBO would not be a reboot but, rather, a “remix.” As a result, we got one of the most inventive and culturally refreshing TV shows in recent memory.
Taking place in the books’ alternate universe, HBO’s Watchmen starts nearly 30 years after the novel’s major events. In present-day America, masked vigilante cops hunt for members of Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist group that follows the ideals of Rorschach. The award-winning Regina King stars as protagonist Angela Abar, a vigilante cop who consistently and delightfully kicks ass. Through this setup, the series branches off onto its own and deftly explores issues of radical racism through themes of vigilantism, police corruption, and the White Savior Complex. The series widened its scope of ambition with its incredible sixth episode, “This Extraordinary Being,” a surreal flashback episode that explores the country’s history of vigilantism with its first masked hero, Hooded Justice. The twist is revealed that Hooded Justice, America’s first superhero, is actually a black police officer who decides to enact justice on his own terms. Through this episode, the audience confronts its own tendency to make assumptions that heroes, for the most part, are white.
It may have been public opposition and high expectations that allowed Lindelof and his team to eschew a strictly formulaic, and perhaps predictable, adaptation. With only a couple of episodes left this season, it’s hard to say where exactly the show is taking us—only that it will take us to a place that hasn’t been explored. —Andie Park