Director: Nicole Kassell
Starring: 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. and Jeremy Irons
SPOILERS: There are SPOILERS for Watchmen Episode 1 in this review.
HBO’s Watchmen has finally arrived and after watching episode 1, I couldn’t help but think that Damon Lindelof had yet another winner on his hands.
Watchmen episode 1, called It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice, sets up what looks like will be a twisty, mysterious, brutal and thought-provoking new show, and the first episode at least, really did tick all my boxes for what I wanted from a show based in the world that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created in their DC Comics graphic novel, Watchmen.
We can’t discuss this episode of Watchmen without talking about its beginning, which frankly put is both spectacular and hard-hitting.
Who watches Watchmen? We do
The show starts off by depicting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which I’m going to be honest, was a bit of history I hadn’t heard about before now, but I’ve since done some digging and it’s genuinely shocking what happened in Tulsa.
That said, it’s the perfect place to start the show and immediately you understand where Lindelof is coming from and the issues they’re going to tackle in the show. And then it never really stops from that moment on. We are thrown 98 years into the future, where a masked officer ends up in hospital after having been shot by a member of a clan called the Seventh Kavalry.
Watchmen episode 1 sets up so may mysteries
The people in this group all wear Rorschach masks, and the police wear yellow masks to protect their identity. It’s then revealed that they do this because three years earlier, the Seventh Kavalry murder almost all of the Tulsa police force.
So, in order to combat this, the police started to wear yellow masks. The Chief of the Tulsa Police, Judd Crawford (played by Don Johnson) and the rest of the police force had believed that the Seventh Kavalry had been wiped out, but they’re back, and seemingly worse than ever.
This is the moment when we are introduced to Regina King,’s character, the black detective, Angela Abar.
She was one of the police officer’s who miraculously managed to survive the Kavalry’s attack, and she’s now claiming that she’s retired from the force and opening up a Vietnamese bakery. Yet, secretly, she’s still working for the force, and goes out wearing all black.
Angela is basically Watchmen’s Batman
Angela in many ways is this series’ Batman. There are a lot of comparisons you can draw between her character and that of Batman. She wears all black. She’s incredible in a fight. She drives an all blacked out car, a bit like her Batmobile, and she’s a great detective.
She’s the real focal point for this show and King plays her perfectly. She’s mysterious, strong, intelligent and brutal. The first episode of Watchmen does a great job in introducing you to her character and that of Don Johnson, who plays the Chief of the Tulsa police.
At first, he seems like a nice enough chap. There’s a great scene in the first episode in which he sings a song from Oklahoma, and he’s actually got a lovely voice.
Regina King is excellent in Watchmen episode 1
However, there are skeletons in his closet, and not everything is quite as it seems with him. He might not be as trustworthy as we’re lead to believe.
The episode is also beautifully shot. Director Nicole Kassell and her director of photography have done a remarkable job in making the episode genuinely feel like it’s part of the Watchmen universe which Gibbons and Alan created. It’s also backed up by an incredible score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
This first episode of Watchmen, It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice, is really a fantastic start to this new series. It’s captivating, a world full of conspiracies, and there are a few mystery boxes here and there, which is a bit of a Lindelof trope nowadays, but it works in this context because we’re simply thrown into this new world without much background as to what went on before it.
Why are there squid raining down from the heavens? What is up with Jeremy Irons’ new character? What is the Chief of Tulsa police hiding? These are all questions this first episode sets up, and I’m sure we’ll get answers as the show goes along.
Watchmen season 1 is being aired on HBO in the US and new episodes are available to UK viewers on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV every Monday.
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