Review: Watchmen Season 1 Episode 5

“Is anything true?”, asks Looking Glass in the fifth episode of ‘Watchmen’. And, in fact, after watching ‘Little Fear of Lightning’, the audience, too, would be riddled with this doubt. What is really true in the world of ‘Watchmen’. Since the first episode, a picture has been painted for us, its colours shifting according to the need of the storyline.

The past four episodes felt like a kaleidoscope, though more heavily distorted in the offering of a clear image. We got to know the characters, we got to know their world. Or worlds. Who their enemies are and what are they all looking for? A line was drawn, though not a clear or permanent one, to mark the divide between the heroes and the villains. All of this was the part of setting the stage, and as I had hoped, with this episode, they have started to give us some answers.

Watchmen Season 1 Episode 5 Recap

The scene opens in 1985, Hoboken. Nuclear war is imminent between the United States and the USSR. The clock is ticking as the world inches closer to death and destruction. A bunch of young boys are sent out to spread the word of the Lord. One of them is tricked by a girl, who leaves him naked in the house of mirrors. And then a piercing sound knocks him off. When he wakes up, the mirrors have shattered and when he walks out, he sees that almost everyone is dead. Mortified by the sight, he shouts, “What happened? What happened?” Turns out, a giant squid has fallen on New York, and apart from destroying the epicentre, its psychic waves have killed millions within its force field.

Back to the present time, and we find out that Wade aka Looking Glass has received the limelight for today’s episode. He works for ad companies to find out if the people in the focus groups are giving truthful responses. Meanwhile, Sister Night is prodding him to find out about the pills and Agent Blake isn’t making life any easier either. In between the jobs, he finds time to conduct therapy sessions for the people who had been there the night of the squid tragedy. The events line up and Wade comes face to face with a dark secret.

And oh, ‘Schindler’s List’ is ‘Pale Horse’ in their world.

Watchmen Season 1 Episode 5 Review

There is a reason Looking Glass is called Looking Glass and not Mirror Guy, as Agent Blake would prefer it. I am aware of the synonymity of looking-glass and mirror, and yet, the two things are not quite the same. The fifth episode of ‘Watchmen’ shows you just what the difference is.

When we meet Wade in the first episode, we are amused by his choice of mask. We deduce that it is the reflecting surface that got him the name Looking Glass. His mask is most probably a symbol for his ability to tell a truth from a lie. In his innovative pod, he uses his skills to get the truth out of the suspects. He watches them respond to the pictures that reflect on his mask. But then, doesn’t it sound more like a mirror to you?

If it is really about reflection then the mirror is a better word, because glass works better when you are talking about refraction. When you can see what’s on the other side, but in a warped, sometimes hazy, manner. You think you know what you see and yet, you don’t clearly see it. And the director, Steph Green, doesn’t lose any chance to show you just why there is everything in a name.

The fifth episode plays out like a story contained in itself, save for the part with Adrian Veidt. It focuses entirely on Wade. Where does he come from, what was his life before he was a cop, what is his cover story, what does he do in his free time other than designing elaborate pods and catching liars? And above all, why Looking Glass? And though Agent Blake seems more interested in it, she won’t get the answer just yet.

The stage is set for the big reveal with the here and there hints in the conversation, and the use of mirrors. Directors have used mirrors and reflecting surfaces a number of times, to depict everything from the inner turmoil of their characters to the split personality of the protagonist or to create any other symbolism that serves the story well. In ‘Little Fear of Lightning’, mirrors don’t serve as an allegory, but a difference. And in the end, it gives validity to Wade’s alter-ego. His entire world has been changed by a simple revelation, just as Alice’s was when she fell down the rabbit hole.

This episode has proved that the upcoming ones will deliver more answers and demand a response nothing short of confused brows, mouths agape, and at the worst, you shouting at you TV: What happened? What happened?

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