Watchmen is a bold and creative expansion of Alan Moore’s source material.
Set in an alternative universe as a sequel to Alan Moore’s much-acclaimed graphic novel, HBO’s new series by Damon Lindelof revolves around Angela Abar (Regina King), a costumed police detective in modern-day Tulsa with the moniker Sister Night. The show opens in 1921, during the attack on ‘Black Wall Street’ by the Ku Klux Klan. The show then cuts to an alternate version of 2019 where the police have to wear masks amidst the growing threat from a new group of white supremacists known as the Seventh Cavalry, whose own masks mirror that of Rorschach’s.
While the pacing is quite glacial in the initial few episodes, the show gathers pace from Episode 5 onwards, when the curtain is finally drawn back on many of the show’s biggest mysteries, including backstories for Angela Abar and Looking Glass, a stunning twist on the origin story for former minuteman Hooded Justice, the whereabouts of Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, and more intriguingly, what has Dr. Manhattan been up to all these years. It’s during this glorious stretch that the show actually threatens to surpass the incredibly lofty standards set up Alan Moore’s source material. I loved how Dr. Manhattan’s hazy perception of time, portrayed impeccably in the comics, was executed to perfection in the penultimate episode.
But ultimately, the show couldn’t prevail because it’s just not possible to re-construct the graphic novel’s perfect ending. The finale was undoubtedly thrilling and culminates in an evocative cliffhanger of a final shot, but it’s not perfect, which is the yardstick while making comparisons to Alan Moore’s iconic novel.