From “Lindelof = Uh-Oh, Here We Go,” posted on 10.9.14: “To me, the idea of Damon Lindelof being attached to a film or TV project…to me that’s a threat.”
The wifi in the Georgetown Airbnb where we’re bunking until tomorrow morning barely has a pulse, and so streaming the first episode of Lindelof’s new HBO Watchmen series is a dicey proposition. But sight unseen I’m scared, and the reason for this fear is Lindelof, a puzzleboxer and head-fucker from way back. I’m get around to it when I return tomorrow or sometime Wednesday, but until then….
Damon Lindelof‘s Watchmen (HBO, now streaming) “is here to shake you up,” writes Indiewire‘s Ben Travers. “To stimulate new discussions about age-old issues; to challenge preconceived notions by framing them from new perspectives. Admittedly, as a white critic, I can only imagine it’s easier for me to process a lot of these images and themes from a safe distance.
“The world of Watchmen is as important to absorb as it is fascinating to deconstruct. Having seen the premiere half-dozen times now, there are still new details emerging and more to come as the subsequent episodes roll out. Yes, there’s even more to admire if you’re familiar with the comic, but a deep understanding of the text doesn’t change the quality of the current story. It’s just a fun additional layer, for those who want to cover it.”
HE observation: Travers felt compelled to watch the opening episode six times? What does that tell you?
The first episode, titled “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out Of Ice”, “will beg the audience to ask, ‘What the fuck is going on?‘,” Travers writes, “and that’s before getting to the final twist, where one of the central characters, played by one of the cast’s more famous faces, is killed off.”
Travers summary: “Robert Redford is the President of the United States. He has been for more than three decades. The ‘Sundancer in Chief,’ as one radio caller labels him, passed a reparations bill where descendants of slaves don’t have to pay taxes.
“These three pieces of information are critically important to understanding many of the personal dynamics at play in the premiere. It’s why Topher (Dylan Schombing) attacks his classmate for bringing up ‘Redfordations‘ during Angela’s presentation. It’s why the Nixonville suspect probably shouldn’t have answered “yes” when Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) asked him if all Americans should pay taxes. It’s why there’s a different, yet all-too-familiar, kind of tension at play when a black cop pulls over a white hick hauling a truckload of lettuce.
Wiki summary: “During the Black Wall Street massacre at Tulsa in 1921, a black child lost his parents in the ensuing chaos and escorts an orphaned baby to safety. Flash forward to an alternate 2019, where police officers wear masks to conceal their identities; Officer Charlie Sutton (Charles Brice) gets hospitalized after being shot by a member of the white supremacy group Seventh Calvary. Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) calls for retaliation to hunt down the shooter.
“Angela Abar (Regina King), a policewoman who “retired” and runs a bakery, catches wind of the shooting and hunts down a suspect under her secret persona of Sister Night. Using help from another vigilante, Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson), she figures out the shooter’s location at a cattle ranch with some Calvary members. Angela, Judd and other officers hunt them down, instigating a shootout that results in all Calvary members’ deaths, including the shooter.
“Some time after the shootout, Judd deals with road turbulence while driving to the hospital to visit Sutton. Angela gets a call from someone who instructs her to find something at a countryside tree. She heads to the location, where she sees an elderly black man in a wheelchair below a lynched Judd. Meanwhile, a lord at an unspecified country estate celebrates an “anniversary” with his two servants.
More from “Lindelof = Uh-Oh, Here We Go“: “After slogging through the frequently infuriating The Leftovers I’m convinced that Lindelof isn’t so much a story-teller as a situational explorer. He’s strikes me as this dorky, bespectacled, comic-book-generation guy who goes ‘Oooh, here’s a cool idea! What if this happened and that happened and then our lead character suddenly realizes that…well, let’s not get hung up on resolutions but this is a cool realm…let’s play with it!’
“Lindelof was one of the many architects of Cowboys & Aliens but I’m sure he did what he could to imprint himself upon it, and I hated it. He rewrote Jon Spaihts on Prometheus and I double-hated that one. The Star Trek film he co-wrote was okay, but World War Z was basically a situational zombie slog with no way out, and then came The Leftovers. Now we have Tomorrowland (formerly 1952) to contend with — a magical fable dream-tale that Lindelof and director Brad Bird co-wrote.”