'Watchmen' episode 5: Wade Tillman's journey to become Looking Glass is filled with deep despair and trauma of surviving the giant squid

'Watchmen' episode 5: Wade Tillman's journey to become Looking Glass is filled with deep despair and trauma of surviving the giant squid

"We are all in a tunnel, and every tunnel ends with light" - This dialogue by Looking Glass aka Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson) encompasses the NYPD cop's journey from a young boy to an adult. 

Spoilers ahead for 'Watchmen' episode 5 titled 'Little Fear of Lightning'

A young boy, who is part of a church group is given the responsibility of enlightening people in Hoboken in 1985 about the imminent nuclear attack by Russia. He is reminded that he should start his sermon when the clock strikes one minute to midnight, and this young, shy boy tries his best. He approaches a group of people, who do not seem interested in hearing what he has to say. He doesn't give up, builds up his courage, but none of that really helps. He is bullied by the boys and a girl ends up saving him and takes him to a room full of mirrors.

This boy is Wade Tillman, NYPD's Looking Glass. He is fascinated with the mirrors from the get-go, and the girl that saved him? She seems nice and they strike up a conversation about Nixon's announcement and if all of it is hogwash. Wade states that he is confident about an imminent nuclear attack and this seems to interest the girl. She suddenly asks if he is a virgin, quickly undresses him and we see the young Wade quivering. He is not interested, and he tries to explain this, but the girl seems unfazed by his objections. After she slides his underwear down though, she runs away with his clothes, leaving him naked in the room full of mirrors.

A still from 'Watchmen' episode 5. (Source: HBO episode screenshot)

On November 2, 1985, the same day that Wade was stuck in a room full of mirrors; Adrian Veidt's (Jeremy Irons) plan was put in motion. A giant squid landed in New York, which Americans still continue to believe is an extra-dimensional event that occurred because of research that was taking place nearby. The research was about different dimensions and scientists had managed to open a portal. They were reportedly messing around with the portal when the squid dropped from a different dimension.

When the said giant squid burst in New York, it resulted in thousands of deaths because of a resulting psychic blast. The radius of the attack was as far as Hoboken, where Wade was. While he was inside the room full of mirrors, he heard a blast and he saw the mirrors around him combust into tiny little pieces. After the ringing in his ears stopped, Wade woke up and stepped out of the room to find tens of dead bodies on the ground. All of them had blood coming out of their eyes, very like hemorrhage. 


This catastrophe affects Wade so deeply even three decades after the attack, Wade is struggling with Extra-Dimensional Anxiety (EDA). Something that people who have survived the Hoboken incident suffer from and their anxiety kick in every time they see a possibility of an attack similar to the one on 11/2 happening. For instance, something like the squid rainfall that we saw in the first episode would make survivors quite anxious and Looking Glass is going through the same. Wade even runs an anonymous survivor's group where people talk about their trauma in the hope of overcoming EDA. He hides his own trauma, sounds confident about overcoming the condition to instill some amount of hope and faith in the people who come to the meet.

A still of Wade Tillman in 'Watchmen' episode 5. (Source: HBO)

The truth, however, is that Wade still struggles to sleep through the night, depends on his hats lined with this material called reflectatine, which reportedly helps to avoid psychic attacks of any kind. In fact, even his mask as Looking Glass is made of this material. He has a safety bunker on his property and runs drills six times a week to make sure that he is prepared for another attack. What would really help Wade at this point is if he were to learn the truth and that he does from an unexpected source. Wade's meeting sees a new member come into the meeting. After the meeting, when she gets talking with Wade, she calls him out for lying. She says he is still in the tunnel and when the two sit down for a beer, compare notes on their trauma, Wade finds himself interested in this woman who claims to be a radiologist. 

Wade's first experience with a woman was a disaster and from what his ex-wife Cynthia (Eileen Grubba) has to say, it is clear that he has always picked a problematic woman. Turns out, she is right about that. The woman is a Seventh Kavalry (7K) member, and she intentionally lured Wade to their hideout. Turns out, someone very special wants a favor from Looking Glass, and in return, he gives Wade the truth about the 1985 incident.


A video, of Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias, which is addressed to Robert Redford (Robert Redford) who becomes the President after Nixon. What Redford is not aware of is that even his presidency was planned by Veidt because of their matching political views. In this video, Veidt confesses that the squid did not come from a different dimension, but was a hoax to use fear as a means of bringing people together. For Wade, who has been fearing another attack, this revelation to an extent frees him from his terrors. 

He even does the favor that was asked of him, but what he is not aware of is that he is now a target of 7K. The episode ended with a group of 7K members wearing Rorschach mask entering Wade's property with loaded rifles. Will they get to use it? That is something we will have to wait and watch. The chances of Looking Glass escaping are low, yes, but then, the IMDb cast list has credited actor Nelson with appearances in nine episodes. So this may not be the end. 


The next episode of 'Watchmen' will air on Sunday at 9 pm ET on HBO.

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