HBO's 'Watchmen' presents a layered dystopia where racists hide behind liberal masks and corruption is omnipresent
At its very core, there's very little difference between this world and the one we live in, and that is what makes 'Watchmen' so very terrifying
Spoilers ahead for 'Watchmen' Episode 2
The world of 'Watchmen' is a dystopia hiding behind yet another dystopia, after all, any world that can produce Rorschach isn't likely to be a utopian ideal. However, HBO's 'Watchmen' takes Alan Moore's already dark world and plunges it deeper into new depths of corruption.
In many ways, the show takes liberalism to its logical extreme. We see the government handing out reparations (or "Redfordations" as they call it on the show) for racial injustices while being racist towards white people, which is an interesting reversal, yet one that isn't too hard to believe.
Can this be called a liberal world? Of course not. The binaries might have been reversed to some extent and, on the surface, a utopia of liberalism seems to be in place but, at the same time, it's quite clear that this is all just a facade.
Klansmen hide behind tolerant smiles and even those who pretend to be heroes are exposed as villains eventually. There are no good guys in this story and everyone you might want to put your trust in will one day let you down, as Regina King's Angela Abar/Sister Night discovers to her horror in the second episode.
The episode shows Sister Night trying to solve the brutal murder of her boss and friend, police chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson). We're led to believe that Crawford is a kind father-figure, a paragon of justice and a protector of the innocent, right up until Angela discovers a set of Klan robes hidden away in the late Chief's closet.
On the surface, we might think the police are the good guys and the 7th Kavalry, the terrorist organization inspired by Rorschach's journal, are the villains but that binary breaks down pretty quickly.
There may be trigger warnings in the news and museums dedicated to remembering the injustices faced by the black community, but if you think that's all it takes to create a truly free world, take a long hard look at this show and think again.
Considering the tense social climate that we find ourselves in right now, we may be tempted to put a label on this world and decide whether it is "liberal" or "conservative", but what the writers have done is take that dualism and throw it out the window along with all notions of good and bad, heroes and villains, justice and injustice.
At its very core, there's very little difference between this world and ours and that is what makes 'Watchmen' so very terrifying.
'Watchmen' Episode 3 'She Was Killed by Space Junk' will air on HBO on November 3.