The fourth chapter of HBO’s Watchmen finally introduces the elusive Lady Trieu and contains some major revelations about the ongoing story. But what unseen surprises are swirling just below the surface, invisible to people who came to the HBO series fresh?
Watchmen is much more of a sequel to the comic than it first seems. It’s set decades later and focuses primarily on a different set of characters, but there’s no question that it’s a direct continuation of the story laid out by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins more than 30 years ago.
The idea in these weekly looks back isn’t to leave you with spoiler-y details that the show will get into further down the line, but rather to give you the context you need so you can better understand what just happened. If you’ve never read the comics and don’t plan to soon, but you still want to keep up with HBO’s Watchmen, keep reading.
Good read alert
This is an easy one to miss. In the opening montage that introduces us to the Clarks, who briefly become the most important people in the world to Lady Trieu, we catch a glimpse of Mrs. Clark reading a book at the bus stop. If you look closely you can just make out the book’s title: Fogdancing.
You can’t really see the author’s name in the show – distance blurs it out – but it’s Max Shea, and his… artistic contributions loom large in the comics. Running throughout the series’ 12 issues is a story-within-the-story called Tales from the Black Freighter.
It’s an in-universe comic book of high seas adventure about a ghost ship that’s crewed by the souls of terrible people. And it’s written and created by… you guessed it, Max Shea!
I don’t want to get too into Shea’s deeper links from the comic just yet, but Black Freighter isn’t his only contribution to the earlier story. Suffice to say for now, he has some connections to one Adrian Veidt.
Lady Trieu, too
I’m leaving Shea’s Veidt connection for another day, but Episode 4 also introduces Lady Trieu – one of the show’s new contributions to the Watchmen universe. And she has her own ties to the super-smart man who once went by the hubristic moniker, “Ozymandias.”
In Episode 4 we learn that Trieu, the trillionaire owner of Trieu Industries, owes at least some of her fortune to the long-missing former vigilante. She tells Angela and Laurie that she acquired Veidt Enterprises in 2017, not long after its namesake’s disappearance.
It’s evident that Trieu sees more in Veidt than an acquisition target, however. During the scene in her vivarium, we see that she keeps a life-size statue of Veidt on hand. It’s the older version of Veidt whom we’ve come to know from Jeremy Irons’ portrayal on the show, but the statue version is wearing the Ozymandias costume – something the real Veidt stopped doing long ago (as far as any of us know at this point).
There’s also a more subtle Trieu-Veidt connection evident in the vivarium itself. In the comic, Veidt maintained a secret Antarctic retreat called Karnak. One of the facilities found there is in fact a vivarium, and one that Veidt filled with plant life from around the world that couldn’t otherwise exist in the harsh Antarctic climate.
Similarly, Trieu explains to Angela and Laurie how her own vivarium allows her to keep a piece of her native Vietnam close at hand. She clearly has some amount of admiration for Veidt and the idiosyncracies that fueled his success in business. Or if not admiration, at least a desire to emulate.
There’s one more important detail from the comics: Karnak also housed three Vietnamese refugees that Veidt rescued from the post-war country and took in as servants. There’s a dramatic moment at the end of the comics where Veidt poisons the three servants and opens his vivarium to the elements, killing everything inside.
It doesn’t seem like an accident that Trieu and Veidt both have close, personal connections to Vietnam. One is from there, the other took in and housed three refugees (and killed them more than a decade later).
Also, could Veidt’s disappearance be tied to Trieu’s subsequent acquisition of his company? Could she be the one who has him locked away in his castle prison which may or may not be in outer space? She does make that baby for the Clarks in the same episode that reveals the loose origins of Veidt’s maybe-clones/maybe-something-else servants.
It’s hard to say exactly how the dots connect at this point, but the sheer number of dots makes it clear we should all be looking for patterns.
The origin of Silk Spectre II
In one relatively brief scene, Episode 4 gives us the full lowdown on Laurie Blake’s origin as a costumed crime fighter. We already know she’s the daughter of Sally Jupiter, the first Silk Spectre, and Edward Blake, vigilante-turned-government flunkie The Comedian. Both of them fought crime together in the time before the comics, as part of a team called the Minutemen.
Remember Watchmen‘s show-within-the-show, American Hero Story? It’s all about the Minutemen. And it is, as we learn from Dale Petey, filled with gross inaccuracies. A big one being the beginnings of Sally and Edward’s, uh, relationship.
The reality, as we learned in the comics and again from Petey’s explanation, is that Edward sexually assaulted Sally during the Minutemen’s 1940s heyday. Laurie wasn’t born until about a decade later, after Sally cheated on her manager and then-husband Larry Schexnayder with Edward.
I want to be careful about spoilers here, because there are details left out of Petey’s account that the show touches on later. Suffice to say, Laurie grew up believing that another man was her father. The details surrounding that also explain, to some extent, Sally’s affair with Edward. But it’s a complicated situation involving a number of players we haven’t met yet (and may not ever meet on the HBO show), so we’ll leave all of that for another day.