In the universe of The Watchmen, Richard Nixon’s Watergate never happened and he served 5 terms, we won the Vietnam War and it is now a US State. Robert Redford became president. HBO’s series takes this beginning and moves forward twenty years in this alternate universe. Before it does, however, Damon Lindelof opens up with a telling of the 1921 destruction of Black Wall Street, a racist massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma that had little coverage at the time due to papers that had sympathies for the KKK.
Lindelof’s telling is a brutal look at the city that will become the heart of HBO’s series. Fast forward to the current time in the HBO universe. The rise of a large scale white supremacist movement has taken hold in America, acting as a mob looking to undo changes made by President Redford — reparations — as well as put racists in charge.
The 1921 massacre was done because many KKK members feared the potential of black wealth at the time, thinking it could change the power dynamics in American business. In HBO’s Watchmen, Redfordations provided to balance the scales help undo some of the power divides. In the Tulsa envisioned by Lindelof, black community grows. Theater, business ownership, and presence on the police force rise.
This is all brought together with a fantastic performance by Regina King, a special police officer — with the look of a ninja warrior — who is tasked with tracking the white supremacy movement.
Regina King’s officer, Angela Abar, acts outside the lines as a vigilante, busting in doors without being told to do so, only on a hunch, “I got a nose for white supremacy, and he smells like bleach.”
The world built by HBO’s Watchmen is unique, with dialogue that is among Lindelof’s best. The complex storytelling may give a lot of HBO fans, who haven’t found something to latch onto since the end of Game of Thrones a new series that they can binge and share.
The alternate universe presented gives a unique look at a dark America, where things spun a very different direction.
And for the next few Sundays, HBO will welcome us into that world. I’ll break out the popcorn.