“The uniform a man wears changes him. Make sure the uniform you wear changes you for the better.”
The opening sequence is part of an episode of American Hero Story. Hooded Justice is being questioned by two detectives. They want him to take the hood off so they can take a picture of him to use as blackmail. They want him to steal some photos that his lover, Captain Metropolis has that show Metropolis with J. Edgar Hoover! HJ takes off the hood to reveal a very “pretty” white man. But HJ isn’t playing their game. He proceeds to beat them to death.
Well, this episode was simply amazing! Director Stephen Williams does a masterful job creating a dreamscape of Will’s memories where Will is played sometimes by Regina King and mostly by Jovan Adepo, also another cast member from Lindelof’s The Leftovers. The black and white photography, the editing, the music, the acting, the directing are all masterful and I expect many Emmy nominations for this episode alone. It simply can’t be described. You need to experience it. But here’s a humble recap anyways.
Angela has downed most of the bottle of Will’s Nostalgia pills and goes for a little ride. Lori tries to get her to tell her where Will is before she is overtaken by the pills and fails. Soon Angela is seeing a man drumming in her cell and a woman playing piano. What follows is not only Will’s backstory but the origin story of Hooded Justice because will and HJ are one and the same.
“You are an angry man, Will Reeves” June
Will has moved to New York city with his wife June, who was the baby girl wrapped in an American Flag that Will saved when he was a boy in the Tulsa massacre aftermath. Will becomes a cop, inspired by the hero from his favorite film Trust In The Law about Bass Reeves, the black marshall of Oklahoma. But in the real world he is not wanted by his fellow cops who moonlight as klansmen. When he graduates the academy, the white chief skips him in the line and he is instead welcomed by the famous black lieutenant, Battle, who shispers in his ear, “Beware of the Cyclops”.
When Will arrests a white man who tosses a molotov cocktail in a shop owened by Jews he quickly is taught a harsh lesson. Some of his fellow cops take him out of town, put a hood on his head and a noose around his neck and strings him up from a tree. The POV shot during this is horrifying. They cut him down, only meaning to scare him. He wanders back into town, the noose still around his neck, he hears screaming coming from an alley. A white couple are being attacked by three white men. Will puts the hood back on and proceeds to save the couple.
When he gets home June tends to him and the next morning his heroism is all over the papers. June tells him, “You aren’t going to get justice with a badge, Will Reeves, you’re going to get it with that hood. And if you’re going to stay a hero, townsfolk are going to have to think one of their own is under it? So he applies make up around his eyes to make him look white and goes out wearing the hood and the noose and becomes the first hooded vigilante.
At one point, Will/Angela freezes in mid air as she jumps through a window. Lori has given her a sedative to slow down the effects of the Nostalgia and brings in her husband, Cal, to try to break through to her and bring her back but it doesn’t work, she keeps reliving Will’s memories. Will is visited by Nelson Gardner who says he represents Captain Metropolis. There are several people who have been inspited to become masked crime fighters like the famous Hooded Justice. They’re forming a group calling themselves ‘The New Minutemen” and they want HJ to join. June is against it but Will still wants to find the Cyclops and he’ll need help which he won’t get from his fellow policemen.
Of course, Nelson Gardner IS Captain Metropolis and he and HJ become lovers. I now see that, what I thought was porn that Wade was watching in Episode 5 was actually an episode of American Hero Story. However, it seems that Captain Metropolis isn’t much interested in fighting Will’s war. When violence breaks out a movie theater in Harlem, Will discovers that the KKK are behind it and are using a special strobe machine that hypnotizes people into making them susceptible to suggestion.
Will calls Nelson to assemble the Minutemen but Nelson refuses. Will runs into that same old white guy that he arrested at the beginning of the episode and that he encounters mid way through, running a store that doubles as a cover for a KKK outpost. He learns that the big warehouse nearby is his and decides to take matters into his own hands without any help. He shoots him in the head then proceeds into the warehouse and kills everyone in it. He saves the strobe machine, piles the dead bodies to form a pyre and sets the place aflame. As he stands outside watching it, it reminds him of watching Tulsa burn when he was five.
When he gets home he finds his son applying the white makeup around his eyes and wearing the noose around his neck. He just wanted to be like daddy but Will flies into a rage and starts wiping the make up off his son’s face, scaring the boy. June swoops in and has had enough. She’s moving back to Tulsa with her son.
We finally see what happened to Judd. Will used the mind controlling technique on him to make him hang himself. He used a flashlight sized strobe to hypnotize Judd. Judd was lucid for a minute, long enough to say that the KKK outfit in his closet belonged to his father, just as Wade suspected. Why Will wanted him dead, i’m not sure. Perhaps Judd’s great grandfather was sherrif in Tulsa in 1921? Or he’d run across Judd at some point that we haven’t seen yet.
June wakes up, a tube in her arm, apparently providing some life saving medicine and Lady Trieu watching over her. How did she get there? Where’s Lori? What does Angela think about her grandfather now?
Jovan Adepo played Regina King’s son in The Leftovers.
Hooded Justice’s back story was not included in the original Watchmen graphic novel so Lindelof had wiggle room to play with his origin story.
Lt. Battle was a real person! And was the first black lieutenant on the New York police force.
Interesting how Will is shown having relationships with men and women and not a whole lot of commentary about it. It’s just how he was. The director, Stephen Williams, says they considered Will, ‘sexually fluid’
The book that the KKK learned their mind controlling technique from is called Mesmerism for The Masses written by WC Florentine. Will we meet this person I wonder?
5 THINGS I THINK I KNOW
1 Will and Lady Trieu’s plan will use the mind controlling technique using the Millennium Clock.
2 Lady Trieu is rejuvenating Will with one of her transfusions.
3 Angela’s parents were killed in Vietnam by The Comedian, her father.
4 Lube Man must make a return appearance!
5 Veidt will escape his prison and will meet Wade.