Watchmen’s latest episode teased once more the American “state” of Vietnam, implying a historical relationship that may impact the events of future episodes.
Events in the Watchmen graphic novel begin diverging from what we know as world history in 1960 with the birth of Doctor Manhattan. From that moment—when the atomic physicist Jonathan Osterman reappears in a godly, matter-bending blue form, following his incineration—history gets all wacky. Manhattan—like any good, well-behaved weapon—plays ball with the United States military, enters the Vietnam conflict, and forces a surrender by Vietcong and Chinese troops who basically bow down and worship him. The naked blue demigod then becomes a worldwide deterrent for nuclear war. He ensures the reelection of Richard Nixon. He even helps introduce electric power to automobiles.
Though we never learn the fate of the country following Manhattan’s intervention in the comics, the HBO series plays out the geopolitics in a pretty forward manner: Vietnam becomes a U.S. state. Because why not?
Watchmen protagonist Angela Abar (Regina King) is a U.S. citizen, born in Vietnam. She speaks Vietnamese and even owns a Vietnamese bakery, which serves as a front of sorts for her superhero lair.
Until last night, the connection ended here. Then we met Lady Trieu, a Vietnamese (which here carries a similar meaning to how we hear “Hawaiian”; with its own inherent history and culture, but still American through and through) entrepreneur, owner of Adrian Veidt’s former company, and force behind the “Millennium Clock.” In many ways, Trieu seems the successor to Veidt’s nefarious character in the comic: shady millionaire.
Later in the episode, Trieu’s daughter recites a dream in which she was in a village during an attack. The village was burned, and then men made her walk.
In a series that explores historical reparations (in the case of Will, the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 and its successive “Redfordations”), it’s not unlikely that the horrors of the Vietnam War have at least some bearing on Lady Trieu’s story—and plan. She mentions that her mother’s dying wish was for her not to leave Vietnam. So she “brought Vietnam to America” —in the form of greenery.
Her daughter’s statement “my feet still hurt [from walking]” seems to retain obvious double meaning; she is still a victim. Her mother’s response to the dream—“good”—implies something else: she is still not avenged. And when you think of how the war ended—Dr. Manhattan took matters into his own hands—well, it all sort of ties in from there, now doesn’t it.
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