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'Watchmen' Episode 2 preview teaser: Is Will Reeves Hooded Justice?

The world teeters on the precipice of change, and not even the greatest costumed superheroes can stop it. That’s the tone of the original Watchmen comic, and it’s exactly what Damon Lindelof is going for in his HBO Watchmen series, if the trailer for the rest of Season 1 is any indication. Just like the source material, identity is shaping up to be a critical theme in the series, so who exactly is the mysterious elderly man trying to take credit for Episode 1’s biggest murder? One theory that gets support in a trailer for the rest of Watchmen Season 1 is that he’s a hero from the comic called Hooded Justice.

Spoilers follow for Watchmen Season 1, Episode 1.

Based on the Episode 1 cliffhanger of Captain Judd Crawford’s murder, it seems like this particular crime will be a focus of this story. An elderly Will Reeves was found sitting under the body in his wheelchair, admitting to the crime. But Detective Angela Abar remains skeptical in Sunday’s teaser trailer for the rest of Season 1.

“I’m the one who strung your chief of police up,” Reeves says when Abar asks. (Earlier in the episode, he asked her if he could lift 200 pounds. Now we know it was a dark piece of foreshadowing.) Reeves clarifies that he’s 105 years old, further confirmation that he is indeed the young boy from the episode’s opening scenes, set during the 1921 Tulsa race riots. But we didn’t need further confirmation when he still have the note from all those years ago, written by his father that said “watch over this boy.”

Will Reeves acts suspiciously from the very first moment we meet him.HBO

A new character, FBI Agent Laurie Blade, speaks with Senator Keene in another scene from the trailer. Despite most people assuming the Seventh Cavalry is responsible for Crawford’s death as a direct response to his raid on the house, Blade and Keene discuss the possibility that it’s someone else entirely. So Reeves’ legitimate involvement becomes that much more plausible. As a black man, it’s all but impossible for him to be involved with the Seventh Cavalry, a racist organization that functions like the neo-KKK in some ways.

“There’s a vast and insidious conspiracy at play,” Reeves says to Abar. We’re only just getting the faintest hints at what’s going on at large in this world, and the trailer offers flashes from what looks several upcoming episodes. Agent Blade, for instance, won’t be introduced until Episode 3.

The official plot summary for Episode 2 makes it seem like the next episode will focus on Angela’s interrogation of Will Reeves, while the play Jeremy Irons’ character wrote in Episode 1 is performed:

As Angela relives haunting memories of an attack on her family, she detains a mysterious man (Lou Gossett Jr.) who claims responsibility for Tulsa’s most recent murder. Elsewhere, an original play is performed for an audience of one.
Sister Night in the first episode of 'Watchmen'.HBO

We have no real sense of who Will Reeves is or how he’s connected to everything that’s going on. Yet a few key details imply he’s extremely important to the overall story.

In the very beginning of the series, a young Will watches a black-and-white Western film about Bass Reeves, a real-life black deputy U.S. marshal. Yes, they have the same last name. In the timeline of the show, Bass could be Will’s grandfather. But it’s also possible that once Will was orphaned, he chose the name Reeves. Worshipping a heroic lawman supports another huge theory about Will Reeves: that he’s Hooded Justice, a masked vigilante that was part of the Minutemen group from the original Watchmen.

Episode 1 included several teasers for an in-universe show called American Hero Story, which is all about the founding of the Minutemen. At the center of the story is a masked vigilante — one of the few whose real identity was never discovered — called Hooded Justice. He wears red pants and a cape, a black hood we could read as a symbolic inversion of a KKK hood, and ropes around his neck and limbs.

Hooded Justice bursts into a New York City store to fight some crime.HBO

There’s a brief flash of action from American Hero Story in the teaser for the upcoming episodes of Watchmen Season 1. In these sequences, and in the original Watchmen, we’re led to believe Hooded Justice is probably a white man. But we never really know for sure, so we can’t rule Reeves out. When the Minutemen are formed in the timeline of Watchmen, Reeves would have been in his mid-20s — his peak physical condition.

Will Reeves also wears a lot of red clothing in the present day, and considering he was found near a dead man hanging from a noose with the same style of rope as the Hooded Justice costume, Watchmen really wants us to think that Will Reeves could be Hooded Justice.

But is this just another case of misdirection and mistaken identity? We’ll learn more in the coming weeks, but for now, we should all be deeply suspicious of Reeves and pay close attention to American Hero Story.

Watchmen airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.

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