WARNING: The following contains spoilers for "She Was Killed By Space Junk," the third episode of Watchmen, which premiered Sunday on HBO.
The world of Watchmen has never been kind to costumed vigilantes, as readers of the comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons well know. Thirty-four years after the events of the source material, they remained outlawed. And this week's episode of HBO's sequel opens with a demonstration of what happens to those who remain active -- even one modeled after perhaps the most famous vigilante of all: Batman.
Long story short, the FBI makes quick work of this ill-equipped Caped Crusader.
THE MAN IN THE MASK
In "She Was Killed By Space Junk," Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) calmly walks into a bank, only to pull out a gun, fire into the air, and demand the teller hand over the money from the drawer. That's when a mysterious man in a black costume arrives in a cloud of smoke, determined to save the day. He defeats one of the apparent robbers using martial arts, and then uses bolas and a taser gun to incapacitate two others. With only Laurie left standing, and now holding a hostage, the man in black speaks in a deep growl and orders her to let the woman go.
That's when Laurie casually reveals that the FBI, which had anonymously tipped off the vigilante to the robbery, actually laid this trap. The downed criminals are revealed to have been other agents, wearing body armor; the bank customers and employees then pull out their badges to identity themselves. Realizing he's been caught, the vigilante tries to escape, but Laurie coolly empties her gun into his back, sending him tumbling through a glass door and crashing to the ground. He's promptly taken into custody and loaded into an ambulance, his armor having stopped the bullets but nevertheless left him injured.
BAD DAY FOR BATMAN
He's an obvious stand-in for Batman, with the scene serving as a demonstration of what might happen to a "real" Dark Knight in this world. The bank evokes the one targeted in the opening heist from Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. The vigilante's voice is even a parody of Christian Bale's Batman growl. However, upon realizing he's fallen into a trap, the vigilante drops the affectation and instead whispers "Shit!" in a notably higher register before turning tail. He's later described as just some "rich asshole."
It's apparent, however, that the rest of the city sees something different. The crowd that gathered around the arrest is supportive of the vigilante. Someone even asks Laurie why they'd be willing to go through so much effort to catch someone whom the people view as a hero. But Laurie, who was once the costumed vigilante known as Silk Spectre, calls the vigilante nothing more than a joke.
From the hardened, largely cynical perspective of Laurie Blake, Batman would probably just be another bad punchline. In the Watchmen universe, there are no Jokers or Ridders. The only super-powered being lives on Mars (supposedly), so in her eyes the Dark Knight would be just another idiot in a cape.
Developed by Damon Lindelof, HBO's Watchmen stars Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith and Adelynn Spoon. The series airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.