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"There are people who believe this world is fair and good. That it's all lollipops and rainbows. I remember what happened to my parents. You remember what happened to your parents. You and me, Topher, we don't do lollipops an rainbows because we know those are just pretty colors that just hide what the world is really is. Black and white."

—Angela to Topher in trying to explain Judd's death

"Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship" is the second episode in the first season of HBO's Watchmen, and second episode overall. It aired on October 27, 2019.


As Angela relives haunting memories of an attack on her family, she detains a mysterious man who claims responsibility for Tulsa's most recent murder. Elsewhere, an original play is performed for an audience of one.


During World War I, a German kommandant recruits an English-fluent woman referred to as Fraulein Mueller from a typing pool. In his office, the kommandant dictates a propaganda message aimed at disaffected African-American troops, encouraging them to defect to the German side. The message is made into a leaflet distributed by airdrop over O.B. Williams's army unit. This message strikes a chord with O.B., who keeps the leaflet after the war. A century later, his aged son Will holds the leaflet -- with the message "WATCH OVER THIS BOY" written on the back -- as he sits next to Judd Crawford's hanging body and is approached by Angela Abar.

In present day, Angela takes Will from the crime scene and brings him to her bakery, where she handcuffs him to a railing in the kitchen. She changes into her Sister Night costume in the basement, but not before she vents her anger and sadness over Judd's death. Under Angela's questioning, Will claims that he killed and strung up Judd, stating that he has psychic powers. He further claims that Judd had "skeletons in his closet" and was part of an "insidious conspiracy" in Tulsa. When Angela demands to know Will's name, he initially claims to be Doctor Manhattan before admitting that his name is Will. Angela manages to disprove Will's claims of being psychic when she challenges him to use his powers to move his bottle of pills. She receives a phone call telling her what she already knows about Judd. She bags a coffee mug Will has been drinking from for DNA testing. Will is left in the bakery while Angela drives back to the crime scene. Outside the bakery, a news vendor talks about the recent squidfall with a delivery man and trades a large stack of newspapers with a young customer.

At the crime scene, Angela finds herself being questioned by Looking Glass, who asks about her and Judd's movements the previous night. Angela asks him if Judd suffered and, he says rather bluntly that he did. He goes onto say that an intramuscular hemorrhage, fractured skeleton, and ligature marks are all consistent with violent asphyxiation. Both of his palms had rope burns, and he had fibers in his fingernails. In short, he was alive the whole time... Until he wasn't. Angela calls Looking Glass a cold, to which he replies by saying "then why am I crying under here?". As they are bringing down the Chief's body, Angela hugs onto Judd's body tightly, and her thoughts go back to Christmas Eve of 2016, when she and Cal were attacked in their home by Seventh Kavalry gunmen. Angela managed to fatally stab the gunman, only to be shot by another Kavalryman and fallen into unconsciousness. Angela came to in the hospital with a bandaged Judd at her bedside, who informed her that her partner Doyle and his wife Ginny were murdered in what the press has dubbed the "White Night". Their children -- Topher, Emma, and Rosie -- survived the attack because Christopher heard the gunshots, and took his sister, and the baby and hid them all in the closet. She says that whoever is left needs to round up those racist, Judd tells her that there's nobody left. He goes onto to say that the entire force knows that the Kavalry had their names and addresses. So they're all resigning. Angela says she is not quitting. So Judd tells her he won't quit either.

Back in the present, a pair of paparazzi wearing mechanical wings are shot down and restrained by the cops. An angry Red Scare assumes that the Kavalry is responsible for Judd's murder and commandeers a group of masked cops to confront the residents of Nixonville, threatening to tear down the encampment's statue of former U.S. president Richard Nixon unless they give up the killer. The scene descends into chaos as the cops beat and round up Nixonville residents. Despite thinking that Red Scare's tactics are excessive, Angela protects Looking Glass from an attack and beats the assailant to a bloody pulp.

To have Will's DNA tested outside official channels, Angela goes to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage, where testing machines have been set up to determine reparation eligibility for descendants of victims of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. She takes a swab of Will's DNA from the coffee mug and submits it to the machine. When she returns home, she finds a man named Andy -- the paternal grandfather of her adopted children -- sitting on her porch, demanding to see them. Angela hands Andy a check to make him go away. Inside, Cal, who has been playing with Emma and Rosie, asks Angela if their family is safe in the wake of Judd's murder. Upstairs, Angela breaks the bad news to Topher, who volunteers to inform his sisters himself. Later that night, as Angela leaves the house, Topher and Cal are watching the premiere of the second season of the TV series American Hero Story, which dramatizes the Minutemen and the life of the first costumed adventurer, Hooded Justice. The first episode starts off by saying that The Federal Communications Commission has determined that the following content may be emotionally harmful. The announcer advises the viewers that young children should not view this content under any circumstances, even if they are being supervised by a parent or guardian. Moreover, the views and opinions expressed, including the depictions of persons of color, and members of the LGBTQA+ community do not reflect any official policy or position of the U.S. government. In addition, that this aforementioned program contains graphic language, violence, nudity, misogyny, racism, antisemitism, hate crimes, and depictions of sexual assault.

On American Hero Story, Hooded Justice says that the body of Rolf Müller isn't his. In the following recreation, masked men rob a grocery store, and they tell the cashier to blow the safe or they'll kill a hostage. Hooded Justice jumps in through the window and kills the robbers.

Angela drives to the Crawford residence, where a wake for Judd is being held. There, Angela greets Judd's widow Jane and meets Joe Keene, a conservative U.S. senator who is running for president to succeed President Robert Redford. Keene breaks protocol and publicly addresses Angela as a cop. She feigns a fainting spell so that she can be moved to the Crawfords' bedroom upstairs. She assures Jane that she will work diligently to find Judd's killers. Once she is left alone, Angela uses a pair of X-ray goggles to examine the bedroom. She finds a hidden room in Judd's closet and is shocked to discover that it contains a white Klansman's robe. Angela takes the robe and discreetly leaves the house.

At the castle, the Lord of the Country Manor rides his horse and eats from a tomato grown on a tree. Inside, he rushes through the customary "anniversary" party, eager to prepare for the first performance of his play The Watchmaker's Son. Phillips asks for Lord's watch, needing it as a prop. The first act of the play is a reenactment of Jon Osterman's accident, with Phillips playing Osterman and Crookshanks playing Janey Slater. When Phillips is locked in a chamber that represents the intrinsic field generator, the Lord triggers a plunger detonator which incinerates Phillips inside the chamber. A naked performer wearing full-body makeup, playing Doctor Manhattan, is lowered onto the stage and repeats the line, "Nothing ever ends." After the performance concludes, the lord climbs onstage and commends Crookshanks and his stagehands, who are all revealed to be identical male and female clones. Before Phillips' body is taken elsewhere, the Lord removes the damages watch from his hands and promotes one of the male stagehand clones as the new "Mr. Phillips".

Angela returns to the bakery and confronts Will, who has somehow gotten out of his handcuffs and is cooking hard-boiled eggs. Will expressed surprise when Angela shows him Judd's Klan robe. Angela prepares to arrest him, but Will tells her that he has "friends in high places." Angela receives an automated phone call delivering the results of the DNA test: not only is Will a victim of the Tulsa race massacre, but he also has two living descendants -- including Angela herself, his granddaughter. After Angela wheels Will out to her car and places him inside, an unidentified aircraft uses a large industrial magnet to take it -- and him -- away.


Main Cast

Guest Starring


  • Danny Boyd, Jr. as Young Will Reeves
  • Henry Louis Gates as Skip Gates
  • Steven G. Norfleet as O.B. Williams
  • Miles Doleac as German Officer
  • Annika Pampel as Fräulein Mueller
  • Christian Robinson as Delivery Guy
  • Jim Braswell as Singer
  • Brian Stapf as Tattooed Man
  • Luke David Blumm as Newspaper Boy
  • Ryan Czerwonko as Ringleader
  • Vince Pisani as Cashier
  • Tevin Marbeth as Soldier
  • Kate Kovach as Dame
  • Faye Yvette McQueen as Fashionable Lady
  • Moses J. Moseley as Usher


Promotional stills






  • The episode title “Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship” refers to a 1834 painting by George Catlin originally called "Comanche Feats of Horsemanship" that’s seen in Judd Crawford's home. It’s all about the craft a young rider displays in avoiding an attack by an opposing force by sliding down the side of his horse, effectively outmaneuvering a fatal blow. However, the words have been mixed around.
  • In the opening scene, a World War I German military officer dictates a propaganda letter to an English-speaking typist with the surname "Mueller." Later in the episode, the opening scene of the season premiere of American Hero Story: Minutemen features the corpse of a German circus strongman named Rolf Müller washed ashore with a bullet in the back of his head and that he's erroneously believed to be Hooded Justice. Supplementary material in the original comic series reveal that Hollis Mason and others suspected that Müller was Hooded Justice due to similarity in physical built and the fact that they both disappeared around the same time. In American Hero Story, the narrator, who is supposed to be a fictionalized version of Hooded Justice, states that Müller isn't the real HJ, he just had to make the world think he is him. In any case, the masked vigilante's true identity remains a mystery. Though it's unknown if Müller was related to the German typist due to the similar surnames (Mueller is a variant spelling of Müller).
  • Will Reeves taunts Angela Abar by implying that he's Doctor Manhattan, only for Abar to insist that he "can't look like us." Manhattan's powers make him nigh-omnipotent, but although he can change his skin tone to be a darker blue, he apparently isn't a shape-shifting master of disguise.
  • When Angela Abar drives away from her bakery, she passes by some street art known as the Hiroshima Lovers, a silhouette of two people embracing, and an almost identical work of art that appeared throughout the original series, where it was a frequently seen graffiti tag in New York City. Rorschach didn't like it, while his ill-fated psychiatrist Malcolm Long likened it to the silhouette of victims of the atomic bomb, dubbing the pair "Hiroshima Lovers." In the comic, they're symbolic of the imminent nuclear/squid disaster.
  • Because print media isn't dead in the pre-Internet world of Watchmen, there is a booming newsstand called Mister News run by a man named Seymour that sells a variety of newspapers and magazines including both Nova Express and the New Frontiersman. The newsstand and its jovial assortment of workers and patrons generally echos Bernard's newsstand from the original series.
  • The headline in the latest edition of the New Frontiersman reads "Global Squidfalls Baffle Scientists," which further shows the scope and scale of those squid rains that were seen in the first episode.
  • Senator Joe Keene, the son of former senator J. David Keene — the man responsible for the Keene Act of 1977, which outlawed costumed adventurers — is making a run for the nation's highest office now that Robert Redford won't be running for another term.
  • During the flashback to the White Night, Cal Abar, who is eager to open his Christmas presents, mentions that it's two minutes to midnight. This is a clear allusion to the Doomsday Clock, a real-life metaphor for how close humanity is man-made global catastrophe. The more minutes away from midnight the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists think we are, the less likely global catastrophe is. The Doomsday Clock was an important symbol in the original series, as a clock on the cover of all twelve issues gradually counting down the minutes until disaster.
  • The face of the Abars' clock looks a bit like Doctor Manhattan's symbol, the atomic structure of hydrogen.
  • In the real world, Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Harvard University professor and a prominent scholar and literary critic, specializing in African-American history and culture. He's also the host of PBS's Finding Your Roots. In Watchmen, Gates is Robert Redford's Secretary of Treasury and the digital greeter at the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage.
  • When Cal Abar is playing with the younger kids, one is dressed up as an owl (another Nite Owl reference) while the other is a pirate. In Watchmen, pirate comics are a popular genre (whereas superhero comics aren't as interesting when there are real-life superheroes everywhere), which is displayed in the comic within a comic, Tales of the Black Freighter.
  • Topher Abar is playing with a very complex, levitating building toy that the box reveals are called Magna-Hattan Blocks, presumably inspired by Doctor Manhattan's abilities.
  • Topher Abar has a replica painting of Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory on his wall. The iconic surrealist painting is famed for its melting clocks, and clocks are a huge motif in Watchmen. The painting was also featured in Issue 4 of Watchmen hanging in the home that Jon Osterman and Janey Slater shared when they were dating.
  • When American Hero Story flashes back to 1938, a paperboy is holding a front page with a big headline about an alien invasion being a hoax. This is a reference to both Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds broadcast, which caused a minor panic when listeners in the New Jersey area thought the alien invasion was really happening and Ozymandias' squid attack on New York City.
  • The gratuitous violence and use of slow-motion in the American Hero Story segment is believed to be an allusion to Zack Snyder's film style in the 2009 film Watchmen.
  • Angela Abar is seen carrying a bouquet of red flowers to the Crawford house following Judd's death, which alludes to a moment early in the second issue of Watchmen when Laurie Juspeczyk brings her mother, Sally Jupiter, red flowers after the news of the Comedian's death breaks.
  • The reenactment of Doctor Manhattan's origin featured Richard Wagner's composition "Ride of the Valkyries". The Lord of the Country Manor makes use of “Ride of the Valkyries” in his play, The Watchmaker's Son, which serves as a two-fold reference to both the first issue of the comic as well as Zack Snyder's film adaptation during the Vietnam War flashback scene, which shows Doctor Manhattan obliterating Viet Cong soldiers with his godlike powers and the Comedian burning a enemy soldier alive with a flamethrower.
  • In an interview with TVLine, Tom Mison revealed that the penis from one of Phillips' clones, who plays Doctor Manhattan, belonged to a body double. He also wore a t-shirt with a picture of it to alert his neighbors in case they watched the episode.[1]
  • The flying photographers who try to capture pictures of the crime scene appeared to be using a version of Mothman’s bug-like wings, one of the original Minutemen. According to Before Watchmen: Minutemen, it's explained that Byron Lewis patented a variety of aviation technology, which made him a very wealthy man. Presumably, Lewis could've also patented his own Mothman wings as well.
  • Angela Abar’s investigation in the Crawford residence recalls Rorschach’s process of discovering Eddie Blake’s Comedian costume after his death.
  • When Angela Abar is digging around Judd Crawford's closet she's wearing night-vision goggles, which are another version of Nite Owl II's technology, much like the Owlship in the first episode. HBO's supplemental material revealed that the second Nite Owl was arrested after he and Laurie Juspeczyk attempted to make a return to costumed crimefighting in violation of the Keene Act. Even after his imprisonment, Dreiberg's technology is still being used by law enforcement agencies around the United States.
  • According to Peteypedia, Rorschach’s journal was largely ignored by the public, as it was published in the far-right publication New Frontiersman; Laurie Juspeczyk would join the FBI, eventually forgoing not only the Silk Spectre moniker but her last name too, instead taking up the name Laurie Blake and the title “The Comedienne” in honor of her late father; and after the events of the comic, Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) is in federal custody, where he refuses to speak about the events surrounding 11/2.
  • The play that Adrian Veidt writes, The Watchmaker's Son, is a reenactment of the accident that transformed Jon Osterman into Doctor Manhattan.
  • The line in the play "It's as impenetrable as the Gordian Knot itself!" is a reference to the legendary knot that was said to be impossible to untangle, but Alexander the Great solved the puzzle by simply cutting the knot apart with his sword. Adrian recounts this very story in the original series, and there's also a lock company called the Gordian Knot Lock Co., which was most likely a subsidiary of Veidt Enterprises.
  • The play concludes with the Crookshanks servant playing Janey Slater asking "Is this the end," and the Phillips servant playing Doctor Manhattan responds with "Nothing ends, Janey, Nothing ever ends." A somewhat forlorn-looking Adrian Veidt speaks the end of the quote aloud, as it's something that the real Doctor Manhattan told him in the final issue of Watchmen when Veidt asked if he did the right thing "in the end" by killing three million people to avert the World War III. Perhaps Veidt is all too aware of how true Manhattan's words were.


External links


ve Watchmen (TV series)
Season 1
01. It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice • 02. Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship • 03. She Was Killed by Space Junk • 04. If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own • 05. Little Fear of Lightning • 06. This Extraordinary Being • 07. An Almost Religious Awe • 08. A God Walks into Abar • 09. See How They Fly