The Best Character on the HBO Watchmen Series is Jean Smart’s Laurie Blake
The first two episodes introduced audiences to the Tulsa, Oklahoma (and the people who live in it) of the Watchmen world. This, of course, makes sense because it’s an alternate present in a United States that never developed internet or cell phones, but has flying Owl-cars. Yet, we get a glimpse of the wider world of HBO Watchmen thanks to FBI Agent Laurie Blake, played by the spectacular Jean Smart. She is both a familiar and foreign character to fans throughout the history of the Watchmen books, movie, and series. Born Laurie Juspeczyk, daughter of the original Silk Spectre, she left her vigilante ways behind, took her father’s last name, and now fights people in costumes. Jean Smart’s performance is amazing, only adding to the fact that Laurie Blake is the best character on the HBO Watchmen series.
There are light spoilers about the third episode of Watchmen below, but mostly backstory for the character and things revealed during marketing. Also, we talk about the worst-kept secret of the show: Who Jeremy Irons’ character actually is.
Who is Laurie Blake?
Image via DC Comics
Laurie Blake is the only female superhero in the second iteration of the Minutemen, the costumed hero group formed in the graphic novels. She was trained from a young age to be a costumed adventurer by her mother Sally. She didn’t want to give up being a hero but had to because she ended up pregnant with Laurie. So, in order to keep her legacy alive, she encouraged her daughter to take up her mantle. Laurie didn’t hide her identity like the others did, and when costumed heroes became outlaws she could have been in trouble. Yet, she happened to be in a relationship with Doctor Manhattan, and thus lived under the government’s (and his) protection.
Since the HBO Watchmen series takes place after the graphic novel, at some point she started going by Laurie Blake. Why she took on her father’s last name is not something we yet know, but it will almost certainly come up in the show. It appears that Laurie will be the character from the graphic novels we’ll spend the most time with over the next six hours of the series.
What’s Happened to Laurie Blake Since the Graphic Novel and Watchmen on HBO
Image via HBO
One of the last scenes in the Watchmen graphic novel shows Laurie and Dan Dreiberg, also Nite Owl, meeting with Laurie’s mother. The two women reconcile their personal issues, specifically her complicated relationship with her father, Edward Blake the Comedian. They changed their looks and their names. But they planned to continue adventuring, even though it’s illegal. From a conversation Laurie Blake has in the opening of the third episode of Watchmen on HBO, we can infer how that turned out for them.
We don’t know when Laurie went back to using her real first name nor when she adopted her father’s last name. We also don’t know how she ended up working on the anti-vigilante task force in the FBI. Yet, when Senator Joe Keene, Jr., played with equal parts charm and menace by James Wolk, asks for her to go to Tulsa, we do get some information. After a hard day at work catching a not-Batman vigilante, Laurie returns to her Washington, D.C. apartment. In her living room, she keeps two things of note. The first is a print of the Andy Warhol Minutemen painting we saw in the comic. The second is a cage containing an owl named “Who.”
When Laurie suggests that Keene only cares about what’s happening in Tulsa because he wants to be President, he doesn’t deny it. Instead he reminds her that Presidents can pardon people, and her “owl” could be let out of his “cage.” This suggests that Dan ended up arrested and imprisoned for their post-graphic novel adventuring. Somehow, Laurie escaped that fate. So, while she’s motivated to help him, we also see that she still misses Jon Osterman, Doctor Manhattan.
Why HBO Needed Laurie Blake in Watchmen
Image via HBO
As we noted in the review of the series premiere of Watchmen, the show is excellent, but it felt disconnected from the source material. The show needed some kind of connective tissue to the graphic novel beyond the legacy of Rorschach as a figurehead for white supremacists. Laurie Blake is the kind of character the HBO Watchmen series needed to make that happen. She is involved in the current drama, but she knew all these people that keep getting mentioned. (And if Lou Gossett, Jr. really is Hooded Justice, that will make for an incredibly interesting scene when they meet.) This stuff isn’t theoretical to her, it’s her life.
Part of me wishes that Jean Smart’s character appeared in the pilot. The delayed reveal makes sense. It gives us two hours to care about and be interested these new characters. Yet, the addition of Laurie Blake is what makes this compelling HBO drama really Watchmen. She is arguably the most interesting character in the graphic novel. She’s definitely going to be the most interesting character in the show. Her single scene so far with Regina King’s Angela Abar was magical. These two tough-as-nails women are at loggerheads, and audiences don’t even know who to root for.
Two of the Minutemen for the Price of One?
Image via screengrab
Of course, Laurie Blake wasn’t the only principal character from the books in the HBO Watchmen series. The third episode revealed that Jeremy Irons is indeed playing Adrian Veidt. Though we only see him in short, strange asides that each episode. The last we see of him this week saw him donning his iconic Ozymandias costume, complete with purple domino mask. His storyline seems utterly disconnected from the larger narrative. He’s writing plays, celebrating anniversaries, and making plays with a strange assortment of what we can only assume are clones. He’s also at odds with a masked Game Warden, who took exception to him shooting a bison.
In interviews leading up to the series premiere, show creator Damon Lindelof revealed that all of Jeremy Irons’ scenes were shot first. This means that he is unlikely to appear in any scenes with Laurie or the new characters. The writer and executive producer did promise that the Veidt Vignettes will eventually tie-in to the larger story. And while the show was not at all subtle about who Irons’ character was, it’s officially official now.
What do you think of the HBO Watchmen, and do you love Laurie Blake as much as we do? Let us know your thoughts, theories, or reactions to the show in the comments below. Tick, and I cannot stress this enough, Tock.
Featured image via HBO
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.