Jean Smart's 'Watchmen' Character Has Changed A Lot Since Her Silk Spectre II Days
Spoilers for Watchmen ahead! Even though she probably won't be donning her costume any time soon, Jean Smart is playing Silk Spectre II on Watchmen, the superhero from the comics that Malin Akerman played in Zack Snyder's 2009 film. To date, this is the most direct connection that the HBO series has to the original story. She goes by Agent Laurie Blake now, but her vigilante past is out there for all to see.
In Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen graphic novel, Laurie Juspeczyk/Jupiter is the costumed hero "Silk Spectre II" on the Watchmen team of supers. Her mother Sally Juspeczyk/Jupiter held the original Silk Spectre title in the universe's first superhero team: the Minutemen, and per her mother's wishes, Laurie went into the family hero business. The Watchmen comic begins with the death of a vigilante called The Comedian, aka Eddie Blake, who is ultimately revealed to be Laurie's father.
While there's more to Laurie's story than romance, she is involved in somewhat of a love triangle in Watchmen that may come up on the HBO series. Laurie started dating Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl in 1985 after her previous love interest, Dr. Manhattan, left for Mars. If there are any X-Men fans out there, it's not unlike the love triangle that exists between Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Wolverine. One man is immortal and aloof, and the other, well, wears goggles.
Smart does not appear in the first two episodes, but HBO's supplemental material site for Watchmen "Peteypedia" has already revealed a little more about what Laurie has been up to:
- As far as Agent Dale Petey knows, she has not officially commented on how American Hero Story: Minutemen depicts her parents.
- She started going by "The Comedienne" after her father.
- She doesn't read her FBI memos.
- She's not a fan of the Werthem Spectrum Tool, which appears to be some way to classify and diagnose costumed adventurers.
- She was arrested with Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl, in 1995 for violating the Keene Act.
Re-naming herself, first with the surname Blake and then as The Comedienne, is especially curious given what happens in the comics. At a young age, Laurie learns that her mother was sexually assaulted by Eddie. When Laurie first meets Blake as a teenager, Sally doesn't want him anywhere near her daughter. Sally doesn't tell Laurie who he is, just what he did to her. (Before she learned the truth about Blake, Laurie actually grew up suspecting that her father was a different member of the Minutemen, Hooded Justice — who may or may not be that man in the wheelchair on the HBO series.)
When Laurie confronts Sally about Blake being her father at the end of the graphic novel, the conversation takes an unexpected turn. "I'm so sorry," Sally begins by saying, "what must you think? It was just an afternoon, in summer. He stopped by. I tried to be angry but... I mean, I never wanted you to know. I should have told you but... I don't know, I just felt ashamed, I felt stupid, and..."
Laurie then cuts her off, saying that "people's lives take them strange places. They do strange things, and well sometimes the can't talk about them. I know how that is." Then, when Laurie leaves, Sally kisses Blake's face in a group photo. It has been implied, in the Before Watchmen: Minutemen limited series that Sally and Blake had a consensual affair later in life — but Sally could also have been telling her daughter that she was conceived by rape and just kissing her memory of the Minutemen. Watchmen is murky and morally complicated, it never plainly confirmed the nature of their sexual encounters either way.
It'll be interesting to see how this backstory is addressed in 2019 from a diverse writer's room in the #MeToo era. We've seen how the world created by Moore and Gibbons has progressed on the HBO series, but Laurie Jupiter can ground it in a way that other characters can't.