Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Watchmen season 1, episode 6.
HBO's Watchmen brought back a classic idea from the comic - Nostalgia - but with a twist that turns it into something lethal. The series, created by Damon Lindelof, expands the complex mythology of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel by pushing the story 34 years later into present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, the sins of the past continue to haunt the superheroes of today, and that's just what happened to Detective Angela Abar AKA Sister Night (Regina King) when she literally confronted the memories of her grandfather Will Reeves AKA Hooded Justice (Louis Gossett, Jr.) thanks to ingesting Nostalgia, which is now not just a drug but a banned substance.
Nostalgia was introduced in the Watchmen comic and it was originally just a fragrance and a series of advertisements. Manufactured by Veidt Industries, Nostalgia was just one of the numerous products invented by Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias. Its purpose in Watchmen's universe was to evoke the longing for the "simpler and better" times of the past, which was a prevalent theme in Watchmen's 1985, an era where the United States and Soviet Union were marching in lockstep towards nuclear war. Veidt's Nostalgia TV commercials were accompanied by Nat King Cole's song "Unforgettable"; the silky ballad further elicited a longing for the past and better days. The Nostalgia commercial also played a prominent role in the opening scene of Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie and it provided the ironic background for the brutal battle between Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode) and Edward Blake AKA The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that ended with Blake's murder.
HBO's Watchmen has reinvented Nostalgia as something more dangerous than a pleasing perfume. Introduced as mysterious red pills that Will Reeves left behind for his granddaughter Angela, she ended up ingesting an entire vial of the drugs at the conclusion of Watchmen episode 5, "Little Fear of Lightning". In this week's episode, "This Extraordinary Being", Angela's life was in danger because of the lethal amount of Nostalgia she took; the drugs led her to experience Will's adulthood in the late 1930s and 1940s when he became a New York Police Officer and the racist hate crimes he survived that led him to become Hooded Justice, the first costumed superhero in Watchmen's universe. Luckily, Angela survived her overdose after Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), the trillionaire whose company created and sold Nostalgia, saved her life and pumped the Nostalgia out of Angela's system.
The Watchmen tie-in website Peteypedia offers much more information on Trieu Industries' version of Nostalgia, which was a popular product before it was taken off the market. After Lady Trieu purchased Adrian Veidt's corporation in 2012, her global conglomerate reinvented Nostalgia just as it did Veidt's pet cloning technology, which has become a popular industry - and the ability to never say a permanent goodbye to your pet ties into the concept of "nostalgia" in a different way. Lady Trieu continued to expand her vast fortune by taking old Ozymandias ideas and making them new - at least for a while, in Nostalgia's case, before it was banned.
Peteypedia contains a pamphlet for Trieu Industries' Nostalgia, what it does, what it's comprised of, and how it could be purchased, and it's easy to see how the product was abused. According to Trieu's product information, Nostalgia was intended to help people with anxiety, dementia, and psychic trauma - so it was also for those suffering from post-11/2 giant squid PTSD. Nostalgia is a "customized psychiatric compound" harvested from and tailored for a person's specific brain chemistry and each pill can contain 1-5 memories. It's not hard to see how such a seductive way to live in the past and experience your memories over and over again was abused. Further, taking too much Nostalgia can be lethal and so can ingesting someone else's Nostalgia.
Since it's a banned substance, it's clear Will Reeves acquired his supply of Nostalgia from Lady Trieu herself since they're working together. It's also likely Will's batch of Nostalgia was designed to be safe for Angela to digest since that's what he intended her to do - but Angela took the whole bottle at once and it nearly killed her. But now that Angela survived and knows the truth about Will Reeves, the question is what will she do about it next in Watchmen's final episodes?
Watchmen airs Sundays @ 9pm on HBO.