Study Guide

Watchmen Chapter V

By Alan Moore

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Chapter V

Fearful Symmetry

  • Rorschach pays Moloch another visit, and sweats old pointy-ears by stuffing him in the fridge. Our masked detective asks again about the cancer list, but can’t shake anything loose.
  • Back on the gritty sidewalks of New York, we take a look through Rorschach’s journal, from October 21st, 1985.
  • Then we cut to the two detectives from Watchmen’s opening scene. Their new case? A father worried about nuclear war has murdered his two daughters.
  • Welcome to Bleak Street, population: everybody.
  • From one couple to another, we’re at the newsstand, where the next issue of the New Frontiersman is delayed.
  • In the world of T.B.F. the marooned sailor heads to Davidstown to save his family before the undead pirates of the Black Freighter get their hands on them.
  • So naturally, he has to fashion a raft out of palm trees and the bloated bodies of his old crewmates. Yuk.
  • Then again, there’s always enough raw seagull to eat. Yum.
  • Cut to the Gunga Diner, as Dan Dreiberg invites Laurie Jupiter to stay with him until she’s back on her feet.
  • And now, we return to Rorschach’s journal from the same day. Sometimes we can’t help but wonder if Alan Moore’s main goal is to mess with our heads.
  • Rorschach witnesses Dan and Laurie exiting the diner, but can’t make heads or tails of it.
  • Back at the newsstand, the older half of the Odd Couple worries about World War III, and the younger half heads deeper into T.B.F. Riding along on his corpse raft, the marooned sailor no longer recognizes his reflection in the water.
  • The scene shifts to Adrian Veidt’s office. He waxes on about ancient Egyptians not fearing death, when a gunman jumps out and tries to assassinate him.
  • Veidt foils the attack, but the gunman swallows a cyanide pill before Veidt has a chance to interrogate.
  • We return to the newsstand couple where the older half stresses out about the attempt on Veidt’s life and the younger half keeps reading T.B.F. Now, the marooned sailor has sharks on his tail.
  • Back to Rorschach’s journal; it’s still Oct. 21st. Moloch has sent a note to Rorschach, saying they need to meet, pronto.
  • Our super-gumshoe dons his black and white mask; he considers it his true face. En route, he foils an attempted rape, and dispenses justice.
  • The body count rises.
  • We move to casa de Dreiberg. Dan shows Laurie her room, and you could cut the sexual tension with a butter knife.
  • Cut to the newsstand, for more T.B.F. The marooned sailor blinds a shark with the raft’s mast-turned-spear. The shark pulls him along, until it stops swimming and dies. Dinner time.
  • The older half helps a taxi cab driver set up her poster: a benefit concert for G.W.A.R. (Gay Women Against Rape… not these guys).
  • At the police station, the two detectives sense that society’s on the verge of collapse. An anonymous tipster calls to set up Rorschach, although for what crime and why, we don’t yet know.
  • Rorschach enters Moloch’s apartment, looking for answers. The only thing Moloch has to share is a seeping bullet hole to the head.
  • The murder weapon is right next to him on the ground. Even better, the NYPD—SWAT team included—is waiting outside.
  • The innocent Rorschach never surrenders. Instead, he rigs a hairspray blowtorch and makes a run for it. Eventually, the police catch him, rip off his mask, and take Rorschach into custody. What the shmoop? Can it be? Rorschach is the redheaded doomsayer from the newsstand.
  • Chapter Postscript: Tyger, Tyger / burning bright, / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry? –William Blake

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