Q: Into the Storm
Q: Into the Storm is a series that examines the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon that alleges there is a secret cabal of satan-worshipping, cannibalistic paedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against former United States president Donald Trump. Spanning three years and traversing the globe, the series investigates the movement as it grows in scope and political significance, chronicling its evolution in real time, revealing how “Q” used information warfare to game the internet, hijack politics, and manipulate people’s thinking. Filmmaker Cullen Hoback gains unprecedented access to key players in the spectacle, including Jim and Ron Watkins, the father/son team behind the 8chan website that “Q” calls home, and explores their rivalry with Fredrick Brennan, the original creator of the website. The series profiles “Q-tubers,” Q debunkers, political operatives, and journalists who have been closely following the movement since it began in 2017, showing connections between QAnon, President Trump, and political and ex-military operatives, as well as other various right-wing movements associated with 8chan, including “Gamergate” and “Pizzagate” that contextualises QAnon’s influence on culture and politics in the United States.
This opening episode sets out to demystify the origins of QAnon, understand its mechanics, and search for clues that could identify Q. Travelling from the United States to South Africa, filmmaker Cullen Hoback gains unprecedented access to the earliest promoters of the QAnon theories, that reveal a suspicious shift in Q’s behaviour.
Cullen travels to Manila where he meets the secretive team behind 8chan, the site where Q posts. After looking into Fred Brennan’s motives for starting the site, the investigation turns to Jim and Ron Watkins, the reclusive father/son duo who own and operate 8chan. Back in the United States, prominent QAnon promoters get booted from a far-right conference.
After QAnon supporters hope for a 2018 midterm “Red Wave,” an anonymous insider gives Cullen a tip suggesting 8chan’s owners may have connections to President Trump’s inner circle. Meanwhile, a feud emerges between Fred and the Watkins, who have severed ties.
After a series of mass shootings which 8chan has connections to, 8chan shuts down and Q goes dark. Jim is summoned to appear before Congress for a hearing on digital hate speech. Meanwhile, “new clues” suggest Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon might be involved with Q. Fred’s attacks escalate, as the “QArmy” begins organising in the real world.
As the rivalry between Fred and the Watkins intensifies, 8chan is relaunched as “8kun,” where Q re-emerges after months being offline. Meanwhile, ex-military and political operatives aim to tap the power of Q. Back in Manila, Jim slaps Fred with a lawsuit, forcing him to plan a great escape.
With the world in lockdown from COVID-19, Q’s wild theories draw in new followers and get amplified by major political figures—all of which culminate in the siege of the United States Capitol building. Reflecting on years of his collected evidence, Cullen draws conclusions on who is actually behind QAnon and ponders its future impact.