With HBO’s Watchmen, showrunner Damon Lindelof delivers an ambitious continuation of Alan Moore’s groundbreaking graphic novel. So far, we’ve seen a retelling of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, which the series used as a launching point to jump into 2019, where the white supremacist Seventh Kavalry spreads terror, and generational trauma unfolds on multiple fronts. The series’ plentiful comic-book references include squid rain and blue penises, and weekly questions still unfold. It’s time to break it all down.
Last week’s Watchmen episode ended with the well-executed revelation that Doctor Manhattan has been hiding out in Tulsa in the body of Cal Abar with amnesia after a nonexistent “accident.” Yes, Angela/Sister Knight has known about this for a decade, and Yahya Abdul Mateen II deserves a “well played” for only telling us that he and Angela had been “keeping up appearances, so to speak.” Oh, and Damon Lindelof remains quite a trickster for pulling this off. This left the series with a lot of explaining to do, much of which unfolded in Vietnam over beers between Angela Abar and Manhattan. The episode title, “A God Walked Into Abar,” doesn’t contain a spelling error (really, that title was registered with the Writer’s Guild and everything) since he literally walks into the body of Cal and takes Angela’s last name. I do have to say that Jon Osterman’s revelation that a decoy’s been hanging out on Mars while he’s been on Europa for decades is really something. As is the easy chemistry between these two.
Then there are his constant reminders that he can predict almost everything (because he’s impervious to time, and it’s all relative to him) but reveal nothing of true importance to Angela. God, that seems annoying. No wonder they broke up after six months. That rift led to the implantation of the amnesia-causing ring and confirmation that Doctor Manhattan is the one who imprisoned farty Adrian Veidt on Europa, but let’s dig into the questions that surfaced during this episode, shall we?
Did Angela Truly Cause The Chicken Or The Egg To Happen? Jon’s being a pain in the ass, but the mystery here is whether Angela inadvertently caused the death of Judd Crawford, and this aspect of the series is a fascinating one. I mean, we’re getting the relative form of time travel with less fuss but all of the messy benefits when Judd visits Will Reeves at the home of his late lover, Captain Metropolis. Jon simultaneously holds two conversations, one with Angela and one with Will, ten years apart. And that’s how Will learns (from Angela) who Judd is and about that skeleton in his closet. As we all know, Will ends up murdering Judd, so Angela freaks the hell out: “Did I start all this?” It’s a solid question, although Jon’s perspective is that the egg and chicken happened at the same time. (That’s such a Doctor Manhattan thing to say.) But one more thing to consider: Will previously cracked a joke about being Doctor Manhattan to Angela while knowing she was married to him, although she did not know at the time that he knew this information. Man, Hooded Justice doesn’t mess around.
Would This Season Have Been Complete Without Full-Frontal Manhattan In The Flesh? No freaking way. That’s not a mystery, but I can’t wait to see Laurie Blake’s exasperated reaction if she manages to surface from that Seventh Kavalry basement. She’ll realize that it’s no wonder she thought Cal was so “hot,” and she’ll be incensed that he never got her messages. I also think we cannot go without mentioning how great this “reunion” was between Adrian Veidt and Jon. We get to hear Mad Adrian ramble about nukes while Jon gave an aggravatingly rational response before Adrian executes Plan A, his 30-year dream to put Manhattan out of commission. However…
Why Did Ozymandias Fall For This Europa Business? Adrian Veidt’s widely referred to as the smartest man in the world, so why did he never stop to think that a prison planet might not be a fantastic idea? Yes, he initially found his desired “utopia” to be a paradise, just as Doctor Manhattan created it to be, but he must have known that he’d never be happy on a long-term basis with a bunch of yes-clones. He grew profoundly dissatisfied with their infinite love because he needs to stir sh*t up, and he needs to antagonize, and digging up swamp babies, growing them into adults, and launching them into the sky just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps Adrian’s short-sightedness can be explained away by his egotistical tendencies. He thinks Jon’s an idiot for asking him for help, and Adrian’s an arrogant bastard, but I’d still like a further explanation.
What Of The Horseshoe? This post-credits scene was pure madness with a tomato punishment and Adrian in his cell, reading a book that’s a nod to the graphic novel. Fogdancing was written by artist Max Shea, who’s also the artist of Tales of the Black Freighter, a Watchmen universe comic book that practically litters the background of Moore’s novel. Veidt imprisoned Shea, who then helped engineer the giant psychic squid hoax, so it’s all coming full circle in a manner of speaking.
Naturally, Adrian is sooo lonely and ranting about the “Big Black Daddy” who abandoned his creations. Well, the Game Warden leaves Adrian yet another anniversary cake, but this one contains a horseshoe. Earlier in the season, Adrian rejected a horseshoe because he didn’t want it (yet) — in retrospect, it now seems like he might think that a horseshoe is a message from Jon — but now it’s there, and Adrian gets to work on his cell floor. Is Jon actually trying to help Adrian escape, though? It’s also possible that Adrian has somehow managed to manipulate Jon by sending subtle messages to the clones, and perhaps this horseshoe is part of another Adrian plan.
How Is The Squid-Rain Still Falling With Adrian On Europa? At least we finally got confirmation that Adrian was manufacturing the “alien incursions” before being blipped over to Europa. We obviously didn’t hear jack about how that fabrication has regularly continued, but it’s gotta be Lady Trieu keeping up appearances to maintain world peace, “one cephalopod at a time.” Last week, a commenter speculated that she’s not only a devotee of Adrian and heavily inspired by his homicidal acts, but she might also be his daughter. This does seem like a plausible outcome, and maybe (given Lady Trieu’s affinity for elephants) Adrian mentioning that “a little elephant” told him that Jon was on Europa might be a hint, rather than a mere Easter egg from the graphic novel?
Where Is Doctor Manhattan Now? He’s been sucked into the Seventh Kavalry’s tachyon cannon, which they apparently used to teleport him somewhere. He knew this would happen and that they’re determined to destroy him, but at least he ate breakfast first? I don’t know why we needed another egg reference, but alright. A least we got a set-up for the moment when Angela suits up for battle, and Jon could declare that he’s finally fallen in love with her (Angela’s response is on point). Seeing these two obliterate 7K members was righteous, even if they couldn’t stop the inevitable from happening. Where does the portal end? I can’t envision this having anything to do with Lady Trieu, who expressed distaste for white supremacists. Also, Trieu is allied with Will, who would certainly not align himself with a friend of Cyclops. I can only hope that Jon’s able to face off with James Wolk’s senator in a basement before reinforcements arrive.
Looking Glass Needs To Show Up Again, Right? Yes, my dream ending would involve Looking Glass popping up to help save the world. We didn’t hear how he (apparently) managed to kill those Kavalry members who ambushed him at home, but Wade’s got decades of trauma stored up that could propel him into action. Also, he’s a preparer, so he may have had plans in place for such an infiltration. I do think that Wade deserves to score a win while fighting alongside Angela (and he owes her one, but his overall goodness is more of an indicator) and Will. Oh yes, Will is back in Tulsa! Perhaps Adrian also will make his way back to earth in time for the big showdown. God only knows if he’ll pick a side or simply dash through fields wearing a maniacal grin. Maybe he’ll fall in love with Lube Man? It’s almost season finale time, y’all.
HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ airs on Sunday nights at 9pm EST.