Watchmen Recap: There’s a Bit of Dr. Manhattan Inside All of Us

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Summary

Has there ever been a more expertly plotted debut season than what Watchmen has produced this year? This is carefully crafted, exceptionally executed, and seriously satisfying entertainment.

This recap of Watchmen Season 1, Episode 7, An Almost Religious Awe,” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


Last week I commented that the first season of the Watchmen is a departure, from what I have been told, from the series, and seems to be going to all-in with its strong debut season. I also flippantly wrote that I could only wonder what is going to happen next in the final two episodes. Well, boy, did I have no idea what I was in store for and did I forget what Damon Lindelof was capable of. Tonight’s episode, “An Almost Religous Awe” pulls a rabbit of its Lost shaped hat and exposes your own thoughtless limitations of what you think the almighty may look like because most people always associated it with the one who looks just like them.

You wouldn’t think the makers of HBO’s thoroughly engrossing Watchmen would double down or double-dip people’s jilted perceptions of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender; however, it did. A week ago, we found out that Hooded Justice covered his eyes in a white face to protect his identity as an African-American vigilante. He found himself (well, Angela did) in the middle of an insidious criminal conspiracy in the meat-packing district of Harlem where the Seventh Kavalary is using mind control to start riots within the African-American community that causes “black unrest.” Why am I bringing this up again? Well, because Lindelöf, Gibbons, Moore, and writer Stacey Osei-Kuffour went back to the well that has been working its way to the surface since the pilot. Dr. Manhattan, is, in fact, not on Mars or anywhere in the universe but good old Earth, and has been hiding in plain sight. That’s right, Dr. Manhattan is, in fact, Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), and has been in front of our eyes the entire time.

In true Lindelöf fashion, he pulled the wool over our eyes the entire time and gave us a great shock with a total reinvention in tone of a beloved, cult-following comic. Should it have been a shock though? The great naked blue being is peaceful, wise, and doesn’t believe in heaven or an after-life. Cal is stoic, and always gives an exceptional sense of calm and all-knowing demeanor. Alternatively, there’s the fact that he commented on what powers Dr. Manhattan does or doesn’t have. Though, from what I just read on Twitter, Laura’s super-sized and ultra-charged vibrator actually spells out Ex Cal Abar; yes, Lindelöf and company, you have blown my mind as usual. You would think Dr. Manhattan didn’t need a mask like the rest of the Watchmen fraternity, after all, he is the closest thing a scientist can come to becoming a God. Perhaps it’s the feeling of a certain amenity to have a normal life is what everyone really wants, even our heroes.

It has all come together now on why Angela would ever drink a whole bottle of the mind-bending medication known as nostalgia. It began to clear her head, so she could think back to the time her parents were killed, and she was placed in the car to head over the Pacific on her way to the States and away from Vietnam and sets the stage for her backstory on why she became a police officer. Her parents were killed by a bomb. She survived and carries the weight of that with her. You see, in this timeline, Vietnam is the 51st state of America, the bomb that went off is domestic terrorism, and this left Abar an orphan. Her grandmother dies, all she has is a badge for being brave and a copy of the Sister Night blaxploitation film, and hence, her alter ego was born.

The majority of “An Almost Religious Awe” is involved with the Vietnam flashbacks and Sister Night’s Nostalgia detox with Lady Trieu. However, some other good nuggets play out in “An Almost Religious Awe”. For instance, Laurie falls through a trap door while interrogating Dutch’s widow and is handcuffed to chair. Meanwhile, Senator Keanne explains his villainous plan to her and explains since the white man is now getting a raw deal, they might as well become blue. The Seventh Kavalry is planning on kidnapping Dr. Manhattan and harness his powers into their group benefits package. Then we might get one of the weirder moments of Adrian Veidt yet as he is defended by his clones in a trial, but is handed out a guilty conviction when the judge uses a couple of dozen squealing pigs to replace the jury.
Then, lastly, Sister Night leaves and, of course, beats her husband Cal with a Hammer. She knew all along, and it was Cal that had no idea he was used to store Dr. Manhattan before his accident. No wonder Laurie and Angela don’t like each other; they are rivals for the big guy’s heart. She pulls a magic disc out of Cal’s head, and shortly after, a blue glow begins to shine on Sister Night’s face, and she welcomes herbaby” back into the world.

Has there ever been a more expertly plotted debut season than what Watchmen has produced this year? “An Almost Religious Awe” was carefully crafted, exceptionally executed, and seriously satisfying entertainment. I’m not sure there has been a series this well-plotted in recent memory and I’m excited to see how it wraps up its debut season next week.


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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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