Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Watchmen Wednesdays: Episode 8

Hey all, I've been pretty unconcerned about spoilers so far in these posts, but I did want to make a quick note that there are major spoilers in this episode. If you intend to watch the show and haven't yet, I'd suggest you stop reading until you've caught up.

My favorite episode yet!

After the big reveal that Angela's husband Cal is Dr. Manhattan living as a human with some sort of amnesia, episode eight, "A God Walks into Abar," clears up the immediate questions about how that came to be. Honestly, most of the episode is about romance, and it's wonderfully written. The episode takes its time building the relationship between Angela and Dr. Manhattan/Jon/Cal.

Their meet-cute happens at a bar in Vietnam on the anniversary of Angela's parents' deaths. She is sitting alone, drinking a beer, and Dr. Manhattan/Jon walks in. He's wearing a Dr. Manhattan mask as it is a holiday celebrating his ending of the Vietnam war, so his blue skin isn't that out of place (though he does wear a nice suit rather than walking in naked). He brings two beers to her table and starts to try to flirt with her.

Dr. Manhattan picking up a mask in Vietnam

Most of the episode is spent exploring their romance with this frame, flirting at a bar. As Jon reminds Angela and the viewer, he experiences time simultaneously, and in a slick narrative move, the episode mimics this nonlinearity by jumping between moments when Jon says another even is in the process of happening.

First, Jon explains that he wasn't on Mars like the world supposed, but rather on a moon of Jupiter, Europa. Sound familiar? Yes, Jon created a paradise on the moon in an atmosphere bubble, including Ms. Crookshanks and Mr. Phillips. Similarly, the audience gets a refresher on Jon's past during WWII when he went to the English countryside to escape the Nazis. Later, Jon transplants this mansion to his paradise on Europa--thus Veidt's paradise prison is born.

While we don't have an explicit Veidt-centered subplot like in most of the episodes, Jon does meet with him in order to obtain a way to, essentially, forget that he is Dr. Manhattan and thus become Cal. Veidt is morose that, in 2009, humanity is still failing itself even though nuclear disaster was averted. After Jon describes the paradise, Veidt requests to live there. While that doesn't wrap up all the loose ends of his storyline (it's still unclear what's going on with the Game Warden or why he shouldn't be allowed to leave), it is very satisfying to understand how Veidt ended up on a moon of Jupiter. Even though only on screen for a few minutes, Jeremy Irons does an excellent job portraying a depressed Veidt rather than a Veidt energized by escape and obsessed with Dr. Manhattan.

At the end of the episode, we return to 2019 just as Angela removes the device causing Jon's amnesia. While he remains in Cal's body, he turns blue and begins to exercise his powers again. The Seventh Kavalry has already arrived to capture Dr. Manhattan, and Jon/Cal tells Angela it's too late. He's seen it, but she refuses and suits up to kill as much of the Kavalry as possible. Jon/Cal says this was the moment that he fell in love with Angela, as she goes to fight for him even though it's too late. The episode ends with Jon/Cal being teleported away.

I love that Watchmen took a moment to write a romantic episode, even if it doesn't necessarily move the action that far forward. It would have been so easy to just push ahead with the plot, but the emotional beats of this episode are wonderful and actually romantic. In addition, I'd like to point out that we finally have more naked men on screen in a big TV show. Not bad, Watchmen.



Phoebe Wagner currently studies at University of Nevada: Reno. When not writing or reading, she can be found kayaking at the nearest lake. Follow her at phoebe-wagner.com or on Twitter @pheebs_w.

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