As Watchmen‘s first season comes ever closer to its ninth and final episode, things are coming into focus. At this point, the show has made a point to give one key character the focus while ever so slightly bringing into focus the acts of honest to God superheroes. In this seventh episode, it is becoming more clear what is going on with Dr. Manhattan, which makes it possibly the most exciting.
It’s also the most batsh*t insane episode of the series so far. This episode ranges from the grotesque to incredibly peculiar shocking moments. This show has always been good about subverting expectations and giving us a new angle on things, but this might be the most confusing of the bunch yet. We’re talking Angela Abar (Regina King) discovering she’s been sharing fluids with an elephant–when she thought it was with her grandfather the whole time–and the show culminating in one of the most shocking cliffhangers yet. So shocking I can’t reveal what it was, but rest assured what is undiscovered about Dr. Manhattan, how he plays into the Seventh Kavalry plans, and where he is now will have you talking for days on end.
Most of this episode focuses on Angela Abar, with a heavy dose of flashbacks being used as she comes off an overdose of Nostalgia. We witness her with her parents when she was a little kid in Saigon. Things we thought we know are revealed to be false. It is becoming clear she has a card up her sleeve yet to be played. This episode serves as a nice bookend to the big reveal that her grandfather was one of the first superheroes closing out her relationship with her grandmother in the process. Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) gets ample character work at the same time thanks to her work trying to bring Abar back from death. Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) also gets some nice plot development of her own, although a heavier focus is likely to come in the next episode. What this episode does most successfully is give Abar all the purpose she needs to assuage any doubt she’s a minor player. I’ve pondered this as the series has gone on partly because she seems like a cop in a mask, that her grandfather was more important than her, or other players are more important. That doubt is lifted considerably in the final seconds of the episode.
Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) gets some hefty scenes in this season and while he’s definitely a B-plot to the series the other shoe must drop soon. I’m still perplexed by it all, but one might gather he’s in a prison of his own making. Possibly it’s a self-imposed punishment for killing 3 million people in New York City? Whatever it is, we’re sure to find out soon what is going on and what his clones will make of him.
This episode is, however, a bit uneven. The first half takes ages to get going and that’s partly due to the show recapping what we already know or literally using the same footage to remind us of things we saw an episode or two ago. One example is how Laurie Blake’s partner explains to her everything we’d already gathered up to this point as if we may have forgotten where we left off with Looking Glass. For a show that can be so smart, it can sometimes handhold too tightly, as if it has little faith we’d be able to hold all the threads at once.
This show continues to be exciting by taking chances you don’t normally see in a television show. It defies your expectations, throws you for a loop, and has you guessing till the very end. At the same time, there’s a core sense of where the ship is going so that even if you’re completely lost as to what might happen next it all makes sense in the end.