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photo: Mark Hill/HBO

Television

Watchmen S1E8 “A God Walks into Abar” Review

This is superhero storytelling done with purpose and meaning.

It may be hard to believe we’re already at the penultimate episode of season one of Watchmen, but at only nine episodes, the show goes by fast. This week everything becomes more clear with a heavy focus on Dr. Manhattan. After the cliffhanger of the last episode revealed one of the best-kept secrets I’ve ever seen in television, it’s time to focus heavily on the blue god with a heart.

If you’re a fan of time travel stories you’re going to love this episode. It opens with Dr. Manhattan meeting Angela Abar (Regina King) in a bar for the first time — well, it’s only the first time for Angela, as Dr. Manhattan experiences all moments in time at once. He explains this to her and reiterates it to others throughout the episode. It’s a nice reminder as his ability to live in many moments at once plays a big role in how the plot functions. There’s a paradox or two in the episode that’ll have you thinking. What makes this work is the love story that unfolds backward, forwards, and in real time between Abar and Dr. Manhattan. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to date and marry a god, this is a good script for it.

photo: Mark Hill/HBO

Even though Dr. Manhattan knows what will happen, that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of surprises. The episode does some flashback work to establish elements like Ozymandias’s actions prior to living with clones and Angela’s grandfather and how he plays into all this. The Seventh Kalvary is also a major player and their plan is inspired. It’s quite a cool concept they’re trying to undertake that’ll shake up things heavily in season 2 of this show if it’s renewed.

By the end of the episode, a lot is explained, like Ozymandias (Jeremy Irons) and his predicament living with clones, to Lady Trieu’s (Hong Chau) giant clock and its general purpose. Angela’s role as Dr. Manhattan’s lover is still somewhat unclear, especially when Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) had a longstanding relationship with him, but maybe it’s another paradox? Lady Trieu’s plan is also up in the air, but regardless it’s now a race to see if the Seventh Kalvary can be stopped before they inflict their racist plans on the world.

Of all the episodes in this series, this might have the most superhero vibe of them all. Dr. Manhattan’s powers are limitless and you get to see them in action a few different times. There are also key connections made to the original source material. At one key moment we see Ozymandias ask Dr. Manhattan if he remembers this bit of dialogue:

Boldly, the series writers build off this moment. There is also a direct correlation between the episodes big reveal to Ozymandias’s plan to kill Dr. Manhattan. Again, in a bold turn, we learn destroying Dr. Manhattan was plan B. This episode reveals plan A and how it actually worked.

The only failing of this episode is the desire of Ozymandias to go along with Dr. Manhattan’s suggestion to live in a world where everything is peaceful and perfect. Regardless of how fed up Ozymandias is with humanity, you’d think he’d be smart enough to guess he’d be miserable on another world where there is no conflict or war. It’s easy to see since he’s been miserable up until this point on the show and bored out of his mind. For a super genius, it seems like a half-baked moment in the show.

I cannot wait for the season finale of this show. Damon Lindelof and the show’s writers have built off the original source material while offering meaningful commentary on the clear and present danger of racism all around us today. This show has done a great job keeping you invested in the characters and interested in the puzzle that is finally coming into focus. This is superhero storytelling done with purpose and meaning.

Is it good?
I cannot wait for the season finale of this show. Damon Lindelof and the show's writers have built off the original source material while offering meaningful commentary on the clear and present danger of racism all around us today. This show has done a great job keeping you invested in the characters and interested in the puzzle that is finally coming into focus. This is superhero storytelling done with purpose and meaning.
Rewards fans of the comics with some big twists and call backs
Sets up what could be described as a true sequel to the comic series
Some great time paradox stuff to mull over
Visuals look great
Ozymandias agrees to do something that seems highly suspect and something he would likely see past as a futurist
9.5
Great
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