Don’t you hate it when you wake up to find you’ve been hooked up intravenously to an elephant?
Watchmen‘s Angela Abar (Regina King) experienced just that during the latest episode’s most WTF moment, following hot on the heels of the still entirely unexplained ‘lube man’ scene. Week in week out, the HBO show is managing quite a feat: airing scenes so absurd and meme-ready that they’re unintentionally hilarious. You can’t help but admire the showrunners’ guts and commitment to this insanity.
That said, the relentless zaniness of Watchmen is starting to stir the odd ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ thought in me while I’m watching, a thought shared by one of the lead characters…
What happened in Watchmen episode 7?
“Please don’t talk me through your plan,” Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) told senator-cum-white supremacist leader Joe Keene Jr. (James Wolk) this week, “I’m tired of all the silliness.” Amen. Thank the old gods and the blue that we have Laurie, a cipher for the viewer who stops the show from collapsing under the weight of its own eccentricity by calling bullshit on its ridiculousness at every opportunity.
The FBI agent had little time for Keene Jr.’s moustache-twirling evil plans tonight, nor was she delighted to be dropped through a trapdoor in an armchair by Crawford’s wife, who surprised us with a Scooby Doo-grade ‘it was me all along!’ confession in episode seven.
Blake was yanked out of her apathy, however, when Keene Jr. revealed his plot to kill Dr. Manhattan and assume his identity. “It’s extremely difficult being a white man in America right now, so I’m thinking I might try being a blue one,” Keene Jr. said, in what I like to imagine is a major overreaction to a few white comedians being cancelled over historic tweets. If there is actually more to this white supremacist uprising in Watchmen‘s version of Tulsa, the show doesn’t seem to want to clue us in.
Adrian Veldt gets mired in a kangaroo court
No actual kangaroos in this court as of yet (I mention this for the avoidance of doubt – this is Watchmen after all) but the sham trial of Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) did incorporate scores of piglets, who replaced the jury of clones after the Game Warden deemed pigs to be closer to peers of Veidt.
I’m at a loss as to where all this is going. The Game Warden seems to wield legitimate power, and yet he himself is a Phillips clone? And who is the architect of Veidt’s whimsical prison? It seems beyond the imagination of some raincoat-wearing academic-type. To be resolved before the end of season one, I hope.
Angela has the comedown from Hell
Under the care of Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), Angela was weaned off the Nostalgia pills this week. A side effect of the treatment, which served as a handy plot device, was random bursts of her own memories. We saw how her parents were killed in a suicide bombing during protests that followed the Vietnam War, after which the country was declared the 51st state of the USA. We also learned that Angela lost her grandmother at a young age, leaving her so short of family that it’s no wonder the arrival of her grandfather in the present day shook her so. Speaking of Will Reeves, Trieu told Angela that she was hooked up to her grandfather in order to aid the healing process, but Angela later learned that she was in fact sharing an IV with the aforementioned elephant. No explanation was offered for this, and we can only assume, I guess, that elephants are used by Trieu for their notoriously large capacity for memory.
Dr. Manhattan’s identity is finally revealed
‘Who is secretly Dr. Manhattan?’ has been the ‘Is Jon Snow really dead?’ of Watchmen thus far, and in episode seven we got an unlikely answer: Angela’s husband, Cal Abar. Unlikely, but not a total surprise. You may remember Cal randomly giving his children an uncompromising lecture on atheism earlier in the season, which felt pretty random given his character is extremely underdeveloped – mostly just there to occasionally say “Angela, what’s happening?” while wearing a worried expression. As such, we could have guessed this apparent non-sequitur to be a trademark bit of Dr. Manhattan philosophy (and indeed it seems some avid comic readers did).
We understood that an “accident” had previously wiped Cal’s memory, but it seems there never was an accident, rather Cal was simply a disguise Dr. Manhattan used to return to Earth. What’s not clear is how Angela and Dr. Manhattan became familiar, and why she’s been playing the clueless local detective when in fact she’s romancing a demi-god. First Laurie Blake, now Angela Abar – Dr. Manhattan sure gets around.
Because this is Watchmen, Angela bludgeoned Cal to death and retrieved a levitating talisman from her husband’s brain that I think we’re to assume contains Dr. Manhattan but in file format. Will he now be bouncing around from character to character, inhabiting whatever Tulsa local the talisman gets lodged in? Find out next week on Watchmen, the most bizarre and tangential show on television!
World-building moment of the week: Burgers ‘N Borscht. It seems the pre-empting of the Cold War in the show’s universe kept Russo-American relations friendly enough to allow for a bi-continental fast food chain. Red Scare was seen eating at a ‘Burgers ‘N Borscht’ joint in episode seven, a nicely alliterative, if not very appealing, restaurant concept.
‘Watchmen’ premieres on Sky Atlantic in the UK at 2am each Monday and is repeated at 9pm