Last night, we reached the penultimate episode of Watchmen's first season (that "season finale" tag at the end of the ep is our first real indication that we're getting a second season, as if there was ever any doubt), and hoo boy is this thing really coming together.
Which, it should be said, does not mean that it wasn't coming together previously! From its jaw-dropping season premiere straight through to the end of last night's episode, Watchmen has more than justified its initially questionable existence (remember when people were mad this show was happening?). It has, in fact, proven itself to be one of the year's best shows, a collection of stellar performances, beautiful music, gasp-inducing curveballs, and timely thematic material wrapped around a compelling murder mystery. For my money, Lindelof and company have yet to make a misstep. This season was built and executed like a finely-tuned watch (to borrow a bit of classic Watchmen iconography), and watching it dole out its riddles and answers has been a pure goddamn pleasure.
This week's episode, "A God Walks Into Abar" (well played, Lindelof), largely revolved around the very first meeting of Angela Abar (Regina King) and Dr. Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), in a cozy little Vietnamese bar. The good doctor has arrived back on Earth, he says, specifically so that he can meet and fall in love with Angela. They will fall in love, have a number of beautiful years together, and then tragedy will strike. Dr. Manhattan experiences time differently than the rest of us, you see, with everything happening simultaneously. He knows, despite Angela's suspicions to the contrary, where this is all headed.
She plays along at first, charmed by this stranger's storytelling skills (and, let's face it, his next-level game), and before long she's standing with Manhattan inside a morgue, helping him choose a newly-deceased human body to take up residence in. Angela selects the corpse of the man we have come to know as Cal, and without much effort Manhattan slips on his new human suit, ready to spend the next decade falling in love with her. By this point Angela's convinced that Jon is telling her the truth - he really is the legendary Dr. Manhattan - but one gets the impression that she never quite got around to believing the other part of his story: that their relationship, as perfect as it may be, will be relatively short-lived.
That troubling detail resolves itself in the episode's closing moments: the Seventh Kavalry, having figured out that Dr. Manhattan is alive and well and right in their own backyard, shows up at Angela's house, and following an intense gunfight (and a moment where Manhattan blows up the heads of [almost] every bad guy in the area with no more than a wave of his hand), the Kavalry's mysterious and gigantic photon canon is used to atomize Dr. Manhattan. It ended just as he said it was gonna end - in tragedy.
There's plenty more I haven't even gotten into here (notably the glorious sequence where we see Manhattan terraforming Europa and an excellent flashback where Manhattan visits Ozymandias, post- the events of the original Watchmen, to send him to that newly-livable planet), but I'll let you folks hash through the finer details in the comments below. This was a big, chewy episode (and good lord are King and Abdul-Mateen II on fire in these roles), with much to discuss and consider as we head into the season finale. Personally, I don't have the slightest clue how this is all gonna end, but I cannot wait to find out. They've nailed everything else so far, so I'm trusting that they'll stick this landing.
Please do so now, in the comments below, and stay tuned for our final wrap-up report on Watchmen, after next week's finale.