This article contains major Watchmen episode 8 spoilers.
Welcome back, Dr. Manhattan! You weren’t really gone, anyway. Well, except for the time you were on Europa creating life. And the time you were actually on Mars before you left a decoy there to convince us you were still on Mars while you were quite literally playing God somewhere else. And of course, to your infuriating way of perceiving time, you were never actually gone at all.
In fact, much of Watchmen episode 8, “A God Walks Into Abar” is narrated as incredibly, impossibly compelling exposition by Dr. Manhattan in the course of his conversation with Angela. He does it in a manner that is just perfectly in tune with the way he narrates his own origin story not entirely in chronological order in chapter four of the book. And within this seemingly simple story of godlike being meets girl, godlike being takes form of ridiculously attractive man, godlike being decides to forget who he is to live normal life with not-at-all-normal girl, girl kills the absolute hell out of a batch of racist dipshits to protect newly awakened godlike being…oh, who am I kidding? You’re here for the Easter eggs. Let’s see what can be found…
– The vast majority of this episode takes place on VVN Day 2009. Which means in addition to the various celebrations of Dr. Manhattan we see throughout, there’s also some of the, shall we say, dissatisfaction with him as a political figure. Key among these is the gigantic penis added to the mural, which isn’t unlike Dr. Manhattan’s own generous blue dong, which is so frequently depicted in the book.
– Dr. Manhattan bringing Angela a beer is somewhat reminiscent of Jon Osterman’s first love, Janey Slater, bringing him a beer at the Gila Flats Bestiary in the book.
– The Bible (which is, unsurprisingly, blue) that young Jon Osterman receives from his pre-war benefactors in 1936 features an illustration of Adam and Eve that looks suspiciously like it could have been drawn by Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons.
– The fact that Dr. Manhattan assumes the form of a man named “Calvin Jelani” may or may not be yet another one of this show’s many Superman references. “Calvin Jelani” kind of rhymes with Kal-El, doesn’t it? More importantly, the idea of an all-powerful being giving up all of his powers for the woman he loves is a major part of the plot of Superman II. Veidt even nods to this, mistakenly believing that Jon wants to give up his power so that Angela will love him for the man that he is, rather than a god, which is often the rationale at the heart of the Clark Kent/Lois Lane/Superman love triangle.
In fact, on the Superman tip, a young boy being sent from his home to avoid catastrophe (as we saw with Will Reeves and the Tulsa Race Massacre) again echoes the destruction of Krypton. Jon finding refuge with a kindly couple unable to have children of their own, makes them seem something like Jonathan and Martha Kent.
– Dr. Manhattan and Angela’s fight is reminiscent of the fight that Laurie and Jon have early in the book, where Laurie is furious that Jon has extensions of himself working in the lab while they’re having sex.
– Right before Angela inserts the device into Cal/Jon’s head, we see their shadows on the wall, reminiscent of the graffiti silhouettes in the book, themselves echoes of the shadows burned into the walls of Hiroshima after the detonation of the atomic bomb in 1945.
– Cal tells Angela that he leaves his fate “entirely in your hands.” Those are the last words spoken in the book, and it’s the second time they’ve been spoken on this show (the first was by Senator Joe Keene when he handed the TV remote to Wade Tillman back in episode 5).
– Much of the episode takes place on VVN Night in 2009, which we know is around late May. The scenes with Dr. Manhattan and Adrian Veidt in Karnak take place 6 months later, so approximately early December (based on the fact that Jon tells Adrian it has been 24 years and 41 days and 13 hours” since they last saw each other…which was on Nov. 2, 1985. So that places this conversation on Dec. 13, 2009.
– The clocks in Veidt’s Karnak HQ are yellow, which is in keeping with the preferred color scheme of the book’s cover (as well as the Comedian’s badge). But it’s interesting to note that the time they are showing for NY time is 11:15. While these clocks are probably actually keeping time, if these were Doomsday Clocks, 11:15 is QUITE far from midnight, further than they’ve ever been in our lifetimes, and thus another indicator of just how well Veidt’s plan worked.
– When Veidt says of the device that will help Jon lose his memory, “I made it 30 years ago,” it’s a reference to his quote in the book: “I did it thirty-five minutes ago,” in reference to the mass murder of millions of New Yorkers via giant squid monster. The fact that he had created that device six years before unleashing his ultimate plan is an indicator of just how long he had been working on neutralizing anyone who could have stood in his way. Veidt ultimately decided on framing Jon to force him into exile rather than “blowing him up” or inducing amnesia.
– The computer on Veidt’s desk is the same model that was on his desk in New York in the book, and the Ozymandias action figure is in the same pose, as well.
– “A little elephant told me” that Jon was on Europa. That means Lady Trieu knows what Jon was up to, and likely knows that Adrian is imprisoned there! That mysterious space thing that crashed on a farm back in episode four that she was so eager to claim now seems like it could be Veidt escaping from Europa, doesn’t it?
– Veidt is reading Max Shea’s Fogdancing while in prison during that post-credits scene. Veidt used Max Shea to help design the giant squid monster, although Shea likely never fully understood the scope of the plan. We have more details on the post-credits scene and the significance of Fogdancing right here.
– There appear to be seven candles on Veidt’s cake. Possibly eight. Either way, by that math, we’re still not totally caught up to the present.
– Lots of Biblical portent in some of Adrian’s quotes tonight. “Will I live to see Utopia?” feels reminiscent of Moses asking God if he’ll ever see the Promised Land, while his “heaven doesn’t need me” sounds like an inversion of Milton’s “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Europa has indeed turned out to be Veidt’s Hell, where he ruled, although he expected it to be Heaven. He sees himself as an anonymous servant of Heaven on Earth, which is, really Hell. I know that part because I have to live here.
– Is that a portrait of Alexander the Great in Karnak? Or of a young Veidt as Alexander the Great?
We finally get the actual explanation of the continued squid rains here, and as has been seeded both in earlier episodes and HBO’s Peteypedia, this is a direct part of Veidt’s plan to keep everyone believing in the validity of the original attack. We wrote more about the history and reason for squid rain in the Watchmen universe here.
Angela and Jon’s conversation takes place in a bar called “Mr. Eddy’s.” This is some dark shit, folks. In this case, the “Mr. Eddy” in question is Edward Blake, the Comedian, the former superhero, government operative/super soldier, and certain war criminal during the Vietnam War (he’s also the father of FBI Agent Laurie Blake). In particular, “Mr. Eddy” is how a Vietnamese woman, pregnant with Blake’s child, referred to him on the very first VVN night…right before he murdered her and her unborn baby in cold blood.
Or maybe I’m just reading into this too much and “Mr. Eddy’s” is just a clever “Mr. E.” Get it? “Mystery?” I’m just kidding, the above is correct and this is some dark ass shit.
At the conclusion of the battle, a member of the 7th Kavalry uses a grappling hook to yank off the car door. Their idol, Rorschach used a grappling hook to get around, and occasionally as an offensive weapon.
– Many of the songs playing throughout the episode have an obvious “blue” theme to them. We open with a disco version of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” During Angela’s conversation with Dr. Manhattan in the bar, you can hear strains of Johan Strauss’ “Blue Danube Waltz.” But The Fleetwoods’ “Mr. Blue” is a particular standout, with lyrics like…
“Our guardian star lost all his glow, the day that I lost you. He lost all his glitter the day you said no. And his silver turned to blue.”
Incidentally, “Mr. Blue” was released in July of 1958, so it’s quite possible that Jon Osterman was quite familiar with it when he was shredded to atoms by the Intrinisic Field Generator in 1959.