HBO's Watchmen: 5 New Theories For Episode 8, "A God Walks Into Abar"
Caution: Spoilers ahead.
We're running out of time on Watchmen, not only in the context of the narrative itself, but also in a more practical, meta-sense; how, exactly, will the show reach anything resembling a conclusion in next week's season finale? Even as the writers pull together the multiple, disparate plot threads into a single braid, there's just so much more to weave together--so many characters with different, competing agendas.
Anyone expecting a neat resolution to this season is fooling themselves. The Watchmen graphic novel ended in catastrophe, with peace achieved at great cost and with the identities of "hero" and "villain" irretrievably muddled. It appears that this series will accomplish the same and challenge our tolerance for what terrible actions can be committed in the name of "the greater good." Of course, that's just a guess.
Here are 5 new theories for Episode 8, "A God Walks Into Abar," of HBO's Watchmen. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
1. Does Will Reeves Have Dr. Manhattan's Powers?
Because this show loves planting its clues ahead of time, we can assume that Doctor Manhattan will transfer his powers to someone. Otherwise, he wouldn't have told Angela about his ability to do so. He also insisted he had to walk on water in front of her, which may be how the recipient's powers will ultimately be revealed.
But who will be the recipient? One theory is that Doctor Manhattan gave his powers to Will Reeves in 2009, when he visited him in New York. It explains why Will has demonstrated superpowers in small, subtle ways, like when he reached his hand into boiling water to retrieve an egg. And it would explain why Doctor Manhattan sent Angela's grandchildren to Will at the end of the episode; if he had such fantastical powers, he would be best suited to keep their loved ones safe. It also brings Will's narrative arc full circle; once a damaged man who couldn't move beyond past traumas, he could now experience the past, present, and future as one.
2. Will Angela Receive Dr. Manhattan's Powers?
Angela is the other, most likely recipient of Doctor Manhattan's powers; he could have given her the powers any time they shared food before he repressed his memory as Cal (maybe on their first date?). Or, he could have tried to put it into the eggs that he was using to make waffles, right before the 7th Kavalry captured him. Those eggs broke, although there is one last egg still sitting in the fridge. We'll know what the twist is if Angela decides to make herself an omelette in the season finale.
3. A "Little Elephant" Told Him?
Veidt comments that "a little elephant" told him that Doctor Manhattan was living on Europa. This elephant is almost certainly Lady Trieu (or her mother Bian), who has elephant imagery everywhere on her property. An elephant is incorporated into her company's logo, and she also uses an elephant to help clean Angela's brain of its Nostalgia infestation.
It certainly suggests that there is a connection between Lady Trieu and Veidt that goes beyond a professional one: possibly, it's the father/daughter relationship that we speculated about last week?
4. Lube Man the Fogdancer?
We haven't seen him since Episode 4, but the mystery is close to becoming a meme: Who is the "Lube Man?" The common theory is that it's Agent Dale Petey, spying on Angela at the behest of Laurie Blake, and a recent upload to HBO's Peteypedia adds weight to its hypothesis.
In an article uploaded last night, Petey describes a Fogdancer, from the novel written by in-universe Tales of the Black Freighter author Max Shea. The book has popped up at various points in the background throughout this show, including in Episode 8's after-credits scene.
It turns out a Fogdancer is a specialized soldier who does the messy cleanup detail of chemical warfare and other war atrocities after a battle is over. "See him now in your mind’s eye," Petey writes, "moving through boiling clouds of Sunset Haze, wearing his gas mask and skin-tight silver suit shimmering with SPF-666, looking slick and doing what must be done, in secret, to keep you and me and all of us free."
It describes Lube Man's outfit perfectly, and with Laurie constantly ordering him around, the work a Fogdancer does "in secret" might really resonate with a man like Petey.
5. The Indifference of God
We empathize with Doctor Manhattan; the show is scripted and shot in such a manner that it's impossible to feel otherwise. But even so, his negatives are evident: He has a casual, almost callous indifference to the immediate effect his actions have on other people. This is encapsulated by his Europa experiment, and the multiple people he created to live in his manufactured paradise. Once he grew emotionally discontent with their unfailing worship and regard for him, he abandoned them, and left them without a purpose to continue existing.
Part of the reason for this mindset is his perception of time. As in the comics, Doctor Manhattan experiences all time--past, present, and future--simultaneously. In his mind, that which will happen has already happened, and there's nothing he can do to alter the path or change it.
And so, when Doctor Manhattan discusses the "optimal outcome" with Will Reeves, it's important to remember that a semi-god like Doctor Manhattan thinks in big terms. A million lives might be a drop in the bucket next to a billion lives, and it might be necessary for evil to win in the short term so that good can triumph later on. His callous abandonment of Europa could be part of this--he traumatized these people he created, knowing that they would subsequently keep Veidt imprisoned, against his will, for nearly a decade as part of some larger plan.
In the final episode of Watchmen, prepare for the worst (even though this, in the larger scheme of things, is also relative). As Will Reeves commented to Lady Trieu, Angela is going to hate him once all is said and done. Senator Keene may become superpowered. Millions or even billions more people may die. But in terms of scope, it might actually be the "best outcome," even if we struggle to see exactly how.