Director – Nicole Kassell
Writer – Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof
Cast – Regina King, Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr, Jeremy Irons
Undoubtedly the highlight of the season to date, episode 8 of Watchmen was everything I had hoped for and much more besides. In a show that has been highly cryptic with the way in which it addresses questions and answers, this was as about as explicit as it gets. Filling in so many blanks and setting us all up for a thrilling finale next week, this was solid televisual gold.
Following the jaw dropping revelation last week that Angela’s husband Cal was in fact, the omnipotent Dr Manhattan, hiding in plain sight in human form, this instalment went all out in explaining how both he and Angela got to that point.
Everything was truly spot on with the way the episode was put together. The characterisation, the non-linear timeline, the tone and the dialogue were all pitch perfect. A special mention must go to the screenplay, courtesy of Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, as it truly felt like something that could have been lifted directly from the page of Alan Moore’s magnum opus. The cadence and word choices of Dr Manhattan were extremely faithful to the character, the showrunners here have avoided throwing the baby out with the bathwater and given the loyal fans a nice representation of their beloved characters, whilst taking events to new uncharted territory.
Simultaneously existing in all timelines, Dr Manhattan is the star of the show here. His courtship of Angela juxtaposed with his exchanges with Adrian (finally we understand why he is on Europa and how that world came into existence) is riveting stuff. The performance of Yayha Abdul-Mateen II elevates the proceedings considerably, as his interpretation of the character is well realised. His Jon Osterman is affable yet remote, loving yet detached and logical. This is the character to a tee and the journey of the character since the end of the book is one that we can believe in and get behind. Whether blue or black, Mateen is utterly believable as the character and it is my hope that we get to see more of him in future seasons, yet to be confirmed.
The wonderful scene between he and Veidt is a fanboy dream come true. The events of the book are referenced multiple times and the tragedy of Veidt’s actions are laid bare. Despite staving off nuclear Armageddon, his slaughter of millions has clearly weighed heavy on his soul. Living a solitary, joyless life, holed up in Karnak, Irons’ Veidt is a lost soul. His delight at seeing his frenemy Jon after the sour ending to their last meeting is clear to see, and the dialogue crackles with tension and affection. Despite Veidt’s willingness to go to Europa, his evident bitterness and not being able to go home makes one wonder what his plan will be when he eventually returns to Earth.
With just one episode left to go and a lot of ground left to cover, we should all be in for a treat next week. Will the 7th Kavalry be successful in their plot to destroy Dr Manhattan and take his power? Will Veidt get back home and play a part? What are Lady Trieu and Will Reeves up to? Whatever happens, make sure you watch episode 9 when it goes out this Sunday night.