With its eighth episode (the cleverly titled “A God Walks Into Abar”), Watchmen finally spilled the beans about its big blue god. With time-warping deftness, it elaborated on last week’s bombshell that Dr. Manhattan (originally known as Jon Osterman) has spent the past few decades living undercover as Angela’s husband Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), delivering the entire the backstory to the couple’s relationship, which began years ago in a Saigon bar and came to a conclusion in the present, with Cal, resurrected as his old superpowered self, getting zapped by a 7th Cavalry tachyon cannon. Throw in further surprises about Dr. Manhattan’s authorship of Adrian Veidt’s predicament—the former Ozymandias has been living on the Eden-ish planet of Europa, which Manhattan created, replete with a manor house and servants modeled after his childhood experiences fleeing Nazi Germany—and you have the most revelatory series installment yet.
Penned by creator Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, it’s also the most impressively-directed hour of Watchmen to date, courtesy of executive producer Nicole Kassell, who previously helmed the show’s initial two chapters. Guided by a fractured structure that speaks to Dr. Manhattan’s simultaneous experience of the past, present and future, it spins a tangled web of love, trauma, memory and inevitable doom that’s intimately related to the superhero saga’s portrait of yesterday’s pull on today. It also takes considerable risks, given the racial/ethnic politics at the heart of its portrayal of Dr. Manhattan, a German Jew who’s been posing for years as a black man, and whose power is now sought by a cabal of neo-Nazis.
All in all, there’s a lot to unpack, which is why we went straight to the source, speaking with Kassell about the intricacies of this standout episode, as well as what we might expect from next week’s highly-anticipated finale—which, it turns out, could be the end of the series itself.