Explaining Everything From WATCHMEN’s Explosive 7th Episode

Warning: This post contains major spoilers from the seventh episode of Watchmen.

Jeremy Irons dressed as OzymandiasHBO

You know what’s crazier than the end of Watchmen’s seventh episode? Someone on Reddit predicted it. Yes, someone actually theorized Angela’s husband Cal was Dr. Manhattan in disguise. We thought he might be hiding in plain sight, but we didn’t think he was Cal. It’s an amazing revelation, but it wasn’t the only huge moment in an incredible and shocking hour of television. Here’s everything that happened, what it all means, and the biggest questions it raised.

Angela’s Superhero Origin Story

Watchmen's Sister Night movie on VHSHBO

The most (only?) straightforward parts of the episode were the flashbacks to Angela’s sad life in Vietnam as a kid. In 1987, her parents were both killed on VVN Day (Victory Over Vietnam) by a separatist bomber. When the people of Vietnam first saw Dr. Manhattan in 1971 they felt “An Almost Religious Awe,” the episode’s title that comes from Manhattan’s own words in the comic. But while some still celebrate him as a god, others clearly think of him as the ultimate weapon of an oppressive regime. Not everyone in Vietnam wants the country to be the 51st state in the U.S. and they haven’t for a long time.

The future Sister Night didn’t just get a badge and the dream of being a cop from that Vietnamese officer, though. Her parents’ murderer was executed without trial. Angela Abar and her colleagues in Tulsa in 2019 don’t have much use for the law and frequently act without boundaries as well.

Young Angela Abar looks at her dead grandmother with a vandalized Dr. Manhattan mural behind herHBO

We now also know why Angela is so angry like her grandfather, Will Reeves. The death of her grandmother was too cruel even for a cruel universe. Is this why Dr. Manhattan found her? Was her life so sad it broke through to his remnants of humanity, the same way the revelation about Laurie Blake’s father did in 1985?

Lady Trieu, Crazy (Like a Fox?)

Lady Trieu speaks to Angela in bedHBO

First, good luck to anyone trying to draw Lady Trieu’s family tree. Second, WTF? The show’s mysterious trillionaire offered so many crazy moments she needs her own subsections just to break them all down.

Nostalgia and Memory

Nostalgia working on nerve cellsHBO

Trieu’s now illegal memory pills are more than just a brilliant plot device to tell the story of Hooded Justice. The virtual “promo” Angela watches to explain her treatment showed how invasive and destructive Nostalgia can be, especially when a person takes someone else’s memories. In large doses, it can drive them insane and cause them to lose their own identity. And no one but Lady Trieu knows how to treat an overdose.

That treatment involves an elephant. Nostalgia is so dangerous, Angela’s “natural host” was a six-ton animal. It required a living creature that large to clear her system of Will’s memories. It’s only fitting—and telling—it was an elephant, since “an elephant never forgets.”

Angela Abar on the floor next to an elephantHBO

In 1985, Adrian Veidt’s squid killed millions with a psychic shockwave the human mind couldn’t handle. Now, another super genius who is trying to save the world has pills that can also can destroy the mind by feeding it terrible images.

Mother Bian and Lady Trieu’s Mystery Father

Bian speaks to Angela Abar who can be seen in the reflection of her glassesHBO

Trieu wasn’t feeding child prodigy Bian own horrible memories of the Vietnam War like we thought. Bian is a clone of Trieu’s mother, receiving her own memories. “If I had a nickel….”

The more important issue raised by that incredible revelation, though, is the identity of Lady Trieu’s father, who she said will soon join her. There are three prime candidates: Dr. Manhattan, the Comedian (Edward Blake), and Ozymandias.

Dr. Manhattan and Edward Blake both fought in Vietnam. Lady Trieu’s mother was a brilliant and successful woman herself. Manhattan, a known philanderer, might have been attracted to her. Maybe Trieu is what brought him back to Vietnam eventually, where he then met Angela Abar. It could be why Lady Trieu has so much resentment for the god who doesn’t answer anyone’s prayers (which she’s been collecting). She hates Manhattan for what he did to Vietnam and for abandoning the world, but maybe Trieu also hates him for being a bad dad.

Lady trieu stands in front of her blue globe containing phone calls to Dr. ManhattanHBO

Edward Blake also got dozens of Vietnamese women pregnant during the war (we saw him kill one in the comic). The Comedian was murdered in 1985, but that’s not a problem for the parent-cloning Trieu. If The Comedian is her father, that would make her and Laurie Blake sisters. On this show, that sounds about right.

But if her father is Adrian Veidt (who really might be that gold statue,) it would explain why he sold her his estate and companies. She is his only intellectual equal on the entire planet, and who better to trust than your own blood?

The Past and the Future

Angela watches Lady Trieu's message on a screenHBO

In her first scene on the show, Lady Trieu spoke of legacy and how it’s passed down in blood. In this episode, she also talked about how people are afraid to let go of past trauma because then they won’t have an excuse to move forward. During her lunch with Angela, the loudspeaker counting down to the Millennium Clock’s activation said, “The future thanks you for your service.” Later, during her own announcement, she said future generations will “gaze upon our mighty work” with despair, a direct reference to Ozymandias who killed millions to move the world forward.

She’s focused on making a better world tomorrow, but she’s the one who made it possible for people to experience the past as if it was happening now. Nostalgia’s “failure” was so important, it’s what she focused on during her big “rah-rah” speech.

Lady Trieu's Millennium Clock as seen from the topHBO

Those two facts aren’t mutually exclusive. By forcing people— and America itself—to confront their past, she will drag the world forward whether anyone wants it or not. Bian wasn’t lying when she said the Millennium Clock tells time. It will likely tell of many times.

Looking Glass’s New Mask

A dead Seventh Kavalry member in Looking Glass's bunkerHBO

The last time we saw Wade Tillman, he returned home after betraying Angela. His house was then attacked by armed members of the Seventh Kavalary, who were likely there to clean up a major and questionable loose end. So much for that. Looking Glass killed all of them in his squid bunker. Before he fled, he took one of the Kavalry’s masks. Was he outside Angela’s house at the episode’s end? Possibly, though another 7K member was in that truck too. It might have been hard to infiltrate the group that quickly, especially on such an important task with one other person. It seems unlikely, but definitely not impossible for someone with his skills.

Either way, Looking Glass will almost certainly appear at a later date in a Rorschach disguise. Fortunately for the world, he is definitely an enemy of the Kavalry, cover front for Cyclops.

Joe Keene Makes Laurie Blake Feel Blue

Laurie Blake tied up in front of the Cyclops logoHBO

Kudos to Laurie Blake for being a fantastic detective. The FBI agent cracked Judd Crawford’s murder and the underlying Cyclops conspiracy connected to it almost immediately. However, she really has to improve her reaction time to slow-moving trapdoors. (In fairness, who expects a trapdoor anywhere, let alone in a living room?)

As for Keene’s master plan….. uh…. wow. “The original idea” for Cyclops, of which Judd Crawford and his wife Jane were both members, was for Keene to become president. He would have overseen a shift back to a country run by a white American for white Americans. But as Jane Crawford told Laurie, “Something extraordinary happened and suddenly, President seemed a bit small potatoes.”

We don’t know exactly what that extraordinary event was. Was it finding out the truth about Ozymandias’s squid, getting their hands on a Teleportation Window, or finding out Dr. Manhattan was living in Tulsa?

Senator Joe Keene smiles at Laurie BlakeHBO

What we do know is their ultimate goal: Joe Keene and Cyclops are going to try and capture, destroy, and become Dr. Manhattan. Keene will use technology to become the blue god himself. We heard in an earlier episodes the Russians were working on their own intrinsic field generator. That’s the machine that created Dr. Manhattan. Was Laurie Blake watching the Kavalary make their own? While we don’t know the specific science of their plan, it must have something to do with the 7K collecting old Manhattan-created lithium batteries.

If successful, a god-like Keene would rule over a white-power world government. No one would be able to stop him. When Lady Trieu says she has to save the world from that nightmare, she definitely is not crazy. At least, not about this.

Ozymandias on Trial

Adrian Veidt cries after his guilty verdictHBO

We would cry too if we had to spend 365 days straight in a courtroom, but that’s not why Adrian Veidt was in tears by the end of his scene. The smartest man in the world, someone who believes he saved mankind, was being judged by a jury of half-idiot space clones. His very existence had become a big joke, as a judge in a mask held up a pig declaring him guilty.

This is his reward for being mankind’s “savior?” To be exiled without recognition for his contributions to humanity? To be laughed at by morons? His hero and the only human he ever viewed as his equal was Alexander the Great. He’s remembered as a conqueror and a hero. Meanwhile, Adrian Veidt is farting in a kangaroo court on Europa.

The big reveal at episode’s end also seems to finally prove Dr. Manhattan put him there. Manhattan would not have wanted to worry about Adrian Veidt while living his secret, unaware life with Angela. The safest thing for Manhattan to do before erasing his own memory was to remove Veidt from the planet entirely. Manhattan successful sold the idea to Ozymandias as being given his own paradise, when in reality, it was a prison.

Crookshanks and Phillips point at a guilty OzymandiasHBO

If Veidt does get back to Earth (or already did) will he want to remain silent about his achievements anymore? Did his banishment break him by breaking his vanity and illusions of grandeur? But telling the truth about the squid could ruin Lady Trieu’s plan. How can you save a world if it destroys itself first?

That’s why he’s probably a gold statue in her vivarium.

Dr. Manhattan in Disguise

Cal talks to Angela on WatchmenHBO

In 1985, Dr. Manhattan left the complications of mankind behind. He abandoned Earth to go off and make life somewhere else. (Phillips and Crookshanks prove that’s easier said than done.)

At some point—and based on Angela’s age hopefully in the late ’90s at the earliest, since Dr. Manhattan did date a 16-year-old Laurie Blake once—he returned to Earth and Vietnam. Did he regret what he had done to the country? It’s unclear, but eventually, he met and fell in love with Angela Abar. Their only chance to be together was for Manhattan to erase his own memory (his idea) and adopt a human identity. It allowed Angela and Jon, his real name, to be together and to live a (relatively) normal life as a couple.

But Will Reeves discovered the truth. Either through his investigation of Cyclops or on his own, he learned that Cal was really Dr. Manhattan. Will told Lady Trieu, who then created a fake news feed of Dr. Manhattan on Mars to help hide the truth. This is seemingly why everything is happening in Tulsa. A literal god is there, and white nationalists want to kill and become him.

Angela looks at Jon on her kitchen floorHBO

It’s not clear Lady Trieu wants to save him, though. Her conversation with Angela strongly implies she knows the truth about Cal, but she also seems to hate Dr. Manhattan. He conquered Vietnam and he abandoned mankind. He doesn’t answer any prayers because he doesn’t listen to them. The Millennium Clock might stop the Seventh Kavalry, but what if it stops Dr. Manhattan too? The only thing that might be scarier than Dr. Manhattan leaving Earth is him coming back.

Now, after a hammer to his head, he really is back. And if Watchmen‘s seventh episode was this crazy, what the hell is going to happen in the final two episodes with a blue god walking around?

Featured Image: HBO

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