HBO's Watchmen episode 7: Doctor Manhattan unmasked, but questions remain

Also, what happened to Looking Glass in "An Almost Religious Awe."

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
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4 min read

What's Cal's secret? 


With each episode, Watchmen raises lots of questions. That's not surprising, considering the original comic left readers with plenty of head-scratchers and that the writer and executive producer of the  HBO  series is Damon Lindelof, who also worked on Lost and The Leftovers

Through the end of the season, I'll look at the big questions from each episode and attempt to give answers based on the original comics, additional readings from Peteypedia or just my best guess. 

Sunday's episode, titled An Almost Religious Awe, had some big reveals as the season is coming to a close. 

Is Cal actually Doctor Manhattan? 

The big reveal in Sunday's episode is that Cal Abar, the husband of detective Angela Abar, may actually be Doctor Manhattan in disguise, as some online theories correctly predicted. 

For background, Doctor Manhattan is the only true "superhero" in the Watchmen comics. Born as Jonathan Osterman, he was a son of a clockmaker who studied nuclear physics and was accidentally left in an "intrinsic field" device. The accident gave him god-like powers, and he eventually took on the hero name Doctor Manhattan. After the events of 11/2, Doctor Manhattan left Earth for Mars, or so everyone thought. 

In Sunday's episode, Angela takes a hammer to her husband Cal and appears to pull a small token in the shape of a hydrogen atom, which is Doctor Manhattan's symbol, out of his head. So, Angela was keeping a secret. But it appears others may be aware as well. 

Lady Trieu knows, and going by her line of questioning in the episode, she also knew Angela was keeping that secret. Sen. Joe Keene and the Seventh Kavalry also seem to know Doctor Manhattan is in Tulsa, and may be planning to kill and replace him.

As for how Doctor Manhattan and Angela met, it looks like we'll have to wait for the next episode to get that answer. A promo trailer for next week's episode appears to show a flashback of Angela meeting Doctor Manhattan while she was a police officer in Saigon. A new document in the Peteypedia, a companion site for the show providing more exposition about the Watchmen universe, shows Cal was in an "accident" in Saigon. A hospital record, dated Dec. 10, 2009, says Angela found Cal in a "confused state" with a contusion on his forehead as a result of a supposed car accident. 

Why is Adrian Veidt on trial? 

Knowing Doctor Manhattan may have been posing as Cal since 2009, makes it seem unlikely that he's responsible for Adrian Veidt's imprisonment. His trial, conducted by the Game Warden, gives the impression that this is his own personal form of punishment. Maybe Veidt has been wracked with guilt for killing millions of people?


It's the trial of the year, literally. 


It's also possible that Lady Trieu is the one responsible. Her relationship to Veidt is still unclear. In the episode, there was a transition from his face during the trial to a gold bust Trieu has of Veidt. As shown in previous episodes, these kinds of edits have meaning and tend to be hints for viewers. 

Other questions: 

What happened to Looking Glass? 

At the end of the previous episode, a group of Seventh Kavalry members showed up at Looking Glass' house, and it looks like they were unsuccessful in taking him out. His whereabouts are unknown, but there's one thing to point out. One of his attackers didn't have their mask on when Agent Dale Petey found them. This could mean Looking Glass took one of the masks and returned to the Seventh Kavalry disguised as a member. When Angela showed up at her home, two Kavalry members were watching. Maybe one of them is Looking Glass? 

Where's Will Reeves? 

Angela hoped to finally get some answers from her grandfather, Will Reeves, in this episode, but she instead found an elephant. A literal elephant.

Where Will went is a bit of a mystery. Maybe he's at the Millennium Clock? Though the machine's function is unknown, it appears close to operational near the end of the episode. There was also a lot of talk about the Nostalgia drug throughout the episode. What if Will's memory of surviving the Tulsa riot gets blasted out by the Millennium Clock in a psychic wave that makes everyone experience the horrible event? 

What's with the elephant? 

As for the elephant, there could be a scientific explanation (though it's still a bit silly). Elephants are known for their long-term memory, and that big brain could make them an ideal storage device for multiple memories. 

Originally published Dec. 3, 9:37 a.m. PT.