‘Watchmen’: Every Time You Go Away

“An Almost Religious Awe”
December 1, 2019

In case you don’t know the story of the legendary and world-changing Doctor Manhattan, please allow this 1980’s video to give you the TL:DR: Jon Osterman was a Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi Germany as a child when he arrived in New York with his father, a clockmaker.

“To some, the immigrant son of a poor clockmaker was the fulfillment of the American dream. To others, the world’s first superman was a toxic nightmare.”

As an adult scientist, Osterman stepped into an intrinsic field generator to retrieve his girlfriend’s watch when …

and i oop whoops oh no rupaul jasmine masters

… it turned on and exploded him. But, over time, he reassembled himself, an “immortal god impervious to the passage of time.”

Doctor Manhattan invented a bunch of world-changing technology before heading over to Vietnam where he ended the war by just being himself. Some saw him as a liberator, others a conqueror who destroyed their way of life. This 10-hour documentary will explore this “literally self-made man,” to understand why he was here … and why he left.

However, little 10-year-old Angela Abar who is in a Vietnamese video store looking for something to rent, is not interested in a 10-hour documentary about some blue dude. She has her heart set on one amazing looking blacksploitation movie: SISTER NIGHT.

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I mean, just look at this badassness:

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She looks like me.

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While I DEFINITELY want to watch all 10 hours of that Doctor Manhattan documentary, I am all about Sister Night.*

Angela rents the movie and takes it outside to her parents for their approval, but they are like, “NO MA’AM.” Her father explains that she should be afraid of people wearing masks because they are dangerous and hiding something. Disappointed, Angela makes her way through the V.V.N. Day (Victory over Vietnam) celebrations towards the video store, when she notices the puppeteer staging a presentation of Doctor Manhattan’s adventures in Vietnam make some sort of suspicious exchange with a bicyclist — a bicyclist who rides straight towards her parents, flings a backpack into a jeep near them, while screaming “DEATH TO THE INVADERS!” in Vietnamese. There is an explosion, and little Angela is flung backward …

… while big Angela is flung out of her bed.

When she awakens, she finds herself in Lady Trieu’s lair, with Lady Trieu irritated with her for not remembering the last time she fell out of the bed and not remembering the last time she asked her what this giant tube sticking out of her arm was for. Trieu reminds her that it’s her treatment — Agent Blake asked Trieu to save Angela’s life, so she’s saving it.

With that, Trieu injects something into Angela’s IV, and she’s suddenly receiving a corporate message about her treatment that plays directly into her brain. Basically: She overdosed on someone else’s Nostalgia, and those memories are clogging her neural pathways. They are using cerebrospinal fluid from “a natural host” to flush those memories out of her brain. It’s going to take a while, so she should read a good book or something.

When the message ends, Angela is back with Trieu and pissed. So this “natural host,” it’s her grandfather, right? ANGELA WANTS TO TALK TO HIM RIGHT NOW. Lady Trieu sighs and explains it would be a terrible idea: until his memories are out of her, she won’t know where she ends and he begins. Anyway, what was it that knocked her out of bed? Angela, glaring, explains that it was her 10th birthday. Her father gave her a pony.

“Good morning. It is now 12 hours until the Millennium Clock is activated. All personnel please report to your assigned stations.”

Red Scare and Pirate Jenny are posted outside of the Millennium Clock, prepared to re-arrest Angela if she were to emerge. Instead, Cal arrives in his ~cough~ blue Volvo. At the guard post, he demands to see his wife but is told by a holographic Bian that they are preparing to activate the Millennium Clock and for his own safety, she can not grant him access.

ok goodbye seth meyers

Meanwhile, Agent Blake is listening to the recordings she made of Angela when she was in her fugue state, rambling about Cyclops and mesmerism and “you can hang yourself now …” when Agent Petey calls from Wade’s bunker: You know that theory she had that Wade was Kalvary? Well, judging by the five extremely dead Kalvary in Wade’s bunker, he’s thinking no. Also, Wade is nowhere to be found, so.

Agent Petey wonders if he should call it in, but as she catches sight of Jane Crawford, Agent Blake instructs him to NOT call it in, she’ll be there as soon as she’s done with here.

With that, Agent Blake and Jane head inside the house for a chat. There, Agent Blake explains that a man named Will Reeves killed Judd. And this Will Reeves happens to be Angela’s grandfather. Angela took his Nostalgia and talked — a lot. Turns out he is the original Hooded Justice, and Hooded Justice had it out for this racist group called Cyclops who was super into mind control. ANYWAY, Reeves believed that Judd was also a member of this Cyclops group. And frankly, the Chief of Police of Tulsa being a white supremacist isn’t the craziest idea in the world, which makes Agent Blake wonder about some of Judd’s friends, like maybe Senator Keene? Hmm? Mayhaps?

What if … and just follow along with Agent Blake here because this might sound a little crazy, but what if Senator Keene’s plan was to use a bunch of Cyclops — rebranded as Kalvary — to kill some cops, put all the cops in masks, so that ultimately no one can tell the good guys from the bad guys and soon they are all pledging their loyalty to one man: President Keene.

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And Jane is like, “Yep, that was pretty much the plan, until we changed it.” She then grabs a Wilson remote control and furiously clicks the button … and nothing happens. When it finally does … Agent Blake only half falls into the trap door before it eventually gives way:

Once Blake finally does fall into the trap, Jane grabs a phone, calls someone and explains that Agent Blake stopped by. Does he want her to kill Blake or what?

“Good afternoon. It is now nine hours until the Millennium Clock is activated. All personnel designated green, please report to the medical wing for removal of any remaining metal implants.”

Bian pays a visit to Angela, showing her a pair of cards: one of a man flying a kite; the other a man offering a child some candy. Which is more trustworthy? Angela chooses candyman because no one flies kites by themselves.

Which woman is more scared? The one being mugged or the one on the ledge? Angela chooses the one on the ledge because she’s about to jump.

Which woman is angrier? This woman screaming, or this identical woman screaming? Angela points out that they are exactly the same, and Bian wonders if she’s sure. Instead of answering, Angela wonders what this has to do with her treatment, and Bian explains that it has nothing to do with it — this is research for her dissertation on the adaptive function of empathy and the role of rage suppression in social cohesion.

Bian asks some questions about how Angela feels when she lies to her children about being a police officer, and wonders if she doesn’t want her children to worry about her being a cop, then why is she a cop?

This sends Angela back into the memory hole: She’s back in Vietnam, 10-years-old, painting Doctor Manhattan dolls along with all the other orphans when the Vietnamese police arrive and ask her to identify the puppetmaster behind the bombing that killed her parents. She positively identifies the man in the back of their car, and as one officer drags the man off into the alley, the other officer urges Angela to go back inside the orphanage. But Angela she asks if she can listen. The female officer, impressed with Angela’s bravery, takes off her badge and gives it to Angela, instructing her to come find her when she’s an adult.

There’s a shot in the near-distance.

Angela returns to the present and when asked by Bian, tells her that it was her own memory, not her grandfather’s. Bian confesses that sometimes she has dreams that feel real — she’s an old woman, she’s scared, it hurts. Bian asks what it was like when Angela experienced her grandfather’s memories, and Angela tells her: it hurts, too.

Then we’re off to Ozymandias Land, where our erstwhile superhero is on trial before Judge Game Warden, the Prosecutor Ms. Crookshanks and a jury of Mr. Philips and Mrs. Crookshanks.

In her final argument, Madam Prosecutor points out that Veidt has killed millions, including an untold number of them, all in pursuit to violate Ozymandias Land’s one law: Thou Shall Not Leave. And he admitted as much in the perfect transcript his countless self-aggrandizing monologues. She rests her case.

Judge Game Warden then invites Veidt to give his closing argument for the defense, to which Veidt lets out one long fart, punctuated by a smaller fart. The defense rests.

Judge Game Warden apologizes to the jury: they were asked to preside over a trial of their peers, but they are not his peers. To that end, Judge Game Warden has assembled a jury of Veidt’s actual peers: PIGS!

the bachelor pigs

And the pigs, they, along with the Mr. Philipses and the Ms. Crookshanks, find Adrian Veidt very guilty.

Back on Earth, Angela follows her IV to a locked door, but before she can bust through it, Lady Trieu interrupts her and invites her to lunch. There, Lady Trieu explains why she came to Tulsa: she has a secret plan to save humanity and it starts in Oklahoma. As for Angela, she and her husband came to Tulsa because they were tired of Saigon, and Tulsa seemed as good a place as any. Lady Trieu clarifies: they came to Tulsa after Cal’s accident, right? The accident where he lost his memory? Funny thing, total amnesia is EXTREMELY rare unless one is a soap opera character.

Angela asks how Lady Trieu knows about Cal’s condition and Lady Trieu explains that Angela’s grandfather told her. Angela demands, again, to see him, but Lady Trieu refuses, insisting that it would be a bad idea right now.

Angela wonders why he left her his Nostalgia, and Lady Trieu explains that he didn’t expect her to take them all at once — Nostalgia is more tolerable in small doses.

eddie murpy are you kidding what fourth wall

So who’s Nostalgia is Lady Trieu feeding her daughter, Angela asks. Lady Trieu explains that she is feeding Bian her own memories: she is a clone of Lady Trieu’s mother, but she wouldn’t REALLY be her mother unless she had her mother’s experiences. Is it wrong for Lady Trieu to want her parents with her when she completes her life’s work? Angela asks if Lady Trieu’s father is with her, too, and Lady Trieu answers cryptically that he will be.

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Angela demands to know what Lady Trieu’s clock does already, but Lady Trieu is like, “NOPE.”

“Good afternoon. It is now four hours until the Millennium Clock is activated. All personnel, please report to the viewing platform. Lady Trieu’s invocation is for our ears only. The future thanks you for your service.”

Over in the Seventh Kalvary’s department store headquarters, Agent Blake regains consciousness and is not amused. Senator Keene begins to give his big villain speech, but she’s like, “Nah, just cut to the chase.”

So Keene does: the Kalvary and Cyclops, they aren’t racists! They’re just about “restoring balance” in those times when our country forgets the principles upon which it was founded. Because the scales have tipped way too far, it is extremely difficult to be a white man in America right now.

lalaurie white tears

And that’s why, using this crazy contraption behind him, Keene is going to try being blue.

Back over at the Millennium Clock, Lady Trieu delivers her speech to her employees ahead of starting up her device:

“When I was 15 years old, I graduated from MIT. Four years later, I bought it.

“By 24, I had revolutionized the fields of medicine, energy, nanotech, and at 30, I designed and launched the first micro-fusion spacecraft.

“But there were failures, too. My greatest was Nostalgia. I gave people the means to visit the past so they could learn from it, so they could evolve and transform and better themselves. Instead, they became fixated on their most painful memories, choosing to experience the worst moments of their lives over and over again, and why? Because they were afraid. Afraid that once unburdened by the trauma of the past, they would have no excuse not to move gloriously into the future.

“This Millennium Clock is a monument to the new. Countless generations will gaze upon our mighty work, and without despair.”

saturday night live kenan wait what confused surprised huh ok

Meanwhile, Angela is sneaking around again, trying to find who’s on the other end of her IV. She returns to the door she found earlier and believing that Will is behind it, she asks him what the hell he wants from her. But when she opens the door, SURPRISE! She is connected to an unconscious elephant.

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becca i did not see that coming bachelorette

With an understandable WHAT THE FUCK?? Angela rips the IV out of her arm and descends into another memory:

She’s back in that Vietnamese orphanage, scrubbing the floor when June, her grandmother arrives, announcing that she is there to take Angela home.

June and Angela go to a cafe, where June explains that she’s Angela’s father’s mother and that when he announced he wanted to go fight in Vietnam, she FORBADE IT and told him she would never speak to him again if he left. He went anyway, the war ended, he met Angela’s mother, and they decided to stay. A few years passed and after June had a heart attack, she decided enough was enough and she wrote him a letter. When the letter returned to her stamped DECEASED,  June learned her now-dead son had a now-dead wife and a very alive daughter. So she bought a plane ticket and flew all the way to Vietnam to bring Angela home.

June invites Angela to tell her something about herself, and Angela takes the police badge out of her small bag of belongings and explains that she is going to be a police officer. June sighs that of course she is.

Angela then pulls out the copy of Sister Night and June is delighted. YOU DO NOT WANT TO FUCK WITH SISTER NIGHT! Angela explains that she’s not allowed to watch it because her dad said they should be scared of people who wear masks. June explains that her father was scared once by someone who wore a mask when he was Angela’s age, and never really got over it. But it’s OK: June has a VCR back in Tulsa, they’ll watch the movie there.

And just as the two are about to depart to the airport and live happily ever after, June drops dead from a heart attack.

rick grimes no crying carl sad the walking dead twd

Yep. Back to the orphanage with you, Angela. Hope your maternal grandparents are looking for you.

Angela returns to the present, where she gets directly the fuck out of the elephant room and takes the elevator to … wherever.

Wherever happens to be a room with a giant glowing blue globe which, when touched, plays the messages from those Doctor Manhattan phone booths placed all over the world. This is where Lady Trieu finds her, noting that there are so many unanswered prayers. He ignores them, every single one. And you know why? Because Doctor Manhattan isn’t on Mars. He’s right here in Tulsa, walking around pretending to be human.

Angela wonders if she’s the one who put that idea in her grandfather’s head, but Lady Trieu corrects her: he put it in her head. Angela’s grandfather came to her because he needed someone with her resources to help him destroy the Seventh Kalvary, who, in less than one hour, is going to capture Doctor Manhattan, destroy him and then become him.

Angela declares this the craziest shit she’s ever heard as she hurries away. And Lady Trieu notes that Angela didn’t ask her who Doctor Manhattan is.

And she never does.

Instead, Angela steals a Land Rover, barrels through the security gate and rams her colleagues’ car when they refuse to move before rushing home.

Inside the house, she frantically rummages through the kitchen looking for something, which is where Cal finds her. He asks if she’s alright and explains that he tried to see her at the Clock, but she stops him: he’s an amazing husband, a great father and the best friend she’s ever had, but it’s time he comes out of the tunnel. Cal doesn’t know what she’s talking about and she reminds him that he doesn’t remember, but that they always knew this day would come. Cal wonders if they talked about this before his accident, and Angela reminds him that there was no accident, it was all a lie so that they could be together. At least for a while.

Cal tells Angela she’s not herself, and she replies, “No, Jon, you’re not yourself.” Cal reminds her that his name is not Jon, and that’s when she clocks him in the head with a hammer, knocking him to the ground. Angela bashes him in the face a few more times until there is a hole in his forehead into which she reaches and pulls out a small disc. Angela is illuminated by blue light and she lovingly looks down. “Hey baby. We’re in fucking trouble.”

Alriiiight. SO. This is one of those episodes where you think it’s one thing — Angela’s origin story — but then in the final moments it becomes something very different: the crucial reveal that Cal is, in fact, Doctor Manhattan (as many had suspected he was). It’s not that this episode isn’t Angela’s origin story, it’s that it is only one half of it, completed by the next episode, the love song of Angela and Doc Manhattan.

An editorial note: very often when I am recapping a show and am behind, I avoid watching ahead so as to not write a recap with more information than the viewer has. Not this time. I absolutely have seen the next episode (and depending on when I am able to publish this, perhaps even the finale), but I am going to do my best to not drag information from that episode into this commentary.

OK, so. The reason the Cal reveal worked is that the show laid a number of very subtle clues in the earlier episodes without hammering us over the head with foreshadowing. The biggest clues were: the calm and matter-of-fact way Cal told the children that there is no such thing as heaven; the conversation he and Angela have about the fact that he hates to lie; the time he was playing with his daughters and was dressed as a ghost (Cal is dead, baby, Cal is dead); the way Laurie Blake seemed to know Cal, almost as if they had met before and she couldn’t quite place him but knew she was attracted to him; and, of course, Angela’s alter-ego: “Sister Night” — like a nun, she’s married to a God. But one of the biggest clues for me was one of the weird unaddressed questions of the series: Cal’s disappearance during the White Night. Where did he go? How did he survive it? Why didn’t he help Angela? Now we know that whatever happened that night, it was more complicated than just a cowardly husband abandoning his wife as she was shot at by a bunch of racist fuckos.

But, like Doctor Manhattan himself, there was a huge — double entendre definitely intended — clue hiding in plain sight: Laurie’s big blue dildo. According to the documents in Peteypedia, the dildo was designed for Laurie by her ex-boyfriend, Dan, the Nite Owl. He named it Excalibur.

Get it? EX-CAL-ABAR?

hannah the bachelorette oh my god shocked mind blown how dare you


The other Doctor Manhattan revelation — if you could call it that, and I’m not sure you could since it was more just an obvious extension of logic — is that he would be viewed in this very divisive way in Vietnam: as a hero to the Americans and the Vietnamese who fought with them, but as an oppressive villainous invader by those who wanted no part in becoming the 51st state. The comic never explores the ramifications of the end of the Vietnam war outside of the effect it had on our own politics, but OF COURSE there would be a strong independence movement within Vietnam, and it would inspire terrorist attacks similar to the ones that were also happening in Ireland and in the Middle East around that same time.

I mention this because I am of two minds about Lady Trieu. I still think it is probable that she is the daughter of Edward “The Comedian” Blake; that after Blake shot and killed her pregnant mother, Doctor Manhattan brought her back, saving both of their lives. I keep going back to the dialog in that scene, in which the Vietnamese woman insists that Blake will not forget her before she attacks him, and how this issue of memory is such a primary one in this series, particularly for Lady Trieu and her work. If Doctor Manhattan saved her and her mother, she would presumably be grateful and want to help and protect him — even if he was responsible for her country losing its independence and becoming a part of the United States.


At the age of five, Lady Trieu named herself after the “Joan of Arc” of Vietnam — a third-century Vietnamese warrior who fought against Chinese invaders while riding an elephant, and who is quoted as saying, “I’d like to ride storms, kill sharks in the open sea, drive out the aggressors, reconquer the country, undo the ties of serfdom, and never bend my back to be the concubine of whatever man.

In a Peteypedia article about Lady Trieu, they note that in her mother’s autobiography,  she claims to have been inspired “by the liberators and architects of Pax America! Nixon. Manhattan. The Comedian. Veidt. I thought it was time to add a female face to that proverbial Rushmore.”

But later in the same article, there is this nugget:

We don’t like getting political in The Talk of Tulsa, but our news editors made us ask this question. So to get serious for a second: multiple newspapers in Vietnam, most of them of the far right stripe, have alleged that Lady Trieu supports VLF terrorists with cash, weaponry, and other resources. True? “Lady Trieu’s desire to see her homeland regain independence is a matter of public record,” says the Trieu spokeswoman. “But she rejects militant nationalism in all forms. Her interests are global, not local. And she seeks only peaceful solutions for uniting and pacifying the nations and bringing an age of illumination to a benighted world.”

OK, now. In the scene right before Keene reveals his Doctor Manhattan cage, or whatever the hell it is, Angela and Lady Trieu have lunch together. On the table between them is a fishbowl with a beta.

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A blue beta.

OK LISTEN. I KNOW THAT I AM READING WAY TOO MUCH INTO A FISH. And I should note that the conversation that takes place at that table with the fish between them is about Cal and his supposed amnesia — meaning that it could just be a bit of foreshadowing that Lady Trieu knows EXACTLY who Cal is, and she knows that Angela knows, and he’s just this unspoken thing between them.

But I have to say, the second time I watched this scene, I noticed the fish and it gave me a strong sense of foreboding … that Lady Trieu, whatever she is up to, it might be trying to trap Doctor Manhattan somehow. You know, kinda like in Keene’s cage.

All I’m saying is keep an eye on Trieu. I’m not convinced she’s on anyone’s side but her own.

In terms of symbolism within this episode, the biggest symbol — literally — is that elephant. Elephants in the Western world represent memory, and that is literally what the elephant is being used for here: to help restore Angela’s memory. But in the Asian world, elephants are also a symbol of the power of kingship and knowledge. They also sometimes serve as a cosmic animal — one that, like tortoises and bulls, are tasked with holding up the universe upon their backs. Just keep that in mind with the Trieu/elephant symbolism and her talk of saving the world.

The other symbol that stood out to me in this episode was one that I’ve been meaning to discuss in other episodes but really stood out in this one: the tether/rope. Angela, like Bian in a previous episode, is tethered to an IV for most of her time in Lady Trieu’s lair. The IV connects Angela back to her present, to pull her out of the past, whereas for Bian, the IV serves to connect her to a past she doesn’t know. There is also the tether that Veidt uses in his attempt to escape Ozymandias land. And the tethering imagery is also reflected in a less direct way by the hangman’s noose that decorates Hooded Justice’s costume and with which Judd hangs himself.

And then there is Lady Trieu’s speech, in which she confronts the failure that haunts her the most: Nostalgia:

“But there were failures, too. My greatest was Nostalgia. I gave people the means to visit the past so they could learn from it, so they could evolve and transform and better themselves. Instead, they became fixated on their most painful memories, choosing to experience the worst moments of their lives over and over again, and why? Because they were afraid. Afraid that once unburdened by the trauma of the past, they would have no excuse not to move gloriously into the future.

Orrrr — and who am I to argue with the woman who bought MIT — but maybe the brain processes trauma differently, and gives trauma more importance as a self-preservation method. BRAIN LOGIC: if we fixate on painful experiences, perhaps we can avoid them in the future. Who among us hasn’t been woken up in the middle of the night with some cringe-inducing memory of something regrettable they said in the seventh grade? Or some fight we’ve had with a loved one? For those who have suffered real trauma, the brain often replays the experience in the form of PTSD. My only experience with PTSD, if it can even be called that, was after a skiing accident when I was slammed into from behind by an out-of-control snowboarder. Afterwards, for the next couple of years, I would find myself on the mountain suddenly unable to move, irrationally filled with panic that I was going to be injured if I took this one part of the slope, part of a run that I had done dozens of times before — and not where I was injured. Something, God only knows what, reminded me of my injury and my brain became stuck in the past, tethered to that trauma.

So, the tether symbolizes being bound to one’s personal trauma, but in a larger sense, it also represents the generational trauma we’ve discussed before, that pain that links us through the years, even centuries. Angela believes she is still bound to her grandfather physically, when, in fact, it’s only an emotional bond at this point.

That said, there is a more positive meaning behind ropes/tethers: just as a rope or a tether can link us to the distant past, they also can lead us into our future. As such, in many ancient cultures, ropes are an ascension symbol, a means for us to climb closer to the Gods, closer to divine knowledge.

And so, in this episode in particular, but in conjunction with all of that other rope symbolism before, the tether, the IV, and the rope represents Angela ascending into the truth: the dark truth about her friend Chief Judd, the truth about her own familial past (which was beautifully represented in the briefest of moments: when young Angela is looking at the body of June, her grandmother, while at the same moment in Angela’s mind, present Angela remembers hugging June while in her grandfather’s body. I WAS FUCKING CRYING, Y’ALL.) and, most importantly, the dark truth about what is about to happen to her husband, Doctor Manhattan. To learn the truth, Angela must ascend — paradoxically — into the past.

And I will talk about this more in the next episode, I’m sure, but this issue of how the Nostalgia is playing on Angela’s brain, the way Will’s memories bleed into hers, it removes her from linear time, making these connections between two points that are separated by years. You know, kinda like a person who lives outside of time does. ~cough Doctor Manhattan cough~

Similarly, there is Bian, who through her mother’s experiment is being forced to make these connections between her own present and someone else’s past. Bian may absorb Lady Trieu’s mother’s memories, and she may even believe they are her own experiences, but what happens to Bian’s own memories and past? How is her brain supposed to process two lives? Is she really Lady Trieu’s mother if she has lived as herself as Bian? The two women may look exactly the same but are they?

And when I set out to write this commentary, I had originally planned to discuss the similarities between Angela and Bian, their shared experience of having taken in someone else’s memories, and the deep sense of loneliness and abandonment that envelops them both. But it occurs to me now that the larger theme of this episode —  abandonment — it’s not Bian who suffers from it (well, maybe, stick an asterisk on this one**) but her mother, Lady Trieu.

Trieu, like Angela, clearly feels like she has been abandoned by her parents — why else would she be going through such extraordinary measures to bring them — or at least one of them — back? If you have resolved your issues with your parents when they finally pass, the healthy response would be to allow them to rest in peace and, in Trieu’s own words, “move gloriously into the future.” But in cloning her mother, Lady Trieu is demonstrating that she wants to cling to the past, that she, too, is tethered to her mother’s story for some reason. What I’m saying is that Trieu, like Angela, has her own parental abandonment issues that drive her every choice, and make her the woman that she is.

So let’s talk about Angela and her abandonment issues. To be fair to Angela’s parents and grandmother, it seems unfair to use the word “abandonment” based on what happened to her as a child. Abandonment suggests that they chose to leave her, instead of being the unfortunate victims of circumstance. Adrian Veidt, for instance, is doing his damndest to abandon the Ms. Crookshanks and Mr. Philipses in his care, but Marcus Abar, his wife, and June Reeves, they would have never left Angela alone of their own volition.

That said, the result is the same. On her tenth birthday, Angela Abar learns a painful lesson: everyone she loves will leave her. This is reinforced when she ever-so-briefly experiences hope and believes she is going to escape the horrors of her orphanage and be raised by a woman who loves her. Fate yoinks that rug right out from under her moments later, cementing in young Angela’s brain that at the end of the day, she will be alone. That everyone she loves will abandon her one way or another. She gets 10 years of family, and THAT’S IT.

This abandonment motif is one of the larger themes of the original comic, as it relates to Doctor Manhattan. Doctor Manhattan is, of course, considered as close to a God as we will see on Earth — if not actually a God — but when things become complicated for his charges, when the nuclear stakes become too high, he abandons them for Mars, leaving them to take care of themselves.

What happened with Doctor Manhattan is more complicated, of course, and why I view this episode as the first half of a two-part episode fulfilled by the next one — so we can discuss this at greater length then, but the sense that a weaker/more vulnerable partner in a relationship has been abandoned by their parent/partner, is at the heart of this entire universe. God went out for cigarettes and never came back — or did he?


This week’s Peteypedia files include:

An explainer of Sister Night, the movie, by Agent Petey. Again, reminder: Hooded Justice’s original name in the series was going to be Brother Night, so, you know.

The medical report for Cal Abar following his “car accident” and “memory loss.” “Took great interest in my Dr. Manhattan bobblehead.” OH I BET.

The series finale is tonight: it’s a Damon Lindleof show, so prepare yourself for questions to go unanswered! See you on the other side!

*I would watch a two-hour special of just teen Angela Abar watching Sister Night for the first time.

**Of course, if Bian becomes Lady Trieu’s mother, and if Lady Trieu’s mother is the woman impregnated by The Comedian who tries to leave her in Vietnam before just shooting her dead, she does, in fact, have her own abandonment issues — or someone else’s abandonment issues, to be exact.

Watchmen airs on HBO on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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