"So many prayers unanswered… You wouldn’t believe what people ask him for. They beg and beg and beg for his help. Beg for him to come down from the heavens, and make things better. But he ignores them, every single one. Do you know why? Because Dr. Manhattan isn’t listening. He’s not even on Mars."
—Lady Trieu to Angela about Dr. Manhattan
In 1987, a young Angela Abar is in VHS shop where the narration to a documentary on Doctor Manhattan is heard playing and talks about how he came, "from humble beginnings fraught with persecution in Nazi Germany, to the shores of New York, one small boy in a huddled mass, yearning to breath free. Jon Osterman transcended pain, suffering, and even death itself to create a life the likes of which history has never seen. 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. Jon Osterman stepped into an intrinsic field chamber to recover his girlfriend's watch, but what emerged was an immortal god, impervious to the passage of time. This victim of an atomic mishap would forever alter the history of humankind by developing miraculous new wonders. And then, Vietnam." The narrator then asks if Dr. Manhattan "was the liberating hero who single-handedly ended the war and delivered his country its 51st state? Or was he the cold blue conqueror who decimated an entire way of life?" That same narrator then finishes up by saying that "like the Vietcong he vanquished a decade earlier, he retreated...”
In a video store in Saigon, a young Angela picks up a video featuring Sister Night and takes it to the counter. The clerk says that her parents won't let her watch it, but Angela rents it anyway and leaves the store and goes out onto the streets of the city during Victory in Vietnam Day. Angela stops to watch a puppet show portraying the arrival of Dr. Manhattan to win the war for America. The girl finds her parents outside the American embassy and shows them the video, and asks them to let her see it. They remind her that she has to wait until she grows up, and her father tells her that she should be scared of people who wear masks because they're hiding something. Marcus tells Angela to take it back and then come back to watch the fireworks with them.
As Angela goes back past the puppet show, a man rides up on a bicycle, looks briefly at the puppeteer, takes a backpack from him and puts it on, and rides away. Angela watches him ride up to her parents, and the bomb in his backpack explodes just after he yells "Death to the invaders!"
In the present, Angela falls out of her bed inside Trieu Industries and climbs back up. Lady Trieu comes in and tells Angela that her memory is a bit broken after she took an entire bottle of someone else's Nostalgia pills. The woman explains that Laurie Blake asked her to treat Angela, and gives her a tutorial injection explaining how the new memories are overwriting Angela's own memories. The treatment flushes Nostalgia from the brain cortex and "cures" the patient.
Angela tells Trieu to never do it to her again, and Trieu says that the tube is connected to a natural host, who Angela thinks is Will Reeves. She tells Angela that Will's painful memories are coming out of Angela right now, and advises against contact with him since she wouldn't know where he ends and she begins. Trieu warns her that Angela will abruptly experience her own memories and asks what knocked her out of bed. Angela claims that it was her tenth birthday party and her parents gave her a pony.
With 12 hours until the Millennium Clock is activated, Cal Abar drives up to the Trieu facility. He finds Red Scare and Pirate Jenny outside and asks if Angela is there. Red Scare says that Angela is and advises him to go home. Cal drives in anyway and asks to see his wife. The security guard gets a call, puts a hologram disc on the ground, and Bian appears and tells Cal that they can't grant him access for his own safety while they activate the Clock. Bian assures Cal that Angela is doing well and disappears. Cal yells saying he wants to see his wife.
Meanwhile, Laurie is listening to her recordings of Angela muttering about Will's memories of Cyclops, the mesmerism projector, and Judd Crawford hanging himself under his control. Dale Petey calls Laurie and tells her that he's at Wade Tillman's house after Laurie sent him there in case Wade was working with 7K. The agent reports that the five 7K intruders are dead and one of them isn't wearing a Rorschach mask. Petey wonders why Wade didn't call it in, and Laurie tells him not to call it in and leaves her phone in the car.
Jane Crawford rides up on a horse and Laurie approaches her. They go into the Crawford's' home and Laurie tells Jane that Will killed Judd. Jane wonders why Will wanted to kill Judd, and Laurie explains that Angela talked while she was OD'ing on Will's Nostalgia. It turns out that Will was Hooded Justice, the very first masked vigilante, and he was black. She goes onto to say how this was the guy who inspired two generations of heroes, her parents, Sally Jupiter and Eddie Blake, and herself included, but he had to hide who he was. Because while white men in masks are heroes, black men in masks are deemed scary. Laurie then asks if Jane knows the significance of "Cyclops", which she describes as a racist cult that used mind control. She shares her theory that she wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't at least consider the idea that Judd was a secret white supremacist. So perhaps Will Reeves though Judd was part of Cyclops, and this was the reason he killed him. Laurie also wonders if 7K is just Cyclops with a new name, and if perhaps Joe Keene engineered the White Night so that cops would wear masks. Which in turn would make it hard to tell the difference between the good guys from the bad guys because everybody is covering their fucking faces. Eventually pledging loyalty to their newly elected leader, President Joe.
Jane confesses that was the original idea, and Laurie is surprised that Jane is confessing so readily. The woman takes out a remote and punches the button until the couch Laurie is sitting in falls through the floor; revealing a trapped door. Jane then makes a call to someone and asks if they want her to kill Laurie.
Angela stares out the window at the Clock, and Bian My comes in with a chair and a laptop. She tests Angela's psychological responses and takes notes, Bian shows Angela a picture of the same woman twice and asks which one is angrier. Angela notes that they're the same, and Bian explains that she's doing a dissertation. When Angela mentions her son, Bian asks if it's tough lying to him that she's not a police detective. She wonders why Angela is a cop if she doesn't want her children to worry that she's a cop. Angela then begins to stare off into space.
Memories of Angela's time in Vietnam continue to come back to her. This time, she's painting a Dr. Manhattan doll at the orphanage when the headmistress takes her out to two waiting policemen and leaves. The officers say that they need her help and show her the puppeteer in the back of their car. Angela identifies him due to his many conveniently distinctive features and one officer puts a hood on the man and takes him away. The other officer, whose name is Jen, tells Angela that she's brave, gives her a badge, and says that Angela should find her when she's older. A gunshot rings out from the alley where the other officer took the puppeteer.
That night, Angela goes to bed in the orphanage. She gets up and looks at the badge she hid under her bed, then puts it back with the Sister Night video she still has in her possession.
Bian asks if Angela experienced her memory or Will's, and Angela says that it was hers. As Angela looks at the tube in her arm, Bian says that she has dreams of being a scared old woman and they hurt. She asks Angela what it was like for her when she saw what Will saw, and Angela says that it also hurt.
In a church, Phillips announces the 365th day of the People versus Adrian Veidt Alias: Ozymandias, Alias: Master. The Game Warden comes in and everyone rises except Adrian. The Game Warden takes the bench and the Prosecutor says that Ozymandias pulls them from the water and then slaughters them. She reminds everyone that the one law is thou shalt not leave, and Adrian has admitted that he killed three million innocent people. Adrian doesn't apologize for anything that he's done or shows remorse, and insists that such carnage is necessary to achieve utopia. For years, Adrian has hurled their bodies into the void and boasting of his true purpose: escape. The Prosecutor tells the jury to either resign themselves to Adrian's cruel whim or find him guilty.
The Game Warden notes that Adrian is defending himself but hasn't presented anything in his defense. He invites Adrian to speak, and Adrian stands up and farts. Adrian then says that the defense rests and sits back down. The Game Warden apologizes to the jury for placing the burden of judging Adrian on them. He admits that the jury aren't Adrian's peers so he has assembled an alternate jury. Another Philips lets a herd of pigs into the room, and the Game Warden asks the pig foreman how they found the defendant. It squeals, and the Game Warden declares Adrian guilty. The Philips and Crookshanks all chant guilty. Meanwhile, in the closing moments of his trial, Adrian lets one single tear escape as he is declared guilty.
Back at Trieu's Industries, Angela walks out of her room and finds a sealed door as she is following a yellow cord while a butterfly is seen flying around. Lady Trieu sees her and asks her if she's hungry, and as they eat Trieu explains that she has a secret plan to save humanity and it starts in Oklahoma.
Lady Trieu brings up Cal, and mentions how total amnesia is extremely rare, and she should know since she’s done a lot of research on memory. She mentions how unless you’re in a soap opera, in real life, it almost never happens. Angela asks Lady Trieu how she knows about Cal. She answers that Will told her. Angela doesn’t believe her and says that she only spent all of 20 minutes with Will and that he doesn’t know shit about her husband. Lady Trieu disagrees and says Will knows a lot about Angela too.
Angela goes on and says that she and Cal were looking to start over after Saigon and Tulsa seemed as good a place as ever. Angela demands to see Will, and Trieu says that it would be a bad idea at the moment. When Trieu says that Nostalgia is more tolerable in small doses, Angela asks whose memories Bian is experiencing. Trieu says that she's slipping Bian's own memories to her, and Bian is not her daughter, but her mother. Before her mother died, she cloned her and has been reintegrating her memories while she sleeps via IV drip. Trieu says that she wants her parents with her when she completes her life's work. Angela asks what the Clock does, and Trieu refuses.
Laurie wakes up in the 7K base, tied to a chair. 7K operatives are constructing a giant cage, and Keene comes over and admits that he didn't expect Hooded Justice to kill Judd. Laurie tells him not to talk her through his plan, and says that she doesn't care what his plan is. Keene tells him that she of all people will care, and says that Cyclops want to restore the balance on which the country was founded. He says that it is difficult to be a white man in America right now, so Keene plans on being a blue man.
Angela watches a video of Trieu talking about her successes and failures. The trillionaire mentions that her greatest failure was Nostalgia, which she hoped would let people better themselves. Instead they became fixated on their most painful memories because they were afraid of releasing their trauma. Angela walks out of her room and goes to the door, and says that she knows Will is in there. She explains that she took Will's pills and asks what he wants from her. When the door doesn't open, Angela breaks in and finds an elephant sleeping on the floor of a cage, hooked up to a device pumping its memories into her.
When Angela pulls out the tubes, she relives her memories of working at the orphanage. The headmistress arrives with an older June Abar, who introduces herself and says that she's Angela's grandmother. June says that she's there to take Angela home. They go to a Burgers 'N' Borscht diner and June explains that Marcus came there. When the war ended, Marcus met Angela's mother and stayed for the opportunities. Eventually she learned that Marcus was dead and never listed June as her next of kin. June found out that Marcus had a wife and she was dead, and Angela was the only member of the family left. She flew to Vietnam to get Angela, and Angela says that she's going to be a police officer and shows June the badge. Angela shows her the Sister Night video, and says that Marcus told her they should be scared of people in masks. June explains that someone in a mask scared Marcus and he never got over it. Angela asks about her grandfather, and June talks about the video. She offers to take Angela to Tulsa and they'll watch the video together.
June and Angela prepare to take a taxi to the airport, and Angela collapses outside. Angela gets out and discovers that her grandmother has died of a heart attack.
Angela wakes up when alarms going off saying that the subject is disconnected from the tubes. She finds an elevator and takes it, and finds herself in a hallway. Angela follows it into a large dark chamber with a globe of the world in the center. When she touches Venezuela, a Venezuelan woman appears on a screen, talking on her phone. He says in Spanish that she needs Dr. Manhattan's help because she was diagnosed with some sort of brain cancer. Angela then touches the Middle East and an Arabic Man on a phone appears. She touches Tulsa and sees Laurie telling Dr. Manhattan her joke in the booth. Trieu comes in and says that she owns and operates thousands of Manhattan booths. People beg for Manhattan to come down and make things better, but he ignores them all because he isn't listening and isn't even on Mars.
Angela wonders where Manhattan is then, and Trieu says that Dr. Manhattan is in Tulsa pretending to be human. She says that Will put the idea in her head, and Angela demands to know what Trieu is doing. Trieu explains that Will came to her because he needed someone with Trieu's resources to stop the 7K. She explains that in an hour, the 7K is going to capture Dr. Manhattan and destroy him... and then they're going to become him. Trieu insists that she's saving humanity because leaving that kind of power in the hands of racists would be apocalyptic. Angela says that it's crazy and she's leaving, and Trieu notes that Angela didn't ask her who Manhattan is. The detective ignores her and leaves.
Red Scare and Pirate Jenny are outside eating, and a van pulls up to the guard station. Pirate Jenny goes over to check it out, and Red Scare cuts it off. Angela is in said van, and Pirate Jenny tells Angela that she's under arrest. When Pirate Jenny relates Red Scare's message, Red Scare says that he doesn't care and Angela rams past him and drives to her home. 7K operatives are then seen watching the place.
Angela enters the house and Cal hears her. He finds her in the kitchen going through the cupboards. Angela tells him to listen to her and says that she loves him. She then tells Cal that it's time to come out of the tunnel, finds a hammer, and says that they always knew the day would come but Cal doesn't remember. When Cal wonders if they talked about it before the accident, Angela says that the accident was a lie so that they could be together. She explains that it was Cal's idea, and Cal figures that she's confused from the Nostalgia. Angela calls Cal "Jon" and says that he's not himself, and hits him in the head with the hammer. She then kneels over him and pounds on his head, reaches into the wound, and looks at the Manhattan symbol underneath. Cal's skin glows blue, and Angela says that they're in trouble.
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Saigon, Vietnam (flashback)
- New York City, New York (flashback)
- Gila Flats, New Mexico (picture)
- The episode’s title, “An Almost Religious Awe” refers to a line from the original series where Doctor Manhattan narrates that many North Vietnamese wanted to surrender directly and personally to him, “their terror of me balanced by an almost religious awe.”
- There is a trailer for a documentary film about Doctor Manhattan called Manhattan: An American Life, which features nearly every facet of Manhattan's time on Earth including his immigration to America with his father, the accident in the intrinsic field subtractor that gave him his powers, his impact on science and technology, his destructive nature during the Vietnam War, and the cancer panic that resulted in his exile to Mars.
- The documentary displays an article from the New Frontiersman featuring an illustration of Doctor Manhattan next to Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission. This could be a reference to the opening scene of the 2009 film in which Manhattan photographs Armstrong on the occasion of the Apollo moon landings.
- Dave Gibbons himself illustrated the cardboard cutout of Doctor Manhattan that frames the documentary video playing in the video rental store.
- One of the videos on the rack is a film adaptation of Max Shea's Fogdancing directed by David Cronenberg.
- Also on the video rack is Silk Swingers of Suburbia, an adult B-movie based on the exploits of the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter.
- When we see a Doctor Manhattan marionette being controlled by a puppeteer, this is a reference to a line said by Doctor Manhattan when Laurie Juspeczyk asks if he’s just a “puppet following a script” in issue #9 of the comic.
- His response, in typical Doctor Manhattan fashion, is “We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings.”
- A place called Burgers 'N' Borscht is seen twice in the episode.
- First in passing as Angela Abar walks out of the video store, then towards the end as Angela and her grandmother are having lunch.
- The name of the fast food joint is a reference to an actual place from the graphic novel, specifically from issue #12. The fast food joint is one of the many nods given by the comic to signal the newfound peace between the United States and the Soviet Union due to Adrian Veidt’s squid hoax. This has signaled a melding of cultures due to the new spirit of cooperation, which apparently includes this burger place.
- Lady Trieu’s daughter Bian puts Angela Abar through a psychological test which evokes the Rorschach test undergone by the vigilante with the same name while in prison in issue #6 of the original Watchmen.
- Jane Crawford’s trapdoor misfire was a nod to the classic Saturday Night Live skit, “Wilson Trap Doors.” The clicker even has the “Wilson” brand name on it.
- The illustration of the alien squid presented at the trial of Adrian Veidt is the same one drawn by surrealist painter Hira Manish in issue #8 of the original series.
- During the trial of Ozymandias, the Game Warden deems a bunch of pigs a fitting "jury of your peers" for Ozymandias. "Doctrine of Swine" is a criticism of utilitarian moral philosophy, which puts forth that if the utilitarian principle is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, it assigns to humans no higher goals than what pigs have. Ozymandias's rationale that killing millions is justified if it saves billions of lives is very much utilitarian.
- Lady Trieu’s speech ahead of the launch of her Millennium Clock is an altered version of a line from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem that gave Ozymandias his name.
- The original reads “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” while Lady Trieu says “Gaze upon our mighty work, and with that despair…”
- When Angela Abar is going through the various messages to Doctor Manhattan, one of the ones that pops up is the one from when Laurie Blake was telling Jon the joke about the three men going to hell seen throughout "She Was Killed by Space Junk".
- When Angela Abar comes home to wake up Cal Abar, he had fallen asleep reading Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. The book and the title are both a reference to Cal's imminent death and the gradual rise of a fascist dictatorship. Hemingway's book was about the Spanish Civil War, while the grand evil scheme in Watchmen appears to be white supremacists attempting to become godlike supermen.
- The episode with an instrumental version of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Behind the scenes
|Watchmen (TV series)|
|01. It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice • 02. Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship • 03. She Was Killed by Space Junk • 04. If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own • 05. Little Fear of Lightning • 06. This Extraordinary Being • 07. An Almost Religious Awe • 08. A God Walks into Abar • 09. See How They Fly|