With only a short time left in its story, Watchmen upped the ante again last week with a heartbreaking and mind-bending episode that revealed one of the biggest secrets that the show has been holding over its audience: what has been going on in Doctor Manhattan's life since Watchmen. The character apparently tired of being a god and wanted to try his hand at being an everyday man once again. He was seemingly fairly good at it, too, since the revelation that Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was secretly the blue-skinned super-being came as a shock to almost everyone watching at home.
One of the biggest questions that came out of the audience, though, was why he felt obliged to take on a new role, a new life, and a new partner, rather than returning to being Jon Osterman and settling down with Laurie Blake (Jean Smart), his former lover and one of the only people who has ever come close to understanding him on a human level in his post-human state. The answer is classic Watchmen.
Abdul-Mateen told TheWrap that because Doctor Manhattan perceives time as all happening at once, he essentially followed his destiny as much as he made conscious decisions. For all intents and purposes, he did not go back to Laurie simply because he knows that, in the future, he did not go back to Laurie. And, yes, it's as much of a headache to parse out as it was in the comics. We're sure Laurie is pretty much used to it.
“He doesn’t go to Laurie, because that’s not what he does,” Abdul-Mateen said. “That’s not what he does in the future. He’s a guy who doesn’t try to alter events of the future. He’s simultaneously experiencing it. She was always the choice. She was always his destiny…I guess that’s kind of cold to Laurie. But that’s one of the tragic things about falling in love with someone like Doctor Manhattan.”
Showrunner Damon Lindelof previously said he thought of the twist from a fan perspective, and that the character of Doctor Manhattan was a necessary addition to a show using the Watchmen name.
"I started this whole journey from the perspective of a fan — what would I have to see in a television show daring to call itself Watchmen? Doctor Manhattan was near the top of that list," the writer said.
The season finale of Watchmen airs on HBO next Sunday, December 15th beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT.