Watchmen season 1, episode 7 recap: An Almost Religious Awe

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

Wow. Watchmen is back with “An Almost Religious Awe.” Is Angela ok? Is Looking Glass alive? What is everyone counting down to? We’ve got the recap!

Hey! This is a recap of Watchmen season 1, episode 7: “An Almost Religious Awe.” So, spoiler alert. Like, powerful spoiler alert. Something pretty major gets revealed at the end of the hour. It’s going to be directly referenced and discussed here. I thought we were building to this reveal, but I wasn’t sure. And there’s no way I guessed how the reveal would be made and the shock-wave it would send through the Watchmen story.

All in all, this was a tense, sad, and fun hour of entertainment. The episode was written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour (PEN15) and Claire Kiechel (The OA). It was directed by David Semel (Star Trek: Discovery). We think we’re getting a readjustment episode for Angela (Regina King). We do get that. But, we also get Dr. Manhattan. And, the almost universal knowledge that he, as well as humanity, is doomed.

The Elephant In the Room

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Angela is recovering from the effects of her lethal dose of Nostalgia. Her memories are still infused with Will’s (Louis Gossett, Jr.). We don’t see her grandfather in this episode. The first memory we see is of Young Angela. She’s played by Faithe Herman, who absolutely ruled every scene she had as Darla in Shazam! She was also adorable as a young girl with an old soul in a car commercial from a couple of years back. Here, Faithe Herman nails young Angela. She’s vulnerable, yet grounded and fierce.

Viet Nam, 51st State of the Union in 1985: The streets are flooded with Dr. Manhattan cosplayers, puppets, and stories. Young Angela is looking through videos. She stops on Sister Night: A Nun with a Motherf*&*ing Gun. She gives the video store clerk (Damien Dao) a $5 bill, but he tells her that he’s just going to hold on to it.

Her parents will never let her watch the video. Angela tries to hide the video from her parents, Marcus (Anthony Hill) and Elsie (Devyn A. Tyler), but they laugh and tell her to take it back. As she returns to the video store, she notices a man take a backpack from a Dr. Manhattan puppeteer (Hawn Tran). He’s a terrorist. He yells death to invaders and detonates a suicide bomb. Angela’s last view of her parents is a play on Nite Owl and Silk Spectre kissing while a nuke detonates in the foreground. The last image she has of her parents is them laughing with each other as they are enveloped by fire and debris. They’re killed instantly.

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen — photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

Present Angela startles awake. Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) is used to this happening. It’s the 5th time Angela has fallen out of bed on her road to recovery. But this time, she seems to be more Angela than Will. Lady Trieu injects her with the memory of answers to her questions. Creepy, yet so Lady Trieu. Angela is undergoing neumodialysis, which is the only treatment for memory infestation. Her memories are literally melded with Will’s, which explains why the death of her parents would morph aspects and people from her grandfather’s memory of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

A Trap Door? For Real?

Laurie (Jean Smart) checks in with Agent Petey (Dustin Ingram). He’s at Wade’s place following up on his disappearance. Laurie thinks it’s weird that Wade sold Angela out. It’s even weirder that he disappeared right after. Is he 7th K? Nope. Petey finds the bodies of the 7th K death squad sent for Wade at the end of “Little Fear of Lightning.” Laurie tells Petey to sit tight. She’ll be right there after she finishes what she’s doing.

And what she’s doing is confronting Judd’s widow, Jane (Frances Fisher). She lays out everything about Judd being 7th K and there being a big conspiracy to take over Tulsa. Jane doesn’t deny it. She admits that she thought it would take Laurie longer. Jane also says that the goal could be to take over the presidency, but since President Robert Redford allowed masked policeman, there was little need to go that far. They could go farther.

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen — photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

This startles Laurie. She gets even more startled when Jane starts to aim a remote control that says at her. It has the name Wilson on it. There’s time for us to read this because Jane is clicking buttons that won’t work. Laurie wants to know what’s happening. All of a sudden Laurie’s seat falls into the floor a bit. Incredulous, Laurie starts to realize what’s happening when the trap door finally drops her into a lower level. Jane calls Senator Keane (James Wolk) and asks if she should kill Laurie or detain her.

That was a straightforward, yet darkly funny scene. When Laurie wakes up, she’s tied to a chair in that burned out mall. The intrinsic chambers are now in a JC Penny’s. Senator Keane greets her. He goes on a mini rant about returning order and how hard it is to be a white man these days. Keane suggests that maybe he should try being blue. What? He wants to become Dr. Manhattan? How? Laurie is truly shocked.

Is That a Hammer or are You Happy to See Me?

Angela has an encounter with Bian (Jolie Hoang-Rappaport). Bian comes to Angela’s room to interview her for her Ph.D. thesis. The questions are very much like the psychiatrist who interview Rorschach in the original Watchmen comic and the 2009 Zak Snyder film. But Angela has another one of her own memories take her focus away from Bian. Young Angela is living in an orphanage with a Dickensesque headmistress (Junie Hoang).

Two police officers, Officer Roy (Danny Le Boyer) and Officer Jen (Jennifer Vo Le), ask Young Angela if she recognizes the puppeteer from the day of the explosion that killed her parents. She positively identifies the man face to face. Then, she asks if she can listen to him being taken into an alley and shot. Impressed, Officer Jen gives Angela a kid’s police badge and tells her to find her when she grows up.

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen — photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

We also get to see Old June (Valeri Ross). Will’s estranged wife found her way to Young Angela in Viet Nam after a letter sent to her son returned with the giant red stamp: DECEASED. June is happy to see Angela. I was happy to see June. She talks about having had a heart attack at one point, but it was only a little one. Sure. Angela is in the cab on her way to the airport with June, who walks around to place Angela’s luggage (a Hefty bag) in the trunk. When she gets to the rear of the cab, June drops dead face-first on the ground. It’s back to the orphanage, and destiny, for Angela.

Back in the present, Bian tells Angela that she has dreams. They are painful. She wants to know if Angela’s Nostalgia memories are painful. Angela says that they are, but she’s already trying to figure out who’s Nostalgia Bian is taking.

Angela is attached to a long, advanced looking IV. She is under the impression that she is connected to Will. She wants to speak with him, but Lady Trieu says that she’s not ready yet. It would just hurt the process. Angela tries to get into the room where her grandfather is supposedly convalescing. Trieu notices her and offers her lunch. Angela isn’t hungry or interested in Trieu’s plot to save humanity starting with Tulsa.

After the Bian encounter, Angela breaks into Will’s room. But, there’s no Will. His memories are being siphoned into an elephant. They have good memories, so maybe this is the organic version of a 2 terabit external hard drive. Solid state, of course. Angela works her way into a blacked-out room with a glowing blue globe in the middle.

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen — photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

When Angela clicks on a point on the map, you hear the messages that people have been sending Dr. Manhattan in those Dr. Manhattan phone booths. Angela even sees Laurie’s message from “She Was Killed by Space Junk“. Lady Trieu walks in on Angela and asks if they can please cut the crap. Trieu admits that her Millennium Clock isn’t really there just to save humanity. She also admits that Bian is actually her mother. She cloned her and is slowly re-feeding her own memories so that she can be there at the hour of her greatest triumphs. That’s sweet, and, again, so Lady Trieu.

She has questions for Angela. Did she know that Will was Hooded Justice? Did Will know the real Dr. Manhattan? Does Angela know that Dr. Manhattan is living as a human in Tulsa? Record skip. Double take. Jaw Drop. Angela doesn’t deny Dr. Manhattan’s presence in Tulsa. Trieu warns her that the 7th K are trying to turn themselves into beings like Dr. Manhattan by killing him. All of that power would be in the hands of idiot white supremacists. Angela doesn’t blink. She just breaks out of Trieu’s. the only resistance is from Red Scare (Andrew Howard) and Pirate Jenny (Jessica Camacho). They’re still on her because Angela is still under arrest for aiding Will.

After she pounds through Red Scare in a car, Angela gets home. Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) wakes up to the sound of someone rummaging through their kitchen. He finds Angela looking for something. She notices Cal just as she finds a hammer. Cal. The cover story was that he had an accident in Viet Nam and experienced the rare occurrence of total amnesia. But, none of that is true. Angela approaches Cal with the hammer. She tells him that he’s been a good husband, but they always knew this day would come.

Watchmen -- photo: Mark Hill/HBO
Watchmen — photo: Mark Hill/HBO /

Angela clocks a scared Cal in the skull with the hammer and keeps hammering until she digs an isotope out of his brain. As soon as this happens, the room turns blue. Angela starts addressing Cal by his real name: John. Dr. Manhattan has been Cal all along. And this is frightening because 7th K stooges are watching Angela’s house. So, Dr. Manhattan is now exposed.

Poot! Poot!

Adrian (Jeremy Irons) has been on trial for 365 days when we catch up with him. All of his clones are using the trial as a means of an uprising against him. After Ms. Crookshanks (Sara Vickers) gives an impassioned closing argument, Adrian finally has his chance to speak. But there are no witty quips or pithy pronouncements. No. In defense of his life, Adrian rips a loud, satisfying fart with a squeaky finish. Everyone is shocked. Adrian just smiles. I bet that felt mighty good. What punishment will he endure over the next two episodes?

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On to the music! It was a light, yet funky week:

  • Living in America” by James Brown plays to underline Viet Nam’s statehood when we’re with Young Angela.
  • Lacrimosa” by Mozart is back when several key details are revealed, as usual.
  • Every Time You Go Away” by Hall and Oates plays as June attempts to take Young Angela home.
  • “Life on Mars” by, I think, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Their instrumental version of the David Bowie classic plays over the end credits after the Dr. Manhattan reveal.

Did you enjoy “An Almost Religious Awe?” What do you think is going to happen with Dr. Manhattan? Let’s discuss in the comments!