Martin Carr reviews the eighth episode of Watchmen…
Imagine taking one location and two characters then stretching that meeting over an hour of screen time. Using the premise as your foundation why not throw in multiple timelines, theological digressions and a spot of biblical creation for good measure. Consider touching on preordained destiny, simultaneous dimensions then circling back round to notions of self and interpretations on memory. For closure you might want to link every narrative thread by jumping back and forth in time allowing audiences to experience everything, before using that tactic to blame your central protagonist.
To explain how Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen have written this episode without tying themselves in narrative knots is difficult. Similarly going into more than the bare minimum of detail robs anyone of the fun which that discovery provides. It is simpler to say that this is a decade-long love affair condensed into one hour which takes place simultaneously at every second during the course of the conversation. That it references Fruitvale Station and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind before touching on post-modernist tale Funes the Memorious is merely digression on my part.
Put simply imagine yourself reading this review whilst I am writing it, yet looking forward to reading it knowing that once I have written it you will already have enjoyed episode eight of Watchmen. For what ‘A God Walks into Abar’ manages to achieve is a fully rounded narrative journey which circles back on itself, whilst holding the central protagonist in that timeline accountable before offering closure.
Interwoven within this spaghetti junction we have a backstory laden with eureka moments where every puzzle piece fits perfectly. Answers are provided casually amongst the relentless information overload, which is subtlety broken up by this first date scenario. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II excels alongside Regina King in offering up infinite opportunities which ground the whole enterprise irrespective of time and place. A circumstance which also allows audiences to see past events from multiple perspectives and come to conclusions individually.
As we near the end of what many are now hailing as a masterpiece it begs the question where can Watchmen go from here? Despite universal acclaim this show deals with challenging topics which is neither a guarantee of longevity or assurance of long term quality. If, as many hope, the finale ties everything off without offering closure, then is it too much to ask that this remain self-contained?