Major spoilers below for the most recent episode of Watchmen, titled "A God Walks Into Abar."
After a long and enjoyably meticulous wait for Doctor Manhattan to officially enter the fold on HBO's Watchmen, viewers were quickly thrown into mental turmoil when it appeared that he got completely obliterated by the Seventh Kavalry's tachyon weaponry. With only one episode left to go in Season 1, and no clear sign of a Season 2 renewal (or more appearances from Lube Man), Damon Lindelof and his creative team have a very limited timespan to give audiences a legitimate conclusion to Doctor Manhattan and Angela's narratives. Is the big blue super-being actually doomed for death, though, or is there hope?
Watchmen scribe Jeff Jensen, who has an interesting Lost-tethered history with Damon Lindelof, spoke to CinemaBlend about myriad details and oddities within this TV universe. But most pressing was the issue of Doctor Manhattan's fate going into the season finale. When I asked the longtime Watchmen fanatic about possibly committing the ultimate sin of killing off Doctor Manhattan, here's what Jensen told me.
It's interesting where we kind of leave Doctor Manhattan at the end of Episode 8. He seems to have recovered enough of his faculties to remember what he's always known: that apparently he is going to put himself in a position to fall prey to a group of white supremacists who aspire to destroy him. It'll be interesting to see whether or not, he has a plan for that or if that's even a possibility for someone like him. So, yeah, talk about a cliffhanger. We definitely need him in a delicate place, in a scary place that seems to fulfill everything that he's told Angela was going to happen. So, you know, we'll see if this is a jam that they can get out of.
Doctor Manhattan's case-specific omniscience is such an intricate element when it comes to speculating about what will happen in Watchmen's finale. From his first meeting with Angela, it was made clear that their relationship would face tragedies ten years down the road, which tied into the Senator Keene's plans with the Seventh Kavalry and their teleportation device. And by all means, having Doctor Manhattan's physical nature torn apart right in front of Angela counts as a tragedy, though it's thought that the character isn't necessarily dead yet, but is rather transitioning to the abandoned mall where the Kavalry's equipment is set up.
After all, Watchmen couldn't possible introduce Doctor Manhattan without putting the character in a one-on-one conversation with his former romantic partner Laurie Blake. I assume that the whole reason Keene is holding Laurie captive is so that she can witness a new kind of Manhattan transformation. It's impossible to gauge how she'd react to such news, whether the superhuman being is in Cal form or in Keene form.
For all the inherent nervousness that comes with delivering a TV finale to viewers, Jeff Jensen is humbly confident that everyone who's been invested in the Watchmen ride so far will still be just as enthused by everything that goes down in the season finale. Here's what he told me:
I've been continuously surprised through this entire journey by the response to what we've done. We wrote these stories with a commitment to boldness, but also a tremendous amount of fear and uncertainty about how they would be received, and that anxiety led all the way up to the beginning and to the launch of the show. To see that it has engaged the audience the way it has, I just am surprised and relieved and grateful. Every week ends up being this kind of thing of discovery of like, 'Oh, well, people like that? Okay. All right.' So I've been taking it week to week, and just kind of enjoying it, or taking it as it comes. Finales are always tricky things. And I guess, in a finale, you realize how diverse and eclectic your audience is, because they all kind of tell you what they were expecting. And you hear from those who were fulfilled and from those who weren't. So I'm expecting something similar from our finale. My hope is that everyone will be massively entertained by it. Knowing what it is, I can say that it embodies a tremendous number of the values that got us this far. And so I think that if you've been entertained by what you've seen and our strategies for entertaining you up until this point, they will be on full display once again in Episode 9. So I hope people like it and I definitely looked forward to the reaction.
As Jeff Jensen is fully aware, viewers are going to voice their opinions loudly and clearly regardless of how they felt about the episode, so reactions are definitely on the way. And Doctor Manhattan's fate certainly won't be the only thing everyone will be talking about.
Update On Lube Man
Watchmen's fourth episode introduced the silver-suited oddity now known to increasingly obsessed fans as Lube Man, but the show has yet to bring the silent and slippery character back in any follow-up episodes. However, the Episode 8 supplemental material on HBO's Peteypedia website did offer an origin story of sorts for the mysterious Lube Man, by way of the Petey-penned synopsis of the oft-seen Max Shea novel Fogdancing. While obviously not concrete evidence, Petey's essay also isn't coincidental, and thus serves as light evidence that Petey himself was the one wearing the silver costume, which is the most popular theory on the matter.
When I asked Watchmen's Jeff Jensen about any possible Petey and Lube Man connections, and whether or not the character would return in the finale, the Tomorrowland co-writer humorously opted out of a hard "yes" or "no." However, he did provide an update on the matter that should have fans of the supplemental material pretty excited. According to Jensen:
I know what's good for me, Nick, so I'm going to tell you that I refer all questions regarding Lube Man to my boss, Damon Lindelof. So I cannot comment on the fate and future of Lube Man. All I would say is that when Damon pitched Lube Man in the room to us writers, we delighted in Lube Man the way that the audience has, although it has been something of a surprise to us how much he's captivated people and inspired so many theories. The amazing effect that they created of him sliding into that grate on the side of the road and disappearing was so well done that like, I'm haunted by it as well. . . . I would say, to the Peteypedia of it all, you've read Petey's attempt at summarizing the unsummarizable novel that is Fogdancing, and he seems to have articulated a version Fogdancing that, yeah, definitely has a lot of similarities to the person on the show that we call Lube Man. So I would definitely say that, whoever Lube Man is, he or she has probably read Fogdancing. That seems to be a definite connection. And then I would say that from a Peteypedia point of view, what I can definitely promise you is that Lube Man will definitely make an appearance in the season finale of Peteypedia. But whether he's reflected in the [TV] finale, that is a question for Damon.
I know I'm not the only one whose jaw dropped a little upon reading about Howard McNulty wearing his skintight silver suit, especially since the Fogdancing summary offers such a different and original idea behind what the suit stands for. (It's worth noting, however, that Lube Man apparently doesn't don a gas mask as Howard does in the novel.) Many viewers no doubt wrote Lube Man off as a way to show off that sewer-sliding stunt, but the Watchmen-verse is one where zero characters and details are merely incidental. Everything is there for a reason, even if it's squirting liquids all over itself. After all, this is a world that does embrace bizarre humor.
Stay tuned for more stories from my nerdery-filled conversation with Watchmen's Jeff Jensen, and mark your calendars in triplicate to remember Watchmen's season finale airs on HBO on Sunday, December 15, at 9:00 p.m.