WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the second episode of HBO's Watchmen, "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship," which aired Sunday.
More than three decades have passed on HBO's Watchmen since the conclusion of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal 1986-1987 comic series. The drama picks up in the present day, in a world that's changed changed, but very much shaped by the actions of "the smartest man on the planet," Adrian Veidt, and the omniscient Doctor Manhattan.
However, some things remain the same: Played by Jeremy Irons, Veidt still schemes behind the scenes, while a vast political conspiracy and murder mystery drives the story forward. And, after all this time, Doctor Manhattan still appears to be living on Mars, as revealed in a news segment in the series premiere.
However, Watchmen's second episode, "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship," brings up an intriguing question on multiple occasions: While the characters eventually dismiss the idea, we can't help but wonder, could Doctor Manhattan be hiding among the series' cast?
The Powers of a God
In Watchmen's latest episode, Detective Angela Abar (Regina King), aka Sister Night, questions Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.), the elderly man who is the prime suspect in the murder of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Police Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson). When Angela asks Will who he is, he teases her by saying he's Doctor Manhattan. She disputes that he lives on Mars, and that the blue, super-powered being isn't capable of looking like a regular human. Reeves then takes his charade further, saying that maybe this ability is just one of Manhattan's many god-like powers. But Angela isn't convinced, especially because it's clear Reeves is toying with her.
Later on, when Angela tells her husband Cal about Will, she recounts his theory about him being Doctor Manhattan. Cal, of course, laughs off the idea, once again falling back on the notion that the glowing Manhattan can't look like a regular human. It's almost as if Watchmen wants us to think the notion is ridiculous.
But what if it's merely subterfuge, and Manhattan can adopt the appearance of a regular human, and he is hiding in plain sight?
A Familiar Witch Hunt
As it turns out, a similar witch hunt recently took place in Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock, the DC comic series that brings some of the Watchmen characters into DC Universe. During the first half of the 12-issue series, Doctor Manhattan didn't properly appear, leading some readers to theorizing he had been posing as a well-known DC character.
However, that turned out not to be the case. While it appeared as if Firestorm may have truly been Doctor Manhattan for a time, it was simply a sequence of events manipulated by Adrian Veidt. Nevertheless, HBO's Watchmen has us posing the question again. But even as the show's characters laugh off the idea, they fan the flames.
Developed by Damon Lindelof, HBO's Watchmen stars Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, James Wolk, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith and Adelynn Spoon. The series airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.