An Almost Religious Awe
|"An Almost Religious Awe"|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||David Semel|
|Written by||Stacy Osei-Kuffour|
|Featured music||"Life on Mars" by David Bowie|
|Original air date||December 1, 2019|
|Running time||60 minutes|
Lady Trieu continues to treat Angela for removing the Nostalgia from her body. Angela starts experiencing her own childhood memories in Vietnam atop Will's. When awake, Angela finds herself connected to a long tube that enters a locked room that she believes Will is in. After Bian gives a strange psychological test to Angela, Trieu explains Bian is a clone of her mother, and she has been providing memories to her.
With Trieu preparing to activate the Millennium Clock within hours, Angela breaks into the locked room, only to find her tube connect to an unconscious elephant. She rips out her tube and takes an elevator to a higher floor to find a globe device that plays back the messages that people had left at the Manhattan booths. Trieu enters, explaining that she has heard these, and confirms Doctor Manhattan is not on Mars, but actually in Tulsa disguised as a human. Trieu is aware of a Kavalry plot to capture and destroy Manhattan so that they can become like him, and her activation of the Clock within the hour will save humanity.
Angela storms out and escapes the facility. Cal finds her at home rummaging for a hammer. Angela tells him that she has always loved him as a husband, but now, calling him "Jon", that they are in trouble, and proceeds to bash his head in. She extracts a small disk from his head, and watches as a blue glow comes from Cal's body.
Petey reports to Laurie that he cannot find Wade, but discovered several Kavalry bodies in his shelter. Laurie learns from Angela's ramblings while on Nostalgia about Judd's connection to the Kavalry and goes to visit Jane. Too late Laurie realizes Jane is working with the Kavalry, and becomes trapped. Laurie is taken to the Kavalry headquarters, where Joe shows her a cage-like device as part of their plan to bring Manhattan to them as a means to become godlike themselves.
In the manor, Veidt has been on trial for 365 days by the Game Warden for his crimes, not only due to the squid attack but for killing numerous Phillips and Crookshanks. Veidt is given a chance to present his case, but he simply passes flatus in response. The Game Warden determines Veidt's verdict is to be judged by a pack of feral pigs, his "peers", who declare him guilty.
"An Almost Religious Awe" reveals that Angela's husband Cal (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was the human identity that Doctor Manhattan had taken and that Angela knew of this. According to showrunner Damon Lindelof, they had developed the show with Angela as the central character, and only reused characters from the limited series comic when they would help advance Angela's story. When they considered how they could bring Doctor Manhattan back, they quickly settled that he could serve as a facet of love in Angela's life, creating the character of Cal. When casting for Cal, the showrunners were looking for qualities needed for both Cal and Manhattan, though did not tell those auditioning about the latter. Lindelof had been impressed with Abdul-Mateen's performance in The Handmaid's Tale and felt he could play the role of Cal who knew something was "off" about his identity. Additionally, there was good chemistry between Abdul-Mateen's and Regina King, who plays Angela. Abdul-Mateen himself said that the role of Cal only hinted towards a "promising future", and had accepted the part of Cal for an opportunity to work with Lindelof. Lindelon subsequently told Abdul-Mateen of his dual role sometime between the filming of the second and third episodes.
Television critics found several clues layered in previous episodes that pointed to this reveal, including Cal's own dialog mimicking what Manhattan might say and Laurie's own feelings about Cal. Lindelof pointed to the Easter egg that Laurie's vibrator shown in "She Was Killed by Space Junk" was named "Excalibur" by its creator Daniel Dreiberg, as revealed on the supplementary material website "Peteypedia". The name is a play on the phrase "Ex-Cal Abar" which describes Laurie's relationship to Manhattan at this point in time.
The episode's title is taken from Manhattan's own recollections in the original comic book series, describing the reaction of the Vietnamese soldiers that surrendered to him when America won the Vietnam War in the Watchmen alternate history.
The aggregate approval rating for "An Almost Religious Awe" is 91%, based on an average review of 8.11/10 from 23 reviewers. The site's summary of the critical consensus is "Though perhaps not as powerful as the previous installment, 'An Almost Religious Awe' proves that Damon Lindelof is not afraid to challenge viewer's expectations as Watchmen continues to twist and turn its way to the finale."
"An Almost Religious Awe" was watched by 779,000 viewers on its first broadcast night.
- Wigler, Josh (December 1, 2019). "'Watchmen': Damon Lindelof Explains That "Religious" Reveal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Betancourt, David (December 8, 2019). "No one saw 'Watchmen's' Doctor Manhattan reveal coming. Not even the actor playing him". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- Dessum, Matthew (December 2, 2019). "Here Are All the Clues That Set Up This Week's Big Watchmen Twist". Slate. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
- Watchmen Ch. 4, p. 20, topmost right panel.
- "An Almost Religious Awe". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
- Metcalf, Mitch (December 4, 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 12.1.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved December 4, 2019.