In an episode full of shocking revelations, one seemingly insignificant line from Watchmen Episode 8 could be the key. Does Doctor Manhattan’s weird egg metaphor reveal how the HBO series will end? In Damon Lindelof’s world, every detail is important, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.
Full spoilers for Watchmen Episode 8 follow — and maybe for the finale as well.
Doctor Manhattan’s obsession with eggs should be read as overt foreshadowing. Think about it like all those little clues in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, in which a cosmic perspective that transcends time inspires a regular person to do something heroic at a crucial moment. Except, instead of smashing an alien with a baseball bat and spilling water on it, Watchmen could end with Regina King eating a raw egg to become a god.
Watchmen Episode 8, “A God Walks Into Abar,” is a circular look at Angela Abar’s life, particularly her relationship with Doctor Manhattan. They meet 10 years prior to the start of the series in a Vietnam bar on a day celebrating America’s victory of the Vietcong.
Six months later, Manhattan uses a device designed by Adrian Veidt to forget about his powers, all so he could live a “normal” life as Cal. But before that happens, Manhattan tells Angela that he’ll eventually regain his abilities before their relationship ends in tragedy — we’re guessing that means his death in the Watchmen finale.
We also know that Senator Joe Keene Jr.’s plan with the Seventh Cavalry is to destroy Manhattan and steal his powers. Midway through this episode, however, Manhattan drops several hints that it’s possible for him to pass his power on to someone else using an egg, or any kind of organic material he creates. Will he do this moments before his death? And who will he transform into a god in this way? The obvious answer is Angela.
Later in the episode, Angela and Manhattan continue their conversation 10 years ago at the bar in Vietnam. As a demonstration of his powers, Manhattan “creates life” in the form of an egg in his hand. Then he tells Angela about their future (adopted) children. When she asks if their kids, we get this illuminating exchange:
Dr. Manhattan: “I would never pass my abilities on to someone without their consent.”
Angela: “So that’s a thing you can do? Give someone your powers?”
Dr. Manhattan: “I suppose I could transfer my atomic components into some sort of organic material. If someone were to consume it, they would inherit my powers.”
Angela: “So you can put them in this egg, and if I ate it, I could walk on water?”
Dr. Manhattan: “Theoretically.”
Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility and the circle of life — or life in general — and this moment resonates in an interesting way with Manhattan’s non-linear perspective on time, especially given the classic “the chicken or the egg” paradox that he references later.
In the present day, as Manhattan awakens, one of the first things he does is teleport outside to walk on the water in the family pool. “You need to see me on the pool,” he says to Angela. “It’s important for later.”
In this same conversation, Angela asks her grandfather William Reeves (through time) about Judd Crawford, which essentially causes Crawford’s murder that kicked things off in the premiere episode. (Confused? Here’s a handy explainer on that big twist.)
“The chicken or the egg,” Manhattan muses, referencing the classic paradox. “The answer appears to be both at exactly the same time.”
Manhattan says he’s hungry and goes inside to make waffles. “Watch the eggs,” he says, using telekinesis to levitate them out of the refrigerator. Angela angrily smashes them on the ground. Eggs are everywhere in this episode.
Manhattan probably isn’t even hungry, but he needs Angela to smash the eggs so she starts thinking about eggs. In the few short minutes he has with Angela, every action Manhattan takes is deliberate even when it seems random — just like Lindelof crafting this story.
Lindelof bludgeons the viewer with all of this egg imagery because it’s going to be very important in the finale. But why is it important for Angela to see him walking on water in there the pool?
Manhattan knows that these things will remind her of their conversation 10 years prior when he explained how someone could inherit his powers. “So you can put them in this egg, and if I ate it, I could walk on water?” she said in Vietnam.
Manhattan knows he’s powerless to stop the inevitable. He knows the Seventh Cavalry will destroy him, though we’ve only seen them succeed at teleporting him away so far. What he also knows — that we don’t just yet — is that if he creates an egg with his “atomic components” and Angela consumes it, she would become a god with the same powers. She might even be able to stop Senator Keene.
For the Watchmen series to wrap up with a huge twist where a black woman becomes the new Doctor Manhattan would be the perfect subversive capstone to what’s a spectacular reimagining of the original comic that transformed Hooded Justice — the hero that inspired all the other costumed adventurers — into a black man hiding his identity..
“Nothing ends, Adrian,” Manhattan says to Veidt in the original comic. “Nothing ever ends.”
We’re reminded of this iconic line when the two men talk much earlier in this very episode. Jon Osterman might end, but Doctor Manhattan will not. One more obvious question remains: What happens if Senator Keene also succeeds in transforming himself into a blue god? What happens then?
Either way, the original Doctor Manhattan won’t be around to see it.
The finale of Watchmen airs Sunday, December 15 on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.