Brow Beat

Could Doctor Manhattan Get It?

A Slate debate.

A phone screen with an imaginary Tinder profile for Doctor Manhattan on it.
Swipe right or left? Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photos by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash and HBO.

Watchmen’s latest episode cleared up many of the mysteries that have been building up over the show’s first eight episodes, but it left some of Slate’s staffers with one burning question: Why would anyone date Doctor Manhattan? We convened a roundtable to address issue.

Sam Adams: Hello! And welcome to our discussion on the topic of: Can Doctor Manhattan Get It? Rebecca, since you raised the issue, let’s start with you. The most recent episode of Watchmen makes the case for Dr. M and Angela as OTP. You don’t buy it?

Rebecca Onion: I don’t buy Angela falling for Dr. M at ALL. He is humorless, has only one topic of conversation, and is far too sure that she will fall for him! But mostly it’s the “only one topic of conversation” part I dislike.

Oh, and the humorless part is bad too. He drones on in a monotone basically, he’s always far too calm.

Willa Paskin: Counterpoint: He is the most powerful man in the world, he is flatteringly fixated on Angela, and also he is good at sex

She, I would also add, is an orphan, who is all alone, and likely to be very touched and flattered by his kind of attention—however monotone and cryptic it is

Daniel Schroeder: Honestly the calm monotone is probably a welcome comfort.

Onion: She’s an orphan, but she’s not a baby! She’s a 30 (?) maybe more-year-old woman. She’s a cop!

Danielle Hewitt: Yeah, Angela’s character thus far doesn’t strike me as someone who would be interested in Dr. Manhattan’s shtick.

Schroeder: I think it’s precisely because she isn’t interested in his shtick that he is interested in her.

Onion: Something just occurred to me. Is there, in-universe, a general knowledge that Dr. M. is good in the sack.

Like, would Angela know this from the culture?

And be curious to try it out????

Maybe there is! Because of that dildo?

Schroeder:The dildo was made by Dan specifically for Laurie. (Editor’s note: Laurie Blake’s ex-boyfriend, Dan Dreiberg, aka Nite Owl.)

Onion: Oh right, poor Dan

Paskin: The other wrinkle is, having un-Manhattan-ized Dr. Manhattan, we are left with Cal, who is a dreamboat: extremely sexy and supportive house dad.

Schroeder: I just want to know if Dr. M’s balls are actually detachable.

Onion: Daniel.

Well, they probably are, given his general abilities.

But like … before Dr. M got un-M’d, we didn’t KNOW he would be a sexy and supportive house dad???

Why would she take a chance?

Schroeder: Cal is truly a dream.

Onion: I guess what I’m asking is, is there anything in the show, BEFORE Dr. M jumps into Cal and then becomes un-M’d, to explain why she would like him?

Like … “Sure, I like you, so long as you become a hotter man and lose most of your personality.”

Schroeder: I mean, I think there’s something very appealing about a man being so confident that you’ll fall in love with him and you’re just like, try me.

Adams: The episode in which he asks her out walks a very fine line, since his omniscient “You’ve already said yes to having dinner with me” bit seems like not taking no for an answer.

Onion: Yeah, I hate that Sam!!!

No, I hate it.

Paskin: Angela is great, but she’s not perfect! She fell for a neg.

Onion: Hahahahah

The best of us, etc.

Paskin: I believe she has this in her.

Schroeder: Didn’t realize Dr. M wrote The Game.

Hewitt: I mean she also has to know that he started dating his last girlfriend when she was 16.

Schroeder: Well but maybe he didn’t fall in love with her at 16, Danielle.

Onion: Right, Danielle!

Ugh, Daniel, please.

Schroeder: He fell in love with her at 25 or something cause TIME.

Onion: Sure sure sure.

Adams: The comics really don’t explain why someone who can see the atomic structure of the universe would care about having a hot young girlfriend.

Onion: Sure don’t!!

Schroeder: He just likes those young atoms.

Onion: lololololol

But … in universe … Angela knows about the Laurie story?

When she meets him, I mean.

Hewitt: Still creepy!

Onion: Because honestly if she does, that makes her falling for him WORSE. And more improbable!!!!!

Hewitt: And he makes a point of saying he really could give a damn about humanity.

Schroeder: I am charmed by a man who is uninterested in humanity but interested in me. I am not humanity.

Onion: OK, this is the only argument that makes any sense to me. Because it’s a Christian Grey thing.

Paskin: Oh God, now you’ve lost me.

Onion: He is Mr. Powerful, manipulates humanity to his will, etc.

Paskin: Now I too hate Dr. Manhattan

Onion: But he SEES her and is UnMANNED.

Schroeder: He doesn’t have a red room, he has a red planet.

[mars]

Onion: hahahahahahha

Adams: Jupiter has a red eye, too. He likes red.

Onion: Because he’s so … blue. He needs his opposite.

Schroeder: I think that regardless of the “I’m above this bullshit, you won’t trick me” feelings, it’s hard to discount the “a God likes me” feelings.

Hewitt: I think that makes sense, but Angela is someone who really doesn’t take any BS and all Dr. Manhattan is is BS!

Adams: Getting over the initial hurdle, he does make a huge sacrifice for Angela, wiping out his memory of his powers and thus his ability to use them. Does that get him any points?

Hewitt: Yes, with the caveat that I still don’t understand how they got to that point in their relationship in the first place.

Onion: I mean, I will grant that this is huge (and I also feel like that’s a romance novel trope of some kind … like, a rock star who retires or whatever). But that initial hurdle!!!!

Right!!!!!!

I don’t know, I listened to the Watch podcast this morning, which was an interview with Damon Lindelof, and he said that he thought this series of events with Angela was important because up to this point she has seemed like someone things are happening to, in the story, and at this point she becomes someone who has MORE KNOWLEDGE than everyone else.

But I just feel completely out of touch with her now.

Hewitt: I think it’s partly on the show to tell us that but also original Watchmen Manhattan didn’t have much to offer either.

Schroeder: Yeah, the show is expecting us to do a lot of the connective legwork without much help.

Onion: Right! Like … I have no idea why Laurie was with him.

Hewitt: Aside from being SIXTEEN when they met.

Onion: Which again … if Angela knows that history … why would she go to dinner with this guy?

Schroeder: If a naked blue dude fell for me at 16 years old, I would be putty.

Onion: lololololol

Schroeder: I honestly think part of this for Angela is the thrill of adventure.

She’s already lived through so much trauma, why not?

Hewitt: They really don’t successfully make the case that Angela would go out with him for reasons aside from “it’s already happening” and “f*ck it.”

Neither of which jibe with her character to me.

Schroeder: Those are acceptable reasons for a first date.

Adams: Dr. Manhattan says he’s always been in love with Angela, but toward the end of the episode, he remembers the moment it started: when she risked sacrificing herself to save him, even after he told her she couldn’t. Seeing as he gets blasted to bits a few minutes later, the timing is arguably not the best but: romantic love story or weirdly passive-aggressive goodbye?

Hewitt: Apparently it’s supposed to be sweet but like, for the past 10 years was he just waiting for that moment? I know I know he “experiences time differently,” but that’s so dumb! His character gets away with so much hand-waving because of his powers

Onion: Maybe I’m too much of a muggle to understand Doctor Manhattan time, but it makes me crazy to contemplate that he falls in love with her because she does something in the course of a relationship and then he gets into the relationship to fall in love with her and I think this is supposed to be cool/interesting but instead it just makes me mad.

Schroeder: I was moved by it. Found it romantic.

Hewitt: He gets to do so many lame and horrible things because he’s inscrutable to us mere mortals. I hate it.

Adams: For some reason, “I experience time differently” never works when I say it.

Onion: ahahahahhahah

Schroeder: Because regardless of his powers or the wonky way time works for him, love is happening in spite or outside of that. She can’t help the way she feels about him, both as Dr. M and as Cal.

Onion: But whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Saying that makes it WORSE not better.

Hewitt: I think part of it is just that I hate that his character gets to be the crux of the story. He’s the worst character!

Onion: That’s right, Danielle, we are one.

Adams: You know how sometimes your friends are with someone and you don’t get it at all, but you trust the friend enough that if they see something in that person, they must be right? That is how I feel about Regina King.

Onion: Whyyyyy? OK, OK, I agree with Sam. I trust Regina, but still.

Hewitt: Agree. Trust in Regina.

Onion: I mean, they each have a tragedy in their childhood, that is the only thing I can think of that connects them besides this bullshit fate/time loop/powers stuff.

OK, I should say no more.

I will wait and see!!!

Schroeder: I don’t think there has to be a reason for their connection. Lives are messy, love lives even more so.

But I’m probably just blinded by that blue dick.

Onion: No, when you are watching a show, there has to be a reason for the connection! Or why ever ship?

Hewitt: Agree! The show has to work harder for them.

Onion: I have, like, a reverse ship going on here.

A … submarine.

An airplane.

IDK

Schroeder: So maybe that’s just how time works for you, Rebecca.

You’ll understand their relationship five years after Watchmen is over.

Adams: Tempting to end on blue dick, but let’s wrap up thusly. One more question. In conclusion, Dr. Manhattan: swipe right or swipe left?

Paskin: Oh, I think right.

That means yes to Dr. Man, right?

Schroeder: Yes.

Onion: Where is our “ironic jack off” GIF?

Which one is NO? It is left, right?

LEFT.

Schroeder: Right right right.

Hewitt: God, imagine the Tinder bio.

LEFT.

Adams: It is Dec. 13, 2019. I am ending the chat.