Why Dr. Manhattan and Laurie Didn’t Have a Scene Together in ‘Watchmen’

     December 18, 2019

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Spoilers for HBO’s Watchmen follow below.

While HBO’s Watchmen introduced a new protagonist to audiences in Regina King’s Angela Abar and took the story in new directions, the show also had some very strong connections to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons‘ source material. It’s not exactly a sequel in that the main characters are different, but it’s also kind of a sequel in that a few key characters from the original Watchmen graphic novel have big roles to play in the HBO series.

Two of those key characters are Laurie Blake aka Silk Spectre (Jean Smart) and Dr. Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). In the graphic novel, Laurie and Doctor Manhattan were in love, and in the early episodes of the HBO series we saw Laurie wistfully visiting a Doctor Manhattan phonebooth, yearning to connect with him once more.

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Image via HBO

So when the show finally introduced Doctor Manhattan later in the season, with the surprise reveal that he’s been Angela’s husband Cal all along, many fans were curious to see Laurie and Jon Osterman reconnect. Alas, all we got was a shocked look from Laurie before she was teleported away, and then Doctor Manhattan was murdered.

So what gives? Why wasn’t there a scene between Laurie and Doctor Manhattan in the show? According to showrunner Damon Lindelof in an extensive interview with Collider, he and the writers considered it “a lot” but couldn’t come up with a scene good enough to make it worthwhile:

“We talked about it a lot, and we seriously considered it. And we failed to come up with one that passed our standards of inclusion. So, it’s hard for me to quantify how close we got, other than to say, seriously considered it, tried multiple iterations of it, couldn’t come up with a version that was satisfying to us and so, didn’t.”

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Image via HBO

However, Lindelof does say if you go back and watch the show, a couple of scenes between Laurie and Doctor Manhattan take place—it’s just that Laurie never knew he was Doctor Manhattan:

“I think that Laurie actually did have multiple scenes with Dr. Manhattan, she just didn’t know he was Dr. Manhattan. And, my hope is that when you go back and rewatch those interactions that she had with Cal, or you hear Cal describing interactions that he had with Laurie, that those were the scenes… They have one on camera scene and one off camera scene. Both of which we delighted in writing, because she doesn’t know that who he is. But she made multiple references to Cal, when you realize she was inadvertently describing Dr. Manhattan. I think there’s something delightful there, as well.”

While it really would’ve been neat to see Laurie and Doctor Manhattan reminisce, I’m actually kind of happy with where the show took that relationship. In the end, Lindleof’s Watchmen was a love story between Angela and Jon Osterman, and revisiting the Laurie/Jon relationship may have felt like backtracking to the source material rather than the show charting its own course. I think Smart plays her one scene in front of Dr. Manhattan beautifully, but we didn’t necessarily need more than that. Yet another example of how Lindelof and his team absolutely nailed this show.

For more on Watchmen look for our full interview with Lindelof on Collider soon, and click here to see what he said about not including Dan Drieberg, how they came up with Dr. Manhattan’s powers, and why it was only 9 episodes.

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