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Watchmen's Angela and Jon Join a Long Line of Iconic Damon Lindelof Couples

The laws of physics couldn't stop love stories on Lost and The Leftovers either.
  • Regina King and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Watchmen. (Photo:Mark Hill/HBO)
    Regina King and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Watchmen. (Photo:Mark Hill/HBO)

    Love can blossom in the most extreme conditions, whether it's after a plane crash on a mystical island or after two percent of the world's population has vanished into thin air. Neither Lost nor The Leftovers initially presented themselves as great romances, but over time, the intimate bonds that defied time and space became intrinsic to their storytelling. In the penultimate episode of Watchmen's first season, Angela's (Regina King) link to Dr. Manhattan aka Jon Osterman (aka her husband Cal) was laid out in a time-bending narrative, emphasizing creator Damon Lindelof's fondness for a love story that cannot be contained by the laws of physics.

    "By definition, don't all relationships end in tragedy?" Jon (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) remarks as he makes conversation with Angela on their first date. Except for Jon, it's not their first date. For the omnipotent god-being Dr. Manhattan, all of time is experienced all at once. Everything he's ever done or will do is experienced as an ever-happening present. So while he attempts to charm Angela with details about their future life together, he's also enjoying a tremendous power imbalance in their relationship. Besides which, his cold logic negates the essence of the human experience. Which is why, to stay together, Jon found a way to sublimate his Dr. Manhattan identity and live without complication as Cal, even if Jon, in his all-seeing-ness, knows it won't last forever.

    Luckily, Lindelof is less nihilistic in his approach to the relationships that both ground the fantastical elements and elevate the stories he's telling. Jon isn't devoid of feeling, but his unique perspective does make him quite the know-it-all. The "tunnel of love" period (a.k.a. the years he spends as Cal) puts Jon and Angela on a level playing field, even if it includes a built-in expiration date. As we cut to the present day, with Angela loading up on firepower to take on the Seventh Cavalry, Jon tells her, "In the bar the night we met, you asked me about the moment I fell in love with you. This is the moment." You can see what he means: The odds are against them, Angela has been told it will end in tragedy, and yet she decides to stay and fight anyway. A selfless act, but one layered with a belief that Angela can change a future her beau has already seen.

    By portraying a love that is simple and complicated, Lindelof captures the paradox of great romance. Both can be true, and an epic tale of this kind makes room for this contradiction. Dr. Manhattan is God-like because of the power he possesses, and while his cadence is often emotionless, his relationship with Angela burss with feelings. The laws of physics don't apply to him because of the accident, but time is an obstacle that has been overcome by several characters from previous Lindelof-helmed shows:

    Kevin Garvey and Nora Durst (The Leftovers)

    Dating after the Sudden Departure wasn't easy. Kevin (Justin Theroux) and Nora (Carrie Coon) knew this better than most as their run-in at the courthouse in Season 1 proved. Both were there to file divorce papers: Nora from her husband who was cheating on her before he Departed. Meanwhile, Kevin's wife Laurie (Amy Brenneman) joined the Guilty Remnant, choosing a cult over her husband. "You should know that I'm a fucking mess," Kevin told Nora after they arranged to go on a date, but Nora was also hiding a lot of baggage. A relationship born out of extreme circumstances was always going to hit speed bumps even before factoring in trips to other dimensions. To stop Kevin's nightly sleepwalking jaunts, Nora handcuffed herself to her boyfriend and tried to act like it was the most normal thing in the world.

    Death couldn't stand in their way, and The Leftovers brought new meaning to "singing for survival" when a blubbering rendition of "Homeward Bound" reunited Kevin with his family and the woman he loves. The science behind the Sudden Departure and wherever Kevin traveled, didn't matter. The answers Lindelof provided for the audience were of a love so powerful, it could not be crushed. Faith was intrinsic to the central conceit, but this hope didn't necessarily align with a specific religion. Some think Kevin was a Jesus-figure, however, it's his belief in Nora that fuels him. "I refused to believe you were gone," he told her when they finally reunited in the series finale. Unlike Kevin's trips to an alternate universe, we didn't witness Nora's journey to the world of the Departed. It doesn't matter if she was telling the truth or not, what mattered was Kevin's response: "Why wouldn't I believe you? You're here." Time had been surmounted even if Nora's story was a fabrication. Over three seasons, this epic love story traversed continents, decades, and even death.

    Penny Widmore and Desmond Hume (Lost)

    Not everyone can be like Dr. Manhattan. Experiencing two different time periods simultaneously was a far more confusing prospect for Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), after he encountered brain- (and time-) scrambling side effects courtesy of leaving the island. For him, it was both 1996 and 2004, which revealed his broken relationship with Penny (Sonya Walger), and how he turned to her when he was in temporal need. Physicist Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) provided time-travel advice via radio, telling Desmond he needed something to anchor his mind, otherwise, he could die. This "Constant" had to exist in both timelines and he had to make contact. Asking an ex for their phone number and promising not to call for eight years would be a strange request under any circumstances, but Desmond successfully made his case. Now all he needed was for Penny to remember to stay by the phone (and not change her number) on Christmas Eve, 2004.

    As the Michael Giacchino-composed music swelled (another common thread among Lindelof's shows: heart-obliterating scores), Penny answered. Not only did she remember to forgo any festive plans, but she had spent the last three years searching for him. Faith once again played an important role. Penny showed up when Desmond needed her, their past relationship failings were overcome, and new declarations to find each other were made. The call was brief, but "it was enough."

    Juliet Burke and James "Sawyer" Ford (Lost)

    Penny and Desmond had to contend with a long-distance relationship with a very specific set of obstacles, but when Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) were left behind at the end of Season 4, time-travel to the 1970s brought them closer together. This was a slow burn romance that likely began out of creating more conflict for the original Sawyer-Kate-Jack love triangle, turning it into a love polygon. Funnily enough, the one relationship that ended up making the most sense was the newest. Experiencing time shifts together only cemented their bond and this Season 5 period provided a strong foundation, even if Kate almost came between them. In establishing this connection, a three year time jump into "I love yous" was a fun twist (sadly skipping the early relationship glow). Just as Angela is ready to put it all on the line for the man she loves in Watchmen, Juliet does the same by sacrificing herself. This relationship survived the challenges of shifts through different decades (including the 1970s) and in true Damon Lindelof fashion, they even find each other in death. There is no physical barrier too big for one of the meant-to-be couples, even if the laws of time and space suggest otherwise.

    With just one episode to go this season, will Angela and Jon get an epic happily-ever-after? Or are they doomed to end in tragedy? 

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    Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina

    TOPICS: Watchmen, HBO, Damon Lindelof, Regina King, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II