Watchmen shocked viewers to the core with the reveal that Doctor Manhattan has been on Earth, in Tulsa, the whole time. He's been disguised as Cal, so thoroughly, he doesn't even know who he is. But how long has this been going on? And perhaps most importantly, how did it start, and why did Manhattan ask Angela out? Warning: Spoilers for Watchmen follow.
Episode 8, "A God Walks Into Abar," covered the whole of Angela and Manhattan's relationship, from the day they met until the present, told from Manhattan's point of view. But since becoming a large blue god, Manhattan experiences time differently. Where for everyone else, events happen in linear order, for Manhattan, all of it is happening all at once.
That means, for Manhattan, it's the day he met Angela, the day they broke up, the day they got back together, and he became "Cal," and the day she smashed his head open with a hammer, all at the same time.
That made for an odd first meeting. Angela, sitting alone in a bar, has a man in a Manhattan mask walk up to her on Vietnam's Manhattan Day, and ask her out. She's flabbergasted, but curious that he would be so bold. But it doesn't prepare her for what comes next.
Manhattan tells her she will say yes to the date. In a few days, she will be so into him that she'll find a way to keep him here on Earth in disguise. Six months later, they'll break up, but not to worry, because they will ultimately be together for 10 years.
Manhattan's not wrong. By the end of the hour, she says yes to the date. In six months, they break up, and Manhattan decides to visit an old friend for advice, Veidt.
Veidt has a solution, a device, an "atomic ring" would suppress Manhattan's powers. The only downside is he'd forget everything. All Angela has to do is insert it into his forehead, and they can live happily ever after. The police report of the "car crash" Angela stages to explain Cal's memory loss on Peteypedia is dated Dec. 23, 2009. It is now 2019, so Manhattan is right again, it's been 10 years.
But why? What drives Manhattan to walk into that bar in the first place? Because there's no reason for it, outside of the created timeloop.
Before giving Angela the ring, Manhattan goes to visit Hooded Justice, telling him that he will be unable to influence events while under and asks to form an alliance. William is startled by the visit and shocked to learn he has a granddaughter. But while there, Manhattan asks a question from Angela in 2019: How does William know Crawford was part of Cyclops?
In 2009, William answers: "Who's Judd Crawford?"
Manhattan's meddling started all this. Moreover, when the 7th Kalvary attacked Angela on Christmas, Cal unknowingly channeled Manhattan's powers to save her life. It revealed his presence and inspired the plan to kidnap him and steal his abilities.
If Manhattan hadn't asked out Angela, none of this would have happened. So why did he do it? What was the moment? Or maybe it always fated to be this way. Manhattan just never told her that part.