Panels 1-3: Dr. Manhattan’s dialogue in these three panels gives us a bit more insight into his perception of time – “Everything is preordained. Even my responses.” – and sets the stage for the fluid nature of this chapter. It brings up an interesting quandary regarding free will, not only in this narrative, but also in one’s own life. How much authority do we have over our lives? How much influence do outside events and our own living conditions bear upon our lives? I find it an interesting philosophical question.
Panel 3: The line from Dr. Manhattan – “Everything is preordained…” – is also a bit of foreshadowing. At the end of the chapter, we will see Dr. Manhattan react to something unexpected, even to him, and it will have major consequences upon this story.
Laurie’s response – “…you just go through the motions…you’re just a puppet following a script…” – is a commentary on the reality of this comic. Yes, Dr. Manhattan and Laurie and all the others are merely puppets – following the script written by Moore and the images drawn by Gibbons – to be moved around the stage of this narrative. The trick, obviously, is to make readers forget that while they read.
Panel 4: Nodus Gordii is Latin for Gordian Knot, another of the recurring motifs throughout Watchmen.
Dr. Manhattan tells Laurie that everyone is a puppet, and she offers the converse of that position when she challenges his assertion that she will go up to the balcony with him by saying: “Well, what if I don’t?”
Panels 5-6: In these panels we get an elegant answer to Laurie’s question from Panel 4. Dr. Manhattan does not respond to her continued queries about what will happen if she does not follow him. By ignoring Laurie, he forces her to follow him upstairs, in order to discover the answer to her question – a question made moot by her actions.