The end is nigh.
The episode begins with a flashback of Adrian Veidt recording his message to President Robert Redford about the squid hoax. Veidt congratulates President Redford on his victory and explains that he predicted Redford’s presidential victory. One take is interrupted when the cameraman coughs, so time to start over. The things that Veidt does for perfection, you know?
One of the employees, played by Elyse Dinh, heads to Veidt’s quarters and accesses his computer. She enters a command and gains access to a secret compartment containing an endless amount of vials. She grabs one- while replacing it with one filled with lotion- before returning to the computer and sealing the compartment. She then takes out a needle and says that she’s ready to ride the strong waves.
She’ll remove the yoke of slavery and won’t bend her back to be a slave. She turns around Veidt’s chair, picks up the needle, and injects one of the vials of Veidt’s semen right where it fits downstairs. Also, fuck you, Ozymandias, she says.
We cut back to 2008 as a woman pays Adrian Veidt a visit in Antarctica. She brings up how he killed three million people through his alien squid hoax, which Veidt plays off as ridiculous. However, this woman finds it brilliant. Only the smartest man in the world could come up with that, and no one gives him credit. Who is this person? Well, she’s the smartest woman in the world and she thanks Veidt for saving it.
Veidt then invites her in for tea and complains about Redford not returning his calls. The woman is impressed with Veidt’s device and asks how he decides when to drop the squid rain, but he doesn’t. The entire system is automated. She considers it a rerun, though. He had a genius idea 20 years ago, but he’s doing the same thing now on a smaller scale. What happens if he starts up the clock again?
They’ll be right back where they left ago. Superpowers would point their arsenals at each other again, but the woman offers to make every nuclear weapon disappear. As a man, Veidt apparently has limitations. As does this woman, but there is someone with no limitations. Veidt figures that this woman wants him to get in touch with Doctor Manhattan, but she knows that Manhattan isn’t on Mars. That’s just a distraction.
She believes the actual Manhattan is hiding out on a moon on Jupiter. Manhattan emits a specific radioactive frequency. She built an antenna to scan the galaxy and, lo and behold, she got a ping. A few months ago, she launched a probe. Soon enough, said probe will be orbiting Europa and taking photos of Manhattan.
After getting said shot, this woman will have confirmation of where Manhattan is before taking his power and destroying him.
If she can take his power, she can save the world and do all the things that Manhattan should have done. She’s already designed a quantum centrifuge that can absorb Manhattan’s energy, but can’t afford to build the thing. So she was hoping Veidt would stake her $42 billion. Why would Veidt do such a thing? Because he’s apparently this woman’s father. Veidt says that’s impossible because he’s never had a wife.
He considers himself like Alexander the Great, which prompts the woman to go to the painting. She then brings up the refrigerated vials of semen behind said painting. She’s sample #2346, but Veidt can call her Trieu. Her name was Bian- one of the Vietnamese refugees working here in ’85 and she was shot up with some of Veidt’s legacy. She slipped out unnoticed because she was just a cleaning woman. Also a thief, apparently.
Veidt isn’t going to just give a handout to this person. His parents are dead, but he gave away his inheritance. Why? To demonstrate that he could achieve anything by starting from nothing. This is what he’s offering her- nothing. Also, he will never refer to her as “daughter.” Although you sort of just did, Adrian.
Back in Europa, Adrian makes a wish, but he’s got no candles on his cake, so shit. The terrain begins to shake. He looks outside and sees a vessel landing, so he grabs the horseshoe and enters the tunnel he made to free himself.
He exits just as the vessel lands. As he approaches it, the Game Warden approaches and warns him to return to his cell, even threatening to shoot him. He eventually does open fire, but Veidt manage to catch the bullet. He kicks the Game Warden over, but the Warden tackles and punches Adrian over and over again. As the servants approach, Veidt stabs the Game Warden with the horseshoe.
As the Warden lays dying, Veidt tells him that it’s almost over. The Warden has one question: why did Veidt make him wear a mask? It’s because masks make men cruel. Veidt had eight years to go and he needed a worthy adversary to help keep him sane. The Warden asks if he was indeed a worthy adversary, but in Veidt’s eyes, he was not. He at least put on a hell of a show.
As Veidt prepares to leave, his servants all bid him farewell, and no tomatoes this time. One Crookshanks adds the finishing touches to his outfit and wishes him godspeed. Veidt enters the vessel which immediately lifts off without him even having time to strap himself in for safety. Still, the space ship leaves Earth’s atmosphere and he sees the message spelled out, which says “SAVE ME DAUGHTER.”
Now, twist time.
The vessel informs him that his return trip to Earth has now begun and instructs him to step into a chamber for preservation. He enters and is told to place his hands on his hips. He’s then turned into literal solid gold.
For you see, everything we’ve seen with Adrian Veidt has been in the past. We cut to present day, we see that said figure of Adrian Veidt is the same one that Lady Trieu has in her quarters. He’s brought in to be defrosted. Trieu tells Bian that the timing of this is not ideal, but she needs to do this now because it’s possible that he might say something. Bian knows that she is Trieu’s mother.
Indeed, Veidt is revived, and Trieu was surprised about seeing him and his message on the image. The fact that Veidt took the time to spell out ‘DAUGHTER’ meant a lot to Trieu, to be acknowledged. She admits that it must have been hard for Adrian to cave, but Adrian knows that Manhattan sent him there. Trieu’s known that Manhattan is masquerading as a human. She plans to take his power in an hour.
She brought Adrian here to watch her achieve her victory. Also, she would like Adrian to dress into something more appropriate, even though what he’s wearing is perfectly fine. Veidt then finds out that Trieu cloned her mother. Nice reunion, am I right? Anyway, the Millennium Clock is now activated, as Veidt is surprised to see that Trieu actually built the damn thing. He admires the work, but now, Trieu has a god to kill, so time to roll out.
Trieu’s team hits the road, Jack, and heads to the newsstand to pick up a paper. The owner is surprised to see Lady Trieu in the flesh, but he should admire it because it’s the last time he’ll see her in the flesh. Adrian, meanwhile, is aghast to learn that Redford is still President. The newsstand owner thinks that Veidt looks like Adrian Veidt, who wants to know if people ask what happened to him.
Nothing, apparently. He’s old news. Some say he walked into the jungle and never came back, but Veidt says that Adrian was stranded on a moon on Jupiter and went insane.
A space vessel arrives as Adrian tells the newsstand owner that the end is nigh.
At the same time, the Seventh Kavalry is also still putting their plan into motion and still have Laurie Blake held hostage. Laurie spots Senator Joe Keene Sr., played by Ted Johnson, and asks a Kavalry member what’s about to start, but he receives a radio transmission about Angela Abar opening fire on other members. He informs Keene about their situation.
But then Laurie hears a familiar voice. It’s Wade in disguise as a Kavalry member- he tells her to stay tight and wait for him to make his move.
Keene orders the Kavalry to take the shot and they do as Doctor Manhattan is instantly transported to their location.
Back at home, Angela tries to get one of the Kavalry members to talk, even breaking each of his fingers, but he won’t break. At least not yet.
But enough about that. Time for a monologue.
Joe Keene tells the Kavalry that 34 years ago, Adrian Veidt unleashed his monster on the world. Not the squid, but his puppet president. First, he took their guns, and then he made them say ‘Sorry’ for the alleged sins of the past and the color of their skin. They just wanted to get some power back. If they control both sides, Keene could ride up and be the hero. Then, three years ago, the White Night kicked off the war.
However, Keene got an interesting call that night. One member, Mike, was apparently calling from a phone booth in New Mexico, despite just being in Tulsa 30 minutes ago. How’d that happen? He got teleported. There’s only one person who can do that, and it turns out that that he was born in Gila, New Mexico. Doctor Manhattan has been delivered to them in Tulsa. A real thermodynamic miracle indeed.
Jane and Judd got close to the family while the Kavalry came up with a plan to capture Manhattan. As for where Jon is now, he’s in 1985. When Judd died, Keene invited Laurie Blake, noting that she used to be Manhattan’s girlfriend. It’s only fair that someone who cares about him see him when he dies.
Angela crashes the party. She tells Keene that whatever he thinks happen won’t because Lady Trieu has been planning this for longer than him. Keene figures that Angela is saying whatever it takes to save him, but Angela lowers her gun. She needs him to listen. Trieu knows that the Kavalry will do this and she intends to stop him.
Okay, so where is she? She’s all over their power source. If Keene flips the switch, it’s because Trieu wants Keene to do so, even though he says the Kavalry stole the batteries. Either way, Keene isn’t…well, keen on listening. He enters the chamber as the Kavalry begins the process. When activated, a shockwave kills everyone’s hearing and causes a bit of a frenzy.
Lady Trieu’s vessel has arrived. They take the Kavalry’s weapons with their magnetic shields while Lady Trieu tells Angela that she’s fulfilling her promise to her grandfather. Her vessel soon activates. Laurie, meanwhile, is surprised to see Adrian Veidt in the flesh. She’s not dead, but the night is young.
Trieu tells everyone that a side effect of the teleportation is why everyone may have trouble hearing. However, there’s one problem: where’s Senator Keene? She goes over to the chamber and opens it, but a sea of black goo rushes out. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Trieu tells everyone that absorbing atomic energy without filtering it will cause you to pop. That’s just science. Though she thanks the Kavalry for capturing Manhattan. Bian hands Trieu the paper that Will Reeves gave her and reads it aloud: they represent the senior leadership of Cyclops, an organization that has terrorized people of color for a century, including this site, where the Greenwood massacre took place.
They have killed in the name of white supremacy. Jane cuts off Trieu and tells her to just get it over with and kill them. Indeed, when the device is activated, all of the lasers are trained on the Kavalry members, eliminating them all.
Jon, meanwhile, puts his finger inside the black goo and teleports Adrian, Wade, and Laurie into Karnak- Adrian’s quarters on Antarctica. Adrian realizes that Jon intends to save the day.
Trieu, naturally, is livid, but she doesn’t need an audience for this. Jon tells Angela that the cage is affecting him and it’s hard to be present. He acknowledges that he sent the others away to help. As for why he didn’t send Angela, it’s because he doesn’t want to be alone when he dies. He warns Angela against touching the light. The vessel fires down a beam straight into the chamber.
Veidt asks Laurie and Wade about the last time there was a squid rain storm: three weeks ago, apparently. Wade realizes this is how Adrian sent the squid back in 1985, and Adrian is surprised to learn that Laurie works for the FBI as a vigilante hunter. Wade’s got a lot to process, especially that Laurie knew Adrian’s plan. Plus, Adrian is more focused on helping save the world right now.
Angela wants Jon to tell her what to do, but he just wants her to go. He can’t hold himself together and again warns her to leave, but she’s staying. Angela asks Jon where he is now, and he tells her that he’s in every moment. They were together all at once.
As Jon reverts to Cal’s form, his body is blasted away, causing a massive shockwave that sends Angela flying.
Adrian puts his plan into action. He tells Laurie that his baby squids are designed to be harmless. They don’t cause damage, but if they’re frozen before transport, it’ll be like firing a gatling gun from the heavens. Jon may already be dead, but this window of opportunity could help as the power will be transported into a worthy adversary. Adrian tells them that Trieu won’t accomplish her plan because of her narcissism.
Anyone who seeks to attain the power of a god must be stopped, but Trieu won’t stop. As a massive narcissist, Adrian knows this. He activates the machine and tells the two that everyone down there within a five square blocks will soon be eliminated.
Bian awakens Angela and warns her to tell her friends to leave or they’ll be hurt. Indeed, the Tulsa police arrive in full force, but then Bian hears the phone ring. She enters the chamber and is told to hand the phone to Angela. On the phone, Laurie warns Angela to fucking run because “they’re” coming from the sky.
As the countdown finally ends, squids start falling from the sky like hailstones, with one even going right through one of Lady Trieu’s hands. The hail is so heavy that it causes the vessel to weigh down and eventually crash down on Lady Trieu.
Angela grabs some protection to cover herself as she heads for the theater. She soon joins Will and sees the kids asleep on stage. They got the wind knocked out of them when Jon sent them there. As for what they know? Not much. Will just told them that he was family. He asks if Jon is gone, and Angela confirms that yes, Manhattan is gone. As is Lady Trieu, but he’s not sorry about that.
Making the deal with Trieu was Jon’s idea, as he knew that he was going to die. Will and Jon helped one another. He asks Angela if she took his pills, and she confirms that she did. Now she knows everything. Will was sitting in this exact spot almost a century ago while his mother played the piano. The last thing he saw before his world ended was Bass Reeves on the screen as he talked about trusting in the law.
Will took on his last name, which is when he became an officer. There’s a reason Bass Reeves hid his face and why Will hid his: he felt anger. Angela felt that, but it wasn’t just that- it was anger and hurt. Wounds need air. Jon wanted Will to give him up, and he knew that Angela would try to save him, but this is how it had to be. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs, after all. It’s just something that Jon would say.
Angela will apparently know what that mean when the time was right. She doesn’t, so it’s not time yet. As for where Will is staying, he’ll be at a hotel. Angela offers him a spot in their home for a couple of nights.
Back on Antarctica, Adrian has a vessel for Laurie and Wade to return to Earth. As the police use a similar design, Wade should be able to fly it no problem. However, Laurie plans to place Adrian under arrest because hey, he did still kill three million people. Plus, Wade has his taped admission to President Robert Redford. The FBI may even arrest the President, but Adrian knows that the world will end if this happens.
True, but as Laurie says, people say the world will end all the time, but it hasn’t happened yet. Still, Laurie kept this secret, and Veidt finds it interesting that she’s now having misgivings? True, but she knows that some people change. Pretty simplistic view, Laurie, but alright. Adrian saved mankind. Again. Before Adrian can monologue, Wade knocks him out with a wrench, noting that the man talks a tad too much.
Angela and Will exit with the kids as the police survey the aftermath of the squid storm. But upon entering Angela’s shop, Topher is drawn to the Sister Night outfit which he soon realizes belong to his mother.
As Angela sets the kids down for bed, she picks up the Tachyon device when Will asks if she needs a hand, but she’ll be fine on her own. He’ll miss Jon, but considers the fact that he could’ve done more, considering his powers.
Angela looks down to the smashed carton of eggs and starts to clean up the mess when she remembers Jon telling her to “watch the eggs.” She opens the carton and finds one unbroken egg inside and thinks back to Jon telling her that he could transfer his components into organic material. Therefore, someone could inherit his powers.
Following this, Angela heads outside with the egg in her hands. She cracks it open and downs the entire thing in one gulp…which is pretty fucking weird, but that’s just me.
As she gingerly steps out onto the water, we cut to black as Watchmen cuts to a close.
Watchmen is a tale of two stories, or at least two different threads of the same ball of yarn. On one hand, you have the focus on racial injustice told within the world of Watchmen, but on the other hand, you have the storyline involving the search for Doctor Manhattan. True, the latter plotline didn’t come into focus until later in the season, but both come to their conclusions in this finale.
The story is far from over for these characters, and that’s where I’m sure many are conflicted as far as this series goes. There’s no telling as of now whether Watchmen will be a one-and-done or if it gets renewed. I imagine Damon Lindelof will have a hand in the decision, but also, in a post-Game of Thrones world, HBO would probably want all of the surefire hits it can get.
Having said that, we don’t know the show’s fate. It’s in good hands and has a lot of critical acclaim, so the odds are in its favor. But like the graphic novel itself, this story could remain ambiguous with its ending and leave us viewers speculating for years to come.
That was the case with the graphic novel as well, but in this continuation of that plot, we know the end result: Rorschach’s journal was published. So it’s safe to assume that, despite not fully seeing it for ourselves, Angela Abar has absorbed some of Doctor Manhattan’s abilities. While we don’t see Angela step onto the water, we’re left to determine the full scope of her newfound abilities.
Again, like the novel or even a film like Inception, it’s a way that will keep audiences engaged as we’re left wondering what happens next. That’d be the beauty of having this be a one-and-done series. Would it be nice to see what happens next? Sure, but it’s not necessary. We can enjoy what we have, which is a spectacular piece of television.
The full scope of everyone’s plan comes into play here and while that does mean we get a monologue or two, that’s not out of place for the world of Watchmen. Though we don’t have characters giving monologues after they’ve already put their plan into motion with the guarantee that it can’t be stopped. Or that they’ve covered all of their bases.
Not so with either the Seventh Kavalry or Lady Trieu, but starting off with the Kavalry, they’re still an interesting bunch. An organization masquerading as some hate group, but is secretly interested in obtaining Doctor Manhattan’s abilities, but still has some dislike for the powers that be that took their guns and made them apologize for the sins of their forefathers.
Even if you try to ignore it, you’ve heard and seen these sentiments, whether online or in-person. You know, stuff about government overreach, gun grabbers, having to say sorry for having pride in your heritage, even if some don’t find that socially acceptable. In that regard, there’s nothing really novel about the Kavalry, but it’s made more fascinating by the fact that they co-opted Rorschach’s mask and message.
Again, though, we see that this isn’t even their true intention once Doctor Manhattan comes into play. Both Keene and Lady Trieu want the same thing, but have different approaches. Well, Lady Trieu actually has an approach. Keene and the Kavalry just rush in headfirst without considering the fact that someone else may be trying to beat them to the punch. That or someone would have a better execution of their plan.
I can forgive Keene for being overzealous in wanting Manhattan’s abilities that he wouldn’t know about the crucial step of filtering the atomic energy. Now it’d be ridiculous to write off the Kavalry altogether because of this. They did have the know how to create a cannon that would send Manhattan to them and they’d dabbled in opening portals, so the Kavalry is indeed smarter than your average bear.
It’s just that Lady Trieu has them beat in a few areas. Even though the Kavalry is all wiped out, I do like that they’re unrepentant in their actions. They don’t grovel for forgiveness or plead for their lives to be spared. They’re ready to die for their cause and don’t give a damn what happens because they fought for their cause. I’m at least glad the Kavalry didn’t go out like bitches.
But like Trieu or Laurie or even most of the force- Angela included- Keene was someone who abused his authority for his greater good. Not the greater good of the world, and who knows how well he may have served White people once he became a god, but he was out for himself. When you attain great power, it’s entirely possible that you forget about the people who helped you get there.
It’s like running for office and, upon winning an election, you make moves counter to what your constituents want. Now I’m not in Keene’s head and can’t predict what he’d do, but given his hastiness to get the process over and done in a hurry, I’m going to assume that he wouldn’t have followed through on what everyone wanted and instead would only help himself.
So that vanity could be a factor in his downfall, and here’s where I contradict myself. The Kavalry has been pretty meticulous in their plan that you wouldn’t expect them to forget about filtering the atomic energy. Maybe that was part of the plan, but Keene was in too much of a hurry? We won’t know at this point, but despite the many warnings, Keene wanted to become a god and ended up the architect of his own destruction.
Hell, I’m talking about vanity and narcissism and I haven’t even gotten to Lady Trieu yet. She truly is her father’s daughter, having not just cloned her mother, not just aiding Veidt in his escape, but having the tools necessary that she take on Manhattan’s abilities. She fashions herself as a god in the making and even holds her hands out like Christ on the cross.
The crucifix near her even falls the moment that her plan fails and she meets her end. The symbolism is anything but subtle, but it’s a nice moment and another good use of split diopeter to showcase both Trieu and what’s happening in the background at the same time.
In the end, Trieu couldn’t overcome her ego. She’d gotten what she wanted in having her father present to see her master plan- until Jon ruined that. But even with Adrian present, she saw him as a relic at that point. She wanted him to dress in something besides his typical garb, and unlike Veidt, she spelled out her plan without the guarantee that it would succeed.
Like father, like daughter at the end of the day. She may have had the technology that would help her attain Manhattan’s abilities, but she’s still not Adrian Veidt.
This led to her downfall because Veidt has had years of knowing what it’s like to be a narcissist. In the world of Watchmen, he might be the ultimate narcissist. But that worked in his favor when he realized that people like Keene and Trieu wouldn’t stop in their quest to obtain a god’s powers. Plus, Trieu wanted the world to know her accomplishments.
I imagine that all those years on Europa had numbed Veidt to the idea of wanting glory and acknowledgement for his achievement. The Game Warden wasn’t a worthy adversary and, at the end of the day, his daughter could not succeed in achieving absolute godhood. It’s nice to see Veidt putting his past experience as a mastermind to good use when he figured out how to stop Trieu.
Then he gets arrested. Laurie and Wade didn’t get much to do in the last few episodes, unfortunately. Their roles here are to react to what’s going on, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the brief reunion between Laurie and Adrian.
But back on-topic. Laurie opts to arrest Adrian for his crime of killing three million people. He’s on tape admitting to it, so it’s not like he can call bullshit, but I don’t see this ending badly for Veidt. For one, we’ve seen what he can do with just a horseshoe. In addition, I just don’t see him being in prison for long, if at all. Perhaps his plan ultimately leading to world peace will lead to him getting a slap on the wrist?
Plus, hey, Adrian did say to Jon that no one knows what he did to save the world, so perhaps getting arrested and presumably put on trial will lead to the world acknowledging his efforts?
Either way, I don’t buy that Veidt spends the rest of his life in a prison cell. Same with President Robert Redford, but that’s because he’s Robert Redford. I would’ve wanted more time spent with Adrian and Laurie, but there’s so much going on in the finale that there wouldn’t be any time. Still, great to see Wade go through a real whirlwind of information all at once.
So the racial angle of the series is taken care of quite neatly to focus on the grand plot of capturing Doctor Manhattan. Looking back, we see just how far all sides had gone in order to get close to Jon. The Crawfords got close to the Abars, while Trieu had been manipulating the Kavalry into getting Manhattan just where she wanted, even though both sides wanted his abilities.
In the end, though, Jon had accepted his fate. He’s as passive as he always has been, even though, as Will notes, he could’ve done more when you factor in his powers. When he tells Angela that he’s with her all at once, we know that this truly is the end for Manhattan. It was a strong moment for both Abdul-Mateen II and King, Mateen in particular given how little we’ve seen of him as Manhattan.
Despite how many claim that Manhattan doesn’t give a damn about humanity, he clearly gives a damn about Angela, in more ways than one, as I’ll get to in a moment.
But Angela loses the love of her life in one, swift moment. It’s a tragic loss, but she has some solace when she comes to terms with what Will and Jon had planned. She not only felt what her grandfather felt, but she now understood why he put on the mask. He hid his anger and hurt, but those wounds need air. Heroes like Will just fought to survive, but Jon fought because he could do literally anything.
It’s another way to show the contrast between godlike beings and normal heroes like the Minutemen. We can shape and mold our destinies, but Jon already knew his. Even if that ended in disaster, he accepted that. By episode’s end, Angela may miss him, but she accepts that he’s gone.
His powers, though, not so much. Or, at least, that’s what it looks like. We get the payoff to Jon telling Angela to watch the eggs, and when she downs that egg, she’s ready to take that step and take on Jon’s powers. Is this an abuse of her power as she takes that step to potentially become a god? This is the same Angela that was fine with officers beating up residents in Nixonville, so she ain’t no saint.
But she could be the worthy one to receive his abilities.
Still, we never see her step onto the water. For all we know, maybe she just wanted to dip her toes in the water. But hey, Rorschach’s journal was published despite us not seeing what happened after that last panel. So perhaps Angela just turned herself into a godlike figure as well. What does she do with this newfound power and does this mean her life will also be in danger from those seeking to take control of her?
Knowing what happened to Jon, should Angela have even eaten the egg in the first place instead of just discarding it? Sure, but as we see with Keene and Trieu, the prospect of godhood and being all-knowing and all-seeing is very tempting for any mere mortal. Just ask Adam and Eve. Or perhaps this is Angela’s way of ensuring that part of Jon will always be with her?
The world may never know, but what I do know is that Watchmen was a fantastic piece of television and easily one of my favorite new shows of 2019. With Damon Lindelof as showrunner, I had high expectations going into this and he smashed them from week to week with great writing, direction, action, and homages to the original source material and superhero lore in general.
There’s still a lot to dissect with this series from start to finish and I would very much recommend Watchmen. I wouldn’t say it’s mandatory to have read the graphic novel or seen the film first, but it would help. If anything, maybe this will lead to the curious checking out the graphic novel for themselves. Again, no telling yet if this will be it or if HBO will attempt to renew, but until then, I’m happy with what we have.
Would I personally like another season? Sure, if Lindelof and company have a good idea and want to follow through on it. Otherwise, like Joker, I am fine with this being lightning in a bottle. But what did you think? Where could this series go with a potential Season 2? Any dangling threads you wish had been resolved?
Either way, thanks for following along, keep on watching plenty of television- and reading comics- and take care. Tick-tock, tick-tock.