Watchmen: See How They Fly   Books Included 
December 15, 2019 8:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Everything ends. For real this time.

NY Times: Damon Lindelof’s provocative “remix” of the beloved comic finished the season with confidence, completeness and no shortage of stylistic bravado.

Vulture: Watchmen Finale Recap: A Most Worthy Adversary

Polygon: Watchmen episode 9 ended the series too soon
posted by MoonOrb (144 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The lyrics to I am the Walrus were perfect.
posted by carmicha at 8:58 PM on December 15, 2019 [7 favorites]


Right after the episode cut to black after Angela's foot made contact with the water, I literally shook my fist and yelled LindeLOOOOOOOOOFFFF at the screen.
posted by ishmael at 8:59 PM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


I liked "DR M" being all that remained of the letters lit up from the Dreamland Theater.

I thought the ending was satisfying enough and was glad we were left to wonder a little about Dr. Manhattan passing his powers on to Angela.

I did feel the last two episodes had a whole lot of exposition in them but I preferred that to things just being left unexplained or unresolved.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:01 PM on December 15, 2019 [15 favorites]




From reddit: one viewer was dissatisfied with Veidt being easily bested by a wrench. And then another commentator pointed out Narcissus Met His Doom via a Looking Glass. Wanted to share because that’s a great joke that just slid by me on first viewing.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:05 PM on December 15, 2019 [50 favorites]


Gotta say, I was sad to see ol' Blue Dick get killed, although he would say nothing ever ends. But I can live with this ending and any follow up seasons would have a pretty high bar to clear to not be hack work.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


This episode was a wonderful ending to a wonderful show. I definitely need to think about it more, but it seemed to ask the question, who deserves power? Jon never asked for it but was bestowed it nonetheless. He saw that both Keene and Trieu wanted his power to remake the world in their image. No wonder he fell in love with Angela, who he could completely trust with his power even after his death. (Remember, the moment he fell in love with her was when she went out to defend him knowing she would fail.)

Anyway, I loved the Ozymandias reveal, loved Blake and the return of Looking Glass, loved the debut of Archie, and especially loved Looking Glass smacking Ozy upside the head with a wrench.

This show is so good and does so well picking up existing lore and building upon it. I would love to watch another season but understand if this one was enough.
posted by ejs at 9:12 PM on December 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Lindelof totally stuck the landing and I’m very proud of myself
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 9:17 PM on December 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


Lol no answers on Lube Man.
posted by jquinby at 9:18 PM on December 15, 2019 [15 favorites]


Lol no answers on Lube Man.

The Peteypedia for this episode answers a decent amount of hanging thread questions, but also opens up some others: here

In a lot of ways the "deleted" drive has echoes of Rorschach's journal.
posted by codacorolla at 9:19 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hey chuntered, your link above got messed up, but you can be very proud of yourself indeed. You freaking nailed it.
posted by kandinski at 9:19 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Lol no answers on Lube Man.

Check Peteypedia. No clear answers, but a giant jug of something resembling canola oil and some open speculation that he's a mask.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:20 PM on December 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


I liked the episode a lot, but seeing Cyclops get obliterated was among my favorite parts. Keene in his dumb, cargo-cult underwear giving his dime store villain monologue, and then a rebel yell before getting gooped. Perfect.
posted by codacorolla at 9:21 PM on December 15, 2019 [12 favorites]


Holy shit it all came together.
posted by Nelson at 9:48 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I lived in Oklahoma briefly, and via one hailstorm that I drove through and a few that did serious damage to the communities that they fell in even during that short time, I can tell you that those little frozen things dropping from the sky are no joke.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:49 PM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Apparently visuals to all the lyrics of I Am The Egg Man can be found in episode, or very nearly.
posted by xammerboy at 10:12 PM on December 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


A fairly satisfying conclusion to the story. Wasn't a huge fan of how they sidelined Laurie almost entirely for the last half, and the hail not hitting any of the main cops felt very convenient.
posted by No One Ever Does at 10:21 PM on December 15, 2019


I loved the use of Oklahoma! throughout. Made me think of this essay about the musical I read on Metafilter a few months ago. Link
"Oklahoma! was greeted as jingoistic entertainment in 1943, perhaps in part because a wartime audience didn’t want to see that the musical’s celebration of the platonic ideal of Great America was qualified by a brutal acknowledgment of how cruelly America can fall short. In the context of 2019, Fish’s restoration of the show is a timely refutation of the lie that America can be made great by turning back the clock to some immaculate America of the past. A great America has always been a work-in-progress. The Great America of nostalgic, reactionary fantasy, beatific and white and welcoming to all, never existed in the first place — not even, it turns out, in the bright, golden meadows of Oklahoma!"
Also the original play was written by a Cherokee man who grew up in Indian country in a place where his ancestors were forcibly marched to.
posted by bleep at 10:24 PM on December 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


Apparently visuals to all the lyrics of I Am The Egg Man can be found in episode, or very nearly.
posted by xammerboy

I delight in thinking about the lyrics to songs as actually being about some story or character I like if I can make them fit so I decided that this song is just Dr. M having a lot of different conversations at the same time.
posted by bleep at 10:29 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


so where did he go? I mean, c'mon, but Dr. M ain't gone.
posted by valkane at 10:50 PM on December 15, 2019


I need to think a bit on this, but I think I'm pretty satisfied.

I don't think the show could've contrived to spend much more time than we got with Adrian, Laurie, and Wade on screen together, but gosh that was fun as hell while it lasted.

I think I'm still not 100% sure which parts of this were whose plan--I get Lady Trieu was using 7K to distract Manhattan from the "giant clock" she was building like a mile from his house, and I'm snarking but it's not a crazy plan, except it was actually all set in motion by Manhattan himself in the 80s when he met Angela and tracked down Will, which he did because...That's How It Had To Happen? and then Will went to Trieu with the understanding she'd take out Cyclops on the way to her apotheosis? Like I enjoyed this show a lot and I'm willing to be extremely generous with plot shenanigans, but is that basically what we figured out here?

(Keeping the enormous crucifix taking up half the frame next to Trieu's face was maybe A Bit Much.)

I'm not sure "Narcissus Taken Out By Mirror Guy" is quite as exquisite a joke as "the nun was married to God" and on balance they both came together a little bit better than the brick from space that killed god, but not gonna lie, I love that ridiculous shit.
posted by jameaterblues at 11:04 PM on December 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


jameaterblues: don't forget the part where God becomes flesh, walks among humans, submits willingly to be killed, because his sacrifice will save humanity, but he leaves a legacy behind because consuming his transubstatiation will make humans godly too.

 [on edit] The whole plot is a Deus Ex Machina, isn't it?
posted by kandinski at 11:29 PM on December 15, 2019 [16 favorites]


Dr M didn't actually set it all in motion in the 80s (I think it was actually 2009), Lady Trieu was still going to do her thing. I think he was just trying to get ready for it.
I really recommend going back and watching all the episodes again, there is so much I didn't get at first. (Not saying that at anyone just a general statement)

Also this whole time I thought it was Hank Azaria playing Veidt.
posted by bleep at 11:34 PM on December 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think Dr M pretty obviously did the Morpheus thing re: Sandman. He didn't "get killed", he let it happen because having reconnected with humanity via Angela he knew he wasn't the guy who should have that power.
posted by Justinian at 12:11 AM on December 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


I liked Veidt's 1988 boast that without him no cowboy actor could have become president.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:21 AM on December 16, 2019 [14 favorites]


I feel bad for the real Robert Redford. He seems like a nice enough guy, but in this, even though he has no screentime, he comes off as kind of a bad guy who is in on the conspiracy and won't leave office.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:36 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The lyrics to I am the Walrus were perfect.

Remember The Beastie Boys' "Egg Man" in the credits of an early episode?
posted by thelonius at 2:38 AM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


I feel bad for the real Robert Redford. He seems like a nice enough guy, but in this, even though he has no screentime, he comes off as kind of a bad guy who is in on the conspiracy and won't leave office.

Have you, perchance, seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:25 AM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


There's a good interview with Lindelof over at Rolling Stone: Damon Lindelof Unpacks Mysteries of the ‘Watchmen’.

Interesting how he doesn't view the ending as a cliffhanger and Mirror Guy pointed out to him that people would totally perceive it that. Glad he changed the ending to what we got.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wonder if rather than transfer his powers to Angela, Dr M. is taking up residence within her. Maybe they can continue their relationship from within her head, almost like some people with Dissociative Identity Disorder experience that the personalities can talk to each other. It would allow their love to endure and he could continue being a father, which he enjoyed. Together they might use the power well: he knows how to deploy it and she has her humanity to temper it. And after all, Dr. M. was able to take up residence in Kal.

I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together

posted by carmicha at 5:16 AM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]




Season one was seen from loose threads from the comic series. If there was to be a season two, what threads are available for that? Angela possibly having Dr. M's powers and Veidt facing punishment for his squid scam are the obvious ones. Beyond that, what is there? Dan Dreiberg is still in prison. Bian now presumably owns Trieu Corp. This is something I'm going to keep thinking about.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:41 AM on December 16, 2019


If we're posting up Called It! moments: I was right about how the 7th Kav learned that Doc was out and about.

But this does raise some confusion of how Trieu knew that they knew. I understand she wanted to use them as Doc's captors so she could not reveal herself until we was trapped in the memory/time perception fogging lithium cage, but their involvement in capturing Doc was predicated on the White Night and shifting their plans from a political power grab to actual super power grab. She wanted to capture Doc way before that, so what was her pre-7th Kav plan?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:41 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


How are we reading Laurie's reversal on Veidt? Maybe she has just seen enough of conspiracies to save the world.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:51 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


It was so refreshing to see Adrian interacting with other characters. I'm just sad that it took this long. Also sad that Laurie was out of the picture for so long. I'd watch a whole episode of Adrian, Laurie, and Wade sparring.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:56 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


The line from Reeves re: "For all he could do, he coulda done more" or something to that effect was wonderful.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:00 AM on December 16, 2019 [25 favorites]


How are we reading Laurie's reversal on Veidt?

Well, consider the circumstances under which she originally agreed to go along with his deception: she'd broken up with Jon, he takes off for Mars, the world seems to be careening toward global thermonuclear war, she takes up costumed crimefighting again (very briefly), Jon shows up and takes her to Mars, she figures out the truth about her father, Jon takes her back to Earth, half of NYC is dead, but it seems like Adrian's plan worked. At least to someone who's been through some major shocks and crises in about a week or so. 34 years later, she may have gotten a different perspective on all that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 AM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm balking a bit at the idea that the lithium cage would hold Jon, but it's not the hardest suspension of disbelief in this episode.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:37 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


That makes sense, Halloween Jack. Maybe it's also different to consider extending that cover up next to Wade, who has spent most of his life traumatized by it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:48 AM on December 16, 2019


I can't help but feel this is Lindelof making a dig at Moore:

"You had a genius idea 20 years ago, but you're still doing the same thing. Just smaller." Trieu to Veidt.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


The episode felt a little rushed; I kind of wish that they'd gone with 12 episodes to mirror the number of issues of the comic. On the other hand, I usually complained that the Marvel Netflix shows were too long and dragged things out too much.

That said, this was a satisfying end and while the egg and pool stuff was easy enough to figure out, they did a great job tying all the themes to together. I'm totally ready for Regina King to play an avenging demi-goddess.

I loved all the music in this episode except for the fucking Blue Danube. It's been half a century; we can quit doing on-the-nose homages to 2001 now. I did cheer when I am the Walrus came on for the credits though and was mad at myself for not making the connection when I'd seen the title of the episode.
posted by octothorpe at 6:58 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Keene in his dumb, cargo-cult underwear giving his dime store villain monologue

Republic serial villain, surely.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:01 AM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


Stanczyk: I feel bad for the real Robert Redford. He seems like a nice enough guy, but in this, even though he has no screentime, he comes off as kind of a bad guy who is in on the conspiracy and won't leave office.

It's not that he won't leave office, it's that he keeps being re-elected. Richard Nixon had more terms, serving into 1985 (Watchmen Fandom/Wikia), thanks in part to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, and the suspicious murders of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (also thought to have been committed by The Comedian), who would otherwise have exposed the Watergate Scandal. (Copy of my previous comment from the first episode.)


DirtyOldTown: Season one was seen from loose threads from the comic series. If there was to be a season two, what threads are available for that? Angela possibly having Dr. M's powers and Veidt facing punishment for his squid scam are the obvious ones. Beyond that, what is there? Dan Dreiberg is still in prison. Bian now presumably owns Trieu Corp. This is something I'm going to keep thinking about.

Trieu teleported the Cyclops leadership somewhere, right? We don't know if she sent them somewhere immediately fatal, or into "hostile lands." There's a chance that they could come back, and/or pair up with some other extremist group (with super/tech powers).


DirtyOldTown: How are we reading Laurie's reversal on Veidt? Maybe she has just seen enough of conspiracies to save the world.

Blake: "You know how you can tell the difference between a masked cop and a vigilante? No.
Me neither." (episode 3)

I think she's come around to the idea that masked "heroes" aren't really heroes, but have very little difference between them and the bad guys in masks, thus her enthusiasm for catching vigilantes, as seen with her introduction in episode 3. Vigilantes think they can work outside the limits of laws, and no murder is justified for The Greater Good.


rmd1023: I'm balking a bit at the idea that the lithium cage would hold Jon, but it's not the hardest suspension of disbelief in this episode.

Jon: "The cage is affecting me. It's hard to be present." It seemed like he had trouble knowing when and where he was, so his cognition was mangled enough that he couldn't reliably move, not knowing where he was. But he's able to act from within it, seen by his teleporting Veidt, Mirror Guy and Blake, via the goo of the former senator.


Screencap: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Drag On - President Redford assembles shortlist; GOP demands delay until after election
posted by filthy light thief at 7:35 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]




I assume that they had to have gotten Redford's approval before using him in the series. I love the meta connection to the original since he played Woodward All the President's Men so having him president after Nixon seems appropriate.
posted by octothorpe at 8:03 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Sooo, Veidt was just stockpiling his semen?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on December 16, 2019


Purity Of Essence.
posted by octothorpe at 8:13 AM on December 16, 2019 [11 favorites]


Probably more than 8 billion children then.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Seed of True Genius. It might be important someday.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 8:50 AM on December 16, 2019


I'm balking a bit at the idea that the lithium cage would hold Jon

Well, apparently he siphoned off at least some of his powers to the egg and maybe also anointed Reeves with a little bit. Or maybe all of his powers can exist in multiple places simultaneously a la how he experiences time.
posted by carmicha at 9:01 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


His powers come from chemistry and by chemistry they can be taken away. Just like his memory ring.
posted by bleep at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2019


Trieu teleported the Cyclops leadership somewhere, right? We don't know if she sent them somewhere immediately fatal, or into "hostile lands." There's a chance that they could come back, and/or pair up with some other extremist group (with super/tech powers).

I'm pretty sure she just killed them.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:22 AM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


Yeah, read that scene the same way. The Cyclops people were vaporized.
posted by jquinby at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2019


I assume that they had to have gotten Redford's approval before using him in the series.

The detail of Redford becoming president after Nixon comes from the comics. In the last pages, first there's a mention of an "R.R." running for president, and I assume 1980s readers were meant to assume that meant Reagan. Then a few pages later it gets cleared up that it stands for Robert Redford.
posted by dnash at 9:34 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I have various thoughts about the season, but really the best thing I can say right now is that I can't wait to re-watch it from the beginning. No doubt there are plot holes and questions, but the creators did a really good job of crafting a good emotional arc for the leads, among a few other things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my wife is keen on watching it and her last school assignment was finished yesterday so I'm betting that I'll be able to do a re-watch and she'll get to see it for the first time (more or less) this week.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:44 AM on December 16, 2019


Why did Lady T give everyone a television, if the real deal was that she was gonna have Dr Manhattan powers? I thought we were headed towards mind control with the clock but then it wasn't mentioned again.
posted by agregoli at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Why did Lady T give everyone a television,

I believe this was only mentioned in the Peteypedia documents. I don't think they'd bury the foundation for a major plot element in those.
posted by rocketman at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2019


No, it was mentioned on the show, I thought. I didn't read any supplemental material. Maybe I got it thru osmosis.
posted by agregoli at 10:34 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I rushed to post this last night; I'm so thrilled they wrapped up the whole show. In early discussions I expressed concern that the show wouldn't deliver on all the open ends and heavy themes they were bringing in. But they did!

The plot came together! I can't think of any important big loose ends. I loved the conclusion of Trieu vs. the Kalvary, that she was using them to outplay Dr. Manhattan. I loved the whole denouement of that, the capture, the racist audience, her triumphant attack, her inevitable failure. I also like how they brought Veidt in; Jeremy Irons is far too good an actor to have kept bottled up. I love how horribly arrogant he was.

My only plot nitpicks.. I kinda missed Petey, where'd he disappear to? And one tiny unsatisfying thing addressed in the EW interview with Lindelhof: Lady Trieu had to buy the property real fast because Veidt's return rocket "was knocked off course. It hit a meteor or something. So it was landing in a different spot than it was supposed to." Would have been nice to explain that on the show but meh, not a big deal. Maybe there's a few other little things but mostly it was great. They even explained the watch batteries! Looking forward to a second watch to put the bits together.

I also felt they did a good job addressing the big racial themes of the show. Most specifically the injustices done to African Americans and the legacy of the Tulsa Massacre. The final speech between Angela and Will was fantastic, coming to a close on the legacy of Bass Reeves. (Speaking of which: read about the real Bass Reeves.)

They even managed to bring in a second theme, the suffering of Vietnamese people under both America and Veidt. That was really left hanging from the comic books. I love that Trieu's mom was a cleaning woman, the sheer profanity of Trieu's immaculate conception.

Also it was a real pleasure watching a show like this with a deliberate end. Much more satisfying to tie a bow around everything, rather than try to leave some major plot points hanging to make room for a continuation. I do hope there is a continuation, but only if someone has a story in them as good as this one. Maybe set somewhere else, with mostly new characters. I'm not sure where you go with Angela now also being God. The implication is she really will use her power to fix the world and solve injustice. Not much to say if that's all finished, is there? Maybe some new show featuring Agent Blake, Looking Glass, and their adventures in Archie the Owl Ship.
posted by Nelson at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I had a couple visceral responses that were slightly negative — Dr. M being...killed? Veidt slapstickingly getting knocked out — but honestly, all you could really hope for for a Watchmen show was that it felt like it had similar weight to the comic. And really, this nailed it. Reframing real life in a superhero-laden alternate universe, following the plots of small people getting wrapped up in Things That Are Bigger Than They Thought, lots of thematic resonance, twists, it really did feel like what we want all sequels to be.
posted by Brainy at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2019


My one nitpick was that Laurie sees her former lover that she's been calling and leaving messages for years, and then... nothing. A few more beats of something indicating shock/horror/sadness/regret/anger/lust/??? from her would have made sense. Otherwise I'm feeling pretty satisfied.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:11 AM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Why did Lady T give everyone a television, if the real deal was that she was gonna have Dr Manhattan powers? I thought we were headed towards mind control with the clock but then it wasn't mentioned again.

In an interview Lindelof indicated that was one of the original ideas, so the tvs are probably leftover artifacts from that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yeah, reading a few interviews makes me think that Lindelof abandoned a previous mind control plot thread but then failed to go back and excise it from the plot, leaving it as a tool for Will to hang a man and that's about it.

If a second season happens, then they can pick at that thread. After waking up from her cloning chamber and downing a bunch of Nostalgia, Lady Trieu Point Oh can fall down the rabbit hole Veidt just escaped from - having everyone worship you as a god is not the same as being one.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:10 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]




Did anyone else want Lady Trieu to succeed?

I was bummed when her father sabotaged her in her moment of triumph.
posted by yonega at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


Trieu was born of sperm stolen from Veidt. Seemed poetic that he destroyed Trieu with a frozen spooge of slimy swimmers. If I can't be god, neither can you.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:12 PM on December 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


Collider have an interview with Lindelof where he discusses the ending and also his preference for who should be the showrunner for any future season:
I will say, I would love to see someone who is not a white dude taking a shot at Watchmen — a woman or a person of color or both. Most of the good ideas that ended up in this season did not come from a white dude. And so, it would be pretty wonderful to have someone at the helm that was not the traditional person at the helm of a comic-book movie or TV show.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:28 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Sooo, Veidt was just stockpiling his semen?"

Not unlike Jeffrey Epstein, they say
posted by chavenet at 3:44 PM on December 16, 2019


I think this show stands as its own thing, but an anthology approach where different creators take different approaches to writing a follow-up to the original comic seems like it would be fun (as much as I'd miss the unique characters in this show).
posted by codacorolla at 4:07 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else want Lady Trieu to succeed?

I was bummed when her father sabotaged her in her moment of triumph.


Yeah, but what had she done for him lately?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:44 PM on December 16, 2019


If Dr Manhattan knows that Angela will eventually take on his powers (to whatever extent), does this mean he's not actually totally dead (he's reassembled himself before, several times) or that his awareness extends past his death? I'm trying to figure out if they're leaving themselves an out for him reappearing if they do future seasons.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:04 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Minor observation while rewatching, but by stashing his sperm via that Gordian Knot program Veidt is literally tying his (test) tubes.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:32 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave this here:

Dr. Manhattan’s 12 Days Of Christmas
posted by thedward at 5:52 PM on December 16, 2019 [9 favorites]


not the hardest suspension of disbelief in this episode.

Does it not get pretty cold on the fall down from the stratosphere? Seems like the 40 degree squid would have frozen too.
posted by thelonius at 5:59 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


A few stray thoughts:

Trieu would have been an interesting god. She had clearly invested a lot in the infrastructure of her own soon-to-be-religion. Her globe room that listens in on Manhattan booths was going to play a role. She's already thinking about her legacy, and about the theatrics of her new power, what with the buying newspapers for her time capsule and obvious goddess costume. It's hard to hate her, though. Her flattered wave after being complimented on her halo-hat was adorable.

I think Dr Manhattan also clearly has theater on the brain. In my read of this episode, Dr Manhattan has clearly been thoughtful about the final moments of Angela's time before assuming his powers. The DR M letters left on the marquee could just be a cute coincidence, but to me it almost seems like a signature, like Dr Manhattan saying, this was all as I planned it, right down to what letters got hit with squids. When her grandfather tells Angela, "considering what he could do, he could have done more," it's the last thing anybody says to her before she presumably assumes Dr Manhattan's powers, and I'd like to think that was planned that way by Dr M, a sort of final nudge in the right direction.

Going into the finale, I was kind of concerned about the re-use of "Dr Manhattan in danger?!" as a plot element. I mean, the line in the comic about the world's smartest man being of no more danger to him than the world's smartest termite was pretty conclusive, and I was wondering if they would manage to both be true to the spirit of that line and manage not to repeat themselves. I think it worked, and the way it set up interesting new stories felt true to the original comic. My only small disappointment is the giant sphere, which, I don't know, could have been weirder. I was hoping the Millennium clock was going to do something more interesting than send off a big video-game looking power up orb.
posted by Rinku at 9:29 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


So my issues with Lindelof are not secret on the blue. I found Lost bloviated horseshit, a stupid person’s idea of what a smart show was. I am told to see Lindelof firing on all cylinders, I should look at The Leftovers, which is next on my list. Anyway, suffice it to say that Damon Lindelof + iconic graphic novel adaptation + “but it goes its own way!,” and the inarguable fact that historically Alan Moore adapted to the screen has ranged from the turgid (From Hell) to the howlingly bad (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), I think it is fair to say I approached this with low expectations. It exceeded them. Considerably.

My only quibble with show is that I felt Ozymandias was a little off in the casting, but that may be real-world knowledge getting in the way. 1980s Jeremy Irons was a little too squirrelly to match my notions of Veidt from the book. If the late Rutger Hauer had been Veidt here, I would have had no complaints. Even Michael York is a closer match to the Ozy in my head, if you age Veidt up to 2019.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:19 PM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


Laurie's threat that she eats heroes for breakfast takes on a whole new meaning in light of the ending of the show.
posted by codacorolla at 11:18 PM on December 16, 2019 [10 favorites]


I wonder if Laurie didn’t say or do anything further with regards to Dr Manhattan since he was in Cal’s body, and not the version she was in love with?
posted by ellieBOA at 11:28 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure Lady Trieu or Angela Abar is the right person to entrust with Manhattan-level power. Angela is fine with police brutality and tortured someone in this very episode. The idea of a cop who is willing to break the rules having superpowers is terrifying.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:11 AM on December 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


That's also prefigured by something Veidt says - that someone who wants that sort of power shouldn't have it. It happened to Jon accidentally, but Angela chooses it.

I think the show missed the point of Dr Manhattan (that his powers separate him from humanity, that he's not a superpowered human but a god pretending to be human - a development of Moore's version of Swamp Thing - and at the end of the book he decides to stop pretending), but that's better than missing the entire point of the whole book as Zack Snyder did. And it didn't impact my enjoyment.

The fall of Lady Trieu seems to have been made by a Random Religious Symbolism generator (in the background there's a crucifix on an unexpected church altar, and then she has a stigmatum punched into her hand by a shellfish fusillade that just bounces off most of the other characters). But that didn't impact my enjoyment either.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure Lady Trieu or Angela Abar is the right person to entrust with Manhattan-level power.

Exactly. That would make a very interesting season 2.

Angela was being gently pushed to use the power in ways that Dr M never did. Plus there's still the 7th calvary and racism hanging around in American, what would a godlike black woman do about that? What could she do?

Yeah, done right, that could be hella interesting.

Done RIGHT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on December 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


i always felt robert redford would have been an excellent adrian veidt, but that might be a little too meta. that said, jeremy irons was excellent. imo, veidt was always squirrelly, but his blonde-hair, blue-eyed looks and superficial charm let him get away with a lot.

(i think we can all agree matthew goode (synder's ozymandias) was objectively terrible)

Also, Lindelof's Laurie was similarly excellent in all the ways Synder's was terrible.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:59 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


The nice thing about having Lindelof's Watchmen is that we don't have to think about Snyder's version ever again.
posted by octothorpe at 9:15 AM on December 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


Way ahead of you on that one... it's almost amazing how much I have completely blocked it from my mind; like every time someone mentions a detail/actor/moment from it in these threads, I've been like "oh yeah I guess that happened" but honestly y'all could have been making it up and I probably wouldn't have known. (This is absolutely not a complaint and I'd like to thank my brain for being broken in a healthy way for a change.)

As for the actual episode, I think my favorite thing about this episode is that thanks to other people's theorizing (using things that were definitely already on screen), nothing in the finale really surprised me except the impregnation scene and how/where Looking Glass showed up. It's a very strong testament that you can have a finale that wraps up mysteries without "shocking twists" and still be immensely satisfying.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


This whole season sits right at the top of the pile of superhero media for me. Bold, unapologetic, impeccably written, acted, and directed. I hope HBO takes the time needed for Lindelof and co. to come up with another worthy story (if they even can) before pushing out a season 2.

My biggest issue was brought up above... Giving the powers of a god to a character who has shown no willingness to restrain herself in the pursuit of justice is just a recipe for Squid-O-Rama 2.0. Perhaps we are meant to believe that Angela's Nostalgia experience has changed her somewhat, given her more context and wisdom to prepare for those powers; but as Rock Steady noted, she was breaking fingers for information in the finale itself.
posted by Gaz Errant at 10:51 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The nice thing about having Lindelof's Watchmen is that we don't have to think about Snyder's version ever again.

There is very little I enjoy about Snyder’s version, but I think Billy Crudup got the distance and detachment of classic Dr. Manhattan in a way that the (I think) uncredited performer behind the VVN day mask did not. His appearance here as not as cool and remote as I’d always seen him being.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:19 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think Billy Crudup got the distance and detachment of classic Dr. Manhattan in a way that the (I think) uncredited performer behind the VVN day mask did not.

It was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II the whole time, both behind the mask and not. I think we were meant to understand that Dr. M had perhaps developed a newfound appreciation for humanity and the concept of personal attachment after trying to create his own "stronger loving world" on Europa, resulting in the show's warmer take on the character.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:30 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


yes crudup, haley, and wilson were all very well cast in the film. (well, wilson could have been a tad more schlubby) morgan seemed a little out of his depth, but he had his moments
posted by entropicamericana at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2019


I was being flip. There some things that I like about Watchmen 2009 and to be fair, condensing down all 12 books to one 2.5 hour film was impossible to begin with but Snyder was the wrong director for that material.
posted by octothorpe at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2019


DC has my favorite stable of weird super hero stories (well, mainstream ones anyway). Rather than continuing to work with Watchmen, it would be cool to see this same creative team tackle Animal Man, or Swamp Thing, or a Doom Patrol arc (obviously not that likely since DC Streaming has them currently), or Demon.
posted by codacorolla at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Lindelof: So there was never going to be a version of this show where white supremacy was going to be defeated. Therefore, you couldn’t take that on in the finale. You had to kind of sideline the Seventh Kavalry. By the way, I think that the Seventh Kavalry has been marginalized as a threat since the third episode. That’s the last time they did anything threatening.

SO I loved the show BUT an all-powerful white supremacist is waaaaay scarier than an all-powerful capitalist, and I don't think the finale really reckons with that.

I don't what it should have been but the danger that the cavalry represented... sure it can't be defeated but here it's not even tackled? They lose not because they're dumb (yeah Senator was mush but they'd survive and still have Dr M) but because Trieu was more powerful, that's not a symbolically satisfying. That's not 'reparations'.

Also I haaaaaate that one of the the white supremacists in chief got to have her 'moment of defiance' - nah if you wanna show them as weak / dumb go alllll the way.
posted by litleozy at 2:21 PM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I can't help but feel this is Lindelof making a dig at Moore: "You had a genius idea 20 years ago, but you're still doing the same thing. Just smaller."

If so, it's a very unjust one. Moore's done a huge variety of work since Watchmen which lies not only outside the realm of superhero comics but often outside comics altogether.

Before dismissing him as a one-trick pony, consider this partial list of his more recent projects:

His ABC comics line (a bid to reproduce the innocent comics of his childhood);
Promethea (a history of magical systems woven into narrative form);
From Hell (London psycho-geography rooted in the Ripper killings);
The Mirror of Love (a book-length poem protesting homophobia);
Lost Girls (an experiment in writing genuinely horny pornography to the standards of serious art);
Fashion Beast (a screenplay written for punk svengali Malcolm McLaren);
The Neonomicon trilogy (reinventing Lovecraft's horror for the modern age);
His spoken word CDs (drawn from site-specific performances with various musicians);
Dr Dee (an aborted opera project with Blur's Damian Albarn);
Jerusalem (a hugely ambitious and accomplished prose novel);
Cinema Purgatorio (Hollywood Babylon history with a horror-story wrapping);
The Show (his upcoming movie with the director Mitch Jenkins).

Mainstream comics have constantly gone back to Watchmen's well over the past 34 years, mining its most superficial aspects to ever-diminishing returns. Moore himself - with the possible exception of Supreme - never has.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


I can't help but feel this is Lindelof making a dig at Moore: "You had a genius idea 20 years ago, but you're still doing the same thing. Just smaller."

In the aforelinked Rolling Stone interview, Lindelof makes it clear that the dig is pointed at himself, for appropriating Moore’s genius ideas for this show.
posted by ejs at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


I wish I liked the show better. I thought it was daring and dramatically purposeful to open with the Tulsa massacre, and the Nostalgia overdose episode was a series high-water mark and an incredible hour of television. But I think the show was really muddled in its narrative framing and confused about what its choices were saying, and it shortchanged its main character and core relationships in favor of plotty reveals and pat answers.

Take Angela out of the finale. What changes? The 7th K, Trieu, Veidt, Laurie, Looking Glass and Dr. M still play out the string. Angela plays no role except to witness her husband's death. Laurie, the other character who had a deep relationship with Dr. M, is a passive captive (until Looking Glass' Three Stooges moment with Veidt).

The conspiracy plot came down to Trieu vs. Veidt, two characters whose circumstances, motivations, and relationship were arbitrarily withheld from the audience until they weren't. But the show needed that smokescreen of "mystery texture" to obscure the fact that its protagonist had no arc of dramatic consequence. Angela begins the story as a vigilante cop who'll torture suspects to get the info she wants. She ends the story the same way. Possibly with godlike powers?

Regina King (and pretty much the entire cast) did an amazing job, but I don't think the show was up to the caliber of her performance.
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 4:32 PM on December 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm with reclusive_thousandaire. "Muddled in its narrative framing and confused about what its choices were saying" is spot on. Bookending the show with 2 scenes of the main heroine torturing criminals for information a la Jack Bauer is such a bad look, intentional or not, and that's just the most obvious example of the show's confused takes on politics and policing. I was intrigued by the Panda character in the first episode and that whole unlocking the guns thing, and looking forward to see where that went. But no, he was dropped almost immediately.

Narratively, the show wasted so much time early on and yes, felt very rushed at the end, with little payoff to the main characters' emotional arcs in the finale. The sheer amount of time we spent on that moon reads as very odd, given how little the particulars of Veidt's self-iimposed exile ended up mattering to....well, anything. Nothing about that story made sense to me - from the newly, resplendently, awfully aloof Dr. Manhattan of the end of the comics deciding that going into space to "create life" meant recreating a fond memory from his human childhood, complete with replicas of a couple of people who were nice to him once, to why Veidt would accept that without a plan for getting back when he got bored (it's a prison! no he chose it!), to the whole Game Warden subplot, which went nowhere and meant nothing until the "masks make you cruel" line, which we'd already seen many times in the show before then.

Someone above wrote, "the creators did a really good job of crafting a good emotional arc for the leads," which puzzles me quite a bit. Angela spends most of the season confused and buffeted by events, then it turns out she's been hiding Dr. Manhattan all along? That's not an emotional arc. Veidt's emotional arc during the series is what? The daughter-accepting thing, which is entirely contained in the finale? What was Blake's emotional arc? What was Trieu's? What was Tillman's, after he learns the Truth About Squids? Does it change him or his behavior at all? Yes, Will Reeves underwent a bunch of emotional transformations in his youth, but elderly Will Reeves - what was *his* emotional arc? Aside from keeping information from everyone? I'm open to hearing what emotional arcs resonated with folks, but the finale in particular seemed emotionally dry to me, if not downright empty, which seems fitting.

I enjoyed many things about the series (Regina King was fabulous, especially in last week's episode; she really sold that odd love story), but the writing of the series was spotty, and - most disappointing of all - ultimately the show had very little to say about the resurgence of violent racism in the world today. I won't go so far as the folks I've seen criticizing as "insulting" the show's framing of Tulsa-style murders as the work of a fictional secret society, but I do think that a more deep and nuanced look at where that violence comes from would have been more interesting and maybe even become a theme that was actually explored, rather than just presented a couple of times. I mean, this quote from Lindelof's Rolling Stone interview linked above is just so out of step with the reality of race in America right now:

I always saw the Kavalry as fairly inept. They didn’t seem particularly dangerous or scary to me.

Anyway, folks who feel the show's exploration of race had some depth to it (for the record, I thought the Hooded Justice flashback episode was well done, and the familiar vigilante origin story given a great twist into black anger), I'd love to hear more of what you saw there. For me, I think this comment someone made in the Episode 5 discussion here wound up close to the truth about the series as a whole:

I am a bit worried that the whole Tulsa 1921 setting will turn out to just be appropriation. They damn well better go somewhere with it. The key to that is the Black Marshall and the boy watching a costumed lawman proclaim "Trust in the Law!" only to (presumably) grow up to be a vigilante. The idea that any Black person who lived through the massacre would trust in the law is just absurd. And yet here we are in modern times with Angela working as a cop and trusting her best white friend Sheriff Judd. Only it turns out he looks like a Klansman. All this is terribly poignant and if they can land that story somewhere meaningful I'm excited.

I don't think they landed the Tulsa Massacre theme meaningfully at all; turning the 7th Kavalry into a joke and basically eliminating them in favor of the later-developed story "Lady Trieu vs.the World" diminished the scope of the show's thematic exploration of race considerably.
posted by mediareport at 6:45 PM on December 17, 2019 [13 favorites]


Oh, for what it's worth, I got Abar: The First Black Superman out from the local video rental place last week, and it's got just as much earnest bad acting and heavy moralizing as you'd expect from a no-budget mid-70s blaxploitation flick. There's not much to recommend it if you're not already captivated by the idea of a movie featuring a Watts neighborhood protection group that drives around in a garbage truck while helping a black scientist with a super-elixer protect his family from violent white neighbors in their new home, but it does have a couple of things worth mentioning here:

1. There's a scene that comes out of nowhere where a black family in the 1800s is threatened by white outlaws and is then saved by a black cowboy (marshall?), Deadwood Dick, who's played by the same actor as modern-day Abar. It's only later that you hear from the doctor's kid that it was a dream he had. You can watch it here and draw your own parallels with the movie theater scene that opens the series.

2. When Abar eventually gets his powers (almost an hour and 20 minutes into the 2-hour film, if I remember right), they're somewhat Manhattan-like reality-changing powers (snakes appear in a racist's bed, e.g.) along with some mind-control that gets a cop to suddenly decide to "Make love, not war" and stop shooting at him. You can watch that, and see him turn a corrupt black preacher's fancy car into a horse and buggy, *and* make middle class black folks who scorn the ghetto eat a plate of worms, towards the end of the trailer.
posted by mediareport at 7:29 PM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've been rewatching the show and I have to agree with this comment: ""Muddled in its narrative framing and confused about what its choices were saying" is spot on."

The show wanders around a lot in the first few episodes and seems to be going in one direction, before finding some footing. I wonder if it could have just been eight episodes, the series does take its sweet time, like a scenic drive, before it gets going.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 PM on December 17, 2019


I’m feeling a bit like I felt about the comic: once isn’t enough. I’m just 20 minutes into rewatching episode one and I’m already picking up on so many things I missed the first time through.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:06 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


It was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II the whole time, both behind the mask and not.

Really? I could not have guessed; he did a remarkable job of voice acting. When I saw a god walking into Abar, I was certain is was another actor who was remaining uncredited until some future reveal (genre fans will recall the non-existent actor playing Voq in the first season of Discovery).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:39 PM on December 17, 2019


It's just occurred to me that I now have no idea what that meteor crashing on "Ma & Pa Kent's" farm as Lady T. handed them the baby was all about. What have I forgotten/missed?
posted by Paul Slade at 3:07 AM on December 18, 2019


It was Golden Veidt returning from Europa - although why the craft could not land, who knows.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:34 AM on December 18, 2019


In an interview interview, Lindelof said it had run into problems and been knocked off course, hence the rough landing in an odd space.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 AM on December 18, 2019


When you have to explain your storytelling choices in post-game interviews something in your storytelling has failed. I know these "well here's what I meant" interviews are normal now, but they always strike me as a sign of failure. The rocket ship example is particularly absurd.

(I have similar negative feelings about the overuse of Peteypedia-style addenda, but there's often a cool place for them so I'll let that go.)
posted by mediareport at 5:21 AM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


When you have to explain your storytelling choices in post-game interviews something in your storytelling has failed. [...] The rocket ship example is particularly absurd.

I agree. Lindelof seems to have been just improvising events from one episode to the next with no idea how the series would end, and then couldn't be bothered to go back and remove any inconsistencies later. The interview's explanation strikes me as a desperate post hoc attempt to pretend he had a masterplan all along - and I don't buy that for a minute.

That's incredibly sloppy storytelling by anyone's standards but particularly infuriating here. One of the great strengths of Watchmen as a graphic novel was the meticulous care Moore and Gibbons put into planning its every aspect. Their approach was to create a Swiss watch, not - as Lindelof has repeatedly done here - just sling a bunch of mismatched cogs into the casing and hope they'd miraculously assemble themselves into a functioning mechanism.
posted by Paul Slade at 6:38 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Alan Moore actually did make Watchmen up as he was going along - at least to the halfway point. When he began it he didn't know how it was going to finish. His ability to do that is one of his peculiar strengths.

(This is from interviews I've read that I can't go looking for right now.)
posted by Grangousier at 6:54 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


On rewatch, there are a lot of subtle hints and references in early episodes to what was going to come, so I wouldn't say it was entirely made-up as he went.
posted by kokaku at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I thought that landing being Veidt was pretty obvious by the end.
posted by octothorpe at 7:10 AM on December 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


I generally enjoyed the finale although it felt a little tame compared to the creativity of previous eps – I guess Lindelof felt the pressure to tie things up relatively neatly.

As far as the rocket ship landing goes, it really didn't bother me; it's not a crucial part of the story. Perhaps we could have had a split-second "guidance trajectory error" warning on a screen while Veidt climbed on board, but that kind of demonstrates how low stakes the omission was.
posted by adrianhon at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Lindelof seems to have been just improvising events from one episode to the next with no idea how the series would end, and then couldn't be bothered to go back and remove any inconsistencies later.
This is so far from my experience that I find it really hard to reconcile our reactions (which is not to diminish the validity of yours - if it didn't work for you, it didn't work for you). I have some issues with the series, but I thought the whole thing was put together about as tightly as any season of television I've seen. There were a huge number of call-forwards from the very beginning, and tons of threads going both forward and back.
posted by dfan at 7:46 AM on December 18, 2019 [16 favorites]


I agree with the not-great feelings about the supplemental materials. I'm OK with them adding a bit of verisimilitude to the story (like the Delos 'website' did for Westworld), but almost feel like if it's not onscreen, somehow it doesn't count. So, not to beat Lube Man into the ground, but that wasn't exactly a passing background reference. He got a whole scene with the main character, some callbacks in the next scene or two, and then disappeared completely from the story. The final PDF kind of feels like a cop out.

But all in all, a minor nit for me. I'm not sure how they could rise to this a second time. If they do, I hope we continue to see Big Ideas and not just a devolution into workaday action-adventure stuff. This season set a pretty high bar for me.
posted by jquinby at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2019


Well, the worm has turned, and suddenly no one likes the series! I really appreciate reclusive_thousandaire and mediareport's thoughtful criticisms of where the plot fell through. I can't really disagree with most of what they're saying. Particularly looking at Angela's story through their skeptical eye, she does sort of end up going emotionally nowhere. (Maybe literally so, if she becomes the new Dr. Manhattan).

Don't care though, I enjoyed every episode in the moment and the whole series on reflection. It may not be a fully well told character arc story like, say, Breaking Bad was. But there's something else here that worked remarkably well. I think the comic book elements.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Alan Moore actually did make Watchmen up as he was going along - at least to the halfway point.

That doesn't seem to square with what Moore said when looking back at his early career from the perspective of 2012:

When I started out with this I was living in a state of such terror that I would get to the end of a story and not have an ending for it, or would not have at least a satisfactory ending for it, that I would plot my stories out almost to the finest detail. If I was plotting a 24-page Swamp Thing story I would have a kind of rough idea of where I wanted the story to go in my head, I would have perhaps vague ideas of what would make a good opening scene, a good closing scene, perhaps a few muddy bits in the middle. I'd then write the numbers 1 to 24 down the side of the page and I would put down a one line description of what was happening on that page. This kind of developed to the point of mania with Big Numbers.

When I plotted Big Numbers I plotted the entire projected 12-issue series on one sheet of A1 paper – which was just frightening. A1 is scary – it's the largest size. I divided it along the top into 12 columns and along the side into something like 48 different rows across which had got the names of all the characters, so the whole thing became a grid where I could tell what each of the characters was doing in each issue. It was all filled with tiny biro writing which looked like the work of a mental patient, it was like migraine made visible, it was really scary."
(Source)

Swamp Thing and Big Numbers were the two projects that flanked Watchmen chronologically, so it seems fair to take this as a summary of his attitude at the time. I've heard Moore refer to this initial stage of plotting as "aerial mapping" - sketching out the big picture before going into the detail of each individual issue. If he changes his mind about something, there's still time to adjust the larger plot and his planned ending to reflect that. Perhaps the economics of modern TV just don't allow for this final stage of the process but, whenever it's omitted, the story suffers.

This is so far from my experience that I find it really hard to reconcile our reactions

I'll admit to getting a little carried away with my own rhetoric earlier. On the whole, I did enjoy this remix of Moore and Gibbons' material, but I remain frustrated that a little more care wasn't taken to iron out things like the meteor/spaceship discrepancy at the writing stage. That's what it would have taken to lift it from "Good" to "Great" in my view.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


They didn't film it in sequence. At the very least, all the Europa scene were filmed long before the other stuff so they had to have most of the plotting done up front.
posted by octothorpe at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2019


I really have read him saying that he didn't know how Watchmen was going to end when he began it. I was surprised.

Apparently the Big Numbers piece of paper was given to someone who was going to make a TV series of it (the makers of Ultraviolet, perhaps?). I don't know where it is now. That's the thing I'm saddest was uncompleted. I'd love to know what the ending of a story would be that begins with the line "There's no need to use language" (Or very like. I think the second line is "My wife and I have been married for forty years, and we've never needed to use language." It was thirty years ago, I might not be remembering it exactly.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:43 AM on December 18, 2019


I like the little bits that stick out. They give us more room to speculate about things and also let us know that the world is larger than the bit we are focusing on right now. At the time we didn't really know what the object falling from the sky was but now that we know that Veidt came back to Earth from Europa we can easily fill in that it was him that crashed down to Earth. A throwaway line from Lady Trieu could have made it clearer but do we really need our entertainment to spell everything out for us? As far as Lube Man is concerned, we know there are other heroes out there because hunting them is Agent Blake's job, so why not have a random encounter with one just to show that underground masks really are a thing and not all of them are out stopping bank robbers.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


I just figured out a meta/hyperliteral-easter egg:
Jonn Osterman = Dr. Manhattan
Oster = Easter
Easter is the holiday of rebirth.
Dr. M/eggman packages his rebirth into an egg.
Having thought about it for a little too much, and combined with the crucifix falling off the wall, i'm now kinda wincing at how on the nose that is.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don't mind that the thing falling from the sky wasn't really dealt with again. But the way it was handled feels off. Had it been something in the background which either went unremarked upon by the characters in the scene, or dealt with a throwaway comment, then that would be fine. But it was handled by a scene long enough to establish two farmers' basic personalities, long enough to give us a sense of their domestic life. And long enough to have dialogue with Trieu who says this is now, temporarily, the most important piece of property in the world.

That's setting it up as something big. That's going to have further important plot involved about this specific incident. When there is no further plot, then it feels off. Had it just been a quick scene with the meteor crashing down while Trieu watches from the Clocktower of Doom, and Trieu cracks a joke followed by: "Mobilize Recovery Team Zeta" & end scene, then I don't think anyone would mind too much if nothing was said later about it.

And that kinda summarizes the problems I have with the series. Overall I liked it. Acting was excellent, writing in individual episodes was excellent. But the more time I have to think about the loose threads, the obviously abandoned or rushed plot lines, it takes away some of the fun.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it seems that Veidt-capsule falling from the sky into that couple's backyard was the clumsiest part of the whole series since Lindelof' was specifically asked about it in both the Rolling Stone and EW interviews in such a way that suggests it was rather ambiguous what exactly happened there. I think it holds together but by drawing it out a rather elliptically, I guess he left some viewers with the feeling that there could have been something else going on there.
posted by mhum at 5:16 PM on December 18, 2019


I'm not really inclined to defend it, but Trieu (in the climax) was pretty adamant that Veidt was there to watch her victory, and very angry when he'd been teleported away. It indicates that apart from whatever desire she had to legitimately help humanity with her power, a large part of her internal motivation was to destroy her father's legacy. That fits with what we see on screen: the Veidt capsule is a huge part of this plan, even if it doesn't make much sense outside of Trieu's mind. We think it's some technical component, but it's really just an important symbol in her narrative. Fittingly, she is able to "buy" this symbol by giving a much loved child to another couple. From a more concrete standpoint, the couple finding a golden Ozymandius statue on their farmland would raise all sorts of uncomfortable questions for the longterm plot that Trieu is concocting.
posted by codacorolla at 5:49 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


The episode with the farm and the crash landing was Lady Trieu's introduction. With only nine hours for storytelling there's obviously an argument to be made over every usage of time but given that she's (a) the Big Bad and (b) not in the comics it made sense to me to spend that time on a crash course in her character. It was a very trope-y set piece, very similar in that way to Sweet Ms Abar at Career Day swinging into the bakery and revealed to be a costumed avenger. While it would have been fine to follow up with Ma and Pa Kent later I was totally willing to see them as props in the service of introducing Trieu as a mega-oddball billionaire who slipped into this universe from Twin Peaks.
posted by range at 5:56 PM on December 18, 2019 [14 favorites]


If we look at the Veidt falling from the sky bit just in the context of the show to that point it was pretty good. We actually get to see Lady Trieu. We learn a fair bit about her and her company as well. She is rich, she has pretty advanced scientific resources (maybe the most in the world we don't know because we've only really seen Tulsa) in that she can clone/artificially birth babies and track things from outer space with pretty good accuracy, she is either evil or well-meaning and really unethical. After seeing that she will create a baby to use as a bargaining chip and toy with people's lives as if they are nothing we know that whether her plan is good or evil we can't trust her to be able to tell the difference. Not unlike Veidt.

Ultimately we never get to see the ship crash or Veidt come out of it. And after all the build up of the Veidt storyline it didn't really deliver anything except for some WTF moments. I don't think adding a scene where they pull the golden statue from the wreckage would have changed the fact that the greater story arc it was a part of didn't need to be there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:57 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think Veidt/Trieu were just sociopaths playing at what it meant to be family. Each seemed to have plans involving "Well, according to human behavior, obviously my _____ will do ______."

Maybe this was supposed to contrast with the Abars, but I feel like a lot of that was left on the cutting room floor.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:00 PM on December 19, 2019


Veidt didn't need to be there? Lady Trieu's entire raison d'etre in every sense of the word? Am I misunderstanding?
posted by bleep at 11:38 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


There was so much going on in Veidt's storyline. How the people who loved him put him on trial and he lost and it didn't matter, he did what he wanted anyway. Sounds familiar. How he professes to just want the people's love but it was never enough, never good enough, because they loved him so much he could never really hurt them. Because hurting people was all he really cared about. How he even created his own superhero to keep him in line and not even that guy managed to do it. An unstoppable, unrepentant sadist who did 9/11x100 just to get off and his daughter who's actually worse because she's smarter and has better ideas. That's how you make comic book villains that make sense and have credible stakes.
posted by bleep at 11:44 PM on December 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


Someone in an earlier thread said that the Veidt storyline was the show's Black Frigate, and so I appreciated it along those lines. Also, we have the Dr. Manhattan and Veidt threads creating a literal lineage from the comic to the show.

I just wish that they had used a more interesting character, like Blake, to make that lineage. She's not extremely powerful though, so she had less to offer in a narrative about how one wields power.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:17 AM on December 20, 2019




Great show, disappointing ending -- as expected. I for one am an unabashed fan of Lindlehof's improvisation. I don't think he's any good at story arcs or novelistic resolutions, including Leftovers (which I loved), but the weird, loose, semi-random but strangely beautiful arc of an episode or open-ended season is something I always enjoy, Lost, Leftovers or Watchmen.

But the fact that I generally dislike the landings doesn't mean that I retroactively un-enjoy the previous episodes, even though I now expect as much. Watchmen was a wonderfully surprising, and surprisingly moving, series of stories, a weird riff on a very weird text, and it kept my neurons firing throughout. Until the last episode, which was largely predictable, and predictable because time travel / deus ex machina is almost by definition predictable. It's also hugely destructive of character development, essentially ruling out meaningful decisions in order to fit a pre-ordained plot -- which can still be enjoyable if you don't figure it out yourself first, but the looming sense that it was all Dr. Manhattan's plan, and that the plan was itself largely meaningless and/or immoral, vitiated that loose, open joy that suffused the other episodes.

I'm a bit sorry his public browbeating over endings has driven him past the relatively decent balance of Leftovers to a sort of airlessly tidy predistination, as if he was saying You want a tidy Ending? I'll give you the endingest of endings, one of those timeloop predestined omniscient-foretold endings that show that the whole thing was the ending from the beginning. And of course it kills the story -- if you accept it. But like all Lindlehof's endings, I don't really accept it. The promise of many of the story's themes and odd ideas was never truly realized, even if they were all plot-explained, but that's ok. It was still a great journey.
posted by chortly at 9:23 PM on December 20, 2019


Oh, one other thought, with possible spoilers for Rick and Morty:
It's interesting how that show has been struggling with the similar problem of omniscience, empathy, and plot. The heist and the time travel episodes in particular this season are oddly similar to the Dr. Manhattan subplot of Watchmen, though if anything are a bit more self-aware after having dealt with the same issues, and harsh criticism for them, over three previous seasons. How can you get empathy, narrative, and character development when one of your characters is an omniscient god? On one level the heist episode was just a satire of infinite-regress "it was all just my plan from the beginning," but on the other hand the purpose of all that turns out to be an elaborate pedagogical tool for Morty, just as Dr. Manhattan's elaborate plot is presumably an elaborate pedagogy for Angela. And the time travel episode is fairly explicitly about how character development and empathy are almost impossible in a world with time-travel, omniscience, or god-like powers -- though that episode, unlike the heist or toilet one, doesn't make any real effort to find pathos, and just ends with a punch to the face -- which is pretty much the natural resolution to any time-travel narrative.

posted by chortly at 9:52 PM on December 20, 2019


i did want to like watchmen, but the finale was just one damn cliché after another.
posted by sapagan at 11:04 PM on December 21, 2019


also, i love claire de lune and think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever, but can't you really think of anything else to play while mentioning a moon?
posted by sapagan at 5:16 AM on December 22, 2019


came here to defend claire de lune, will take on all comers. it’s perfect. absolutely perfect. the only downside i can think of with using it here is that it makes me think about collecting hearts and tarot cards while riding a skateboard. like it’s super weird to hear claire de lune while colors other than the bisexual lighting colors appear on screen.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:23 AM on December 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Cold Lurkey: Having thought about it for a little too much, and combined with the crucifix falling off the wall, i'm now kinda wincing at how on the nose that is.

Except you had to list the steps to get to the end, where it finally felt "on the nose."

That's why I love this show -- once you put the pieces together, it seems so obvious, but it's far from blunt. Kind of like screencaps -- once you see a halo over Sister Night, it's pretty obvious, but in the episode 7, in Lady Trieu's facility, it's there and gone.

Since we're reminiscing, I'd like to look back on how Captain Metropolis could have prevented all this shit decades ago, if he only believed Reeves about the racist cops behind Cyclops, and their mind control plot. Instead, the White Savior decided that it was probably just "black unrest" ("The residents of Harlem cause riots all on their own"), and the real enemy was Moloch the Magnificent, with his deadly solar weapon, all but pushing Hooded Justice aside at a press conference.

CNet, of all places, has a recap of Moloch's comic history
Edgar Jacobi was a boy with a physical deformity that caused him to have long goblin-like ears. He had a fascination with magic and began performing tricks to classmates as a way to stop them from bullying him. After some years, Edgar took on the name Moloch the Magnificent.
Then he became a bank robber, who then his gang stole a Solar Mirror weapon that concentrates sunlight and fires it.

So Captain Metropolis focused the Minutemen's efforts on the deformed man who was bullied and turned to crime, instead of believing that the police could be racist, and that African Americans might be the target of such racists with a very comic-book villain mind control device.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:31 AM on December 24, 2019


Lol no answers on Lube Man.

Some say he's still sliding to this very day.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:16 AM on December 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


Whatever you think about the show, it was lovingly crafted, clearly. And almost everything was resolved, mostly explicitly, or if implied there was no real room for doubt about what was being implied.
I can’t understand the perception that it was like it was made up as he went along, to the extent that I have to wonder how much attention someone with that viewpoint was paying.
Whatever its flaws it seemed to me to have been made with love and honesty, plus a determination to do the right thing by the original story, the current political landscape, and the sensitive topics it was tackling .
posted by chill at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]




almost everything was resolved

Yeah, as much as I came to appreciate his work on Leftovers I kind of expected more loose ends from Lindelhof.

The main thing that felt dangly to me (and I grant it's minor) was what was going on with Will Reeves and hot things in the first couple of episodes. Chugging hot coffee, reaching into a boiling pot to take an egg and eat it... definitely seemed like they were going somewhere that I must have missed if they did.

Otherwise though, yeah this was a remarkably satisfying and well put together season of television.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:14 PM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


HBO won't pursue second season of 'Watchmen' after creator bows out. Suits me; I hated the idea someone would rush to write a clumsy story to cash in on a second season.
posted by Nelson at 12:37 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


HBO won't pursue second season of 'Watchmen' after creator bows out.
I'm sure Alan Moore will be enheartened to hear the new stance on listening-to-the-creator
/s
posted by CrystalDave at 12:50 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if Lindelof's experience on Lost has made him very, very wary of open-ended storytelling (like on typical US network TV dramas) rather than stories with defined endings (maybe more like the UK system).
posted by mhum at 1:58 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I'm fine with one-season-and-out; too many shows drag on until they suck and you end up watching them out of sunk cost.
posted by octothorpe at 4:24 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I was really glad to see the news. One and done. Let’s just let Watchmen simmer in the background for another decade or so and then someone else can take a stab. In the meantime it will be interesting to see how the show influences new shows.

When’s Lindelhof next WTF prestige show coming?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:37 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


per FF evolved practice, a followup link.

NK Jemisin, Twitter. “Because of ‘Watchmen’. Decades of historians have been trying to let the world know about this massacre, and it took an alternate history comic book drama to break the wall of racism. IDK whether to laugh or cry, but let no one say fiction has no power in the real world.”
posted by mwhybark at 2:48 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


I really have read him saying that he didn't know how Watchmen was going to end when he began it. I was surprised.

That may have been Moore simply observing that the project had evolved considerably since its original concept, which was to do a short miniseries involving Archie Comics' superhero line, then switched it over to the Charlton Comics characters when DC bought them, then made thinly-veiled expies of the Charlton characters when DC editor Dick Giordano, who had helped create the characters when he was at Charlton, objected to the plans that Moore had for them. Even though Moore's scripts for his comics are legendarily detailed--his script for the first page of the first issue, which is a relatively simple long pull-out from the sidewalk that the Comedian lands on, with Rorschach's journal for narration--is four single-spaced typewritten pages; later, there's a minor character, a pirate comics writer (Max Shea, who wrote the book Fogdancing, which appears in this series) who is described as "harassing the artist with impossibly detailed panel descriptions and endless carping requests for revisions of artwork already drawn"; this is generally understood to be self-criticism on Moore's part. But, for all that, Moore was willing to change certain aspects of the project as it went along; the same special edition of the book that had the script pages that I mentioned above also had cover rough sketches by Gibbons that were considerably different from what was published; since the covers are basically the first panel of that issue's story, that means that the story itself must have changed. There are also details such as the story's use of the smiley-face crater on Mars, which, according to Moore, he didn't know about when he decided to put Dr. Manhattan on that planet.

I can't help but feel this is Lindelof making a dig at Moore: "You had a genius idea 20 years ago, but you're still doing the same thing. Just smaller."

In the aforelinked Rolling Stone interview, Lindelof makes it clear that the dig is pointed at himself, for appropriating Moore’s genius ideas for this show.


That's very generous of Lindelof, but he's added considerably (and to great effect) to the original text. That comment is more fitting of DC Comics, who originally gave Moore a platform for the book (as well as his work on Swamp Thing and finishing V for Vendetta), but has since tried to reuse the characters to little effect.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:46 AM on May 31


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