Discussing the Watchmen ending in context of The Leftovers
December 16, 2019 5:29 AM - Subscribe

Consider this a sidebar for people who have thoughts about the finale of Watchmen that relate to the finale of The Leftovers. Spoilers permissible for both series within.
posted by DirtyOldTown (23 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Referring to the ending of The Leftovers in discussion threads for Watchmen has been received poorly, even when doing so without referring to plot events or characters.

And so, here is this subthread instead.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:31 AM on December 16, 2019

I wonder if, in the long run, the flak Lindelof took over the ending to Lost is going to be a net gain culturally. He seems to have come out of it hell-bent on having elegant plans and carefully constructed endings.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:36 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don’t have anything particular to say other than that I loved both shows a lot. I felt that The Leftovers was one of the few shows I’ve seen that had any serious religious sensibility (i.e something more sophisticated than “Jesus rules!” or “atheism rules!”). I loved Watchmen for simply making it impossible for me to look away from the screen and the way it unpacks race in America in such an interesting and heartbreaking way.

I pretty much ignored Lost for its entire run, but am slowly making up for, uh, lost time view Hulu. One thing that has previously put me off was its sheer volume. Most cable shows go for 13 or fewer eps per season. Lost, being a Network program has about 26 per year. 26 eps * 42 min/ep * 6 seasons is a lot of TV to watch. Understanding that Damon Lindeloff is behind it all makes it a more solid bet to me now.
posted by hwestiii at 6:29 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:34 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

It depends on what you like about the show's Lindelof has been involved in. If you like the big ideas and emotional reveals, Lost has that. If you like the meticulous planning and the sense that everything fits together... Lost doesn't have that. They made it up as they went along for the most part and it feels like it by the end.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:37 AM on December 16, 2019

I wonder if, in the long run, the flak Lindelof took over the ending to Lost is going to be a net gain culturally. He seems to have come out of it hell-bent on having elegant plans and carefully constructed endings.

I find it interesting that he can come out of the criticism about Lost's ending and about not answering everything and skepticism that they ever had a clear ending planned to... purposefully create ambiguous endings and not answer everything and be lauded for it.

I am not criticizing the endings to The Leftovers and Watchmen, far from it because I love them, but it goes to show that while (imo) something was amiss with Lost, something that didn't feel as satisfying as his later work, it was not something as simple as the popular criticisms of it.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:59 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

What is the connection between the ending of the Leftovers and the ending of Watchmen that I keep hearing so much about? I loved both but I don't see any connection except that the same guy worked on both shows.
posted by bleep at 9:30 AM on December 16, 2019

There's no story connection between Watchmen and The Leftovers at all. Both shows just stuck the landing exceptionally well, with Lindelof at the wheel.

People were uncomfortable having that similarity discussed in the FF thread, even without getting into plot events, character names, or any other specifics. Spoilers, distraction... what have you. And so here we are over here instead, in the interest of being considerate.

As for Lost, I don't think people were angry that the show simply left questions unanswered... I think they were angry that the lingering questions were of two types: spiritual and scientific. The ending resolved the former and hand waved the latter entirely.

It's a matter of delivering what was (on an implied basis) promised. Lost really didn't. The Leftovers didn't resolve much of anything from a practical/scientific standpoint, but because it had never implied that it would and because it did deliver on the more spiritual answers, it was beloved.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:51 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I seem to remember it being more controversial than that here on Fanfare. My theory on that was it being a complete ending required you to believe a woman's story without a man saying "Yes I saw that too".
posted by bleep at 9:56 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I agree it was a complete ending.

I remember some debate on whether people felt we were meant to believe her, but IIRC, the camps were I believe her and this was a good ending, this was the lie they needed and I loved it, good ending and we're not meant to know for sure, good ending.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:02 AM on December 16, 2019

I re-watched the end this weekend and I continue to 100% believe her. And I think you're supposed to believe her. But even the folks who weren't sure seemed satisfied and on her side. At least on FF. Been a while since I reread the thread though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:04 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I guess the stuff that bothers me the most is the easiest to remember haha
posted by bleep at 10:09 AM on December 16, 2019

This is probably destined to be a quiet, largely unloved little thread, but it was useful to me as a pressure release.

It was intensely frustrating to be stuck in this loop:

"No way will Lindelof get the ending right. He's awful at endings!"
"He did The Leftovers. That had a terrific ending."
"Yep... All indications are he's gonna blow it."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:38 PM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I noticed that too and I wish I knew what was up with that!
posted by bleep at 5:51 PM on December 17, 2019

Would it be possible to briefly summarize the ending to Leftovers, it did not seem at all satisfying. No it's not the end of the world but some kind of confusing multiverse slider thing happening. Lost & Leftovers were sort of inverse, Lost was mystery/pseudoscience but no, just religion (the guys are in purgatory). Leftovers was intense religious issues but no, science, crossing to a multiverse. (solves, what?)

If leftovers have more episodes it would have devolved into an even bigger hot mess.

Sorry only a couple episodes into Watchmen and only familiar with the characters from the movie, will be back to rant and gratuitously argue later. ;-)
posted by sammyo at 8:18 PM on December 25, 2019

"If they had done it differently it would have been bad, therefore it was bad" isn't really a fair criticism. I never watched Lost but given how people are treating the other two shows I'm going to assume it suffered from folks not paying attention disease more than anything.
posted by bleep at 1:10 PM on December 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

There were actual issues with the show [Lost] that went beyond how people interacted with it. I personally really enjoyed the ride but thought the end was just a bit silly.
But the brilliant thing about Lindleloff is how he treated it as a learning experience. I feel that there could have been no Leftovers without their having been Lost and it’s flaws. And a creative mind that was willing to consider where the criticism was and wasn’t justified, and move onwards and upwards.
posted by chill at 12:26 PM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

And a creative mind that was willing to consider where the criticism was and wasn’t justified, and move onwards and upwards.

Honestly, I was DONE with Lindelof after Lost. And then Prometheus. But then Leftovers and Watchmen showed that he had heard and understood the problems with his previous work. It's hard for me to come up with any other good examples of a writer/showrunner/director/etc. doing this, and it's why I'm fully on board with whatever he does next.
posted by Gaz Errant at 2:38 PM on January 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just finished bingeing the Leftovers today. I loved LOST and Watchmen and Damon Lindelof is now my favorite creator of TV (movies not so much).

The finales of Watchmen and The Leftovers couldn't be more different, except that they have final, unresolved questions. Did Angela actually get the power of Dr. Manhattan from eating that egg? Was Nora telling the truth about traveling to the 2% world?

The difference, to me, between the two shows is how the ambiguity leaves you feeling.

If Angela did not indeed absorb Dr. Manhattan's power, then the scene that occurs right after the camera cuts out is her falling on her face into the pool. LAME. Therefore, she did absorb the power, and we get to imagine all the fun that grows out of that.

If Nora did not indeed travel to the 2% world and come back, then that scene still works. Tinged with more sadness, as Nora is telling a story to make the truth go down easier for Kevin, a story that justifies having hidden herself from him all these years. In a show whose premise is that you will never have the answers you seek, how can you possibly believe that Nora has found them?! It's tempting to believe her, and I want to because it makes cosmic sense, but it still works either way.

The Leftovers was a series in which God (and religion on general) was a mystery that people used to ask questions of themselves. Watchmen was a series in which God was the main character's husband. It makes sense that the former is more ambiguous but the latter demands certainty.
posted by ejs at 12:44 AM on April 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Until HBO made Watchmen free and those old threads livened up again, I had forgotten how weird that show's FF experience was where spoiler aversion was concerned. I won't rehash it all, but just... wow. People were freaking weird.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:39 AM on June 23, 2020

Just finished Watchmen, put it off because I believed Leftovers was a fluke. 2-3 episodes in I felt Watchmen was just going to be a glorious mess, and then was surprised mostly be how well it pulled together. Great, great stuff. Unfortunately, I'm kind of glad I didn't read the FF threads on this until after I had finished, it seems a little tense. The Leftovers threads were much less busy and really helpful to me as I proceeded through.

The Leftovers worked so well for me because the amazing premise creates a world where literally everyone's worldview is shattered. The disappearance violated the rules of every single religion, and was completely at odds with scientific reason. So we're left with a world where just about everyone has experienced loss of a loved one, and whatever way they would have coped with that loss has been destroyed. And then we just examine the way people deal with their unreasonable lives and unreasonable pain for three seasons.

With the Watchmen, even if I had never known it was a Lindlehoff project, I would have thought it was strangely evocative of the Leftovers--which is weird, because I don't see a lot of thematic similarities. Maybe just a willingness to follow truly bizarre plotlines to even more bizarre conclusions. Definitely worth a second watch for me, I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I missed.
posted by skewed at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2022

"Tense" is generous. We had people demanding "No Spoilers!!!!!" from the book... in the thread discussing the freaking sequel. People were deeply weird there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:27 AM on February 16, 2022

It has taken all of the composure I can muster not to post in the "Show Only" post for the first episode of Watchmen that people insisted was necessary and useful that I can't wait for the second episode to get its "Show Only" post.

I mean... unless I was entirely right and a "don't spoil the original" line of posts for a sequel was a ridiculous and nonsensical idea to insist on from the very beginning.

(meditating, finding my chill)

OK, shutting up now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2022

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