lingering questions

12 Lingering Questions From the Watchmen Finale

Is this really the end of the Trieu empire? Bian might have something to say about that. Photo: HBO

And that’s that: This first, and maybe only, season of HBO’s Watchmen ends with the apocalypse averted (at least for now), the Doctor Manhattan–derived power grabs of Cyclops and Lady Trieu reaching bitter ends, and Angela left to clean up the mess left behind, possibly with the help of superpowers courtesy of Doctor Manhattan. Yet this wouldn’t be Watchmen if “See How They Fly” wrapped everything up in a neat bow at the end. There are still questions, both big and small, left hanging, first among them:

Is this the end?

Though a satisfying finale in virtually every way, “See How They Fly” does not reveal whether or not we’ve reached the end of the story. Creator Damon Lindelof has played coy about the possibility, and about his own potential involvement in any future seasons. It seemed possible that this season would end on such a definitive, possibly apocalyptic moment that it would close the door on any continuation of the story. But nope! As Angela lingers poolside on the verge of finding out if she can walk on water, that door remains very much open. Veidt, Laurie, Will, Looking Glass (or “Mirror Guy”) remain alive and well (even if some are happier than others), and though some major characters would seem to be off the board for good, a lot of peripheral players remain active. Who’s ready for a Panda-focused episode?

Does Angela have powers?

That’s the big question, and the lady-or-the-tiger ending does not supply the answer. There’s a Magic 8-Ball quote that applies here, though: “All signs point to yes.” Last week Doctor Manhattan told Angela it was important he see her standing on the water “for later.” He also, pointedly, told her to “watch the eggs” shortly before the Seventh Kavalry’s attack, another moment that now seems to have been about the future, and the moment she’ll find one still-intact egg amidst all the wreckage on the floor. This week, she puts it all together, recalling a moment in which Doctor Manhattan told her that he could pass his abilities into another object, say an egg, and someone who consumed it would “inherit” his powers. On the morning after the climactic events, she eats the egg.

What happens next? We may never know. But that also wouldn’t necessarily matter. This season has covered a lot of ground, but the spine has been Angela’s journey, one that’s forced her to examine her choice to put on a mask and kick crime’s ass as she rediscovered her own origins. The bigger question is this: Has what Angela’s gone through this season helped make her a worthy custodian of Doctor Manhattan’s powers? She’s obviously more worthy than Keene or Lady Trieu, but this is also a character who began the season happily torturing police suspects and taking Crawford’s effusive personality and seeming support at face value. That leads to another unanswered question: What might she do with those powers?

Keene’s obviously a racist creep, but are we sure Lady Trieu wouldn’t have helped the world with her powers? She is pretty smart.

We should probably trust Veidt on this one when he says, “Anyone who seeks to attain the power of a god must be prevented at all costs from attaining it.” He gets it. After all, this is a man whose attempts to do good with the power he did obtain killed millions. Trieu might have set out with good intentions, but it probably would have gotten all messed up along the way.

What does the egg symbolize?

Eggs have played a role in Watchmen since Angela’s baking demonstration in the first episode, and it now looks like they’ve mostly been there to set up these final moments (and some song cues). But Watchmen has played with their meaning along the way, using them as a symbol of birth and a stand-in for the chicken-or-egg paradox that defines Doctor Manhattan’s perception of time and causality. Not since the Beastie Boys’ “Eggman,” used over the credits of an early episode, have all the possible meanings and uses of eggs been explored.

Was Veidt’s imprisonment just a game to pass the time?

It’s looking that way. In the final exchange with the Game Warden he says he “had eight years to kill” so he tried to fashion a “worthy adversary.” This all seems to have been an elaborate bit of theater to keep him from going mad. (Whether or not it served that purpose remains an open question.) That same exchange sneaks in a line that seems pretty central to the series: “Masks make men cruel.” The series hasn’t really offered a counterexample to this. Looking Glass has a sensitive soul, but even he’s part of the Tulsa Police’s extrajudicial interrogations. And, like every other character, he’s mask-less at episode’s end. We even get to see Red Scare’s face. Be it Hooded Justice or the Seventh Kavalry, masks have allowed characters to transgress in ways they most likely wouldn’t with faces bared. In the end, they all stand exposed as “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” plays. (Another song from Oklahoma! to bring the show full circle, just like the return to the Dreamland Theater did.)

What became of Veidt’s other Vietnamese employees?

Lady Trieu’s mother, Bian (the Elder), escaped after impregnating herself with Veidt’s semen. How remains unclear, but she’s very smart. Veidt presumably killed the others to hide his secret.

So is Veidt a virgin?

Again, all signs point to yes.

What will become of him when Laurie and Looking Glass bring him to justice?

That sounds like a whole season of Watchmen right there. How will the world respond to his reappearance? How about to his confession that he dropped the squid on Manhattan? Will the scandal engulf President Redford? Or maybe nobody will care and Veidt will end up playing himself at “birthday parties and shit,” as the newsstand vendor suggests.

Is this the end of the Trieu empire?

It would seem to be the end of Lady Trieu, but her daughter/mother Bian makes it out of the episode alive. She’s seemed capable of running an empire since we met her. Maybe she’ll reconnect with her grandfather/father of her child.

Did we ever find out exactly why Angela was hooked up to an elephant?

Nope! Presumably it has something to do with the adage about elephants having great memories, and it’s possibly a nod to the real-world legend of Lady Trieu, which has her riding an elephant into battle — but that’s all left in the realm of speculation.

How did that season of American Hero Story end?

Hmm … Presumably not with the revelation of Hooded Justice’s true identity. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. It was probably pretty violent.

Once again, where is Lube Man?

Let’s just imagine he’s out there, somewhere, doing what Lube Man does.

12 Lingering Questions From the Watchmen Finale