Amazingly, incredibly, for a show that has SO much going on, last night Watchmen came to a satisfying conclusion. It’s almost a little TOO pat, the way everything ties off, but I’m not going to complain about Damon Lindelof tying off all his threads. If there is never any more Watchmen—and with no season two announcement, it might be—this is a great conclusion, winding up all the plots and still leaving a little mystery to linger, while also perpetuating the main theme. If you’re not caught up, now is the time to skip out.
Several things we’ve suspected were clarified, such as Lady Trieu being Adrian Veidt’s daughter, and yes Judd WAS a secret racist all along, and Looking Glass survived to help Laurie Blake deliver Adrian to justice. Also, I had started to suspect Adrian’s story was on a separate timeline from the events in Tulsa, and that did turn out to be the case, though he arrived back on Earth just in time to watch Trieu’s attempt at greatness. It is interesting how Trieu and Angela, both descendants of masked heroes, follow such different paths. Trieu seemed to get all the worst of Adrian, while Angela got all the best of Will Reeves, and so one became a villain and the other a hero. Although Trieu did wipe out Cyclops, so that’s a win for the good guys, and Senator Keene combusting in his own science experiment was extremely satisfying. In the end, all the bad guys got their just desserts.
Though there is still the question of racial injustice and generational trauma. Watchmen does not pretend to solve these issues. Nothing can change the events of the Tulsa massacre, or the Vietnam War, or the traumas and losses suffered by the characters in the show. Nothing can undo the psychological damage done to Wade in 1985, or take away Bian’s memories of her mark-one life as a Vietnamese refugee, or bring back Topher’s parents, or save Cal, or any other of a hundred hurts inflicted upon undeserving, unsuspecting souls. Lady Trieu won’t rule the world, Adrian Veidt will face justice, and Cyclops is, presumably, no more, but there is still plenty of hurt in the world.
And we get a little glimpse of how that might play out in the next generation. The look on Topher’s face when he realizes Angela is Sister Night and the shell-shocked expression Bian wears after seeing her mother-daughter get pancaked by Adrian’s frozen squid both suggest these traumas will play out, once again, in the next generation. Not only does Watchmen not try to resolve generational trauma, it seems to suggest you can’t stop generational trauma. Hurt is a perpetual motion machine that, once set into motion, cannot be stopped. That’s pretty bleak, to suggest that no amount of good intent or sincere effort can stop the cycle, but then, how could you survive the things Topher and Bian have—how could you SEE the things they have—and not be affected in some profound, transformative way?
So, will we get a second season of Watchmen with budding heroes, or maybe villains, arising from a younger generation? Maybe. But if we don’t, this is an exceptional ending for a show that tackled huge themes. Part of what makes it work is bringing it down to such a human level, such as seeing an all-powerful character like Doctor Manhattan in his final moments, choosing to be with his wife as he dies, an incredibly human choice for a character famously divorced from his humanity. And while Watchmen doesn’t offer trite solutions to an issue as massive as racial injustice, there is resolution for Will Reeves, who ends where he began: Tulsa. The reconciliation of Will and Angela is a kind of peace for Will, and suggests that while the problem itself continues, there can be individual healing, and that it is never too late for understanding. That is what Watchmen offers in the end: understanding. We can’t fix every social ill, the battle against white supremacy is ongoing, but we can understand each other a little bit better, and in that knowing, find peace, and power.
• Did Adrian…make a sh-t cake? I have a lot of questions about the cake Adrian had in his cell, but the whole scene of Adrian escaping Europa is terrific. Adrian’s casual cruelty to the Game Warden is just too much. I laughed, and I bet you did, too.
• Pour one out for sewer-slide guy, once seen but never to return.
• This whole season has been full of AMAZING acting, but it has really been a showcase for Regina King. She is simply SPECTACULAR from start to finish. Among all the great moments she has, the way she confesses to taking Will Reeves’ Nostalgia pills is so purely a little kid being caught with their hand in the cookie jar, it’s a perfect grace note amongst all the heavy sh-t happening.
Attached - Regina King at Diddy's birthday party this weekend.