[Spoilers for all things Watchmen below.]
Watchmen’s finale appears to have left many viewers—including our own critic—with plenty of intriguing questions, but, in a series of interviews pegged to the show’s ending, series creator Damon Lindelof thinks the answers are clear. In the end, Angela Abar (Regina King) swallows an egg that may or may not be imbued with the powers of her late partner, Doctor Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen), who was vaporized out of existence in the show’s final act. Before the credits roll, we watch Angela dangle her foot over her swimming pool—if she can walk on the water, she (and we) will know that she’s now, well, a god. Whether she does or not, however, is left unanswered. Or is it?
“It felt very clear to me, if we had rolled another 10 seconds forward, what would have happened,” Lindelof told Vulture. He offered similar thoughts to Entertainment Weekly. “But I would say that if you look back at the breadth of the season, I think what our intention was is obvious. We’re not trying to be cutesy about it. It just felt the ending that we went with was meant to be more cinematic than ambiguous. It doesn’t feel ambiguous to me, but I’m the least qualified human on the planet to talk about ending ambiguity.” He stopped short, however, of confirming Angela’s transformation.
He did, though, elaborate on the implications of this not-so-ambiguous ending to Vulture, should it turn out Angela is a god.
If, in fact, Angela Abar is now empowered by the legacy of Will and the legacy of Doctor Manhattan, she is ready to take on white supremacy in a way that Doctor Manhattan was never interested in taking on. That’s going to be a battle that goes on until the end of time, unfortunately. I’d like to be more pie in the sky, but if I learned anything through the experience of writing the show and reading all the things that I’ve been reading, it’s the insidiousness of white supremacy. I don’t think that I ever would have even put it in the show if I felt like we were going to try to convince the audience that it could be defeated. But we could convince the audience that it was worthy of pushing back and fighting against, which is more than most superhero stories do.
Will this fight continue into a second season? Lindelof isn’t promising anything. “If I was going to do another season of Watchman, I would need to have a really cool idea and a justification for doing it,” he told EW. “I don’t have either of those things right now. It doesn’t mean that they won’t come at some future point. I just finished the show four weeks ago. My antenna is up, but it’s like only getting static. I can’t say that there will definitely not be a second season and I can’t say there definitely will be. That’s kind of where my head’s at.”
If there were to be a second season, though, he seems less interested in a continuation of the first season than he is a major shift in focus. “[A]m I interested in a second season? The answer to that question is yes, in the same way that I’m interested in anything that calls itself Watchmen. I do find it interesting, where the story could go next,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “More importantly, I think we always think about how season two of a show is the continuing adventures of the first season of the show. That’s what happened on Lost. That’s what happened on Breaking Bad. But there’s another thing that’s happened on television. Look at season two of The Wire. That season, it’s the docks. McNulty and the cops are relegated to being second-stringers, no pun intended, in the second season of The Wire. The third season is “Hamsterdam,” the fourth season is a deep dive on public schools. I think Watchmen, not unlike Fargo or True Detective, can accommodate a much larger space of storytelling. That’s interesting to me.”
There’s plenty of other interesting tidbits in the interviews. He told EW that he wishes he’d had more of a chance to delve into the pasts of Red Scare (Andrew Howard) and Lady Trieu (Hong Chau). He also told Vulture that he doesn’t think Lady Trieu really needed to be destroyed by Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons). “I would rather Angela have his powers than Lady Trieu, but I can’t tell you that Lady Trieu wouldn’t have done a very good job,” he said. “She seemed relatively well-intentioned, other than the fact that she needs to murder Doctor Manhattan in order to get his powers. So, Veidt saying ‘Masks make men cruel’ is actually a reflection of how he felt when he wore his mask.”
Speaking of Veidt, Lindelof says the humorous approach to the character came primarily from Irons’ performance.
From his THR interview:
This is going to sound crazy, but we cast Jeremy Irons, he came and shot the scenes in the pilot, and it became immediately apparent that his take on the character was going to be comedic. When we cast Jeremy Irons, he’s an incredible actor, but he’s not who you go to for comedy! He first impressed upon my pop culture awareness in Dead Ringers, which is one of the least comedic and most disturbing movies I have ever seen. There’s a wink and a twinkle to the guy, but when [executive producer] Tom Spezialy and I had lunch with him, we found he’s a very funny person. It felt to me like this was a really interesting take on Veidt. There’s no precedent in the original text that Veidt is funny. How do we have a comedic performance here where the character isn’t trying to be funny, but it’s a slightly absurd and ridiculous treatment of the character? We just went for it, because it felt right, but there are people out there who are [going to disagree]. If you told Alan Moore that Adrian Veidt farted in a prominent way? His head would explode. I can’t argue with that logic! In fact, if somebody told me that? If I wasn’t making Watchmen, and someone just said to me, “Spoiler alert, in the seventh episode of Watchmen, Veidt is on trial for dropping the squid on Manhattan, and the entire speech of his self-defense is that he farts,” I would say, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard, and whoever wrote it clearly has no understanding of Watchmen.” And yet, here we are! There was a level of interpretation by the characters we just sort of leaned into.
Thank you, Jeremy Irons. Read our review of the finale here.