See How They Fly

The Millennium Clock is counting down, Doctor Manhattan’s been kidnapped and a new villain gets unveiled. There’s so much for Watchmen to wrap up in the space of a single episode that the prospect of watching the end to this sprawling tale seems daunting in itself. And yet, showrunner Damon Lindelof sticks the landing with ease – leaving no plot thread behind in what’s simply one of the best hours of television this year.

Just be warned, there are spoilers ahead. Tick Tock.

As the series comes to a close, every main character is set on a collision course with one another as the Seventh Kavalry (yes, that’s Kavalry with a K, folks) trap Doctor Manhattan in a cage that distorts his perception of time, rendering him paralysed by his own memories. How else do you stop a God? By using his own powers against him, of course. But just as it all seems too stereotypical with the evil Senator Keene monologuing about stealing Manhattan’s powers for himself and ensuring the racist’s victory – Watchmen does what it does best and subverts generic superhero tropes once again. It’s the perfect example of Lindelof’s reverence for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ work, while still treading his own path. Whether it’s the exploration of systemic racism in America or the deconstruction of the ageing superhero, the series has proved its worth in such an entertaining way.

So, Keene is quickly liquidised midway through preaching his egotistical views about white power, and a new villain who’s quietly been working away on the side-lines is unveiled. After all this time, Lady Trieu is the one we should’ve been keeping a closer eye on. Of course, Trieu’s machinations were always suspicious, but a self-absorbed trillionaire aspiring to have an impact on the world thanks to an elevated set of powers? What does she want next, the Presidency? Nice touch, Lindelof.

It’s a perfect twist that we should have seen coming, Trieu’s development across the series has consistently shown her to be a deviously genius entrepreneur that will stop at nothing to get what she wants. But because she’s depicted in a chaotic neutral way, we were duped into thinking that she wasn’t the threat of the series – but how wrong we were. Within one fell swoop, she liquefies Keene and vaporises the rest of the Seventh Kavalry – revealing her true narcissistic intentions of taking Manhattan’s powers for herself. It’s been a season of mysteries wrapped up in masks – hers being the fact that she’s Adrian Veidt’s illegitimate daughter.

While Watchmen treads new ground with the surprising death of Doctor Manhattan, it also plays it a little safe. Keene and Trieu are both killed off for their god-complex crimes, while Veidt is arrested for his original squidspiracy from 1985. Where the ending of the book left the world in a bittersweet place after staving off nuclear holocaust – Lindelof’s ending was a surprisingly happy one. It lingers on the idea that Angela could inherit Manhattan’s abilities thanks to an earlier mention of the God imbuing an egg with his powers. But her final scene feels more like character development of knowing her own self-worth, rather than taking up his mantle. She’s learnt after so many years of hiding his identity that she doesn’t need a superhero to rely on, but that she’s got her own stability.

Sure, the cliffhanger implies that she may or may not have her late husband’s abilities – but wouldn’t it be more fitting for the series if she didn’t become an omnipotent God? So no, as amazing as it would be to see Regina King with those powers – she doesn’t need them, she’s a hero in her own right. But the never-ending debate rages on. Does Watchmen need a second season? After all, the conspiracy’s been solved and the white supremacists have been rooted out. Perhaps it’s better to leave it as it is… For now.

“Nothing Ever Ends.”

Directed by: Frederick E.O. Toye
Written by: Nick Cuse
Cast: Regina King, Jean Smart, Hong Chaul, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers