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Explaining Everything from the WATCHMEN Finale

Warning: This post contains major spoilers from Watchmens season one finale.

Ozymandias in a prison cell on EuropaHBO

Watchmen‘s first season didn’t go out with a bang. It went out with a lot of them, as frozen baby squids fell from the sky. They stopped Lady Trieu from becoming the new Dr. Manhattan, but that was only one of many monumental moments in the episode. Here’s everything that happened in a season finale that was bizarre, intense, and heartbreaking.

“Surprise! It’s a Girl!”

Adrian Veidt was Lady Trieu’s father. She was conceived on November 1, 1985, one day before he sent his giant squid to New York City. He just didn’t know that. Trieu’s mother Bian broke into his office at Karnak and stole one of his sperm samples while Ozymandias recorded his message to future President Redford. She referenced the words of the real-life Vietnamese warrior hero Lady Trieu as she impregnated herself. She then escaped Karnak, with Veidt unaware of what she had done. (Between her and Nite Owl, Ozymandias has a lot to learn about strong password security.)

Lady Trieu's mother inseminates herself at Adrian Veidt's deskHBO

In 2008, the modern day Lady Trieu visited her naïve father. She initially entered his good graces by praising him for his squid scheme. He was already isolated and bitter by then. “Redford won’t even return my calls,” he whined. Veidt also explained his ongoing baby squid showers to her. He used a random automated system to teleport them into the stratosphere.

Trieu called that a “rerun” and asked how he would save the world if the proverbial doomsday clock started up again. He didn’t have an answer, but she did. She was going to use a quantum centrifuge capable of absorbing Dr. Manhattan’s energy to become a god herself. Then she would then do all the things Manhattan never did but should have. She’d destroy all nuclear weapons, fix the air, and solve world hunger.

Adrian Veidt talks to Lady Trieu in his office at karnakHBO

She needed $42 billion from him to do that. He refused after Trieu told him she was his daughter. He had built himself up from nothing, and she could too. As a final insult, he swore he would never call her “daughter.”

Veidt Catches a Bullet and a Ride

Ozymandias comes up out of the ground with a horseshoe in his mouthHBO

The Game Warden wasn’t Veidt’s natural enemy on Europa. Veidt made him play his adversary to help stave off madness during his long wait to be rescued. Ozymandias knew it would be years until Trieu could save him, because she told him in 2008 how long it took for her probe to reach Jupiter. (Which is where she unexpectedly found Dr. Manhattan’s unique radioactive frequency.) He needed to pass that time with his very own villain, which he created by making the Game Warden wear a mask, because they “make men cruel.”

Forever an asshole though, Veidt couldn’t even give a dying man a kind word. He couldn’t lie to the Game Warden and say he was a worthy adversary. Masks do make men cruel.

Adrian Veidt holds the Game Warden as he diesHBO

From there, Ozymandias boarded his Trieu’s rescue ship (she got his “save me daughter” message). He was preserved in gold until the night Lady Trieu planned to become Dr. Manhattan. His daughter reveled in how he had to “completely cave” and “humble” himself to her after she freed him from his gilded prison.

At least Lady Trieu was a worthy adversary. Being told by the newspaper salesman that “nobody cares” what happened to Adrian Veidt was much worse for his ego.

Adrian Veidt is preserved in goldHBO

Cyclops’ Master Manhattan Plan

Joe Keene in his underwear standing in front of a caged Dr. ManhattanHBO

Senior leadership of Cyclops extended to some of the most powerful people in the country. That included Joe Keene’s father. The elder Keene was the Senator who authored the 1977 bill that outlawed masked vigilantes.

Cyclops didn’t care about the squid; they wanted to destroy Adrian Veidt’s “real monster,” President Redford. Their original plan was to get Joe Keene Jr. elected President. That involved orchestrating White Night so they could get the police in masks. They would then control both the law and the Seventh Kavalry, which would help get Keene elected. He could then undo the grave “injustices” against White Americans they blamed Redford for.

An older senator Keene gives the Cyclops signHBO

But on White Night, an unknowing Cal saved Angela by teleporting the second Kavalry in their home shootout to Gila Flats, New Mexico. Jon Osterman became a god there. Manhattan’s instinct to save his wife directly led to his own death.

Using “stolen” Lady Trieu technology (which she let the Kavalry take), Cyclops was able to trap Manhattan in a unique cage. Those old watch batteries that were seen being collected in the premiere were old synthetic lithium ones created by Dr. Manhattan long ago. They melted them down to make bars that Manhattan couldn’t escape. The blue god was locked inside by his own technology, which also made him drift in and out of his past life.

Lady Trieu’s Secret Plan

Lady Trieu stands before Cyclops senior leadershipHBO

Like we suspected, Lady Trieu was using the Kavalry for her ultimate purpose. Cyclops had no idea she manipulated them to capture Dr. Manhattan for her. Angela Abar tried to warn the smug senator, but he ignored her. He turned on his machine anyway, and because he absorbed “quantum energy” without filtering it first, he popped like a balloon.

That was the moment everyone in the Kavalry’s abandoned mall was instantly teleported to the Greenwood District in Tulsa. Lady Trieu was waiting there with her floating quantum centrifuge. (Which apparently needed a massive structure just to turn it on. Despite her Modern Day Wonder, most of her structure was a battery of sorts.)

A caged Dr. Manhattan stands below Lady Trieu's quantum centrifugeHBO

Greenwood was where the show began, when young Will’s life was destroyed during the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. It was a fitting place for Cyclops’s leaders to be murdered, as Lady Trieu fulfilled her end of the deal with Will. They were disintegrated by Manhattan-like technology.

The Deaths of Jon Osterman and Lady Trieu 

Lady Trieu stands in front of a crossHBO

Dr. Manhattan was able to teleport Veidt, Laurie Blake, and a returning Looking Glass to Karnak by touching Joe Keene’s blood and guts. The remains of the exploded senator had leaked into his cage. Ozymandias immediately recognized Manhattan had sent him there to “save the day,” which he did by weaponizing his baby squids. Those frozen tiny cephalopods destroyed Lady Trieu’s quantum centrifuge. They fell from the sky like bullets fired by a gatling gun.

She might have been his daughter, but the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Adrian Veidt knew Lady Trieu was a raging narcissistic who would use Dr. Manhattan’s powers to subjugate the entire world. “Anyone who seeks to attain the power of a god must be prevented at all costs from attaining it.” All that’s left of Lady Trieu is her mighty works and Bian, her daughter/mother clone (who knows the truth about who she is).

Dr. Manhattan drained of his powersHBO

Unfortunately, the frozen squid bullets were too late to save Dr. Manhattan. Trieu had already drained him of his power, killing him. He didn’t teleport Angela to safety when he had the chance though. “I don’t want to be alone when I die,” he told her. But his last moments might have been the first time ever his curse of seeing and experiencing his entire life simultaneously was a blessing. As he died, he was reliving every moment he had spent with Angela. When his life flashed before his eyes it was full of love.

He might have been a god, but Dr. Manhattan’s death was all too human.

Angela Abar cryingHBO

The Arrest of Adrian Veidt

Laurie Blake kept the secret of Adrian Veidt’s squid for 34 years, but fear of that squid haunted Wade Tillman during all that time. The two decided it was finally time for Ozymandias to answer for his crimes, even after Veidt legitimately saved the world. He killed three million people, and he will finally face the consequences for his actions after getting a ride back to the world on Nite Owl’s old ship, Archie.

Wade Tillman holds a copy of Adrian Veidt's messageHBO

The people in the United States government who perpetuated Veidt’s lies over the years will also answer for what they did. That includes President Robert Redford. His arrest, and the truth of Ozymandia’s squid becoming public, could send the world into chaos.

Angela and her Grandfather

Will Reeves talks to his granddaughter in a theaterHBO

Will had known all along what Lady Trieu was really after: power. Dr. Manhattan had told him to ally with her to stop Cyclops, but Will wasn’t truly working with her. And thanks to his Manhattan, Will got his family back. And he got it back while sitting in the same theater seat he was in when his family and life were stolen in 1921. Him and his granddaughter discussed how the masks they wore hid their fear and pain, but “wounds need air” to heal.

Angela invited him to stay with her and his great grandkids “for a couple days,” a reunion decades in the making. As they left the DreamLand theater, the broken sign spelled out “DR M.” He had brought them together, and likely for more than one reason.

Angela Abar and family walking away from a theater that says DR MHBO

What’s in an Egg?

“Considering what he could do, he could have done more.” Will was right, and so was Lady Trieu. Dr. Manhattan could have truly saved the world. He could—and should—have made all the nukes disappear. He should have purified the air and made food plentiful. Dr. Manhattan was a god, but he never answer mankind’s prayers. Throughout Watchmen‘s history, heroes never do. The are no supermen coming to save the world.

A single egg in a cartonHBO

But you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. And Manhattan’s death might have been the only way to give the right person the power to finally do all the things he never did. It would have to be someone who knows about pain and suffering, and someone who doesn’t actually want that power. And it would have to be someone he loves and trust. Someone like Angela Abar.

Was that egg she found “inexplicably” intact really full of his powers? Was the final part of Dr. Manhattan’s plan to make Angela the new him?

Angela-Abar's foot stepping on waterHBO

We don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t take a big leap of faith to think she can now walk on water.

Featured Image: HBO