Unraveling the Mysteries of WATCHMEN’s Ozymandias

UPDATE, Episode 8: That episode was so crazy when it came to our favorite Alexander-the-Great-loving-mass-murdered it needed its own column: What Watchmen’s 8th Episode Revealed about Ozymandias

Adrian Veidt reads Fogdancing in his cellHBO

UPDATE, Episode 7: How long was Adrian Veidt’s trial for trying to escape his prison on Europa? It took 365 days for a pig to find him guilty. Even O. J. Simpson’s murder trial “only” lasted 11 months. And they took the weekend off. (Though O.J.’s defense stunk just as bad as Ozymandias’s, just in a different way.) But Watchmen‘s shocking seventh episode did seem to finally answer a huge question we’ve had all season: who put him there and why? Now we know it was Dr. Manhattan, who didn’t want to worry about an unchecked Adrian Veidt.

At some point Dr. Manhattan returned to Earth, fell in love with Angela Abar, and willingly gave himself amnesia so they could live a relatively normal life together. Before he turned himself into “Cal” though Dr. Manhattan made sure mankind’s greatest mass murderer would not be free to do whatever he wanted without a time-bending god to stop him. Manhattan convinced Adrian Veidt to move to the “paradise”  built for him far away in the solar system, and that allowed Manhattan to be with Angela.

Adrian Veidt cries after his guilty verdict

Not even the powerful Lady Trieu could create a hospitable zone on a frozen moon, especially when it doesn’t have a protective barrier. It just exists all on its own, defying the laws of nature. Only a deity could create something like that. Once Veidt realized he had been duped into moving to his own prison he became obsessed with escaping. Manhattan had given him an endless supply of subservient clones, but not free reign over his world. The game warden ruled there, the most powerful and capable of Manhattan’s “children.”

Veidt certainly asked Lady Trieu to save him from Europa though. Which might have already happened. But before that Adrain Veidt was pronounced guilty. And when he was he wept (after passing on his own “thoughts” on the kangaroo court.) The only other time we ever saw him cry was when he learned his squid attack had worked. But sitting there being judged by a jury of idiots who are definitely not his peers, Adrain Veidt reminded us once more of his hero, Alexander the Great. Plutarch wrote, in a line frequently misquoted, that when Alexander learned there were infinite worlds he wept, for he had not conquered even one.

Neither has Adrian Veidt. Forget Earth, he couldn’t even conquer Crookshanks and Phillips.

UPDATE, Episode 5: Everyone’s crazy theory was wrong; Ozymandias isn’t on Mars. He’s somewhere even more insane–Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa. Watchmen‘s fifth episode revealed Adrian Veidt’s bucolic prison is, somehow, a habitable zone on an otherwise inhospitable celestial body. We don’t yet know who put him there, but all signs (made of dead bodies) point to Dr. Manhattan. But Ozymandias might have turned to the wrong friend to help him get back home.

Adrian Veidt looks at Jupiter from EuropaHBO

Ozymandias was finally able to break through his prison after years of work. There was no physical barrier keeping him locked in. It seems impossible an Earth-like area far from the sun on a frozen moon could exist without a bubble. It’s magical, or at least it would be if a literal god exist. Dr. Manhattan could easily make such a prison. He could also make human life, the “god” who Veidt said abandoned Phillips and Crookshanks.

What Ozymandias did once he catapulted himself to “freedom” also points to Manhattan being his captor.  Veidt used frozen bodies of Phillips and Crookshanks to spell out “save me.” Eventually a deep space probe passed by, which he celebrated. Dr. Manhattan wouldn’t need a probe to check on Adrian Veidt. Lady Trieu would though. She owns incredible technology, and she bought Adrian Veidt’s companies when he was first imprisoned. She is the most obvious–maybe the only—person who Veidt could ask to rescue him.

Which she might have already done.

Ozymandias in his spacesuit looks to the sky on EuropaHBO

Lady Trieu’s introduction on the show featured her buying a large amount of land in Tulsa. This scene appears to have been set in the past, before she built her Millennium Clock, though we don’t know how long ago it happened. Adrian Veidt’s story has also been set in the past so far. Was the spaceship that crashed, the one Lady Trieu said belonged to her, Adrian Veidt’s return trip to Earth? Hopefully for him it wasn’t, because it would make it more likely he really is the Ozymandias gold statue she has in her vivarium.

Considering the world might soon find out the truth about his giant squid and how he made Robert Redford president, Ozymandias might be safer as a statue.

UPDATE, Episode 4: The mystery of Adrian Veidt on HBO’s Watchmen has become a hydra. Every time one question about him gets answered two more pop up to replace it. So while the show’s fourth episode cleared up some of our biggest issues about Ozymandias’s timeline, we are more confused than ever about what has happened to him, especially because he might be a gold statue in Lady Trieu’s vivarium.

Adrian Veidt talks to a new Miss CrookshanksHBO

“If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” confirmed the candles on Veidt’s cakes were counting down years he has spent in hiding/isolation/imprisoned. Based on when he was declared missing, episode four likely showed him in 2016, still three years before the current events of the show. The way he described his time at his chateau also implied he went there willingly at first, unaware of what it really was. “In the beginning I thought it was a paradise, but it’s not. It’s a prison.”

Someone – almost certainly either Lady Trieu or Dr. Manhattan – tricked the smartest man in the world into agreeing to be locked away. That’s no small feat. Now, slowly losing his mind and killing Crookshanks and Phillipses, he’s obsessed with escaping. But where is he escaping from?

The failed spacesuit we saw Mr. Phillips freeze in, combined with Veidt’s massive catapult to the sky, points to him being on another planet. That shot of a dead Crookshanks disappearing into the clouds supports the theory Dr. Manhattan destroyed Veidt’s palace on Mars in the series premiere. That would also mean those Phillips and Crookshanks lobster babies (that get tossed in the weirdest Easy Bake Oven ever) are Manhattan’s own attempts at creating life, which is what he said he was going to do at the end of the graphic novel. We know Veidt didn’t create them. “You are flaws in this thoughtless design, for while I may be your master, I am most definitely not your maker.”

Ozymandias watches Crookshanks and Phillips fire his catapultHBO

But as crazy as it seems, we still can’t rule out that Lady Trieu was the one who sent Veidt to another planet. She can create children in a lab, built a massive Vietnamese-inspired vivarium in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and her amazing technology seems to include spaceships, as we saw something belonging to here crashing from the sky. She might have built a habitable zone on another planet for Veidt and supplied him with a lake full of half-idiot servant babies, all so she can pull off her own master scheme back on Earth. She did set up phone booths to call Mars.

It’s all so very (VERY) weird, but when the two candidates for Veidt’s captor are a god-like being and a genius trillionaire with unlimited resources, no theory is too crazy. That includes Veidt having been turned into a gold statue. We are not betting against Ozymandias making his way back to civilizations in the current timeline of 2019. We also are not betting against that statue in Lady Trieu’s vivarium actually being him either. Who would do that and why? Those are just two of the many questions we now have – along with what he has planned for that horseshoe and why he went on a murder spree – after getting some answers from this hydra.

Gold statue of Ozymandias in Lady Trieu's vivariumHBO

In 1985 Adrian Veidt and his giant “alien” squid proved trying to unravel his plans is nearly impossible, but HBO’s Watchmen sure is making it fun to try anyway. Through three episodes Ozymandias’s story has been the weirdest, most mysterious subplot of the show. And when the smartest man in the world is capable doing something totally audacious, no theory is too wild. Here are the best ones we’ve heard or come up with about what he’s really up to.

Wherever and whenever he is.

Adrian Veidt gives a thumbs up to PhillipsHBO

Counting Candles

Watchmen‘s third episode indicated that Ozymandias might not be in hiding, as we first thought, but rather imprisoned. Eagle-eyed viewers also noticed that each time we see Phillips and Crookshanks present Adrian with a new cake (and rendition of “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”), the cake has one more candle than when last seen. We don’t know what “anniversary” these cakes celebrate, but if the candles each represent one year, it means we are seeing Veidt’s story span a very different timeline from the rest of the show.

The cakes on Ozymandias's cakes keep getting a new candleHBO

Thanks to the show’s companion site Peteypedia, we know that Veidt’s last public appearance was in 2007, but he wasn’t formally declared missing until 2012 when Trieu Industries purchased his companies. If that’s when he was imprisoned, the first cake would have been from some time in 2013, likely the anniversary of when he first arrived at his prison castle. Veidt seemed genuinely touched by the cake that day, which was also when he announced he had started writing a new play.

He was a lot less enthused about the second cake, even though by then his play was not only finished, it was being performed with a full set, marking a meaningful passage of time. An uncharacteristically angry Veidt threw the third cake to the ground after being frustrated by the “game warden” who reminded Veidt of the agreed-upon rules he is bound by. At that point he was also well into his experimental “spacesuits” that left Phillips nothing but a popsicle.

Who Imprisoned Him and Where?

If Adrian Veidt really has been imprisoned since 2012, who put him there? One potential answer is Lady Trieu, the trillionaire industrialist who owns his companies, runs his estate, and formally accepted the FBI’s recent announcement Veidt is dead. We don’t know much about her yet, but she built the mysterious Millennium Clock tower and gave the public phone booths to call Dr. Manhattan on Mars. If Veidt is trying to escape her prison, he is almost certainly on Earth, which could help explain the massive trebuchet he is working on (the one teased for episode four that we’ve already seen a miniature model of).

Adrian Veidt's castle on HBO's WatchmenHBO

But another theory says it was Dr. Manhattan himself who imprisoned Veidt. The castle Ozymandias is living in looks remarkably similar to the one Manhattan was seen destroying on Mars (and also like the floating model Topher made in his room). Did the godlike Manhattan create a second Earth, or possibly a hospitable zone on Mars, for Veidt to live on for some yet unknown reason? Is that why Veidt was seemingly trying to create a spacesuit for Phillips? Was he testing if it would be safe enough for him to use on his own voyage back to Earth?

Dr. Manhattan destroys a castle on MarsHBO

If Veidt’s story on the show began in 2013, and Manhattan destroyed a similar castle in 2019, did he destroy it after Veidt escaped? Or did Manhattan recreate Veidt’s former prison as a coded message to either Trieu or Veidt back on Earth that Manhattan knows Veidt is free? Each theory raises a number of questions, each equally insane. Ultimately, where Veidt is imprisoned would likely tell us who put him there, and vice versa, but without knowing either our only other clue as to his whereabouts are the weirdos he lives with.

By Hook or by Crook(shanks)

Mr. Phillips and Miss Crookshanks in uniform on WatchmenHBO

Here’s what we know about the childlike Mr. Phillips and Miss Crookshanks:

They are clones totally loyal to their “master” Adrian Veidt.
Neither have any survival instincts and are unfazed by the deaths of their doubles.
They are “dimwits” who confuse horseshoes with knives.

What we don’t know is who created them and why.

At the end of the graphic novel, Dr. Manhattan said that he was going to try creating some life of his own. If he imprisoned Veidt, Manhattan might have given him some of his “new” people to serve him. That would explain why they might also be his captors. The game warden looks like he might be a “Phillips” with a mustache.

The game warden aims his gun on Watchmen


(If Manhattan did create Phillips and Crookshanks, it might show even he has limits as a “god,” a major development for his character.)

However, Adrian Veidt was able to genetically engineer a giant squid monster in 1985. It’s certainly feasible that he would be able to create flawed human clones by 2012. That would explain why they are totally loyal to him. If Ozymandias created them, it raises an even more intriguing question: Who are they based on?

The first thing we learned that Phillips can do is fix an old watch. Veidt also had his servants star in his play The Watchmaker’s Son, which was about Dr. Manhattan’s life. Then Veidt tried sending Phillips to space, where we know Dr. Manhattan lives. Since everything about Phillips’ existence connects to Dr. Manhattan in some way, is Mr. Phillips a clone of Jon Osterman, a.k.a. the human Manhattan was before his accident? And is Miss Crookshanks Janey Slater, the woman Manhattan was with before he left her for Silk Spectre?

Dr. Manhattan drops the photo og him and Janey Slater in the Watchmen comicDC Comics/Dave Gibbons/John Higgins

Ozymandias was only able to pull off his squid plot by emotionally manipulating Manhattan in 1985. Could he be trying to do that again now with a Manhattan clone? It sounds nuts, but that’s exactly why it can’t be ruled out.

Literally nothing can be ruled out when it comes to Adrian Veidt, especially when he’s either competing or working with a godlike figure who can see through time and transport across galaxies, as well as a trillionaire tech giant who might have outsmarted the smartest man in the world.

All we can do is keep counting how many candles those clones put on his cake as the clock counts down to the big reveal.

Featured Image: HBO

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