Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Watchmen‘s third episode and Lady Trieu.
“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Adrian Veidt took his superhero name from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” a poem about hubris and the fleeting nature of power. When FBI Agent Dale Petey quoted the sonnet’s iconic line in Watchmen‘s third episode though, he referenced a different character; Lady Trieu. We don’t know much about this mysterious titan of industry yet, but her connections to Ozymandias raise one of the show’s most important questions. Is she working with or against Adrian Veidt? No matter the answer, the nature of their relationship could be catastrophic for the world.
Lady Trieu will be played by Hong Chau, and the character has appeared in trailers and teasers that promise she will play a major role going forward. Her absence through the first three episodes hasn’t stopped her from making an impact already though. The trillionaire Lady Trieu, who appears to be sending a young woman to collect newspapers for her, is the head of Trieu Industries. The show’s companion website revealed she purchased Adrian Veidt’s company in 2012, right when he went missing. Trieu Industries also began formally running Veidt’s estate in 2017, and accepted the FBI’s recent announcement that the very-much-alive Veidt is dead.
In addition to controlling Veidt’s vast fortune and incredible technology, Trieu Industries is also responsible for the blue satellite phone booths on which Laurie Blake called Dr. Manhattan. They appear all across the U.S.; you can see one outside of the bank at which Laurie arrested Mr. Shadow. In a world full of technophobes where wireless tech was delayed by decades, Trieu has given everyone the ability to call a god on Mars.
Her company also built the massive and imposing Millennium Clock in Tulsa, an especially ominous building. The imagery of a clock nearing midnight is a recurring motif in both the graphic novel and television series; Watchmen is always counting down to something terrible. The richest person in the world owns a mysterious building called the Millennium Clock; we can only guess what nightmare awaits when the clock counts down to zero.
It was that unsettling building that made Agent Petey reference Trieu directly. He said Lady Trieu quoted Shelley’s poem when the Millennium Clock opened. He said “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair” was her “shout out to Adrian Veidt”. Considering Trieu controls Veidt’s wildly successful business and personal estate, that might have been a subtle dig at the former vigilante’s fall from grace. Shelley’s “Ozymandias” is about a powerful king whose giant monument to himself and his legacy now sits broken and alone in an empty desert. If Trieu meant for her “shout out” to be an insult, she couldn’t have picked a more fitting line to get her message across.
And since the third episode also presented the possibility Veidt is not so much in hiding as he is imprisoned, it could be Trieu herself who has him locked away. The smartest man in the world might have been bested by a foe of superior intellect.
But, what if instead of mocking him, Trieu really was paying tribute to Adrian Veidt? It would likely mean she is working for Ozymandias. It’s a terrifying possibility.
Adrian Veidt is a mad genius, and a major part of his giant “alien” squid plot involved the use of other corporations which he secretly controlled from the shadows. He was pulling strings at companies where the employees didn’t even know he was the puppet master. If Veidt is in hiding, putting his company into the hands of someone he trusts – someone the world would never suspect is working for him – would ensure he still maintained his power while his vision was being carried out.
If Trieu Industries really is a front for Veidt, it makes those phone booths to Dr. Manhattan far more sinister. Instead of offering hope/letting mankind “pretend” the blue god still cares about people, it could be another form of emotional manipulation by Veidt. In 1985 he used Manhattan’s remaining ties to humanity to drive him away from Earth. Is Veidt now trying to draw Manhattan back by letting people pull on Manhattan’s last remaining heartstring? Or do all of those phone calls serve as a reminder to Manhattan about why he left long ago, ensuring he stays away?
Dr. Manhattan can see through time, but he was unable to foresee Ozymandias’s plans in 1985. It’s unlikely anyone else will fully be able to predict what an 80-year-old genius who is currently murdering clones and dressing up in his old costume is up to until it’s too late. But we do know what motivates him. Adrian Veidt named himself after a poem about how the achievements of powerful men don’t last. Instead of being a constant warning to himself though, it felt like a challenge to overcome. His life’s work was so audacious – what could be crazier than faking an alien monster – because it was meant to last. The sands of time were never supposed to bury his false world peace, like the statue in Shelley’s desert.
Ozymandias’s hero is also Alexander the Great, whom he said in the comic is the only person in history he can relate to. We saw Veidt still keeps the Macedonian general’s bust (adorned with his own mask) in his office, and he named his horse Bucephalus after Alexander’s famous equine. We still remember Alexander the Great to this day, and Adrian Veidt won’t stop fighting to make sure we remember him too.
Just like he remembers the last thing Dr. Manhattan said to him: “Nothing ever ends.” Adrian Veidt’s quest to “save” the world hasn’t ended either. So while e might not know exactly what he is up to, whatever his plan is will be in service to maintaining his own monument to himself. To erect it cost the lives of three million souls. How many will have to die to maintain it forever?
Lady Trieu alone might be able to stop him, unless she’s secretly working with him. We’re not sure which is more dangerous for the world.
Featured Image: HBO