Watchmen‘s Season Finale, “See How They Fly”, somehow, I don’t know how, wrapped this incredibly complex story up?
Call it a thermodynamic miracle.
Last Week, On Watchmen:
Ohhhhh man. Er, god? Er, maybe a couple of gods? Last week we got a look at another episode in Angela Abar’s life—the fateful night she met Doctor Manhattan in a bar in Vietnam, and he announced they were in love. In short order, despite her initial skepticism, they began dating, he gave up his godhood for her, and they moved to start a new life together in Tulsa.
Like every episode of this show, the writers played with time and memory so goddamn well that I watched the whole thing with my jaw on my chest. We see the birth of Angela’s love for Manhattan, all the while holding her terrible childhood in our minds. We watch Manhattan hop through time, telling her about his childhood as a refugee, and their own future as parents. He is as insistent that they love each other as he is that it ends tragically. And Angela, who has had happiness stolen from her several times over, chooses that future.
Is that because she believes in grabbing whatever joy she can? Or does she believe that she can change fate?
Watchmen has spent its whole season ducking and dodging that idea of fate and free will. Wade’s personality is set that night in Hoboken, and he spends the rest of his life in the echo of Veidt’s terrible choice. Veidt himself, having attained a type of godhood, realizes that freedom and unpredictability have their merits. Manhattan ditches omniscience to have ten years of ordinary human ignorance and the surprises it brings.
This Week, On Watchmen:
The end is nigh, and people need to figure out how to deal with it. We learn all the intricacies of the Seventh Kavalry’s plan, and the impact it has on Angela and Manhattan. We finally learn about the connection between Lady Trieu and Adrian Veidt.
The episode does leave a few loose ends and open questions, however, so it wouldn’t shock me too much if we get a Season Two.
Here Be A Black Freighter Full of Spoilers:
OK, so everyone’s theories on Veidt are accurate? He’s been on Europa for years, is Trieu’s dad, and was brought back by Trieu after being encased in gold. So he was, in fact, inside the gold stature in Trieu’s vivarium. The whole trial and all the drama with the Crookshankes and Phillipses was a set-up. He was the one who told the Original Phillips to wear a mask, in fact, because masks make men cruel, and he hoped to have a worthy adversary. But of course, when that Phillips asks if he was a worthy adversary (immediately after the Master stabbed him in the guts with a sharpened horseshoe) Adrian says no. Even this moment is used to show Adrian’s monstrous nature, as he callously denies the clone the love that it desperately craves, and drops the corpse as its face freezes into a rictus of horror.
The way the Europa plotline loops around the plot against Manhattan is just beautiful, with Trieu telling Veidt about finding traces of Manhattan, and him later using that information to send her the “Save Me Daughter” message 8 years later.
I was a little annoyed that Trieu’s scheme was undone with a Squidfall, but it’s also a nice jab at her for referring to the Squidlings as reruns. Mostly though I was just in love with the shot of the hole through her hand, and the fact that, A) she did not hold it up so we could see her eye through it and B) it was an obvious stigmata, but then the Squidfall knocked the crucifix off the wall to somewhat poke at the symbolism.
But really this is just the episode playing with the thirty years of Watchmen mythos. And that is not what this ending is about.
The Seventh Kavalry traps Manhattan. Joe Keene gets up and gives a lovely speech about how awful it is that white people are so oppressed, and are forced to apologize for the color of their skin. I would say that this was over the top, but, ummmm, I think it’s safe in 2019 to say that this is not the case. Keene also says that “I can come riding up on a white horse right into The White House” and the episode briefly turns into a passion play in which a Black man literally named Manhattan is being taunted by a white rural racist.
I’ll admit I appreciated this.
I also love that Wade gets to see the actual Ground Zero for his lifetime of fear.
But Keene gets liquified when he tries to transfer Manhattan’s power over to him, and Trieu upends the plan. She kills the remaining members of Cyclops with a laser on Will Reeves’ behalf. Which again, is great, because this giant white supremacist plot, the thing that seemed like The Big Bad of the season, is really just a sidestory to Trieu’s quest for ultimate power. All the infighting and squabbling between Veidt and Laurie is just background to the real story, where the Tulsa Massacre finds retribution in frozen Squidlings raining down upon Tulsa.
And even that is just plot wrapping around the real story, which is that Angela watches her love die. Because Jon doesn’t want to be alone when he dies. After losing everything over and over, she loses again. But then she walks into the Dreamland theater and finds her grandfather, Will Reeves, and her children, placed out of harm’s way by their loving father. She invites Will to come stay with his family. After all these years of pain, he’s come home at last.
And when her grandfather gives her Jon’s last message, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a couple’a eggs”—she swallows an egg, and heads out to the swimming pool to see if she can walk on water.
Regina King is extraordinary, and her pure rage and hurt is so goddam gorgeous when it glows against Trieu and Veidt’s self-obsession. And Yahya Abdul-Mateen II? When Jon tells Angela he’s experiencing ever moment they ever had together? I might have lost it a little. I think my one and only issue with the episode is that Trieu does turn a little too Cartoon Villain at the end, but still, watching her read out Will Reeves’ indictment and then just liquidating all those bastards is pretty sweet nonetheless.
And the reveal that Manhattan and Reeves worked together, all those years ago, to right the wrongs of the past, to, with luck, pass on Manhattan’s powers to Angela, who we can trust to use them? She’ll burn the old world down and build a new one. The better world that Veidt makes noises about but never quite creates.
But you can’t heal under a mask.
- We see Veidt making the video for Redford.
- We get a multiple return trips to Karnak!
- “Now, we have a god to kill. Let’s roll out, shall we?” I choose to believe this is Lady Trieu’s shout out to Lady Eboshi.
- “You could do birthday parties and shit.”
- Jon once again gets pulverized while his lover watches.
- The eggs, so important throughout the series, finally come home to roost.
- Laurie uses a Blue Phonebooth to reach out to Angela, one Manhattan partner to another.
- And Laurie, all those years later, gets to warn people about a Squid attack.
- The Squid Attack is pretty thoroughly re-litigated overall, with Trieu confronting Adrian and telling him he’s brilliant, and Laurie and Wade arresting Veidt for his crimes.
- Veidt saying “It’s been a hoot” as he looks at Nite Owl’s ship, is just, my gosh.
- “So I suppose the FBI is just going to arrest the president, too?” Ell. Oh. Ell.
What did all of you think? Was this a good summation of the show? Do you want to see the continuing adventures of Sister Night? We still haven’t heard tell of Dreiberg’s whereabouts, right?
Would you agree with me that this is one of the greatest superhero stories of all time?
And where the hell is Lube Guy?