Nothing ever ends, except of course, seasons of TV. With Watchman Episode 9 officially out and in the world, we’ve arrived at a conclusive finale for one of the year’s best and most densely packed shows. HBO’s Watchmen is over–for now at least–and we’re left to go back and try to figure out what it all meant. Let’s break down the ending piece by piece.
Naturally, major spoilers from here on out so, if on the off chance you haven’t finished episode 9 yet, come back later.
Trieu, Veidt, and the Millenium Clock
In “See How They Fly,” we’re first caught up to speed on just what the connection between Adrian Veidt and Lady Trieu actually is. She’s his daughter, but not by any traditional means. It turns out her mother, a cleaning woman at Veidt’s secret Antarctic fortress Karnak, stole a vial of Veidt’s stored semen and inseminated herself before quitting her job and escaping the compound without notice. Veidt himself didn’t learn of Trieu’s existence until she arrived at this hideout 23 years later to tell him to his face. She’s “sample #2346,” she says, and she needs his help–or, more accurately, his money.
She also takes this moment to explain just how she knew where Doctor Manhattan is, something that we were clued into back in episode 8 when Adrian told Jon that “a little elephant” informedhim Jon wasn’t actually on Mars. It turns out Trieu used a deep-space satellite antenna that would sweep the galaxy looking for Doctor Manhattan’s specific radiological signature, which she was able to find on Europa. It’s this helpful fact that inspires Veidt’s eventual escape plan since he knows exactly when the satellite will be crossing over Europa to see his message.
Trieu also explains exactly what the Millenium Clock is and what it does–and it turns out her plan isn’t all that different from the 7th Kavalry’s. She calls it a “quantum centrifuge” that will allow her to absorb the energy of Doctor Manhattan once she destroys him.
Veidt doesn’t agree to giving her his money, but as we well know now, it doesn’t actually matter. A year later, Veidt disappears (thanks to Jon and a one-way ticket to Europa) which allows Trieu to buy his company and begin her plan in earnest. Once she received his distress signal on her satellite (the last word of the phrase he spelled out was “daughter,” to get her attention) she sent a probe to pick him up and, functionally, freeze him in carbonite for the return journey. Of course, when he landed (on the Clarks’ farm), she didn’t immediately unfreeze him–he was trapped as a bronze statue in her atrium this whole time. She only wakes him up in time to watch her activate the Clock and enact her plan.
The 7th Kavalry
Unsurprisingly, the 7th Kavalry’s grand scheme didn’t actually go according to plan. In fact, it was designed to fail by Trieu herself. That’s where they were getting their tech–they weren’t “stealing” it from her like they thought they had been, she was letting them take it. The gambit worked like this: If Trieu had worked out a plan to kill Jon on her own, he could have seen her and stopped it. But if she allowed the 7th Kavalry to work on their plan instead, she could use it as a smokescreen and swoop in at the last second to commandeer the whole thing in a way that would catch Jon off guard.
It’s all very similar to the way Veidt himself used the media, tachyon particles, and fake cancer scares back in the original comic to keep Jon’s foresight from getting in the way of his squid plan–like father like daughter, as they say.
The major reveal for the 7th Kavalry here was that Senator Keene Sr, the man responsible for the Keene act that banned vigilantism in the first place back in the comics, is actually still alive and an active member of the group. It turns out the anti-hero sentiments sowed in the government have always had their roots in white supremacy.
But of course, with Trieu’s trap sprung, the 7th Kavalry didn’t last very long. Keene Jr. only succeeded in liquifying himself into a bloody mess while Trieu obliterated the rest of the members who had convened to watch their victory before activating her device.
This was Will’s part of the plan and the origin of he and Trieu’s partnership. He wanted Trieu’s help to wipe out the 7th K for good, and was willing to sacrifice Angela’s husband to do so.
Despite Trieu handily defeating the 7th Kavalry in one masterstroke, there was still the issue of her megalomaniacal plan–but thankfully, the combined forces of Veidt, Looking Glass, and Laurie were able to see that her dreams were never realized.
Using the spilled puddle of liquified Senator Keene, which seeped under the boundary of the cage Jon was trapped in, Jon was able to instantly teleport Veidt, LG, and Laurie to his Antarctic compound. He did not transport Angela, however, because he didn’t want to be alone when he died.
And that’s, unfortunately, exactly what he did. Die, that is–not even the smartest man in the world was able to save Jon once Trieu activated her machine. He was vaporized in the cage while Angela helplessly looked on. But before the device could properly imbue Trieu with the harvested energy, Veidt was able to weaponize the squid rain (which we learned last week were sent randomly throughout portals in Antarctica) by setting the squid temperature low enough to freeze the squids before they hit the ground. He aimed the rain over Tulsa and fired, creating a sort of “Gatling gun” effect that destroyed Trieu’s machine and killed her (along with anyone who happened to be outside and under insufficient shelter within a 5-mile radius.)
Angela was able to escape into the theater, where she found Will along with her sleeping children. The two were finally able to have the heart-to-heart they so desperately needed, and Angela welcomed Will into her life and her home to officially become part of the family. Meanwhile, back in Antarctica, Laurie confronted Veidt, not as a friend, but as an agent of the FBI, placing him under arrest for the murder of 3 million people back in 1985.
With Jon “dead” (or at least, temporarily destroyed–death is a strange thing for someone with his powers) we’re left with Angela to pick up the pieces. After inviting Will back to stay in her home, he gives her a cryptic message from Jon about “breaking a few eggs,” which Angela doesn’t immediately understand.
That doesn’t occur until she’s back in her own kitchen, cleaning up the mess she made to interrupt Jon’s impromptu waffle-making back in Episode 8. She notices that one of the eggs in the carton she broke is still intact, and then remembers the conversation she had with Jon back in Vietnam about his theoretical ability to transfer his powers to someone else. She eats the egg and then takes a step, testing to see whether or not she’d be able to walk on water–but the scene cuts to credits before we can actually see the results of her experiment. It’s completely inconclusive, but the heavy implication is that she will have absorbed some, if not all, of Jon’s god-like abilities and actually become the “new” Doctor Manhattan moving forward–ironic for a person who showed little to no interest in obtaining superpowers and just effectively helped stop two different people from doing just that.
But maybe, as Veidt explained in so many words, that’s the real secret of Manhattan’s powers. People who actually want them shouldn’t be trusted with them. It’s only people like Jon himself, who were gifted with them by complete accident, who can really be trusted to not destroy the world or use them for personal gain.