HBO's Watchmen isn't the easiest show to follow. Beyond the fact that the superhero drama has been purposefully cryptic with parts of its story, the live-action Watchmen draws on certain elements from the original comic, and seemingly the Zack Snyder movie that preceded it. So as someone who has never taken the time to dive into Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic, and only has the movie to look back to, it's a lot to absorb.
Some comic fanatics may be wondering what the Watchmen viewing experience is like for the uninformed, and I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I'm missing out on. Which is to say, I don't even know what I don't know. With that said, here are some of the thoughts I've had watching the first handful of Watchmen episodes as someone who hasn't been able to rely on comic knowledge for guidance.
I'm Never Sure If Confusing Moments Are From Watchmen's Comic Or Damon Lindelof
I may not be a well-read Watchmen fan, but I've definitely watched a show or two from Damon Lindelof, which has been something of a saving grace in these early episodes. Although it also means I'm always unsure if the details I don't understand are a result of my ignorance of the comic, or the fact that Lindelof's creations always tend to be mysterious and cryptic. For instance, I'm not sure if Doctor Manhattan's situation was hinted at in the source material, or if it all came from the show writers.
For that reason, it's a lot easier to just take Watchmen's oddities for what they are, while accepting that not everything will make sense in the moment. Though I'm still not 100% on exactly why I'm ignorant of some plot details, I can't really say any of it has kept me from understanding the major beats and themes of the story. So if anyone else out there was worried about not understanding anything without a comic background, I don't see it being a problem. So far.
So, Rorschach Is A Symbol Of White Supremacy?
One of the most confusing things that Watchmen threw at fans immediately was the implication that Rorschach is a major inspirational symbol for the white supremacy group dubbed the Seventh Cavalry. Now, it has been a long time since I've seen the movie, but don't fully recall the character (who many consider a hero) exhibiting lots of overtly racist behavior that would gain him such a following.
Granted, I know ideological movements can grasp onto the notions of notable people who may have never intended for their words to impact others in such ways. Still, that reveal was such a surprise that I can't help but continue to wonder each week how much knowledge about Rorschach I'm missing from the comic, or even the movie, I hadn't previously known.
Watchmen's Squid Rain Doesn't Make A Ton Of Sense Even With Context, Right?
While I certainly feel some narrative elements have gone far over my head, I've been able to soldier through a good portion of Watchmen so far without having to jump to the internet for explanations. As a major exception, I did have to look into what the hell is happening with all those squids, as I knew there was a squid-related conclusion in the comics that never made it into the film adaptation.
As it turns out, learning the the answer didn't really help me understand the situation any better. Did Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' giant squid creation somehow have lots of tiny babies that rain down from the heavens every so often? Or is this another one of Veidt's tricks, as part of whatever plan he's got now? I still have no idea, and for now, I'm just chalking it up to being a standard kind of Lindelof-ian plot device. I'm all good being out of the loop in this mystery, provided the payoff is satisfying.
Most Of The Vigilantes So Far Are Cops With Costumes
I know Watchmen is a universe in which there is really only one person who has super powers (Doctor Manhattan), but a lot of heroes in the movie were at least Batman-like in their vigilante abilities. Even if they weren't "super" in the sense they could clone themselves and teleport to Mars, they had exceptional amounts of prowess with certain physical and mental skills.
So far, a vast majority of the "vigilantes" in Watchmen are just cops in alternate uniforms. I guess I was assuming there'd be more independent vigilantism, despite it being outlawed, though I can understand the narrative draw of having the strength in numbers of a city's police force, given the deadly actions of Seventh Cavalry members. I'd like to see more vigilantes riding solo like that Lube Guy; by the way, I'm still chuckling about how utterly ridiculous that whole sequence was.
Does Adrian Veidt Have Any Role In Watchmen's Current Events?
While I'm aware that some of Veidt's actions from the original Watchmen timeline created a ripple effect that shaped the nation (and world) the way it did, I'm not so sure Jeremy Irons' castle-dweller has a direct hand in anything happening in America or elsewhere. The most recent episode revealed that he's in a (self-described) prison of some sort, and was possibly put there by another familiar character.
I have no idea who could do such a thing, considering Veidt's location has its own logical fallacies, but it does seem like the answer will come soon enough. Veidt seems to think the key to his escape deals with lifting off the ground, as evidenced by his rocket man and catapult experiments in the past couple episodes. But will he escape, and if so, how will he respond to the state of the world that he has been locked away from?
This Story Doesn't Feel Like It Will Be Wrapped Up In A Season
We're about halfway through Watchmen Season 1 and while I may be in the dark about a lot of things, I think everyone is in the dark on exactly what the major threat in this series is. The lack of overall clarity is pretty surprising, since Damon Lindelof has confirmed his Watchmen story will wrap up suitably by the end of the season, and he's fine with ending things after that.
Now, that doesn't exactly mean Season 2 of Watchmen won't happen, but if it does, it's entirely possible Damon Lindelof won't be involved. It's hard to imagine a show this bizarre keeping that same energy with someone else at the helm, though Lindelof has mentioned he'd love to see Ryan Coogler take a crack at the franchise. Who knows, by the time this whole event wraps up, fans may be happy with it not returning.
Anyone else flying the Owlship blind while watching the series? Share all thoughts in the comments below and remember Watchmen airs on HBO Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET. Stick with CinemaBlend for updates on the show, and for a look at what's happening in the world of television and movies throughout the rest of 2019.