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Major spoilers below for the second-to-last episode of HBO’s Watchmen, so be sure to watch before reading on.
Every episode in Watchmen’s first season on HBO inspired at least a dozen different questions, with millions of viewers trying to suss out exactly what creator Damon Lindelof and his creative team have been doing with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ source material. Never have those questions felt more important than they do now as we look ahead to the Season 1 finale (which hopefully won’t be the last episode that fans get).
Here are the 12 biggest questions I have after watching the magnificence that was “A God Walks Into Abar,” which aren’t in any particular ordered following that hyper-important first inquiry. Join us in talking out some of these questions, and be sure to jot down your own overarching curiosities in the comments.
1. Is Doctor Manhattan Really Dead?
Despite his foreshadowing insistence on the matter, I still wasn’t fully convinced Doctor Manhattan’s 2019 resurgence would end tragically, though watching him get obliterated challenged any assumptions I might have had. Still, though, did the Seventh Kavalry’s tachyon ray legitimately “kill” Doctor Manhattan, or did it just offer up another failed attempt to eradicate the superhuman entity? My money is on the latter, though the TV series may well embrace such a game-changing twist to further set the two versions apart.
2. Did Doctor Manhattan Give Will Reeves Powers?
The Watchmen comic book never gave readers an exhaustive rundown of the many ways Doctor Manhattan can affect the reality around him, so it wasn’t altogether surprising when the TV show introduced the concept of his abilities being transferrable to other forms of organic matter. That reveal seemingly offered up answers for Will Reeves’ more unnatural behavior, such as his ability to escape handcuffs and to grab boiling eggs straight from the pot. Plus, it would make sense that Doctor Manhattan would try and guarantee Will's survival up until at least the 10-year mark, so that he could keep watch over Angela. (Even if Will did get some of Doctor Manhattan's abilities, is he alone?)
3. Did Angela Actually Doom Judd Crawford?
Angela's time-jumping question to her grandfather Will is the kind of time-traveling paradox situation that's fairly common to sci-fi narratives. However, I have to believe Damon Lindelof's creative team will completely flip expectations when all is said and done, and that Angela's actions will have various ramifications that viewers hadn't been aware of. In any case, even if Judd wasn't wholly deserving of a forced suicide, he was seemingly still guilty of conspiring with Senator Keene, so his day of reckoning was certainly near already.
4. Does Doctor Manhattan's Pre-Cal Appearance Matter?
"A God Walks Into Abar" purposefully hindered audience's views of Doctor Manhattan's face during both the flashbacks in the bar and on Europa. However, it wasn't entirely clear if there was a plot-related mechanic involved, or if his face was only being hidden in order to put more emphasis on Yahya Abdul-Mateen II whenever he goes full Manhattan blue. I can't imagine that there will be an additional twist related to the superhuman's non-Call appearance, but I wouldn't be shocked.
5. How Are Lady Trieu And Adrian Veidt Connected?
Beyond a squid-shaped shadow of a doubt, Adrian Veidt has deep ties to Lady Trieu that go beyond the fact that she currently owns all of his companies. In this episode, Veidt quipped that "a little elephant" told him about Doctor Manhattan's Europa life, which is seemingly a direct reference to Lady Trieu. Her company's logo, after all, resembles an elephant's face; not to mention she was housing an actual elephant that was used to soak up Angela's Nostalgia. But are they related? Acquaintances? Enemies?
6. Where Is Looking Glass?
Though Looking Glass appeared to be a goner the last time we saw him, the character's survival was more or less confirmed in Episode 7, though his whereabouts have remained a mystery. Anyone hoping for Looking Glass to do heroic things to save Doctor Manhattan from the Seventh Kavalry was out of luck, sadly. Here's hoping the mentally fractured cop chose to go directly after Senator Keene and the teleporter in order to stop the 7K's plan.
7. Who Are Veidt's 8 Million Children?
In the post-credits sequence, Veidt made a peculiarly ominous comment to the Game Warden, saying that he has something like 8 million children waiting for him on Earth, standing in their cribs. Was he just speaking in metaphors, though? Or did he somehow actually impregnate 8 million people that all had children without anyone realizing the timeliness? Would that have anything to do with the squids, or something that Lady Trieu has done in Veidt's absence?
8. Does Topher Have Special Abilities?
For the most part, Angela and Cal's kids have served as emotional connections, as opposed to fully developed characters in their own right. However, each of Topher's appearances have hinted at something else happening under the surface. Is that just the show finding ways to mirror Topher and Doctor Manhattan's distant nature, or have there been an actual genetic changes while Topher lived under the same roof as the hibernating Manhattan?
9. How Will Phillips And Crookshank Turn Into Mime And Marionette?
Before viewers got to know Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshank, actors Tom Mison and Sara Vickers were only known to be cast as the villainous Mime and Marionette, respectively. Their arrival is (presumably) this series' only direct tie to DC's official Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock, where they cause a whole lot of imaginative mayhem, making the pair's transition of utmost importance going into the finale. But how will it happen?
10. What Does The Millennium Clock Do, Dangit?
Theories abound concerning Lady Trieu's Millennium Clock, because no one is buying that all it does is tell time. Is it some kind of time machine? Will it give everyone on Earth (or at least Tulsa) superpowers like Doctor Manhattan? Or will it instill in everyone a sense of empathy and peace, providing the opposite of the traumatic psychic energy put forth by Veidt's squid monster? Or will it do one of roughly a million other things?
11. Why Did Doctor Manhattan Show Angela His Water-Walking Skills?
Episode 8's post-credits sequence provided some confusing context for Veidt's horseshoe comment back in the series premiere, which almost definitely means that Doctor Manhattan's pool walk will lead to some kind of a big reference in the finale. But why would he specifically need to show Angela that ability so soon before he was meant to be killed off by the Seventh Kavalry? Does that detail alone serve as proof that Manhattan will return in the finale in some form?
12. How Is Veidt Going To Escape Europa?
Arguably Watchmen's most difficult-to-grasp details are the sporadic peeks into Adrian Veidt's Europa-centric existence, since they largely work mutually exclusive from the main narrative, while also giving viewers lots to wonder about. Lots of elements of Veidt's escape plan are still worth questioning, but we're currently invested in how well he'll be able to dig his way out of his cell using only a horseshoe. And what happens then? Did Doctor Manhattan have the foresight to leave a functioning space shuttle up there for Veidt to take back to Earth?
Considering Watchmen is a Damon Lindelof series, viewers can probably expect for some big questions to be left on the table unanswered, though the Lost and Leftovers vet has promised that the superhero saga will indeed reach a fully formed conclusion by the end of the Season 1 finale. Here's hoping he and the writers left plenty of connective tissue to kick off a second season if HBO wisely orders one up.
Be sure to watch Watchmen's finale on HBO on Sunday, December 15, at 9:00 p.m.