HBO's Watchmen Ending Explained: How Did That Crazy Finale Set Up Possible Season 2?

hbo watchmen finale angela in dreamland theater

For anyone who hasn't yet watched Watchmen's Season 1 finale on HBO, there are tons of spoilers below, so be sure to catch up.

In a move that was every bit as cyclical and comic-influenced as any that preceded it, HBO's Watchmen closed out its first season with a humdinger of a finale that set up elephantine ramifications for the world at large, regardless of whether or not a Season 2 renewal comes in. It wasn't exactly the most clear-cut conclusion in the world, which was to be expected from both creator Damon Lindelof and the multi-layered nature of Watchmen in general, but we're here to help.

Below, we'll lay out the various (watch)parts of Watchmen's Season 1 endgame, from Lady Trieu's plot to Angela's next steps, and what everything could mean for the future of this live-action franchise. (We've also got lots of questions after watching the finale, so check those out as well.)

hbo watchmen finale lady trieu contraption

What Was Lady Trieu's Millennium Clock Plan?

The Seventh Kavalry's plan was previously revealed to be a Doctor Manhattan bait-and-switch, with Senator Keene revealing in the finale that Cal's superhuman transgression during the White Night clued them in on his whereabouts. (He teleported Angela's would-be killer to the familiar location of Gila Flats.) It turns out they weren't the only ones looking to usher a new Doctor Manhattan into the world, though, with Lady Trieu's Millennium Clock having been crafted for similar purposes; namely, to suck out all of Manhattan's power before transferring it into Trieu's body.

Considering Lady Trieu's plans went back to at least 2008, when she told her father Adrian Veidt about seeing visual proof of Doctor Manhattan on Europa, it's a safe assumption that her original blueprints did not involve a crossover reveal with Keene and the Seventh Kavalry. However, Doctor Manhattan apparently advised Will Reeves to get in cahoots with Trieu, so that the former Hooded Justice would have an ally in taking the 7K down. And in the very downtown location where Will's world was first torn apart, fittingly.

By her own claims, Lady Trieu wanted to take over Doctor Manhattan's powers so that she could do the many beneficial things for the planet that he failed to in the years after he first left for Mars. (She's definitely not the only one who holds the opinion that Manhattan's talents were squandered in the late 20th century and beyond.) But I absolutely agree with Will's implication that Lady Trieu's ego grew too big for its britches, which would possibly have led directly to her making Veidt-like decisions where millions get sacrificed without a second opinion.

hbo watchmen finale doctor manhattan in lady trieu's device

What Happened To Doctor Manhattan And Lady Trieu?

After Lady Trieu completely disrupted Senator Keene's attempt to Manhattan-ize himself, and subsequently zapped the rest of the Seventh Kavalry into oblivion, she set the final pieces in play to dismantle Doctor Manhattan's body with her flying Millennium Clock orb. Though not before he teleported Veidt, Laurie and Looking Glass to Antarctica to be humanity's saving grace. He chose not to send Angela along, however, because he didn't want to die alone. Cue the glowing blue waterworks.

In yet another Watchmen scene with unexpected emotional heft, Angela had her final (for now?) conversation with Doctor Manhattan/Cal, where his final seconds were spent simultaneously reliving every moment they shared together in the previous ten years. And after a final declaration of love, he finally succumbed to the power of Trieu's flying machine, much to Angela's fear and chagrin.

With true villainous hubris, Lady Trieu didn't bother focusing on anything but anticipating her big transition. Not that she could have foreseen her ever-estranged father using his teleportation tech to bring hell to Tulsa's Greenwood business district in the form of frozen squid rain. The falling projectiles handily destroyed Trieu's device in the nick of time, while also giving her the most apropos stigmata-esque moment with a wall-mounted Jesus crucifix dropping in the background. It appeared that her mother-clone Bian survived the wreckage, so it would be interesting to see how she might extend her family's legacy in the aftermath.

hbo watchmen finale angela holding egg by pool

What Was Angela's Final Scene All About?

For all that she tried to step up and change Doctor Manhattan's fate by taking on the Seventh Kavalry, Angela had already known for ten years that her relationship with Doctor Manhattan-as-Cal would end in just such a tragedy. After all, their very first conversation in Eddy's Bar directly referenced that fate multiple times. And you know what else that first conversation went into detail about? Eggs, which have served as Watchmen's most consistent connective tissue from episode to episode.

Echoing a sentiment that Will Reeves voiced early in the season, Doctor Manhattan seemingly confirmed he was able to port his powers into organic material, such as an egg, with the intention of someone else ingesting it and sharing in his superhuman abilities. After Angela returned home and found the egg carton she'd broken in Episode 8, all the pieces of the ten-year-long puzzle fell into place, from their bar conversation to Will's omelet comment to Doctor Manhattan purposefully showing off his walking-on-water skills. (I'm still wondering if there's a deeper egg connection with the Clark family, but that's for another time.)

Seemingly without giving a proper amount of thought and consideration into what it would be like to experience existence as Doctor Manhattan – which ran in direct opposition to Keene and Trieu's long-term goals – Angela quickly found the only unbroken egg in the carton and zipped out to the pool. Taking the egg down all in one gulp, Angela trepidatiously got ready to test whether she could now also walk onto water, with the screen snapping to black right before her foot touched down on the surface.

With those final moments, "See How They Fly" featured the rare brilliant cliffhanger that set up hopes and expectations for the future without undercutting any of the magnificence that came before it. Everything remained loosely ambiguous down to the very last line of the season, which was Manhattan's reverberated response from Episode 8 when Angela asked if eating his power-egg would make her walk on water:

Theoretically, yes.

Even as secretive as Damon Lindelof has been on projects like Lost and Star Trek Into Darkness, I think Watchmen's final scene can be viewed as less of a mystery than a winking nod to Doctor Manhattan's overall motivation to pass his powers on in the event of his death. Though viewers didn't get to witness his entire relationship with Angela, Watchmen's creative team laid out satisfactory justification for anyone to believe she will be a revised take on Doctor Manhattan, complete with Hooded Justice's memories, if Season 2 ever happens. (Something that Jon's Manhattan wouldn't have been able to foresee.)

Had Watchmen episodes haphazardly thrown the "chicken or the egg" metaphor into the final two episodes, I wouldn't be nearly as convinced that Angela transcended humankind upon swallowing that egg's innards. But Watchmen's TV show has most definitely stayed true to the comic book's embrace of reflective storytelling, so perhaps the most convincing evidence of all goes back to Regina King's first scene in the premiere, where she's cracking eggs and making moon cakes immediately after Doctor Manhattan's faked satellite footage from Mars is shown. Could there be a bigger finger-on-the-nose in retrospect?

Watchmen's conclusion did leave some details unconfirmed, such as what inevitably happens to Adrian Veidt within a legal system not made up his minions. As well, there are still a lot of holes in Will Reeves' life that deserve exploring. But it's clear that the world will be a very different place in Watchmen's future. As strongly implied by Red Scare and Pirate Jenny going sans masks in the aftermath of the frozen squid storm, the concept of masked cops may very well be as dead as the Presidential candidate that backed its use in Tulsa. But how will his death be explained, not to mention everyone else's?

While waiting to hear more about whether or not Season 2 will happen, know that you can now go back and binge HBO's Watchmen from the very beginning on HBO Go and HBO NOW and you'll have a completely different understanding of so many scenes throughout every episode. Let us know what you think happened with Angela in the poll below!

This poll is no longer available.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.