In the ‘Watchmen’ season finale, Dr. Manhattan is held hostage as an ambitious senator looks to become a god and Lady Trieu’s plans are finally revealed…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
One of the brilliant twists that unraveled in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original “Watchmen” series was the revelation that Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias was the wizard behind the curtain for everything that had unfolded.
From the Comedian’s murder to the world being convinced that Dr. Manhattan was a living, breathing carcinogen to the giant psychic squid dropped on New York that subsequently slaughtered 3 million people, Adrian Veidt was behind it all but figuring out that he was the greatest mass murderer in human history was not easy.
Because Veidt was the self-proclaimed “smartest man in the world,” he was able to avoid detection — even remaining off Dr. Manhattan’s omniscient radar —and by the time his former costumed friends found out he was responsible, it was already too late.
Much of this season of “Watchmen” has been a mirror image of that original plot.
A crime that started the season — the death of Judd Crawford — set off a chain of events that painted the Seventh Kavalry as the real villains, who were trying to spread a message of white supremacy from sea to shining sea. It turns out, however, that for as powerful as this organization may have gotten over the past 100 years, they were no match for the smartest woman in the world.
Lady Trieu — who introduced herself by saying that she was going to save the fucking world — carried the same hubris as the man with whom she shared DNA. She thought that she was the person best suited to have god-like powers but orchestrating a plan that would eventually put Dr. Manhattan into her clutches without the rest of the world looking in her direction would take some skill.
Much like Ozymandias was able to keep Rorschach, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl guessing in the original “Watchmen,” Lady Trieu needed to do the same to subvert suspicion so when it finally came time to drop her psychic squid — or in this case steal Dr. Manhattan’s powers — no one would see it coming.
Like so much that happened during this season of “Watchmen,” the misdirection worked brilliantly as did the execution of the finale. With that said, let’s get to our recap of the season (possibly series) finale of “Watchmen” titled “See How They Fly”…
The Smartest Woman in the World
For a show that has jumped back and forth throughout various times starting in 1921 all the way to present day, the “Watchmen” finale was for the most part chronologically in order.
The episode begins in 1985 as Adrian Veidt is recording the speech that he will send to future president Robert Redford explaining how he orchestrated the “alien attack” on New York City that killed 3 million people but also likely averted a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. While he’s recording take after take to ensure the video is perfect, one of Veidt’s servants — a Vietnamese cleaning woman — sneaks into his office, punches his password into his computer and reveals a secret compartment hidden behind his portrait of Alexander the Great. In there, Veidt has hidden his most valuable possession — his sperm — and because he never took the time to actually lay with a woman because he had more important things to think about, he didn’t have any plans to sire children. But this woman had different ideas so she took one of the vials of his sperm, injected it into herself and nine months later Lady Trieu was born.
As we first guessed several episodes back, Lady Trieu is the daughter of Adrian Veidt.
Fast forward 23 years to 2008 and Lady Trieu shows up in Antarctica at Karnak, the base where Adrian Veidt calls home.
She first introduces herself and then reveals that she knows what really happened on November 2, 1985. Lady Trieu then plays to Adrian’s massive ego by saying he should have been celebrated for his plan to save the world and that gets her an invitation inside for some tea. Ever since dropping that giant squid on New York, Adrian has been desperate for recognition and it’s only angered him that the rest of the world just keeps finding new and inventive ways to destroy each other despite his best efforts to give them something much bigger to worry about.
He then reveals how he’s sending rainshowers of cephalopods down on the Earth using a random algorithm so no one could ever deduce a patter so he can keep up his mirage that aliens might attack Earth again at any time. That’s when Lady Trieu dares to criticize the great Ozymandias by accusing him of producing nothing more than reruns.
He had a genius idea in 1985 to save the world but now he’s just redoing that same plan over and over again in hopes that humanity will listen when history tells us that never works. It’s almost ingrained into the DNA for humans to destroy each other and Adrian hasn’t done much to stop it since his grand design slowed down the doomsday clock back in 1985.
But Lady Trieu has a plan to finally put an end to Armageddon once and for all.
Of course, Adrian surmises that she seeks to reach out to Dr. Manhattan on Mars to have him solve all of humanity’s ills but Lady Trieu quickly cuts him off to say that the big blue god isn’t where he’s supposed to be. Instead, Dr. Manhattan is hanging out on the Jupiter moon of Europa. She tracked him down using his unique radioactive signature and now she has launched a satellite that will arrive at Europa in just over five years’ time to verify her suspicions.
The satellite that Lady Trieu launches is the one that Adrian was waiting for when he was stuck on Europa all those years later. She obviously didn’t foresee Dr. Manhattan coming back to Earth, falling in love with Angela Abar and then sending Adrian Veidt to take his place on Jupiter’s moon. But Adrian never forgot that exact moment she mentioned and he planned to use that as a means of escape after he got stuck on Europa while Dr. Manhattan was playing house as Cal Abar back in Earth.
Lady Trieu then tells Adrian that she’s not seeking out Dr. Manhattan to have him save the world — his indifference to humanity has already prevented him from ending starvation, stopping the nuclear arms race and any other number of things he could accomplish with the snap of his fingers. Instead, Lady Trieu has designed a machine that can absorb Dr. Manhattan’s powers and then put them back into her
Add to that, Dr. Manhattan personally traumatized her mother in Vietnam — earlier in the season, Lady Trieu’s “daughter” Bian (who is actually a clone of her mother) woke up after having nightmares about her village being on fire as she fled for her life. Remember, Dr. Manhattan personally ended the Vietnam War by eviscerating the Viet-Cong and it seems Lady Trieu’s mother was caught in that carnage. A major theme of “Watchmen” this season has been trauma passed down through the ages just like the 1921 Tulsa race massacre that continued to haunt its descendants. It appears Lady Trieu’s mother nearly being snuffed out by Dr. Manhattan left her with a different kind of trauma that has been passed down to her daughter.
With the best of intentions and maybe a hint of revenge, Lady Trieu believes she’s better suited to save the world and with Dr. Manhattan’s powers she can do it.
The only problem is it will take $42 billion to build the machine so she showed up at Karnack to ask her father for a loan.
Adrian is shocked to learn he has an illegitimate daughter but given her vast intelligence, he’s not lost in disbelief for very long. Still, Adrian says despite inheriting great wealth from his family, he gave it all away and then built a fortune of his own. He encourages Lady Trieu to do the same. Adrian also tells Lady Trieu that he will never actually call her daughter so she shouldn’t expect him to play father to her.
Jump ahead to Adrian living on Europa after several years and he’s desperate to escape. While it sounded like utopia to him on the surface — a world built around servants, who only know how to worship him — left him bored and on the brink of madness. So Adrian made it his mission to send a message to his daughter when her satellite passed by Europa in hopes that she would come and rescue him.
The partial message he spelled out with the broken bodies of all the Phillips’ and Crookshanks was revealed to say SAVE ME DAUGHTER.
Thanks to the horseshoe baked into his anniversary cake — the one his servants give him on the date of when he first arrived on Europa — Adrian is able to dig through the bottom of his prison cell and orchestrate his escape just as Lady Trieu’s ship arrives to rescue him. Her original mission was to kidnap Dr. Manhattan but instead she will collect her father and he will see her grandest achievement in person.
Adrian is forced to fight off one last attempt from the Game Warden, who wishes him to stay, but that fails as well. Even when the Game Warden shoots him, Adrian pulls off one of his greatest tricks by catching a bullet before it can hit him (he also displays this particular skill in the original “Watchmen” comic).
As it turns out, Adrian is the one who created the Game Warden as an adversary to hopefully help him avoid going completely insane while stuck on Europe but even he wasn’t worthy of going head to head with the great Ozymandias.
Adrian the boards the ship where he’s told to enter a chamber where he will be put into some sort of sleep state for the long ride home. Adrian is covered from head to toe in a gold material that then freezes him into place.
The ship then travels across the galaxy before crash landing in a field that once belonged to the Clark family. Yes, the family that sold their farm to Lady Trieu during her first appearance on “Watchmen”. She was actually retrieving her father, who had flown off course en route to planet Earth.
But once she retrieved Adrian, Lady Trieu didn’t break him out of his golden carbonite prison and instead used him as a statue in her garden until it was time for him to see her grand plan come to fruition. She wanted Adrian to witness how she achieved everything after starting out with nothing.
She then reveals that she found Dr. Manhattan on Earth and her plan now involves trapping him, stealing his powers and then using the machine she’s built into her Millennium Clock as a way to then transfer them back into her.
Lady Trieu then has her team pack up everything needed for this plan to get set into motion and they set up shop in the middle of the Tulsa town square. As they arrive, Adrian sees a newspaper for the first time in many years and he’s shocked to see Robert Redford is still president. He’s even more disturbed to hear the news clerk tell him that Adrian Veidt has long since been forgotten after he disappeared a decade earlier. For all that Adrian believes he did to save the world, everybody has already forgotten him.
As Lady Trieu’s ultimate weapon arrives in the sky, Adrian looks up and remarks that the end is nigh.
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
As Lady Trieu is setting up in town square, the Seventh Kavalry is doing much the same at an abandoned mall as Senator Joseph Keene seeks to absorb Dr. Manhattan’s powers and become a god himself. He keeps a kidnapped Laurie Blake captive so she can watch her former lover get obliterated into dust and she’ll be joined by the hierarchy of leadership from Cyclops — the white supremacist organization that Will Reeves tried to crumble years earlier after he discovered they were using mind control to turn black people on each other.
The occasion even brings out Senator Keene’s father — the man who authored the bill that outlawed costume vigilantism back in the 1970’s.
As the Seventh Kavalry gets set up, they receive a distress call from their team across town who were sent to retrieve Dr. Manhattan. This is all happening at the same time as the closing minutes from last week’s episode as Angela valiantly fought to protect her husband while the Seventh Kavalry plotted to take him, trap him and kill him.
Inside as Senator Keene talks to his team, Wade aka Looking Glass reveals himself to Agent Blake. As suspected, he killed the Seventh Kavalry members sent to gun him down and he ultimately took one of the Rorschach masks to infiltrate the group. He has no idea what they’re up to but when the moment is right he’s going to help Agent Blake escape.
That’s when the Seventh Kavalry receives their greatest prize as Dr. Manhattan is teleported into the specially built cage they’ve created to contain him.
Earlier this season we saw Seventh Kavalry members collecting those “cancer batteries” — the batteries that were created by Dr. Manhattan and later outlawed after it was believed he was causing cancer to people who came in contact with him. The Seventh Kavalry collected millions of these batteries, melted them down and created a cage strong enough that even Dr. Manhattan couldn’t escape.
With Dr. Manhattan trapped, Keene then reveals his plans to the members of Cyclops who have assembled for this grand occasion. It seems his original plan was to create friction between a white supremacist group, the Seventh Kavalry, and put them at odds with the police. At some point, the cops would end up wearing masks just like the criminals they were trying to stop and eventually Senator Keene would come to town and orchestrate a peace between the two warring factions. The end result would see Keene swept into the White House where he would take over for President Redford.
But then three years ago during the White Night, Senator Keene got a call from a member of the Seventh Kavalry, who were out on the attack against the cops in Tulsa that night. It seems this particular member was at Angela Abar’s house and just as he was about to pull the trigger on her, he suddenly teleported from Tulsa to Gila Flats, New Mexico.
That was Dr. Manhattan’s instincts kicking in during a grave situation just as Adriran Veidt had intended.
But the Seventh Kavalry member being teleported to the place where the blue god was created told them one thing — that Dr. Manhattan wasn’t on Mars but instead he was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma under the name of Cal Abar. So from that moment forward, Senator Keene’s mission was to orchestrate the capture of Dr. Manhattan and then absorb his powers so he could become a god. He put Judd Crawford in charge of getting close to the Abar family and he sent Agent Blake down to Tulsa so she could bear witness to the destruction of her ex-boyfriend.
Just as Keene is preparing to kill Dr. Manhattan, Angela Abar shows up begging him to stop. She beat the location out of one of the Seventh Kavalry members still alive at her house to get this location and she arrives with a warning to Senator Keene that his plans aren’t going to end the way he intends.
Instead, Angela tells him that Lady Trieu knows what he’s planning and she’s going to stop him. She then reminds Senator Keene that his entire abandoned mall and lithium cage holding Dr. Manhattan are being powered by Trieu batteries. He ignores her warning and hops in the machine that is supposed to transfer Dr. Manhattan’s powers to him.
As he turns on a switch, the entire place is blanketed in light and the Seventh Kavalry, Senator Keene, Looking Glass, Agent Blake and Angela are suddenly teleported into the middle of town square — exactly where Lady Trieu was setting up earlier in the episode. She was using the Seventh Kavalry as a diversion to keep authorities off her trail as she played the good Samaritan, all while planning to kill Dr. Manhattan and steal his powers.
The End is Nigh
Lady Trieu then goes through her own nefarious plans to become a god.
She reveals to Angela that it was her grandfather who told her that Cal Abar was actually Dr. Manhattan and he teamed with her in exchange for Lady Trieu wiping out Cyclops once and for all. Lady Trieu then used the Seventh Kavalry as a means to capture Dr. Manhattan, so that he wouldn’t see her coming for him.
Finally, Lady Trieu follows through with her promise to Will Reeves by first opening the machine where Senator Keene was supposed to receive his god like powers. Instead he turned into a human milkshake because without filtering atomic energy, it’s going to pop you like a balloon every time. In other words, Senator Keene popped.
She then begins to read a letter out loud from Will Reeves written to the leadership of Cyclops that’s been assembled Before Lady Trieu can finish reading, Jane Crawford cuts her off and tells her to get on with the killing because that’s what she’s been tasked to do. So Lady Trieu cuts with the pleasantries and obliterates the entire Cyclops’ leadership in a matter of seconds.
She then turns her attention back to Dr. Manhattan and her plans to become a god.
As Lady Trieu prepares her machine, the liquid Senator Keene has seeped into Dr. Manhattan’s cell so he takes that moment to then teleport Adrian Veidt, Laurie Blake and Looking Glass back to Karnak. Of course, Lady Trieu is irate but it’s a last act from a dying god and she just wants to get on with her plan.
When Adrian, Laurie and Looking Glass arrive at Karnak, he deduces that Dr. Manhattan must have sent them here because they would be able to stop Lady Trieu. Sure enough, Adrian devises a plan to freeze the cephalopods that he rains down on the Earth, which will then send them hurdling down to the surface like millions of bullets ready to shred anything and everything they touch.
Sadly, Adrian knows he’s already going to be too late to save Dr. Manhattan but at least now he can prevent Lady Trieu from becoming a god. He knows a raging narcissist who wants to become a god, shouldn’t become a god. That kind of power corrupts — he should know because Adrian has always thought he had humanity’s best intentions at heart but deep down, he’s well aware that he’s a megalomaniac just like his daughter.
Back in towns square, Lady Trieu begins to drain Dr. Manhattan and Angela shares a final few moments with him. He’s struggling to maintain a sense of time because of the cage where he’s been trapped but Dr. Manhattan tells her before fading away that he’s replaying their lives together in his head because they were the happiest of his life.
A moment later, Dr. Manhattan is no more.
Angela weeps for the loss of her husband and the love of her life but Lady Trieu isn’t finished because now she needs to transfer Dr. Manhattan’s powers back into herself.
Just as the power is about to turn on, a loud whizzing is heard overhead and a moment later a squid comes crashing through the cage that once held Dr. Manhattan. It shreds Lady Trieu’s hand and as she looks at the whole left in its wake, she then looks up to see the shower of icy squid crashing down upon Tulsa.
At the same time, Angela receives a call on a payphone nearby and it’s Agent Blake telling her take cover. She rushes into the nearby theater — the same one where her grandfather once watched the tales of Bass Reeves as a child — as she seeks refuge from the squid storm. Outside, Lady Trieu’s weapon is torn apart and comes crashing down upon her.
Her plans to become a god have been foiled and Lady Trieu is no more.
Inside the movie theater, Angela finds her grandfather watching over her children. Dr. Manhattan had teleported them there for safety with their grandfather waiting for them to arrive.
Will then tells his granddaughter that this entire plan had been orchestrated by Dr. Manhattan years earlier. When he initially came to visit Will in New York, he not only told him about Angel and that Judd Crawford was a member of Cyclops but he also explained how Lady Trieu was seeking to kill him and take his powers. Because Dr. Manhattan has no concept of time — everything he’s experiencing happens all at once — he knew his fate was sealed and there was no surviving this but with help from Will, he could ensure that Lady Trieu would not gain his powers while Angela and her children would be saved.
Angela then asks Will if he would like to come home with her to stay for a few days and he graciously accepts.
Back in Karnak, Adrian reveals to Laurie and Looking Glass that he has repaired the ARCHIE ship that Dan Dreiburg flew there in an attempt to stop him back in 1985. In the original “Watchmen” comic, Dan crash landed in Antarctica along with Rorschach as they sought to find Adrian and prevent him from unleashing his devastating plan upon the world. Obviously they failed but in the aftermath, Adrian dug up the ship and repaired it.
He’s now sending Laurie and Looking Glass back home again in it.
But before leaving, Laurie tells Adrian that he’s going to join them on this journey — after all he committed the greatest mass murder in human history. Adrian argues that undoing his attack on New York would potentially plunge the world into a nuclear war again but Laurie counters by pointing out that people have been saying the world was going to end for decades except it never does.
She’s going to take her chances on making Adrian pay for his crimes.
With the tape that Looking Glass took from the Seventh Kavalry with Adrian’s confession, they will be able to lock him up for the rest of his days. If this means President Redford has to go down, too, then so be it. Of course, Adrian tries to grandstand and explain why this is a foolish plan but before he can finish, Looking Glass knocks him out cold with a wrench and then remarks how he talks too much.
Laurie and Looking Glass then leave with Adrian Veidt in tow as their prisoner.
As for Angela, she arrives back at home with her family after revealing to her children that she was the vigilante known as Sister Night. After tucking in her children, she says goodnight to her grandfather and remarks how Dr. Manhattan really was a good man. He agrees but then again believes with that kind of power, Dr. Manhattan probably could have done a whole lot more for the world.
Will goes to bed and that’s when Angela spots a carton of broken eggs laying on the ground. Those are the same eggs that she knocked down when Dr. Manhattan was planning on making waffles after awaking from his Cal-induced slumber. Before his death, Dr. Manhattan passed along a message to his wife through her grandfather that said you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
At the time, she didn’t understand the message but now looking at the carton smashed eggs on the ground, she finally gets it.
During their initial meeting years earlier in that bar in Vietnam, Angela asked Dr. Manhattan if he could really create life and by extension then pass along his god-like powers to someone else. He remarks that is would be possible — he could just tuck them away inside an object like an egg and whoever consumed it would be granted his same powers.
Angela then looks at that carton on the floor and she picks it up to find one, perfectly placed egg that’s still unbroken.
Was this Dr. Manhattan’s final gift to her before dying? Remember Adrian said anybody who wants to become a god probably shouldn’t be given that power but Angela wasn’t asking for it. She is reluctantly receiving it as a gift from the love of her life.
So Angela goes outside by her pool — the same one Dr. Manhattan walked on after waking up when he told her that she had to see him walking on water. Again, at the time she didn’t know what that meant but now she does.
Angela cracks open the egg, swallows it down and then takes a step towards the pool. Just before her foot hits the water, the scene fades to black. We may never know for certain if she became a god or just fell to the bottom of the pool.
But as Dr. Manhattan tells Adrian Veidt at the close of the original “Watchmen” book, “nothing ever ends” and perhaps that’s the same message he’s passed along as with his own death.
Dr. Manhattan may be gone but his powers will live on forever through the woman he loved and a person truly worthy of being a god.
P.S. — The one question that was never answered was the identity of Lube Man — the peculiar masked vigilante who Angela chased into a sewer drain earlier this season. While it was never officially confirmed, it appears Lube Man was none other Agent Dale Petey — the superhero expert, who teamed with Laurie Blake when she first came to Tulsa. Read on the Peteypedia for more information.