(Oh yeah, there’s going to be spoilers here.)
It feels ironic that on the day that news comes of CBS All Access renewing Star Trek: Picard for a second season a month before the show even premiers its first season on the streaming service I find myself contemplating the possibility of there not being a second season for HBO’s just concluded Watchmen series.
Oddly enough, in the days leading up to the last night’s supposedly final episode of the series, I was leaning hard towards the probability that it would not be as final as series creator Damon Lindelof had stated it would be. After all, this is a guy who would want to keep as many surprises about the story as secret as long as he could. And revealing that HBO was looking at the show as something that could run for many seasons would certainly setup the audience for expecting and perhaps anticipating how things would unfold in that last hour.
But surprisingly, Lindelof played fair with viewers as the finale wrapped up the storytelling in such a spectacular way. The show dovetailed its seemingly disparate white supremacists, Doctor Manhattan and Adrian Veidt storylines in a satisfying way. It also paid off numerous thematical and visual motifs – from the Dreamland Theater to eggs – in ways that all felt organic and never forced. All of the storytelling elements across the show’s nine hours including the way it would slide in-between panels of the original graphic novel to further bolster the show’s narrative were revealed to be meshed together in a way that recalls the precision inner workings of one of the pocket watches assembled by Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman’s watchmaker father.
To be sure, there are some lingering questions. Does the Seventh Kavalry’s plans become knowledge and if so, what are the ramifications from that? Will the world find out about Veidt’s involvement in its saving, either this time, the last time he did it or both? Does Angela wind up wet or not as she takes that step we see in the episode’s final moment?
The answers to those questions though, don’t really matter.
As a show, Watchmen achieved what it set out to do. It looked at the multi-generational history of race in America and how it has impacted today’s sociopolitical zeitgeist through the lens of its alternate history setting. It got viewers talking and thinking about the subject of race in perhaps ways that they hadn’t before. And brought the often neglected events of the race massacre in Tulsa into the national conversation like it had never been before.
It was a story that showed that even if the United States got a progressive president in the mold of its President Robert Redford – yes, that Robert Redford – all the progressive programs put into place still wouldn’t erase the deep rooted underbelly of racism that runs through this country. A cautionary tale filtered through a world of costumed vigilantes and mad saviors armed with super science.
The nine hours of HBO’s Watchmen told the story of a women affected by all of these things. How a being with god-like powers set off a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the death of her parents and how she would ultimately find love with that very same being. It told the tale of the world’s smartest man, frustrated that he can’t claim any accolades for how he believes he saved the world, because public knowledge of that would just put the world back on the brink of destruction.
And although many of these characters still continued after the final episode’s end credits began to run, their stories here have reached a specific conclusion.
Then again, as Doctor Manhattan tells Veidt in the last issue of the original comic, and which HBO co-opted for the show’s advertising campaign, nothing ever ends. And in this age of franchises and shared universes and maximized intellectual property exploitation, another season of Watchmen at some point seems somewhat near a certainty.
Though if they do go forward, let’s hope that HBO has learned the lessons from season two of True Detective and allow Lindelof or whomever takes the helm all the time they need to make sure it is a worthy successor to the tale we watched unfold over the past two months.
While I, and I suppose numerous other viewers, would certainly love to further explore the world that Lindelof extrapolated from Moore and Gibbon’s original graphic novel, If HBO allows this season to stand as a single, finite piece of storytelling, I will be glad that we at least got this much to experience.