(Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 16, 2019, and has been republished now that the entire series is available to watch for free on HBO.com.)
HBO’s Watchmen series has swiftly become one of television’s hottest series, and the show based on the groundbreaking comic book series came to an end in December 2019 with its ninth and final episode.
Over the course of the season, the series was filled with call-outs to its source material and clues about where the story is headed, with each episode offering even more Easter Eggs and mysteries for fans to ponder. With the series delivering some major revelations in its season finale, here’s everything to know about episode 9 of Watchmen.
(Note: Plot details from the most recent episode of Watchmen will be discussed below, so make sure you’re caught up with the series to avoid spoilers. You can also go back and read our recaps of Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7, and Episode 8.)
The final episode of Watchmen covered a lot of ground, both geographically and chronologically, and yet it somehow still managed to stick the landing, tying up nearly every loose end in the season so far and ending with some closure for just about everyone. Get comfortable, Watchmen fans, because this is going to be a long recap.
A flashback to 1985 reveals that Lady Trieu’s mother was one of the Vietnamese refugees assisting Adrian Veidt (a.k.a. Ozymandias) in his arctic base when he teleported a giant squid creature into the middle of Manhattan, killing more than 3 million people but averting nuclear armageddon. She uses a vial of Veidt’s semen (sample #2346, to be exact) to impregnate herself, eventually giving birth to the character we know as Lady Trieu — Veidt’s biological daughter, who has clearly inherited both his genius and his narcissism.
Snubbed by Veidt when she finally made her identity known two decades later, Trieu reveals her plan to capture Dr. Manhattan and steal his power, ostensibly to give her the ability to save the world as she deems necessary.
We then learn that Veidt timed his initial escape from his sanctuary/prison on Europa to coincide with the arrival of a satellite Trieu sent out five years earlier to find evidence of Dr. Manhattan’s presence there. The message he wrote with dead clones’ bodies (“Save Me Daughter”) gets through, and she brings him back to Earth in a rocket, where he’s quickly caught up with her plan and the events transpiring in Tulsa.
Trieu reveals that the Millennium Clock is a device required to siphon Manhattan’s power and transfer it to her, and the complicated plan she’s spent the last few decades developing enters its final stage.
Meanwhile, Senator Joe Keene Jr. and the white supremacists of the 7th Kavalry enact their own scheme to get Manhattan’s power, only to discover that they’ve been manipulated by Trieu all along. Keene meets a gruesome end, and the rest of the 7th Kavalry soon follows, leaving the few remaining characters in the story in a tense standoff with Trieu as she begins draining Manhattan’s power.
Fortunately (but not for him), Dr. Manhattan manages to teleport Veidt, Wade “Looking Glass” Tillman, and Laurie Blake to Veidt’s arctic base before being disintegrated, and Veidt weaponizes the falling squid he’s been controlling. He targets Tulsa — and Trieu — with a massive shower of deadly, frozen cephalopods. The plan works, Trieu is defeated (and killed), and Angela Abar reunites with her long-lost grandfather, Will Reeves.
However, after recalling one of her early conversations with Manhattan, Abar suspects that he might have found a way to transfer his abilities to her, and she hesitantly attempts to walk on the water in her pool. The screen goes black just as her foot is about to touch the surface of the water.
It’s no secret that Adrian Veidt’s ego is as great as (if not greater than) his intellect, and Lady Trieu’s mother is clearly aware of this fact when she accesses his computer in the show’s flashback sequence. She uses the password “Ramesses II” to open the door to his weird storage vault, which isn’t exactly a difficult password, given that the famous pharaoh of Egypt also went by another name: Ozymandias.
It’s worth noting that the quote she utters before impregnating herself offers an early clue about the result of her efforts. The 3rd-century Vietnamese warrior Lady Trieu was said to have spoken those same words while battling the forces of the Chinese state of Eastern Wu.
While making his escape from Europa, Adrian Veidt is shot by the Gamekeeper, only to open his palm and reveal that he caught the bullet. This might seem far-fetched (which it shouldn’t, given everything else we’ve seen over the last nine episodes), but it’s actually a call-back to the original Watchmen comic.
In that original story, Veidt suggests at several points that the peak level of human conditioning to which he has trained his body and mind allows him to do amazing things — such as catching a bullet, for example. No one believes him, of course, until Laurie Juspeczyk (later Laurie Blake) shoots him and he survives by catching the bullet. Decades later, he defeats the Gamekeeper using the same superhuman skill. Apparently, Veidt hasn’t lost his touch in his old age.
When Joe Keene Jr. is preparing to gain Dr. Manhattan’s power, he strips down to a set of bizarrely shaped briefs that Laurie Blake ridicules. They might look silly on him, but they should be familiar to fans of the Watchmen comic. The strange briefs are part of the superhero suit Dr. Manhattan wears for a while in the Watchmen comic before ultimately deciding he’s evolved beyond the need for human modesty.
In our recap of episode 8, we listed some of the questions that remained unanswered after the penultimate episode of Watchmen. Fortunately, most – if not all — of those questions were answered in the show’s final episode. We finally learned the role Lady Trieu and the Millennium Clock had to play in the events of the series, and we discovered what happened to Wade Tillman and Laurie Blake.
We also learned why there were so many egg references throughout the series. Along with Manhattan telling Will Reeves that sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, the eggs also foreshadowed the final scene of Angela questioning whether the lone egg Manhattan left behind in her kitchen could be the means for creating a new superhuman.
That the final episode is titled “See How They Fly” only adds to the egg theme, as the famous Beatles song featuring that verse, I Am The Walrus, also includes the line, “I am the Eggman.”
While there are certainly some lingering questions, the biggest mystery Watchmen has left us with just might be this: Is the story really over?
Remember: It was Dr. Manhattan who once told Adrian Veidt, “Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”
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