Watchmen’s Lindelof Brought Us Together To Heal
***This post consists of spoilers
We must admit that we claimed HBO’s Watchmen as the best tv show of 2019, before the finale. We determined it after watching “This Extraordinary Being,” the climactic episode where we learn the true origins of Hooded Justice. Then “An Almost Religious Awe” and “A God Walks Into A Bar” sealed it for us. Then came the finale, “See How They Fly,” where everything and everyone in every episode prior came together. Not an easy task for any series. There are a ton of recaps out there that we suggest reading. The Ringer does an excellent job. So does The New York Times. For those still curious about “Lube Man,” AV Club has solved it for you.
There aren’t too many unanswered questions left, and it doesn’t look like there will be an additional season. Honestly, we don’t think there should be, despite how much more of the show we want. Watchmen ends with us wondering if Doctor Manhattan transfers his powers to Angela (Regina King) via the egg he left for her. That might be the only big cliff hanger.
Meanwhile, we are still left living in our current world where race, policing, white nationalism is still present. Throughout its season, Watchmen confronted America’s archives heel: race. Both the main protagonist, Angela, and Doctor Manhattan who assumes a human body, are black. Damon Lindelof knew what he was doing. As the Washington Post notes, “Watchmen” ended like it began: the boldest, blackest superhero story ever told on-screen.” It was shown on our screens (in our homes) at a time when we, our country, needed it most.
When asked about Dr. Manhattan’s powers, Lindelof told Collider that there was no consensus in the writers’ room on what Doctor Manhattan’s powers are. Lindelof told Collider that Dr. Manhattan’s ultimate “kryptonite” the 10-years he took on a human body was that he was a passive, vulnerable human:
“His primary limitation and vulnerability are who he is as a human. Jon Osterman. And, Jon Osterman’s fundamental weakness, for lack of a better word, or vulnerability, at least for someone who has superpowers, is that he’s a fairly passive guy. He’s not a guy who wanted to change the world. He’s just a guy who kind of wanted to exist in it. So, when you take a guy like that, and you give him more power than anyone has ever had, he’s going to be limited by that passivity. And he seemed to be more interested in falling in love than he did in saving the world. If you look at the original text and our Watchmen, I feel like both of those ideas are consistent.”
During the final few moments of Watchmen,Will Reeves, Angela’s grandfather, who started this whole story off the night of the very real Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, said, “you can’t heal under a mask, Angela. Wounds need air.” What motivated Will Reeves, Hooded Justice, according to him, was not anger, but rather fear. We so often hear that people hold certain beliefs or vote a certain way out of fear. Lindelof was telling us that it is okay, but we shouldn’t be hiding behind a mask if we do not want to be scared anymore. The mask needs to come off for us to move forward.
One scene later, Reeves said to Angela — before she consumes the egg — about Doctor Manhattan “considering what he could do, he could’ve done more.” Lindloff can be saying here that even a God with infinite superpowers, can’t save us all; it is on us to remove our masks, work together, and start to heal. He also be giving Angela the motivation she needs to assume Doctor Manhattan’s powers? Who knows?
As Washington Post’s David Betancourt notes, “showrunner Damon Lindelof was aware of his whiteness and consequently let his black writers, producers, directors and actors tell a story that spoke from the heart of the black experience in America. He was willing and able to yield to those who knew better, stepping aside to let black people make black greatness when certain moments called for such awareness and understanding.”
In the final episode, Lindelof and his writers room were able to do what many of us wish we would, kill off all the White Supremacist, decimate a couple of egotistical super villains, and help us take our masks off to start to heal. It’s a bonus to be able to pass superpowers off to Angela, who moments earlier was called a “Black Bitch” by a U.S. Senator. But maybe, just maybe, that egg has no power. And instead of being able to walk on water, Angela falls into the pool. And instead the real “next Doctor Manhattan” in our current world is the guy who brought us together by stepping aside, when needed, to let others help us heal: Damon Lindelof.