This past week’s Watchmen, “A God Walks into Abar”, was another bold departure for the series. Usually, once-per-episode, we take a brief diversion to see what Adrien Veidt (Jeremy Irons) is up to. One year passes every time we see him, and what appeared to be a comfortable retirement is clearly now his imprisonment as he works to escape. When we last left him, he had been found guilty of trying to escape. But in “A God Walks into Abar”, all we see of Veidt is when he’s visited by Doctor Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Damon Lindelof and his team of writers wisely made sure that all the narrative momentum in this past week’s episode was behind Angela and Jon/Cal, so there was really no place for our Veidt diversion…except after the credits.
If you stuck around after the credits, we now saw Veidt, no longer satisfied with being worshipped, refusing the pleas of the manor’s inhabitants to stay. He refuses, and every time he refuses, he gets a tomato in the face. He later goes to his prison cell and sits and reads. When he’s visited by the Game Warden, who challenges Veidt by asking what’s wrong this utopia. “Heaven doesn’t need me,” bemoans Veidt. He’s left with his anniversary cake, and it turns out the cake has a horseshoe inside. Veidt gleefully takes it and begins using the horseshoe to dig frantically.
Plotwise, it’s an important scene because it shows that Veidt’s story isn’t over (and I honestly don’t know how they would wrap it up in Sunday’s season finale unless the clones decide to just kill their master), but also it parallels nicely with a story about limitations. Doctor Manhattan has unlimited power, but he chooses to fall in love even if it means he’ll be obliterated. Veidt is the smartest man in the world, but it doesn’t matter because he’s too foolish to realize that a life freed from struggle is no life at all.
Veidt, for all his scheming and power, will always be empty. He “saved” the world and in 2009 he’s upset that he’s not getting the love and adulation he feels he deserves. He moves to a perfect world where he’ll get nonstop love and adulation, and he can’t stand it. This is the human condition, and it’s a nice little parable. The big question is how (if at all) will it tie back into Angela’s story?
The season finale of Watchmen airs on Sunday on HBO at 9pm EST. Click here for more questions about “A God Walks into Abar.”