‘Watchmen’ Guide, Week 9: Every Question We Have After “See How They Fly”

     December 16, 2019

It’s July, 2010. I’ve just seen the cut-to-credits ending of Christopher Nolan‘s Inception. The guy sitting next to me yells “oh fuck off” and I laugh along with him. It’s thrilling in the moment, but I’ll later wonder if it amounts to anything more than a gimmick and whether it’s ever effective to end a story on such a blatantly ambiguous troll.

It’s December, 2028. Wow, I have lost so much goddamn hair. Guy Fieri is President of the United States.


Image via HBO

It’s May, 2018. Damon Lindelof has announced a Watchmen TV series with an extremely earnest open letter in the style of Doctor Manhattan’s time-speak. It’s December, 2019, and I’m pretty much stealing the bit for the intro to a Watchmen recap. I feel no shame. It’s July 24, 2019, and Lindelof’s quotes about HBO’s Watchmen as a rebellion against his surrogate father figure Alan Moore cause me to roll my eyes and do a jerk-off motion so hard it breaks the sound barrier. I’m worried this show might be terrible.

It’s December, 2019. Again. (Or, always. Or…whatever.) I’ve just finished the Watchmen finale, an audacious, ambitious, sloppy, and beautiful ending to arguably the greatest superhero show to grace the small screen. Directed by Frederick E. O. Toye and co-written by Lindelof and Nick Cuse, “See How They Fly” wraps up a vast, insidious conspiracy with perhaps too tidy a bow, does Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) dirty by strapping her to a chair for 70% of its runtime, and includes maybe one or two too many shocking reveals. Hong Chau‘s ultra-aggressive pronunciation of the word “cum” knocked me out of a chair, but did Lady Trieu really need to be Adrian Veidt’s (Jeremy Irons) daughter?

But it is also, occasionally, just absolutely, heartstoppingly gorgeous. As frozen squid-monsters rain down over Tulsa, Oklahoma, the world’s most powerful man doesn’t want die alone, because he’s been living that death from the moment he was born again. Angela Abar (Regina King) boldly eats an egg raw and possibly earns the powers of a god for her troubles, but we’ll never know for sure because those credits crashed in as her foot touched water. And I loved it. I love that bold, ballsy ending, which hits with the same thudding effectiveness as that controversial The Sopranos finale. In both cases, it’s my favorite approach to TV storytelling; we were afforded a backseat view of these characters’ wild lives for nine episodes, and now our time is up. But their story goes on after the cut-to-credits. As you might have heard, nothing ever ends…

I definitely have a few questions. You almost certainly do, too. One last time, let’s get into it: