When HBO first announced that Damon Lindelof would be spearheading a brand new take on Watchmen, many assumed this was part of the pay cable network’s plan to find its next Game of Thrones. Indeed, with the most popular TV series in HBO history ending and only Westworld coming close to its level of popularity and ratings, HBO was on the hunt for “the next big thing,” and Watchmen seemed to fit that bill.
But while the series has certainly earned immense critical acclaim and high ratings, fans have also noticed that the 9-episode first season is running through the story very quickly. Which of course leads many to wonder, will there be a Watchmen Season 2? Will the story wrap up and conclude at the end of Season 1? A second season is not a foregone conclusion as HBO hasn’t officially renewed the series, but it’s also becoming clear that this first season really is telling a complete story, and it’s possible the show could entirely resolve exist as a one-and-done.
Lindelof has gone on record talking about the potential for a Watchmen Season 2, and his quotes are interesting. During our interview with the Lost and Leftovers co-creator, he revealed that he and his writers really did put every good story idea they had into this first season:
“It’s something that I’m really thinking about for the first time in any real way, because this week that you and I are talking is really the first week that I’m kind of finished with the work… I’m more or less finished. But more importantly, now that the show is about to come out and I’m doing press for the show people are asking ‘Okay, so what’s Season 2 going to be?’ Because that’s the way that we’re programmed. That makes complete and utter sense for me. For me, I have to anticipate the question but I really wasn’t thinking about Season 2 as I was making Season 1. So it’s basically like every good idea that we have that’s worthwhile is going into this season, and I don’t want it to feel like we’ll pay that off later or ‘don’t worry about that one’. Every story we’re telling, let’s pack it into these nine episodes.”
Lindelof went on to note that he doesn’t have any ownership over Watchmen, and suggested just as with various comic books, someone else could come in and take over for Watchmen Season 2:
“So my feeling is, obviously Watchmen is not mine. That’s what’s beautiful about it. And someone else can take the reins in the way that, for comic book fans, of which I consider myself one first and foremost, the idea that Alan Moore himself came to Swamp Thing in the early 1980s and he basically completely and totally reinvented that character, but that character was not his creation. And someone like Brian K Vaughn could come to Swamp Thing later, or Jeff Lemire, and do their own spin on the character.
That’s what Watchmen should be. So I’m not entirely sure that I should do another season, because kind of what keeps it fresh is sort of a new vision. If I had the right idea, I’d certainly be open to it. But I haven’t had that idea yet.”
The showrunner cited the franchise-heavy nature of pop culture storytelling right now to note that the idea of making Watchmen Season 2 shouldn’t come as an assumption, and should only happen if it feels necessary:
“We should always start with the question ‘Should we? Should we do this?: Let’s not just do this because we can get a lot of people to buy a ticket or to tune in because they have a preexisting relationship with Watchmen or the Joker or Iron Man or Black Panther.’ We should be asking ourselves, ‘Should we tell this story?’ And then if your answer to that is yes, then the follow-up question should be ‘Why?’ And you should be able to answer that question too, and if you can’t answer it, don’t do it.”
When Lindelof appeared at NYCC earlier this year, ahead of the show’s debut, he said that the entire first season of Watchmen would end with resolution:
“One of the things that makes the original [comic] perfect is that those issues were well-thought-out, and it was clear that there was a beginning, middle, and end in mind,” Lindelof said. “They knew exactly what they were doing, and I knew that we had to do the same. We plotted out these nine episodes so that we knew exactly where we were headed so that every mystery and every question that we were asking would be resolved.” “We certainly didn’t want this season to end with a ‘bum bum bum’ and then wait until Season 2,” he added.
Speaking with LADbible, Lindelof underlined the fact that Season 1 doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but did reveal that he and the producers plan to reconvene after the holidays to decide if Watchmen Season 2 is worth doing:
“It was designed to be a complete story much in the vein of shows like Fargo or True Detective, with an understanding that there are many Watchmen stories to tell, but there’s not a big cliffhanger in the final episode… I think the majority of the mysteries—at least the ones that are central to the stories that we tell—are resolved by the end of the ninth episode.”
But Lindelof also revealed that he and the producers plan to reconvene after the holidays, so we may get a firm indication on whether Watchmen Season 2 is happening sometime in January:
“We’re all planning on taking a breath over the holidays and seeing where to go from there… If the idea is right, and if there is a compelling reason to do it, then I’d consider it. I haven’t had that idea yet.”
In a separate interview with Paste, Lindelof suggested the show could go on without him, and offered up a fantastic candidate to take over the reins:
“It’s also not my story, right? I appropriated it. And so the idea that someone else could come along and do another season of Watchmen, that’s really exciting to me too. I would watch the fuck out of that. These nine episodes are sort of everything that I have to say at this point about Watchmen, and then we’ll kind of go from there.”
“Ryan Murphy’s Watchmen?” I pitched.
“Oh, my God. Yeah. Sign me up,” he said, but also had his own idea: “Ryan Coogler’s Watchmen.”
But there is at least one person involved with Watchmen who seems to think there’s good reason to continue on: director and executive producer Nicole Kassell, who helmed Episode 1 and Episode 8. During our interview with the filmmaker, she noted that the season finale does leave you hungry for more:
“Honestly, this was a massive undertaking, and we’re in it. It’s just being born, right now. We’re going to be savor the birth first, before it goes to college. I don’t know what the analogy is here. Right now, let us rest and recover and recuperate, and celebrate a really massive undertaking and achievement. I will say that this season will leave you wanting more, with a very exciting, ‘Oh, my God!’”
So will there be a Watchmen Season 2? The answer, right now at least, is complicated. Season 1 was designed to be a complete story, but that doesn’t mean Lindelof and Co. won’t return. Another possibility is Lindelof hands the story off to someone else, and perhaps Watchmen Season 2 moves the action to a different city with different new characters who aren’t Angela or Wade. Or maybe Watchmen will just exist as this masterful, nine-episode thing—although I have to imagine HBO is putting a lot of pressure on Lindelof to return given how successful the show has been.
Maybe we’ll have more clarity after this Sunday’s finale. For now, while I certainly hope Lindelof returns and makes more Watchmen, I’m grateful for and thrilled with the nine episodes we’ve gotten so far, which I will be happy to watch over and over again.