HBO's Watchmen had a mind-blowing premiere that created a ton of questions begging for answers. Executive produced and written by Damon Lindelof, Watchmen continues the story of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic graphic novel. Relocating the setting to 2019 Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lindelof's series honors Moore and Gibbons work as canon but it expands the universe, introduces several intriguing new characters, and plays with Watchmen's core themes and conflicts in fascinating ways.
Anchoring the series in a real-life incident of racial injustice in early 20th-century Tulsa, Watchmen explores what has become of America thirty years after Adrian Veidt AKA Ozymandias staged a hoax and teleported a giant squid into New York City, which prevented World War III. In Watchmen's present-day Tulsa, the police wear masks and have taken on costumed identities, including Detective Angela Abar (Regina King), who goes by the superhero codename Sister Night. The Tulsa P.D., led by Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson), find themselves at war with the Seventh Kavalry, a white supremacist group that models themselves after the vigilante Rorschach. Further, the world still lives in the shadow of Doctor Manhattan, who resides on Mars, while a mysterious man played by Jeremy Irons, who lives a bizarre lifestyle far removed from Oklahoma, could be Adrian Veidt.
Watchmen's premiere episode, "It's Summer And We're Running Out Of Ice", ends with the gruesome murder of Chief Crawford, just like the opening chapter of the graphic novel did by kicking off with the murder of Edward Blake AKA The Comedian. Because Lindelof's series is so complex and immersive from the get-go, there are tons of intriguing threads the series leaves dangling for future episodes to resolve. Here are our biggest questions about Watchmen's premiere.
14. What Happened To The Baby Will Reeves Saved?
The main story of Watchmen is based on the fallout of a real-life event: the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. One of the only survivors of the carnage where white people attacked the African American residents of the prosperous Greenville district of Tulsa - then known as "Black Wall Street" - was a young boy named Will Reeve. After the carriage he was escaping town in was bombed, Will awoke in a field and found a baby crying. Will then picked the baby up and carried it away, but where to? Will's fate was revealed by the end of the pilot but what happened to the infant?
13. What Was The White Night?
In Tulsa, the police department wear masks and conceal their identities. This is in response to an event that took place in 2016 they call the White Night. As Angela told a classroom of kids, she was one of the cops who was attacked by the Seventh Kavalry, who broke into the homes and killed an untold number of police officers. Angela was among the survivors and she publicly retired from the Force; however, in reality, the remaining cops were rallied by Chief Judd Crawford and took on masked identities.
Since the White Night, there had been three years of peace where the police thought the Seventh Kavalry were "hibernating" but that ended when one of the 7K members shot and killed Officer Sutton. There are likely even more to be revealed about the White Night now that the white supremacists who model themselves after Rorschach declared war on the police and are embarking on a mysterious new mission.
12. What Were President Robert Redford's "Redfordations"?
In Watchmen's universe, Robert Redford became President of the United States after Richard Nixon and he remains president in 2019 (because the 22nd Amendment was rescinded after Doctor Manhattan won the Vietnam War for America and Nixon). During his presidency, Redford signed legislation that has been derisively referred to as "Redfordations". Among them was the Victims Against Racial Violence Act, which grants financial reparations to people who have been victimized by racial injustice - including the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Because Redford is a liberal, the Redfordations are despised in many areas of the country and especially by many white people in Tulsa, where the Seventh Kavalry operates. It's also worth watching to find out whether Redford appears in Watchmen as himself.
11. Was John F. Kennedy's Presidency Redacted?
There are lots of ways the Watchmen universe is different from the real world, such as they only have 38 Presidents compared to our 45 - and it's possible John F. Kennedy's presidency was somehow redacted. In the Watchmen premiere, when Judd and his wife Jane (Frances Fisher) are having dinner at Angela's home, her adopted children Rosie and Emma make a game of naming all of the presidents. They named Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Redford - skipping over JFK entirely. Not only did no one correct them, but they were also praised for getting it right.
Was President John F. Kennedy wiped from history in Watchmen's America? We know from the graphic novel that JFK was President and Doctor Manhattan failed to prevent his assassination on November 22, 1963. Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie altered history by revealing that it was the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who shot and killed JFK. It's possible Kennedy's Presidency is no longer taught in schools and has been redacted, but if so, why?
10. Why Is Doctor Manhattan Back On Mars?
Doctor Manhattan is living on Mars and there's even footage of him creating and destroying structures on the red planet - but why is he back on Mars? In the Watchmen graphic novel, after Manhattan, Silk Spectre, and Nite-Owl agreed to keep the secret of Adrian Veidt's hoax, the blue demigod announced that he was leaving our galaxy "for a less complicated one". He also alluded to his desire to create life of his own. Granted, that was 30 years ago so Doctor Manhattan seemingly returned to our solar system at some point, but for what reason?
One of the most bizarre happenings in Watchmen is that tiny squid periodically rain down from the sky. It seems to be a regular enough occurrence that it's merely treated as an inconvenience; there's a warning siren and then people just pull over until the squidfall stops and then clean off their cars later on. But why does it rain squid and does it happen everywhere, not just in Oklahoma? The squidfalls must be tied to the giant squid that Adrian Veidt teleported into Manhattan on 11/2/85, which killed 3 million people with a psychic wave but put a stop to the escalating World War III. While the giant squid was a hoax, people believed it and thus have spent the last 30 years thinking there is alien squid from another dimension. But where do the squid come from and who or what is causing the squid rain?
8. What Is That Giant Blue Tower In Tulsa?
There's a mysterious glowing blue tower in Tulsa, but what is it? The structure is seen in the background when the Tulsa P.D. begin their raid on the cattle ranch where members of the Seventh Kavalry are holed up. The tower almost resembles Avengers Tower in the MCU but it emits a blue hue that's reminiscent of Doctor Manhattan. Whatever this tower is, it is reflective of how technology has progressed in the Watchmen universe. Among the differences from our world is that fossil fuels have been eliminated and electric cars are everywhere but there are no smartphones, Internet, social media, or personal computers. But there is clearly advanced technology and the blue tower seems to be proof of that - but is it something sinister?
7. How Does The Tulsa Police Have Nite-Owl's Owlship?
One of the biggest shocks in the Watchmen premiere is that the Tulsa Police Department has an Owlship, but how is this possible? The cops unleashed the Owlship when the Seventh Kavalry tried to flee in an airplane; piloted by Pirate Jenny (Jessica Camacho) with Chief Crawford, they used the Owlship's flamethrower to shoot the 7K plane down before they crashed to the ground.
The Owlship is the greatest invention of Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite-Owl. The last time it was seen was in Antarctica on 11/2/85 when Nite-Owl and Rorschach confronted Adrian Veidt at his secret fortress, Karnak. We know afterward that Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre, took on new identities but we never found out what became of Dan's prized Owlship, which he named Archimedes. How did the Tulsa P.D. acquire the Owlship and, if it's not the original vessel (which would be over 40 years old in 2019), how do they have their own version of it?
6. Why Were The Seventh Kavalry Collecting Watch Batteries?
A clue to the Seventh Kavarly's sinister mission was how at the cattle ranch, they were collecting and stockpiling hundreds of batteries from clocks and watches. Later, Angela told Judd that the batteries were made of synthetic lithium, which is banned in Watchmen's world because they made people sick. This could be an allusion to a key plot point from the Watchmen graphic novel: Adrian Veidt gave several of Doctor Manhattan's loved ones cancer and framed the super being as the cause to coerce him into leaving the Earth. Are the Seventh Kavalry up to something similar and planning to use synthetic lithium to spread cancer?
5. Is Jeremy Irons Playing Adrian Veidt?
A billion-dollar question in Watchmen: Is Jeremy Irons playing Adrian Veidt? There was a newspaper headline that Veidt was "declared dead" so that's what the public is aware of in regards to the man once known as Ozymandias, the World's Smartest Man, but who, then, is Jeremy Irons' character? What we know for sure is Irons eccentric recluse lives as the lord of a castle in what looks like the United Kingdom, he is adored by his servants, and he's celebrating some sort of anniversary.
Although the Watchmen premiere creates an aura of mystery around Jeremy Irons' character, it's already been confirmed that he is playing Adrian Veidt, who is now thirty years older. As for what the billionaire superhero-turned-villain is doing in his castle, why the world thinks he's dead, and what became of his multinational corporation, future episodes of Watchmen are bound to reveal the details.
4. What's Going On With Jeremy Irons' Servants?
Even more bizarre than Jeremy Irons' character are his servants, the butler Mr. Phillips (Tom Mison) and his maid Ms. Crookshanks (Sara Vickers). There's something extremely... off... about them. Crookshanks happily massages her naked master's thighs while Phillips proudly offers to dress him and then he curiously offers a horseshoe instead of a knife to cut a cake.
Phillips and Crookshanks don't behave quite human, which leaves open the possibility that they are some kind of genetically engineered clones. In the Watchmen graphic novel, Adrian Veidt possessed gene splicing and cloning technology; he created Bubastis, a giant lynx who was his prized pet. It's possible Veidt has moved onto human cloning in the last thirty years and Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks are the (imperfect) result.
3. Is The Watchmaker's Son Play About Doctor Manhattan?
The reason Jeremy Irons/Adrian Veidt was busily typing naked is that he was writing a play, which he described as a tragedy in five acts. The title is "The Watchmaker's Son", which seems to refer to the origin of Doctor Manhattan. Before he was turned into a blue demigod, Doctor Manhattan was nuclear physicist Dr. Jon Osterman, who was trapped in an intrinsic field generator and transformed into a superpowered being. Osterman was the son of a watchmaker and this ties into the stopwatch Mr. Phillips gifted his master for his anniversary. If the play really is about Doctor Manhattan, what is the reason for Irons/Veidt retelling the story of his creation?
2. Is The Old Man In The Wheelchair Really Will Reeves?
Watchmen's premiere episode ends with the shocking revelation that the old man in the wheelchair who waited outside Angela's bakery is the adult Will Reeves (Louis Gossett, Jr.). The elderly man carries the same piece of paper that the young Will was given by his parents during the Tulsa Massacre, urging whoever finds Will to "WATCH OVER THIS BOY". Watchmen's cast listings confirm that Gossett, Jr. is indeed playing the old Will Reeves but how can he still be alive? Since the Tulsa Massacre happened in 1921, that means Will Reeves must be over a hundred years old! (And somehow he's been carrying that piece of paper for 98 years?)
1. How Could Old Will Reeves Have Hanged Judd By Himself?
The murder of Chief Judd Crawford begs all kinds of questions but the main one is: How could Will Reeves have hanged Judd all by himself? While there's a clue in Reeves' interaction with Angela outside her bakery when he asked her if she thinks he can lift 200 pounds (Angela sarcastically agreed he could), it makes no sense that this infirm, wheelchair-bound man killed the Chief of Police and hanged him. But why was Judd murdered? There has to be some other explanation and Will Reeves may be working with someone else, but if Will somehow really hanged Judd all by his lonesome, this is Watchmen, after all, and stranger things have happened.