The Mystery of Ozymandias in HBO's "Watchmen"

What exactly is going on here?

HBO

Episode three of HBO's Watchmen, "She Was Killed by Space Junk," premiered on Sunday and continued the show's general trend of extending the graphic novel's alternate history into the modern era, slowly adding loose connective threads to the original text.

Many viewers have been turned off by the slow pace, the relative lack of direct references to Alan Moore's work, and the show's heightened politics (as opposed to the graphic novel, wherein Nixon was president forever, a literal God fought for America's empire, and a fascist maniac ranted about washing the streets clean…). Others will find the show's moody, beautifully-shot dystopia to be a much more fitting tribute to Moore's work than Zach Snyder could ever hope to give it. And while the connections to the original story are slow to form, they are beginning to raise intriguing, spoiler-heavy questions (better stop here if you haven't watched yet)—how did Angela's wheelchair-bound grandfather get Judd Crawford up in that tree? What were Crawford's ties to the Seventh Kavalry? What's Doctor Manhattan up to? And what the hell is going on with the giant sky-magnet? But no question is more pressing than this: Where is Adrian Veidt being imprisoned?


HBO


In this episode we're introduced to FBI agent Laurie Blake, former Silk Spectre and current member of the Anti-Vigilante task force, as well as her unwanted sidekick known as Agent Petey. Petey is a useful stand-in for the viewer—in that he is generally detested by those around him, and he has an obsession with the familiar events of the novel, which allows him to fill in some of the blanks for us while fleshing out the intrigue of others. He cues us into a question of Veidt's whereabouts within the show's narrative, introducing the fact that he has been missing for long enough to be declared dead, as well as the rumors that persist about plastic surgery and a new identity in South America.


Laurie BlakeHBO


This only serves to add to the mystery of Jeremy Iron's "Lord of the Manor" character—finally confirmed to be Veidt in this episode—whose interludes have grown stranger with each episode. Here's what we know: He is isolated in a large and lavish estate in an undefined location. He has an endless supply of faithful and lobotomized clone-servants to do his ruthless bidding without emotion or fear of death. He has no outside technology, but can build some impressive stuff with the help of his clones. He writes plays while naked. His grounds are home to American Bison but also to tomato trees, so that probably doesn't tell us much. He wants to be Ozymandias again. And he is policed by a man known as "the game warden," who has a gun, wears a mask, flies a jolly roger, and in a letter, refers to the terms of Veidt's "captivity."

Initial thoughts suggested time travel or a Pablo Escobar-style resort prison, but the most telling bit of info comes from the game warden's response to Veidt's latest experiment. Veidt has begun fashioning a space suit from metal armor and leather—tanned clone-skin?—and launching clones into space with a catapult. When the leather fails and Adrian starts hunting buffalo for their "thicker skin," the game warden responds as though this is an escape attempt…


HBO


Okay, so that pretty much narrows the possibilities to two real contenders. Veidt is either in some kind of dimensional bubble-prison that he is trying to escape, or he is in space, possibly on Mars, almost certainly imprisoned by Doctor Manhattan. I also have little doubt that we will find out soon that the game warden is actually another clone, but my fan theories are always wrong, and considering Damon Lindelof's role in the show…there's a decent chance that none of Watchmen's intriguing mysteries will ever be resolved. Here's hoping he and I will both defy history.

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