5 HBO's Watchmen Theories From Season 1, Episode 4
Caution: Spoilers ahead.
The most explicit reveal of HBO's Watchmen's fourth episode is nightmare fuel: We now know that Veidt/Ozymandias gets new servants by harvesting them as fetuses in a lake, and then aging them up via a steampunk machine nearby. It isn't long before the newest Phillips and Crookshanks are cleaning up the murdered bodies of their predecessors, and launching them via catapult into the atmosphere. It's darkly amusing to be sure, but also terrifying and baffling.
We also meet Ozymandias successor Lady Trieu, a trillionaire who bought out Veidt's company, and seems to be continuing her predecessor's aspirations--though her ultimate goal remains unknown.
Here are 5 new theories based on Season 1, Episode 4 of HBO's Watchmen: "If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own."
1. Jumbled Timeline
We could be in for a Westworld-type twist in Watchmen--namely, that the events are not concurrently or even sequentially ordered.
First the obvious: each of Veidt's cakes signifies the passage of a year (perhaps the anniversary of when he was first imprisoned?), and Veidt has been captive for four years--much longer than the amount of time that has passed on Earth since the death of Sheriff Crawford.
In a separate scene, we see Lady Trieu witness the crash of a UFO on the property she just bought. One online theory is that Veidt, who engineered his escape from his outer space prison, is now the "property" of his successor.
We don't know when this crash landing scene took place either; it also could have happened years before the current timeline. And that brings us to another interesting theory…
2. Carbonite Veidt?
When Lady Trieu tours Angela and Laurie around her Vietnam vivarium, there's a statue of Adrian Veidt as its centerpiece. He's dressed in his superhero costume, but notably, he doesn't look young; he looks old. In fact, he looks the same age that he does in his scenes during these episodes.
Lady Trieu explains it away by saying that her culture values the elderly. But some Redditors have theorized that the golden statue is actually Veidt himself, frozen in some sort of Star Wars-esque, carbonite state. If Veidt crash-landed on Earth in the opening scene, then Lady Trieu would be wise not to trust him, no matter how much she idolized him. What better way to keep an eye on him than to immobilize him in the center of her lair?
3. Clones of Clones of Clones
Lady Trieu has a daughter, and that daughter has nightmares of a burning village. The imagery she discusses is evocative of civilian casualties during the Vietnam War, and particularly of wartime atrocities like the My Lai Massacre, in which U.S. soldiers raped and killed over 500 men, women, and children.
Will suggests that Lady Trieu is treating her daughter Bian to the same "passive-aggressive exposition" to which he's trying to expose Angela (Will wants Angela to take the mysterious pills, while Bian is hooked up to an IV while sleeping). One possibility is that Lady Trieu's daughter is experiencing events from the Vietnam War, either memories lived by her mother (Lady Trieu) or her grandmother (who Lady Trieu references in the vivarium scene). This would underline one of the ongoing themes of the show--that historical traumas, like the Tulsa massacre that opened the series, follow people for generations.
Lady Trieu and her daughter could also be clones of the ancestor who originally underwent the trauma. Trieu would certainly have the technological means to do so; she genetically engineered an infant at the beginning of the episode. And this would also emphasize the idea of rediscovering one's past, in a more literal sense.
4. America's Karma
Michael Walsh at Nerdist wrote an excellent analysis of Will and Lady Trieu's motives, and the event they say will happen in three days' time. Walsh theorizes that whatever it is, it'll be some sort of revenge upon America. That's what both Trieu and Will share in common--trauma and suffering at the hands of American occupation and prejudice. If they have it in their heads that the only way to have lasting world peace is to eliminate the US as a global power, we could be in for some horrible outcomes by the end of this season.
5. Who is Doctor Manhattan?
And lastly, here's a real left-field theory from Reddit: what if Cal, Angela's husband, is Doctor Manhattan in disguise? Laurie, who dated Manhattan and has a big, blue vibrator, finds Cal to be "f***ing hot." He seems reserved and quiet in the way Manhattan was. He appeared to be clock-watching on the eve of the White Night, as if he knew something bad would happen (or maybe he really was looking forward to presents).
Dig deeper, and there's some meta, more circumstantial evidence. Cal sounds a lot of Kal-El, the Kryptonian name of Superman (who Doctor Manhattan was inspired by). And during the car scene when Angela, Laurie, and Petey are traveling to Trieu HQ, Laurie casually remarks that "[her ex] is no Cal," which could read very differently upon future rewatches if he actually is.
It's probably not true; to borrow Lady Trieu's turn of phrase, it's "too cute by half." But this theory joins a long line of "Is X Character Doctor Manhattan?" speculation. Will's suggestion in the second episode--that Doctor Manhattan could possibly change his appearance to look like someone else--has led fans to believe that he's hiding in plain sight.