Alternative Ending To Show For Newsstand


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Hi guys,

I love your podcast. I listen to tons of Watchmen podcasts and honestly very few are as critical as you guys, which mirror how I felt. This is a long email with an alternate ending because Episode 9 was somewhat of a disappointment and I would be interested to hear what you guys think. I also list below why this ending would be more meaningful and actually fit with the rest of the show better than Episode 9 did.

It seems to me that the writers had the opportunity (and maybe even planned) to write a truly fantastic ending that unfortunately instead devolved into a typical “bad guy (or woman) wants to become all-powerful and take over the world” trope. They gave up on many of the elements they had built upon during the show and also gave up Watchmen’s signature ambiguity. My idea for a much better ending: Will, Trieu, and Dr. Manhattan work together to activate the Millennium Clock, which forces everyone in the world to periodically relive the memories/experiences of others, thereby causing more empathy and love and interconnectedness in the world (a similar concept is explored in the short story “The Egg” by Andy Weir, which is another tie-in to the egg motif in the show, full story here:

There are several reasons why this would be a perfect ending and also pieces of information in the show that make me think that the writers were going for this originally and for some reason scrapped it:

Reasons why this ending would be more meaningful and thematically consistent:

Will, Trieu, and Dr. Manhattan all have reasons to hate conflict and/or racism based on childhood experiences. Will’s is the most obvious, having lived through the Tulsa Massacre. Lady Trieu has “genetic trauma” (referenced in prior episodes) from her mother having been in Vietnam during the war. Dr. Manhattan was expelled from Germany due to his Jewish ethnicity and then probably learned about the extermination of his people during WWII. 2.
This ending could also be Dr. Manhattan trying again to “make something beautiful” after his experiment on Europa failed to give him fulfillment. 3.
Dr. Manhattan and Lady Trieu are extremely powerful, either due to god-like properties or a trillion dollars of wealth. The extent of the elimination of racism in the actual ending was killing the leaders of one racist group in one part of one country, but this is such a small scope given that other racist leaders would likely rise. If Will/Trieu/Dr. Manhattan wanted to reduce/eliminate racism, they would think bigger given the nearly infinite resources at hand. 4.
A common theme in Watchmen (more so in the comics/movie than the show) is that Dr. Manhattan doesn’t care that much about humanity or finds it hard to care. However, bringing his childhood experiences into it this way would give him good motivation to do something about racism/bigotry at least, and do something that only he could really do. 5.
This alternate ending would reflect Dr. Manhattan’s efforts in the original comics/movie, where he is trying to solve wars by coming up with a way to generate infinite energy/resources, i.e. he is thinking big. 6.
This alternate ending would also have the same ambiguity as the comics/movie, since it would be unclear whether such an extreme measure as making everyone live the trauma/experiences of others would actually be a net positive or whether society would not be able to handle this. Maybe the very end of the show could actually show this going wrong somehow. 7.
I would probably throw in something about Adrian actually trying to foil this plan (a reversal of the 1985 events) and “succeeding” but finding out the clock was turned on 35 minutes ago (maybe this would be too on the nose though).

Reason why this would actually fit with the rest of the show:

Bian (and Lindelof in the official podcast) say that the Clock “tells time.” I don’t see how the actual ending meets that definition of what the Clock does. Instead, this alternate ending would satisfy that explanation since it would “tell [each person about] the time [that someone else had].” 2.
Bian also mentions that the Clock can survive anything short of a nuclear blast and was put in Tulsa away from oceans and earthquakes, but why would you need this for a one-time use of extracting Dr. Manhattan’s powers? My alternative ending would fit better with this. 3.
Bian’s dissertation is something about empathy, but this doesn’t tie into anything in the show later. This alternate ending would be all about empathy. 4.
The show introduces mesmerism technology from the 1930s/40s but doesn’t go anywhere with it later except that Will uses the flashlight to kill Judd. 5.
The show introduces Nostalgia and Lady Trieu talks about Nostalgia right before turning on the Clock, but this doesn’t go anywhere. This alternate ending would be Nostalgia to the next level. 6.
Peteypedia mentions that Trieu gave everyone in Tulsa HDTVs. Maybe the TVs are related to her testing the mesmerism technology before rolling it out on the big scale? 7.
Dr. Manhattan could still die/sacrifice himself: maybe the Millennium Clock requires his constant presence within it to keep it working, and maybe he would be responsible for individually channeling the Clock/memories into different people one by one, so for each individual person they only get hit with memories once a month or once a year or something, but he still is basically 100% occupied with this?

TL;DR: The writers missed an opportunity for the ending to be Dr. Manhattan and Lady Trieu using the Millennium Clock to make everyone in the world more empathic, which would preserve the ambiguity that the comic/movie had and also be an appropriate scope of problem for Dr. Manhattan to solve.

Looking forward to the next podcast!


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