HBO’s Watchmen broke tradition with Episode 8, “A God Walks Into Abar,” by including, for the first time in the series, a post-credits scene. Hopefully you stuck around for it–but if not, stop right here and go back to watch. We’re going to dive deep into what it might mean and why it matters, so you’re in for some spoilers, even if you finished the episode but shut your TV off early.
To briefly recap, the scene actually starts as audio playing over the credits. It’s a disgusting squishing noise that, we soon learn, is Veidt’s post-trial “punishment.” Each of the clones approaches a bound and prone Veidt and asks him “will you stay master?” When Veidt says no, the clone smashes a tomato (remember, they grow on trees here on Europa) in his face. From there, we abruptly cut to Veidt in a jail cell, reading Fogdancing–a fictional in-universe novel written by the fictional, in-universe author Max Shea, who also wrote the Tales Of The Black Freighter comic-within-the-comic of the Watchmen graphic novel. It’s Veidt’s birthday again, we learn, as the Game Warden brings him his traditional yellow-and-purple cake, topped with 7 candles.
“If you sing ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow,’ I’ll vomit all over your boots,” Veidt says. Thankfully, the Game Warden doesn’t test this threat. Instead, he offers to bring Veidt a new book–but Veidt says he likes this one. Why? The Game Master “wouldn’t understand,” he says. “It’s about loneliness.”
At this moment, the Game Master drops some interesting knowledge. He was actually the first Mr. Philips to be “born” on Europa, which we can assume is why he seems to have more power than the other Philips clones. Of course this only makes us wonder where the first Ms. Crookshanks ended up, or if she’s even still around.
“Why is heaven not enough?” The Game Master asks, to which Veidt responds that this place isn’t his home and that back on Earth “his children, all 8 million of them, [are] undoubtedly standing in their cribs crying out in desperation” for Veidt to return. Knowing what we know about how things are going on Earth, we can confidently say this isn’t true–Earth may be going through some rough stuff, but aside from a few off-handed conversations, news clips, and Trieu’s statue, no one on Earth seems all that interested in Veidt at all. He’s been declared dead, and Elvis Lives-like conspiracies notwithstanding, that’s about the extent of the thought he’s been given.
But of course, someone like Adrian Veidt would never be able to wrap his head around that reality. He’s always, in his own estimation, been the single most important, qualified, intelligent, and capable person on the planet. He also reveals here that it’s not necessarily the superiority that’s most important to him, it’s his own usefulness: “Heaven isn’t enough because they don’t need me.”
That’s when something very strange happens. As the music swells, Veidt realizes there’s a horseshoe baked into his cake. He gleefully pulls it out, tears his cot away from the wall, and begins scraping away at the floorboards while cackling delightedly. If you remember all the way back to Episode 1, you’ll recall Philips and Crookshanks presenting him with a horseshoe rather than a knife during his first birthday party. At the time, it seemed like a bizarre glitch in their “programming,” like they couldn’t tell the difference between a cake knife and a horseshoe. But this moment recontextualizes that entirely.
Is it possible that Philips and Crookshanks have, somehow, been working toward Veidt’s plan all along and that first horseshoe was just a minor hiccup in his timeline? Did Jon somehow pass his own deterministic experience of the world–the idea that everything that has happened and will happen is already laid out and predetermined–on to the people he made? Or is it all just a simple case of one loyal clone–the prosecutor who winked at Veidt after her closing arguments, maybe–being in on the scheme and baking a cake with a hidden key in it under all the other clones’ noses like an old timey prison break?
Either way, the fact remains, Veidt’s plan is proceeding in a way that he’s clearly extremely happy about. And though we can’t tell if he’s planning on pulling some sort of Shawshank Redemption tunnel gambit or if he’s planted some kind of weapon or escape tool under the floor of his jail cell, we’re pretty sure it’ll all be cleared up once and for all next week during the finale.
Watchmen airs Sundays on HBO.
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Author: Meg Downey