Spoilers for Watchmen season 1, ahead.
When HBO's Watchmen premiered last fall, it changed the game for what's possible in the superhero genre. It shifted the Cold War setting of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's '80s comic series to a nine-episode examination of race in America. It introduced us to Regina King's masked vigilante, Sister Night, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma 100 years after the Black Wall Street massacre of 1921. On September 20, Watchmen walked away with 11 Emmys after being the most Emmy-nominated show of the year with 26 nods.
But Watchmen was nominated in the Limited Series categories and is not set to return for another season. While Doctor Manhattan's motto, "Nothing ever ends," may not apply to the series itself, it does ring true with speculation about a second season. Basically, there's been a whole lot of chatter from creator Damon Lindelof about season 2 with no concrete answers to emerge from it. Ahead, everything we know about a mythical second season and King's involvement.
Watchmen was originally conceived as only one season.
Ahead of the show's premiere last October, Lindelof and a few cast members appeared at Comic-Con to talk about Watchmen. When asked about future seasons, the creator was purposefully vague. "We want to see how it's received by you guys," Lindelof coyly said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "If the show comes out there and the conversation surrounding the show suggests you're hungry for more, we'll certainly take that into consideration. We want to deliver nine episodes that deliver a complete and total amazing story."
But by the time the finale aired in December, Lindelof had reversed course a bit. "I am deeply, profoundly appreciative for how well received the season has been up until now, and I don't want to feel like I'm ungrateful, but I still don’t have any inclination whatsoever to continue the story," he told Variety. "And that is largely and almost exclusively based on the fact that I don’t have an idea. If I’m going to be involved in any more Watchmen, I should be able to answer the questions, why, and why now, and the answers to those questions shouldn't be, 'Well because that’s what you do, because the first one was good.'"
To add even more confusion to the mix, Lindelof added, "I'm not saying there shouldn’t be a second season of Watchmen, and I’m not even saying that that season shouldn’t feature some of the characters in this season of Watchmen. I just don’t know what it should be."
Around the same time, Lindelof offered a very lengthy explanation to Entertainment Weekly regarding his feelings about continuing. In summary, he said, "I can’t say that there will definitely not be a second season and I can’t say there definitely will be. That’s kind of where my head’s at."
King has remained open to a second season—if Lindelof is on board, too.
The series' star has said she would mask up as police detective Sister Night (Angela Abar by day) once more. However, her involvement is contingent on Lindelof returning as showrunner. “I don’t know,” she last told Reese Witherspoon during a virtual Variety interview. “Honestly, I feel like I think HBO would want it back in a heartbeat, but if Damon Lindelof doesn’t see an entry point for Season 2, I think that the possibilities are infinite. But I feel that if Damon doesn’t see it, then it’s going to be a no for me.”
Sources told Entertainment Weekly that although Watchmen's writers have since moved on to other projects, the actors signed deals with HBO for multiple seasons. But King has stuck to her guns regarding her return. "I couldn't even begin to speak on that," she told The Hollywood Reporter about a second season. "All I can say is if season 2 came back, I would want it to be comparable to season 1. That sounds like a tall hill to climb!"
We represent a huge group of talented people that are responsible for the 9 hours of storytelling you witnessed. I am extremely grateful to be a part of the #WatchmenHBO family. I hope you all enjoyed watching as much as we enjoyed the process. Team work makes a dream work. pic.twitter.com/xhDyFhfXdc— Regina King (@ReginaKing) December 16, 2019
The finale is open-ended.
The (final?) episode of Watchmen, “See How They Fly” doesn't end so much with a cliffhanger, as an ambiguous conclusion. Angela is reeling after the death of her husband, Doctor Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). She finds a common chicken egg that her late husband may or may not have transferred his powers to. After consuming the egg, she's about to step out into her swimming pool to test whether or not she's inherited any of Doctor Manhattan's powers (including walking on water). Viewers are given one final shot of her foot poised to enter the water before the screen cuts to black.
As for where the show would go from there, Lindelof is keeping tight-lipped. "We chose to cut to black where and when we did for a very specific reason that I don’t really want to interrogate in any real way," he told Vanity Fair. He later said, "These nine episodes were planned to stand alone and that doesn't exclude the possibility that there will be more Watchmen." Lindelof told the outlet that while he's "super protective of this material," he also said Watchmen was "never" his and invited other creators to take a crack at the show.
In many ways, the ambiguous nature to the show's ending is what people loved about it. As ELLE.com's R. Eric Thomas wrote, "To build a story that reveals itself, in the final moments of its burlesque, to be just the beginning, is both an artistic choice and a theoretical offer. The currency in the incomplete payment of the finale's cut to black isn't narrative, but structural. The show's creators have built a world where things that are wrong in ours are set right, but at the end they run into the hard limit of reality. And instead of saying that explicitly, they let us experience it as Angela's foot approaches the pool, which is so much more electrifying. Watchmen is a triumph of storytelling that embraces one of the core ideas of burlesque: You can accomplish everything you need to with just a glimpse of ankle."
Watchmen could morph into an anthology series.
While a follow-up season with Angela and co. may not be in the cards, a second installment could be. HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told USA Today that the show could become an anthology series. "It's really in Damon’s thinking about what he wants to do," Bloys explained. "If there's an idea that excited him about another season, another installment, maybe like a Fargo, True Detective [anthology] take on it, or if he wants to do something different altogether. We’re very proud of Watchmen, but what I’m most interested in what Damon wants to do."
For his part, Lindelof told USA Today he's "given [his] blessing" to HBO about continuing the show without him. Although Bloys said, "It would be hard to imagine doing it without Damon involved in some way."
He's said a woman or person of color should helm Watchmen next.
Perhaps frustrated with exhaustive season 2 rumors, Lindelof has said he welcomes other voices to continue the superhero series. “I issue this invitation to anyone out there: If you have an idea, figure out a way to pitch it," he told Collider.com in July, adding, "But probably not to me. Watchmen is not mine. It’s ours. And I want to see how someone else interprets this incredible story."
When asked by Vulture about who should be in charge of the next iteration, he replied:
"I would love to see someone who is not a white dude taking a shot at Watchmen—a woman or a person of color or both. Most of the good ideas that ended up in this season did not come from a white dude."
During the Collider interview, Lindelof tossed this last chestnut to the masses, stoking speculation once more:
I think you and I both know there’s going to be more Watchmen. That’s going to happen. And whether or not the individuals who decide that they want there to be more Watchmen pick this story up where it left off or they do an entirely different kind of Watchmen story, that’s up to them. But I am seeing a lot of people who respond to the show are catalyzed and interested in what the world would look like if it were being reshaped by Angela Abar. I don’t have a good answer to that question, but that’s why it cut to black when it did [ Laughs].
In a post-Emmys interview with Variety, Lindelof definitively said he'll be moving onto other projects after Watchmen. “This was the story that I wanted to tell, but it could be much more expansive than this,” he said of wanting to mentor new voices next. “Not that I see myself as Willy Wonka, but it’s time to bring some other kids into the factory. I couldn’t imagine a greater focus for me than to throw open the doors to the factory and say, ‘I will show you around and tell you what I learned here, but you’ve got to bring the ingredients that you want to mix up here and make your own candy.’”
We may never see a season 2, but we'll always have that beloved first installment.
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