The first season of HBO's Watchmen lived up to the hype created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' original comic. Normally, a show that wowed viewers this way would be a shoo-in for another season, but there are still questions marks surrounding the series' return.
Since before the show premiered, Lindelof has been telling audiences Watchmen would (or should) be a one-and-done type of show. "I felt that if these nine episodes end without feeling like we completed a story, in the same way that we feel that at the end of a season of Fargo or True Detective," Lindelof told Paste in October, "you know, then it’s not really Watchmen. It’s just another continuing show where you have to come up with a cool cliffhanger for the finale."
He reiterated this when asked by Deadline in October how many seasons of the show he plans to make. "I’m not being flippant when I say that the answer is one," Lindelof said.
The problem with this is that Watchmen's strong finale left a lot for fans to look forward to. The fate of Regina King’s Angela Abar/Sister Night is presumably epic, and numerous characters seem poised and ready for more. When asked about this during a new interview with Deadline, Lindelof insisted this is the end of the story.
"All I can say is I’ve consistently believed and still believe that these nine episodes are a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. I have to acknowledge that not everyone’s going to see it that way, and I definitely don’t dispute any opinion that’s sort of like 'there should be more.' I just don’t feel compelled to continue the story without a reason to do so. That reason should be a creative reason, idea-driven, and I don’t have any ideas for subsequent seasons of Watchmen currently," Lindelof said before addressing questions surrounding the characters.
"Well, any television show in the history of television shows that doesn’t end with the destruction of creation has that, don’t they?" he continued in the Deadline chat. "I think you could make that argument about The Wire finale or any finale, the Silicon Valley finale that just aired. The story could continue if any of the characters are alive or if the world is continuing. That doesn’t mean that it should. I mean is it a compelling television show to see Adrian in prison after we just watched a season of Adrian Veidt in a much more interesting prison? I don’t know. I’m just saying I don’t disagree with your opinion that it certainly could continue. I just don’t know how to continue it at this moment in time."
The idea of continuing these relatively boring storylines doesn't interest Lindelof. He told Rolling Stone his intentions weren't to leave a cliffhanger, rather he wanted to give the series an ending that mirrored the comics. "I intended it to be just as much of an ending as the original Watchmen is. There is certainly a story to be told... But that’s not a story that I think would be particularly interesting," Lindelof said. He went on to end any questions of a cliffhanger by explaining what happens with Regina King's character:
"Let’s for a second assume that there are two possible outcomes for what happens when Angela takes a step onto the swimming pool. Outcome number one is that she just sinks to the bottom of it and just misunderstood everything that Cal told her and ate a raw egg and should probably go be treated for salmonella. Outcome number two is that she starts to walk on water and realize that she is imbued with godlike powers. That would certainly explain the promotional poster for Watchmen that we put out there 15 weeks ago; she’s certainly looking a bit blue there. Let’s just say either of those possibilities exist. I think neither one of those stories are going to particularly make for a compelling season of television"
Lindelof is known for ending shows on his terms and this doesn't always please networks or fans. Lindelof was the co-creator and showrunner of Lost. The show ended in 2010 with an episode that refused to answer some of the series' biggest questions. This should have taught fans that he's fascinated by confusion.
"I guess the takeaway from Lost is [that] I am unapologetic about the fact I'm fascinated by ambiguity and questions that will never be answered because that’s what life is," Lindelof said when explaining during a 2018 interview with The Independent.
Lindelof has fully embraced the notion that "anything is possible." Because of this, he won't write off the possibility of returning to the Watchmen franchise in some compacity, or of HBO continuing the series.
"I will also say that we’re living in this moment in storytelling where something like Fargo, for example, or True Detective, or Big Little Lies when we first experienced it before there was a second season, were presenting themselves as these things called limited series but it turns out that a limited series is actually, by definition, any series now," Lindelof said to Deadline in response to possibly angering HBO by not signing on for a second season. "I mean there’s no such thing as an unlimited series unless you’re like 60 Minutes or The Simpsons."
He then told Rolling Stone it would be "hubris to say, 'I’m done with Watchmen'" but he would be "thrilled" if the show continued with another showrunner.
"Just hearing you say that, that excites me," he said. "I don’t know necessarily that that’s where that individual would need to do a second season of Watchmen. The territory of Watchmen goes back a century, so you could do a story in the Fifties or Sixties or Eighties or Nineties, or you could jump ahead five years, and you could feature characters that were not Angela Abar, or the continuing adventures of Veidt and Laurie...the terrain and the possibilities are much greater than anyone with a limited imagination to continue this story."