Just like the graphic novel it’s based on, Damon Lindelof’s HBO adaptation of Watchmen was never going to be for everyone. Yet, over the course of the show’s nine incredibly detailed and nuanced hours, the former Lost and The Leftovers showrunner brought the spirit and feeling of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ celebrated work to life in Tulsa, Okalahoma, still managing to introduce some amazing new characters, bring back some old favorites, and build a compelling new story along the way. But now that the season is over, and the season 1 finale wrapped up just about every mystery (with a little bit of interpretation along the way), the question is: What about Season 2?
HBO has made no announcements that Watchmen will return for season 2. Even before the first season even aired, Lindelof sounded unclear on whether he would even want to come back for season 2. HBO is no stranger to extending shows that were only planned for a single season; Big Little Lies got a second season after being planned as a miniseries, and Lindelof’s last show, The Leftovers, covered its source material (a novel by Tom Perrotta) in its first season before going original for two more.
Now that the season is over, Lindelof still sounds unsure, giving different answers in a few post-Watchmen interviews. So while we may not know for sure what the future holds, we have gotten some hints. Here’s what we know so far.
Will there be a second season of Watchmen?
That’s the question, now isn’t it? Lindelof has made clear from the start that he wanted his Watchmen to be a self-contained story; he chose to end his last show, The Leftovers, on his own accord after three seasons. “When we first went public with the pilot at New York Comic-Con, I wanted to make sure that everybody who was going along for the ride knew what the design of the season was. Especially after what happened with Lost, and the way that a lot of serialized dramas unfolded, where the audience doesn’t know how thick the book is when they pick it up,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “This is a love letter and an examination of the original Watchmen … I wanted everyone to know this is not the middle of the trilogy, this is not the beginning of a seven-season run.” He was adamant that this story for HBO would have a beginning, middle, and end, and that there wouldn’t be any loose ends.
He elaborated on this idea in an interview with Vulture: “Every idea that we had, as it related to Watchmen, we either dismissed as being a crappy idea or we put it into the season,” he said.
When asked by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin on HBO’s Official Watchmen Podcast (at the 1:03:50 mark) if he would be coming back, Lindelof says “My instinct right now, at this precise moment in time, is ‘I don’t know, and probably not.'”
He continues to say that in order to make this season of television in the first place (he was asked to make a Watchmen adaptation two prior times before accepting this time) was to have a compelling answer to two questions: Why, and Why now? “I don’t have satisfying answers to those questions for a second season of Watchmen.”
On the podcast, Lindelof also relayed something that Tim Blake Nelson (who plays Looking Glass) told him over breakfast, after Lindelof had told him that he thought the season ended in a way that the story feels complete. “If you think the way the first season ends is not the biggest cliffhanger of all time, you are fucking nuts,” Lindelof says TBN told him ver batim. “And it occurred to me for the very first time that people are going to perceive this as a cliff hanger versus an ending.”
Lindelof continues to reference a pair of guys arguing in the movie theater restroom after he first saw Inception, arguing whether leaving an ending that’s up to interpretation—whether its the top spinning or Angela’s foot dipping into the pool—is a good ending or a frustrating ending. For what it’s worth, Mazin tells Lindelof at the end of the podcast that now that he’s gotten to know Lindelof a little bit, he does think something will come that will inspire him, and maybe it will. But even if that moment doesn’t come, there’s another writing model that’s been floated as well.
Will Damon Lindelof be back?
In that same interview with EW, Lindelof referred to series like True Detective and Fargo, that have a definitive voice, tone, and vibe from season to season, but don’t necessarily have the same actors, directors, characters, or storylines.
“True Detective is a franchise, it has a feel and a tone. Does it need to have Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in it to call itself True Detective? And I would argue as much as I love what [True Detective showrunner Nic Pizzolatto’s] writing, it doesn’t even need to be written by Nic, or directed by Cary Fukunaga. It’s bigger than that. And when I first heard about [FX’s Fargo series], that the Coen Brothers weren’t really involved and it was going to be [Noah Hawley’s] show, I was like, ‘How is this going to be any good? How is this going to feel like it’s the original Fargo?’ And lo and behold, that’s exactly what it was.”
And that jives really interestingly with something that Lindelof said in the interview with Vulture. In that interview, Angelica Jade Bastién asked the showrunner if he were to step down from the show, who he’d like to see take his place. At first, he just answered with anyone else who “loves” the original graphic novel, but also sees problems with it
(“I certainly love and adore the original Watchmen, but I think that it had some problems. I don’t think that this version solved those problems, but at the very least it shined a light,” he says).
But he also suggested that he would like to see someone who is “not a white dude” take the helm of a future Watchmen adaptation, namely hoping to see it into the hands of someone who is a woman, a person of color, or both. “Most of the good ideas that ended up in this season did not come from a white dude,” he says. “And so, it would be pretty wonderful to have someone at the helm that was not the traditional person at the helm of a comic-book movie or TV show.“
Would any of the first season’s cast return?
This is obviously such a hard thing to say without season 2 confirmation, but if something did happen where another Watchmen project with this group of characters was greenlit, it would be hard to imagine the (surviving) characters not returning if the writing so called for it. You heard Tim Blake Nelson’s quote in Lindelof’s story in the podcast cited above, and people like Yahya Abdul Mateen II and Regina King have clearly had a blast working on the show. It’s hard to imagine them not wanting to run it back and sign up to work on this machine all over again.
But with the future uncertain, we’ll just have to wait and see.