The makers of HBO’s “Watchmen” series made it clear that the series serves as a sequel to the events of the original Alan Moore graphic novel rather than the mostly faithful Zack Snyder film adaptation in 2009.
As a result, the series considers the comic’s ending canon, one in which the arrival of a trans-dimensional giant squid being in New York City on November 2nd 1985 is the event that kills millions and leads to the world’s superpowers to come together in peace as they unite against a perceived new common enemy.
The first episode teased the squid’s involvement with a scene of tiny squid rain, but last night’s fifth episode finally saw the moment realised on screen – as seen through the eyes of a young Wade Tillman aka Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson). Collider spoke with showrunner Damon Lindelof in the wake of that episode and Lindelof revealed that from the early stages of developing the show he always intended to show the iconic moment from the comics:
“From the jump, before we even did the pilot, I said to everybody on the crew ‘Just so you guys know, we’re doing the squid. We’re going to do November 2, 1985, so just start wrapping your brains around that’… We knew that we were going to do it, we knew that it would happen in the range of Episode 5 or 6, so that they’d have some time to plot it out. We knew that we wanted there to be some sort of fanfare to the reveal..”
Lindelof says the way to make the event work was to root it into an emotional truth, more specifically into one of the key character’s suffering PTSD from the incident:
“Obviously, there’s a silliness to saying a giant transdimensional cephelopod with one eye basically drops into the middle of Manhattan and the resulting psychic shock wave kills 3 million people. That sounds completely and totally absurd, but that’s the true genius of Veidt’s plan, that it had to sound absurd to be believable.
But when you want to really ground the absurdity in to something that’s tangible and people will feel, I think the idea of PTSD – no pun intended, but some kind of post-traumatic squid disorder – the idea that the squid was literally genetically engineered to cause people emotional trauma so that many years after this event, they would still fear it. We needed to palpably relate that to the audience. So the question was, which character on the show is still emotionally feeling the terror of what happened in 1985? And Tim Blake Nelson felt like he was the perfect conduit to demonstrate that. “
The recent episode has been called the best yet so far of what is being hailed as one of the best shows of the year. The nine-episode series wraps its run on December 15th.