With HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ ending Season 1 just this past Sunday with the superb finale ‘See How They Fly” (an episode that many agree feels more like a series finale than a season finale), many are now asking Executive Producer Damon Lindelof why the series ended up only having 9 episodes for Season 1 instead of the 10 episodes that were ordered (especially since 10 is the standard number for most HBO series).
While speaking recently to Steve Weintraub of Collider, Lindelof stated:
“The original plan was to do 10. And, then, I think around the time that we had written the scripts for four and five, and understanding what episode six was going to be—and six needed to happen exactly when it happened in the season, in our opinion—that we felt like once six ended, that we were closer to the ending than we were to the beginning. Six didn’t feel like a mid point. It felt like, we now know everything that we need to know to move into the endgame. And, every way that we looked at it, it felt like if we were going to do seven, eight, nine and ten, one of those episodes was going to be filler. And I was like, ‘We’re just not doing the filler episode. We know exactly what we need to do in our endgame. It’s time to start doing it. I don’t want to stall.’”
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Lindelof also hinted at what the extra episode may have been about while talking about his only regrets in regards to the story of the season:
“If there are any regrets, it’s that we didn’t get to dimensionalize Lady Trieu as much as we did in the writer’s room, on the screen. Especially given, in my opinion, the magnitude of Hong’s performance. I just thought she was fantastic. It was one of those things where we got into the endgame of the season, and it felt like we were moving back too much, between episode seven and eight. We talked about Lady Trieu’s childhood, how she became who she was. But, a lot of her backstory got shorthanded between what Bian is saying to Angela and Lady Trieu is saying to Angela, in episode seven.”
I think it is amazing that Lindelof and his writers had the maturity to see that they had all the time they needed with 9 episodes, and did not need to drag their feet just to fill time, especially nowadays where it all too often feels like shows indulge in overly long seasons stuffed with filler just to milk the time they have on the air as much as possible. And while I would have enjoyed more backstory about Lady Trieu, especially coming from the amazing writing staff of this series, there is something to be said about keeping her origins somewhat mysterious, especially since the small pieces of her past we did get already served to make her a fascinating character and tell us everything we needed to know going into the finale. Giving us an entire episode about her backstory, especially so late in the series after we got the backstory of Hooded Justice, Angela’s origin story, and the origin story of Angela and Doctor Manhattan’s relationship, might have felt like the series was trying to rush a lot of exposition in at the end. Not to mention that with a character like Lady Trieu (since she is Ozymandias’s daughter), there was always a chance of her backstory feeling a bit too wacky due to her extreme intellect and way of dealing with other people in the world, especially in a season where we already had a lot of craziness with Veidt’s storyline.
Do you feel like we were cheated of that extra episode of the season? Or do you think 9 episodes were just enough to tell the story Lindelof and his writers were presenting? Feel free to weigh in below in the comments!