The Watchmen HBO series (opens in new tab) has begun and the internet has exploded into a pool of theories and predictions speculating what's going to come next. Many of them concern the final scene of the premiere – a shocking moment that will no doubt have huge implications as the show goes on.
Warning: spoilers ahead for Watchmen episode 1. Proceed with caution!
Still here? Then you will have seen Chief Judd Crawford hanging from a tree having been lynched by an unknown person. Our immediate reaction is to believe that the Seventh Cavalry, the group of Rorschach wearing white supremacists, killed Crawford for being an ally to the police and the black population. Yet, that may not be the case.
Damon Lindelof, the show's creator, loves a twist (his oeuvre includes Lost and The Leftovers), and so everyone watching Watchmen is on the lookout for something being amiss. Could Judd Crawford have been a villain and his murder actually be a good thing? And why exactly would that be the case?
Take a second to look back at Crawford's behavior. In the world of Watchmen, police officers are not allowed unholstered guns. Yet, the Chief of police allows his men to go around guns-free. While seemingly for their safety, the character Panda – who is in charge of letting officers unholster their guns – queries Crawford's demand, knowing this will outrage the Seventh Cavalry further. Is Crawford doing this to further antagonise the enemy? Or to justify their actions should something happen?
It's also mentioned twice in the episode that Crawford does not like "Black Oklahoma", the production of the musical being put on that has a black cast. This seemingly hints at something malicious underneath his positive exterior.
These two points, though, are both only hints. The real kicker comes during the final scene. We see an elderly man sitting by the lynched Crawford with a note saying "watch over this boy". At the very beginning of the episode, we saw that boy watching a black and white film in which Bass Reeves, a real-life deputy US marshal, lynched a white sheriff because they were up to no good. Of course, this is mirrored at the end, with the chief hanging from a tree. But was Crawford also actually a villain?
What's interesting to note is that, before the show began, it was revealed that the elderly man (played by Oscar-winner Louis Gossett Jr.) is called Will Reeves. Could Will and Bass be related? And, therefore, have they both done the same thing: lynched a white chief for the greater good of the world? It's not exactly a big jump to presume the episode has a circular narrative, with the first scene holding clues regarding the final one.
Lindelof has a habit of eking out mysteries, and the question of who killed Judd Crawford will likely continue for some time. For more discussion on the theory, check out the Watching Watchmen podcast (opens in new tab), in which myself and a fellow co-host discuss each episode of Watchmen in detail, combing over every scene to find as many easter eggs and references as possible.