In a series and graphic novel franchise obsessed with horology—watches, clocks, watch-making, time-keeping, nuclear bomb countdown-ing—it makes obvious sense that the major enterprise of HBO’s Watchmen universe is the construction of a giant clock, one which apparently does little more than, well, tell time.
We first see the construction from the window of a plane where agents Blake and Petey take in the phallic view. We are then given a few lines of info about the project.
The woman who owns the (tech?) company that built the clock is Lady Trieu. The speech Lady Trieu said at the groundbreaking of the construction, according to Petey, included a line from a Percey Bysshe Shelley poem: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” The name of the poem is “Ozymandias” and was likely written after the statue of Egyptian King Ramesses II arrived in London. The poem illustrates hubris and general human folly, the result of man’s greatest works: chipped, damaged, and sent to London to be gawked at by tourists.
In the graphic novel, Veidt’s own Pharaoh-like “project” included a false flag operation to unite the U.S. and Soviets and avoid nuclear war. It entailed building a synthetic squid and then teleporting the squid to Manhattan. Though it left millions dead, the plan succeeded, affirming Veidt’s consequentialism. Yet, the world of Watchmen since hasn’t been one of peace and flowers (as Doctor Manhattan said to Veidt after the squid “attack,” “nothing ever ends”).
Petey believes the Ozymandias quote to be a “shout-out” to Veidt, whose company Lady Trieu apparently bought and used to construct the clock. The poem, however, forewarns the hubris of men and was intended to illustrate Veidt’s hubris in the comic. Lady Trieu’s Millennium Clock appears more like a Tower of Babel, the collapse of which might entail Veidt’s own demise.
Either way, Trieu’s character equivalence to Veidt suggests a similar sense of consequentialism and perhaps more nefarious plans. Still doubting weather Veidt was indeed villainous? Petey also says he heard rumors that Veidt escaped to Argentina after his supposed death—Argentina, the country to which scores of Nazi officers escaped to avoid prosecution for war crimes. Yeah, whatever Veidt and Trieu have cooking, it can’t be all too optimistic.
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