Watchmen Explainer: How Did Adrian Veidt Catch the Bullet?

The first season of ‘Watchmen’ has come to an end, and spectacularly at that. It answers most of the mysteries but has also left us with enough intrigue to keep us interested in the next season. Whether or not that happens is another mystery, but there are a couple of things that we can get out-of-the-way, including one of the “the fuck” moments of the finale. (Here is where the spoilers begin, so if you haven’t seen the final episode yet, you should bookmark this page for later. You can find all the places to stream ‘Watchmen’ here.) How in the hell did Adrian Veidt catch that bullet? To understand this, we have to go deeper into what was actually going on with him.

Where is Adrien Veidt?

After saving the world, albeit, at the cost of 3 million lives, Veidt expected the world to be thankful to him, or at least, turn into a utopia. When he doesn’t see the chances of getting that on the Earth, he takes up the offer of Dr Manhattan. He is transported to the new world created by the blue god on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The people here have been wired to serve others. They need someone to pledge their undying loyalty to, and that is exactly what Veidt ever wanted. However, he overestimated himself when it comes to retiring in peace. He thrives in chaos and mayhem, no matter what he says about bringing peace and stability on the Earth. This is why he gets fed up of Manhattan’s utopia soon enough and starts to find ways to get out of the place. And he knows exactly how to do that.

Veidt’s Escape Plan

Years ago, when Lady Trieu had come to him, telling him about her plan and how she had discovered that Dr Manhattan was on Europa, she says that in five years, a probe will provide her with a definitive answer when it sends the pictures of Europa. Only Manhattan knows where Adrian is, and he is masquerading as Cal, having forgotten about his true identity. So, Veidt knows that he can’t call out to him for help. The only other option left for him is Lady Trieu. So, he spends his time to send out a message for her.

He counts the days till the probe is supposed to appear. To add a little emotional touch, he spells out the word “daughter” as well. Trieu wanted validation as his daughter; so, he gives it to her, in return for the help. Help finally arrives for him and Veidt escapes the prison through the underground tunnel. While approaching the spacecraft, he is shot at by the Game Warden. Ideally, he should have died, but he catches the bullet and later, kills the Warden.

We know that the only person in the ‘Watchmen’ series to have superpowers is Dr Manhattan. Every other masked person is either a rich, resourceful person or a cop or a member of the Seventh Kavalry. These people don’t have any superpowers. In the same vein, we know that Veidt entertained the alter-ego of Ozymandias, but he didn’t have superpowers either. So, how in the hell did he catch a bullet? The answer is simpler than you’d expect.

How did Veidt Catch the Bullet?

Veidt is a raging narcissist, much like his daughter. There are some things that you should know about such people (or connect with, if you are one of them.) They think that the entire world revolves around them, or at least, that it should revolve around them. They believe themselves the saviour of the entire humankind, that it is their responsibility to look after “their children”. Ozymandias used this thought-process to unleash that giant squid on New York, and despite committing mass genocide of biblical proportions, he believed that he had saved the world by doing it. But that wasn’t enough.

He isn’t the kind of person who slips into the shadows after performing unbelievable, no matter how abhorrent, feats. So, he creates a video and sends it to Robert Redford, showing him how it was he who had shaped the world as everyone knows it. He expected the President to thank him for that; maybe even tell the world about his great act. That didn’t happen, but this does confirm one thing. Veidt wants an audience. He is a drama queen. On Europa, he has an army of slaves who would do whatever he wanted them to. They were born to serve, Manhattan made them so. So, them rebelling against him seemed a bit off. It did make sense that his efforts to escape hurt their feelings and they wanted him to stay because they wanted someone to serve. They needed a Master, which is why they became so violent when he tried to leave. But, was it really that, or was it all just a farce?

Every hero needs a villain. For Veidt to be a hero, there had to be a villain around. On Earth, it was the Soviet Union with the threat of the nuclear war. But the utopian Europa didn’t have that. So, he made a villain for himself. He appointed the Game Warden, who would act as his constant enemy, the one to thwart his plans of escape. Veidt always knew exactly how his escape would materialise. He knew exactly when the probe would arrive to take pictures of Europa, and that he only needed to wait for Trieu to send help.

But what would he do in the meantime? Read books! Direct theatre? Veidt was above these trivialities, so, he concocted these dramatic events and characters to keep himself busy. He could get beat up and put on trial and imprisoned in a dungeon, but he wouldn’t get bored.

For a person like that, the escape had to be dramatic. It had to be a story he could tell the rest of the world about. It was all planned, and the bullet catch was a part of it. It is much like the illusion that magicians perform from time to time. The Game Warden had a gun, but it was just for show. Veidt made it all up to entertain himself. If there is any doubt about that, focus on what the dying Game Warden says. “Why did you make me wear a mask?” This is the solid proof that Veidt had assigned that role to the Warden because he needed a worthy adversary. And he got one hell of a show!

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