HBO's Watchmen has a lot of moving parts. The series, set three decades after the events of the comic book series of the same name from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is largely operating around the mystery of who killed Tulsa Police Chief Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) and the associated mystery of Angela Abar/Sister Night's grandfather, Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.) factors into things. On top of all that, however, is the enduring mystery of Adrian Veidt. The former Ozymandias has been revealed to be imprisoned on a planetary moon somewhere in space, held for years in a prison world of sorts. For the most part, each episode reveals a bit more of Adrian's story, but it seems like the way that story is playing out is a bit unexpected. According to showrunner Damon Lindelof, there's a significant passage of time between each episode.
Speaking with Collider, Lindelof explained that Veidt's portions of each episode of Watchmen has a time lapse of a year between each episode, meaning that over the course of the five episodes in which we've seen Veidt in his prison world, it's been five years of time for the character.
"What we're learning about Adrian Veidt is that every installment that we get of the nine episodes, there's only one episode where you don't get a Veidt installment -- the storytelling, he didn't fit in there -- but every other one you get [one]," Lindelof said. "And a year lapses in between each episode. It's a story told on a very, very large canvas, each installment taking place on another anniversary of another year that he has spent wherever the hell he's spending [it]."
The idea that viewers are watching Veidt's imprisonment play out over years as opposed to days is one that helps to make a bit more sense of some of the things we've seen in those parts of Watchmen. It certainly explains the repeated "anniversary" cakes -- as well as may explain that they aren't necessarily "birthday" cakes as some have assumed and are, instead, cakes to mark the passage of time that Veidt has been in his own personal hell. It also offers a bit of context about Veidt's clones, though we've also seen Veidt accelerate the development of said clones, something that actor Jeremy Irons recently described as "logical".
"They're very happy in the soup," Irons said of the scene. "It seemed entirely natural. Strange enough, the vision I had in my head in that scene was -- you've seen those documentaries about chicken farming? Where all the little chicks come down the conveyer belt and the guy goes, 'No, I don't want that one. That one can go. That's male.' That was what I had in my head for that scene -- it's entirely logical to live with. It's a very beautiful scene, I thought."
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.