Updated: Jul 9
As with all posts on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the tv series, but rather to document how the series relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.
In the 2019 TV series, Watchmen, released by HBO, the purpose of life pops up twice. Once in episode four called If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own, and the second time in episode eight, A God Walks into Abar. The two references to purpose in life are intertwined.
Starting with episode four, we find billionaire Adrian Veidt stranded on one of Jupiter's moons, Europa, which is a place not so unlike our own. There are people or at least creatures that resemble people, plants, lush fields, buildings, etc. However, the people that live there aren't born in the traditional way people are born. First, they are pulled from a lake, quickly incubated in tanks so that they become adults within hours, and, well, they are all the same. That is, there are men and women, and although there may be many people running around, they are all "clones" of the same two people.
After growing two of these individuals, Adrian Veidt would say to the pair:
Do you know what you are? No… of course you don’t. You are flaws in this thoughtless design. For while I may be your master, I am most definitely not your maker. I would never have burdened such pathetic creatures with the gift of life. For to be alive, you have to have purpose, and you have none. Except… to serve.
Unlike the people that we find on Earth, those on Europa have the sole purpose to serve (then again, perhaps ours is too ... more on this later). They are innocent in that they are selfless. They think only of their master's well-being and not of their own. They routinely die for their master (Adrian) for no other reason than his enjoyment.
If Adrian is not their creator, then who is? In episode eight, we find out that Dr. Manhattan created these beings, these Adams and Eves. We learn in this episode that around the time of WWII, Dr. Manhattan (aka Jon) was sent to live in a manor after his mother ran off with a German SS officer (on a side note, his father was Jewish). Jon would go on to catch his new house parents during foreplay accidentally. After being caught, they pull Jon aside and say the following to him:
What if we made a trade? You could do us a favor in return for the bible. When you leave this place long after, when you grow into a man in America… make it your purpose to create something beautiful.
Jon, as Dr. Manhattan, does just this on Europa. Does just as his parents told him to do, as many of us do in life. We do what we are taught, we believe what are our parents believed. Jon creates life, creates what he would describe as beautiful beings that would not be like the selfish warmongering men and women of Earth. The irony here is that many religious folks would be quick to point out that Dr. Manhattan is not a real God, although he created a world, created a Garden of Eden of sorts. Many of those same folks would also agree that their main purpose in life is to serve God. Complete submission to him and him alone. So, if our purpose is to serve, as many Western religions suggest, are we as pathetic as Adrian would suggest? If our purpose is to serve, and Dr. Manhattan's Adam and Eve are beautiful works of creation, what went wrong with us Earthly beings? The tree of knowledge perhaps? Two separate creatures created with the same purpose but yet have two completely different ways of living life. The difference may reside in the ego. One creation is selfish and will act in one's self-interest the majority of the time. The other is selfless, seeks to serve at all costs even if that means dying for no other reason but to serve. Which of the two are really fulfilling their purpose to their God?
Overall, although the Watchmen was a good series, it wasn't as epic as it could have been. If you saw it, what did you think? What did we miss? Comment below and let us know.