Set over 30 years after the ending of the original Watchmen comic, the HBO Watchmen series has knowingly teased out the mysteries surrounding the fate of the comic's main cast. While many of those fates were already revealed or hinted at in the first three episodes or through documents on HBO's website, the fate of Nite Owl II was still left somewhat unclear.
While the HBO backmatter provided online hinted at Nite Owl's fate, the latest episode of the series raised some more questions about the hero and hinted at some heart-breaking hints about his life.
As arguably the heart of the original series, Nite Owl served as kind of an everyman for the average reader. As a successor to the previous Nite Owl, Daniel Dreiberg fought crime with the assistance of an array of gadgetry of his own design and was the closest thing to a moral center in the cast of of characters with a diverse mix of ethics. Largely innocent and well-meaning in stark contrast to his fellow teammates, Nite Owl ended the series by assuming a different alias, planning a return to superheroics and living in peace with his romantic partner Silk Spectre.
Of course, Silk Spectre herself went through drastic changes over the course of the graphic novel. As detailed in the show's latest episode, the harsh effects of those changes and the ensuing 30 years is clear. After discovering that the Comedian was her father, Spectre changed her superheroine identity to the Comedienne and fought crime alongside Nite Owl, following the forestalled nuclear apocalypse of the main series. Unfortunately for both characters, they were apparently arrested for their vigilantism during the '90s and went very separate routes thereafter.
Now working as an FBI agent for the federal government's anti-vigilante task force, the Comedienne no longer operates under her assumed identity and instead polices against the heroic activities in which she formerly partook. It appears that Nite Owl did not take such a deal, and currently sits in prison for his crimes. A conversation between Laurie and Senator Keene, however, revealed that his freedom may still be on the table. After noticing a caged owl she keeps as a pet, Keene refers obliquely to the possibility of negotiating the owl's freedom. Far from turning away from her partner, the seemingly cynical Silk Spectre may be working to winning her one-time lover a life outside prison.
Spectre's cynicism hides that possibility well. Throughout most of the episode she seemingly mimics the attributes of her father well, cracking jokes and casting suspicions left and right as she seemingly fights for the interests of the government. In a joke she broadcasts to Mars for the benefit of her other former lover Dr. Manhattan, she even portrays Nite Owl as ultimately bound for the same hell as everyone else in spite of his noble intentions. She recognizes that he never killed anyone and that his technological achievements were considerable, but she privately doesn't seem to think they ended up doing much good.
Though much has been revealed about what happened to Nite Owl in the ensuing 30 years, the hero has yet to be seen on camera. Since he was canonically born in 1945, he should be well into his 70s by now, and he was never the most physically active hero to begin with. While his technological genius could make him a factor in the show's potential endgame, the best thing Dan can probably hope for is to live his final days outside of the prison that ate half of his life.