Fans of Lost and The Leftovers might have been a bit shocked at just how much the Watchmen finale tied up the loose ends and unanswered questions of the season. Crucial plotlines threads and unanswered questions that seemed more like stylistic choices than actual mysteries alike were all perfunctorily put to bed in the finale, with such deft aplomb that it felt like Damon Lindelof was making a show of demonstrating that, yes, he could answer all the questions if he wanted. All the mysteries except for one: Who the hell was Lube Man?
Lube Man appeared out of nowhere in the fourth of episode of Watchmen, before lubing up his sinewy body and disappearing back into nowhere with the help of a storm drain. He did not appear again in the show.
While it would have been perfectly fine for Lube Man to just exist as an unexplained oddity in the show, Lindelof told Vulture that he wanted the identity of Lube Man to be a little bonus for the viewers who had also been keeping up with Peteypedia. Asked directly whether Lube Man was, in fact, (fired) FBI agent Dale Petey, Lindelof said that the final Peteypedia entry “does give strong indications as to the identity of Lube Man.”
Peteypedia, if you’re unfamiliar with this strange word I insist on using, was a collection of in-universe documents posted on the HBO website after each episode to fill in extra details about the world of the show. The final entry is a memo on Petey’s firing, written from the perspective of FBI deputy director Max Farragut.
The crucial hints here seem to be, firstly, a note about his personality type (“Petey (Hero Enthusiast-Obsessive/ Solipsist on the Werthem Spectrum) is at risk for vigilante behavior, and most likely, always was“) and, secondly, a curious note about the stuff on his desk:
Anyone interested in taking anything from the stacks of media, ephemera, and straight-up junk cluttering his workspace — multiple copies of Rorschach’s Journal, hundreds of “comic” books (why our society is still so obsessed with pirates is beyond me) and a jug of what appears to be some kind of canola oil, help yourselves.
There are some indications that Petey might have been inspired to become Lube Man after reading Fogdancing, an in-universe book he expounds upon in two different entries in episode eight section Peteypedia. For instance:
See him now in your mind’s eye, moving through boiling clouds of Sunset Haze, wearing his gas mask and skin-tight silver suit shimmering with SPF-666, looking slick and doing what must be done, in secret, to keep you and me and all of us free. Or so we tell ourselves.
Petey, you slippery fish.