This article contains Watchmen spoilers.
Well, it took them long enough, but it looks like the mystery of Lube Man has finally been solved. Yes, the show that gave us an enormous high tech Dr. Manhattan dildo also introduced us to a mysterious costumed figure that was promptly dubbed “Lube Man” because of his penchant for dousing himself in oil and sliding into confined spaces. Ol’ Lube Man only had about 90 seconds of total screen time on Watchmen (back in episode 4) but he sure set the internet’s imaginations ablaze.
While Lube Man never appeared again, and wasn’t even addressed in that incredible Watchmen finale, the final installments of HBO’s Peteypedia supplemental materials have all but confirmed his identity. As it turns out, Lube Man may have been right there with us on nearly every step of this journey…as FBI Agent Dale Petey. It shouldn’t be that surprising. Lube Man and Petey are both tall and lanky, and Petey is a superhero fanboy with a thing for masks of his own, so it’s probably not too much of a stretch to get him into that silver costume.
The evidence in favor of Dale Petey as Lube Man first broke after episode 8. For what wasn’t the first time this season, a character (in this case Adrian Veidt) was seen reading Fogdancing, a work of literature that only exists in the Watchmen universe, but that’s considered enormously influential there. The book introduces the concept of “fogdancers,” a special breed of government agents who “do the ghastly wet-work that grease the wheels of the American machine and mop up proof of all the sick stuff you’re not supposed to do during combat.” Not terribly incriminating on its own, right? But…
Fogdancers wear silver bodysuits with goggles and coat themselves in a special lubricant called “SPF 666,” to shield them from the heat and radiation of whatever horrible war crimes they’re busy committing. Gosh, you know who else likes silver bodysuits, goggles, and coating themselves in oil? Lube Man. And you know who never was seen on screen at the same time as Dale Petey? Um…also Lube Man.
But far more incriminating is one of Petey’s memos, where he all but reveals his “secret identity” via his deep knowledge of and love for Fogdancing. Petey was such a fan of the book that he wrote a detailed summary for a Max Shea/Fogdancing fanzine called (wait for it) Nothing Ever Ends. It was part of a competition, which Dale lost, and he “jokingly” refers to that failure as “my origin story.” He may not have been joking.
On the show, the last we saw of Dale Petey was in episode 7, when he was reporting in from Wade Tillman’s bunker, surveying the carnage after Wade wiped out about a half dozen members of the 7th Kavalry. This is apparently his last official act for the FBI. Oh, don’t worry, not because anything bad happened to him, but because he has been fired. Deputy Director Farragut (last seen in episode 3) apparently found Dale’s rambling memos full of pop culture and superhero trivia, often with wistful asides directed at fellow FBI Agent Laurie Blake to be too unprofessional, grating. But more importantly, Dale disobeyed orders to return to Washington. Instead, Petey simply vanished.
Director Farragut now considers Dale to be a vigilante activity risk (now classified as “Hero Enthusiast-Obsessive/ Solipsist on the Werthem Spectrum”), and that “a jug of what appears to be some kind of canola oil” was confiscated with his belongings. In other words, Dale has been living out his superhero fantasies as Lube Man. Or, perhaps his superhero codename should be Fogdancer. At the very least, I’m willing to bet that’s what Dale calls himself, and it’s far more flattering than Lube Man.
If there’s ever a Watchmen season 2, maybe we’ll get the answers. But probably not.
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