[Massive spoilers below. Obviously.]
1. Billy Crudup the Red Herring: While I loved ol’ Doc Manhattan’s quirky performance as the creepy new neighbor, his overwhelming weirdness made it clear early on that he wasn’t the major threat—far too obvious. The film is, after all, a comedy—a genre that thrives on manipulating viewer expectations.
2. Jamarcus the Mole: As soon as that curly-haired, mild-mannered British fellow stepped through Ben Stiller’s door, I knew he wasn’t human. Director Akiva Schaffer gave Jonah Hill an introductory scene; heck, he gave Vince Vaughn two (one in Costco, one at the football game). But Richard Ayoade just sort of… appeared at the first NW meeting. In a mystery story, a break in an established narrative pattern should always raise your suspicions.
3. The Alien Boyfriend: Schaffer devoted a lot of screen time to building up the conflict between Bob and his teenage daughter’s thuggish boyfriend. The punk certainly deserved some good old fashioned comeuppance (trying to force himself on the poor girl, savagely assaulting and humiliating Bob for daring to intervene), so I wasn’t terribly surprised when he reappeared as one of the final obstacles standing between our heroes and the slowly-charging communications array. That said, I couldn’t imagine a better payoff than allowing Vince Vaughn to vent his frustrations on the crotch of the invader wearing the kid’s skin (but let’s not think too hard about exactly when that particular switcheroo occurred).