Every 'Watchmen' Easter Egg You May Have Missed
HBO's highly enjoyable continuation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen comic book is packed with references to the source material. At minimum, that should give any newbies watching Watchmen a good excuse to pick up a copy and experience the original story first-hand. Once you've caught up and are in the know, join us as we hunt down and explain the many Easter eggs that pop up in every episode, as well as hidden references and other callbacks. Here's everything we noticed through the first season of Watchmen.
Dr. Manhattan on Mars
This one is a bit of a gimme since Dr. Manhattan is easily the most recognizable character from Watchmen, but his appearance on Mars is a throwback to the significant time he spent there over the course of the comic book. Fed up with both Veidt and humanity in general, Jon leaves Earth and says he's headed into deep space. "Human affairs cannot be my concern," he says to Veidt. "I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated."
But if this video clip is real, he's back on the human side of the universe, seemingly having fun creating and destroying new sandcastles on Mars. The building we see in the grainy news broadcast isn't nearly as opulent as the one he builds on the red planet in the comic, but it does seem to resemble the castle where Jeremy Irons' character is residing.
The most easily identifiable throwback to the original comic book, Rorschach masks have been co-opted by the Seventh Kavalry. While the masks protect their identities, it's also pretty clear that the terrorist group idolizes Rorschach and have appropriated his morally absolute value system to fuel their white-supremacist views.
Angela's egg smiley face
While cracking eggs during a baking demonstration, Angela arranges five egg yolks in the shape of a smiley face, harkening back to Watchmen's iconic bloodstained smiley face button. Angela's egg yolks are one of the multiple times that Watchmen's iconic smiley face imagery pops up in this episode. Muddying the yolks creates the smile itself, but the kicker is the small string of blood in the yolk standing in for the left eye.
Veidt's big plan in Watchmen was to drop a giant, sonically charged squid into Manhattan in order to force humanity to unite against a common enemy. Now, 30 years in the future, it rains squid. Tiny squid, that, per Will Reeves' newspaper, have apparently destroyed homeless camps in Boise, Idaho, killing two. There's also an up close image of one of the squid displayed inside the pod when Looking Glass interrogates the suspected terrorist.
MORE: Why did it rain tiny squid on Watchmen?
Little Bighorn and the Seventh Kavalry
This isn't so much a Watchmen Easter egg as it is a historical one: Angela's pager sounds off with a "Little Bighorn" alert, which we infer signifies 7th Kavalry action after she rushes to her bakery, suits up, and breaks into a terrorist's mobile home so she can shove him into her trunk on the way to the police station. The alert draws its name from the Battle of Little Bighorn, which pitted Lieutenant Colonel Custer and the Seventh Cavalry unit against Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Also called Custer's Last Stand, the battle saw Custer and his comparatively meager forces crushed, marking the most decisive Native American victory in the Plains Indian War. If you keep an eye out during Looking Glass' interrogation with the captured terrorist, there's also a portrait of Custer that flashes behind him the first time he asks about the Seventh Kavalry.
"Veidt Officially Declared Dead" headline
As Angela walks to the bakery to get suited up, she passes by Will Reeves and we catch a glimpse of his newspaper. The biggest headline on the page is "Veidt Officially Declared Dead," suggesting that the man also known as Ozymandias is permanently gone. We know that's a lie, however; while we haven't gotten explicit confirmation on the show that Jeremy Irons' eccentric character is Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, we're pretty sure.
"And we will whisper, 'No.'"
The video that Judd Crawford plays during the police meeting features an eerie 7th Kavalry speech that feels a lot like a manifesto. It also quotes one of the first, and perhaps most famous, Rorschach lines from the original Watchmen. The 7th Kavalry spokesperson says, "Soon, all the whores and race traitors will shout 'Save us!' And we will whisper, 'No.'" The original quotation is from Rorschach's diary: "The accumulated filth and all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout 'Save us!'... and I'll look down and whisper 'No.'"
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
The phrase of the hour is "Who watches the Watchmen?" Judd Crawford closes out the police meeting by asking this question in Latin. The phrases appears throughout Watchmen and is arguably one of the central questions the novel poses.
Under the Hood
When Judd Crawford returns from the meeting, Angela is lounging at his desk, ready to confront him for not alerting her until well after the 7th Kavalry attack. In one shot, we get a clear glimpse of Under the Hood, Hollis Mason's autobiography, sitting on Judd's desk. Mason was the original Nite Owl; Under the Hood chronicles his journey to becoming a vigilante. It is one of the texts interspersed between chapters in Watchmen.
Not so much an Easter egg as a blatant reference, the ship makes its appearance during the cattle farm raid. Judd Crawford and pilot Pirate Jenny pursue the escaping 7th Kavalry airplane in a vessel that looks a lot like the one used by Dan Dreiberg, a.k.a. Nite Owl II. Judd and Pirate Jenny get in close to use the ship's flamethrower on the Cavalry plane; in the comic, Laurie Blake, the former Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan's estranged girlfriend, accidentally activates the ship's flamethrower in the garage while she's looking for a dashboard lighter.
Even more owls
Okay, yes, we get it, we're supposed to associate Judd with Nite Owl. Aside from the bigger clues, owls tend to pop up in odd places around him. Angela uses a mug shaped like an owl when she sits at Judd's desk; one of her children uses owl-themed trainer chopsticks when Judd and his wife come over for dinner; an animated owl flies across the screen at the beginning of American Hero Story, which is playing in Judd's living room.
We don't get to see a lot of Pirate Jenny, one of the masked detectives, in this episode. Her name, however, is an obscure throwback: "Pirate Jenny" is a song from The Threepenny Opera that at least partially inspired the comic within Watchmen, Tales of the Black Freighter, which appears between chapters throughout the original comic.
Dollar Bill on a racist National Bank poster
One of the original Minutemen, Dollar Bill was a masked hero sponsored by the National Bank. Dollar Bill was orchestrated as a publicity figure -- someone intended to signify an extra layer of protection over customers' money and drum up good press for the bank. He was eventually shot during a bank robbery. The poster we see on the wall in the 7th Kavalry hideout is from his publicity days though, depicting a smiling Dollar BIll dragging out a black man by his shirt. The text on the poster reads, "Our banks are clean and safe and family-oriented and we keep the riff-raff out!"
American Hero Story
A Ryan Murphy-esque show within the series, American Hero Story is all about the Minutemen of years past. In the opening sequence playing in Judd Crawford's living room, we see a table with place settings for Captain Metropolis, the Comedian, Moth Man, Dollar Bill, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, and Hooded Justice.
Joe Keene and the "Sundancer in Chief"
As Judd Crawford is driving away from his home, we catch snippets of a conservative radio segment that give light to some of the more contested politics of this alternate universe. One of the hosts brings up Joe Keene -- a.k.a. the son of the man who orchestrated the original Keene Act that essentially shut down vigilantes not sponsored by the government in 1977. The host compares Keene, who is framed as a hero, to the current "Sundancer in Chief," presumably President Robert Redford.
"Pore Jud Is Dead"
The closing song of the episode, "Pore Jud Is Daid," is a song from Oklahoma. Yeah, poor Judd.
The drop of blood on Judd's badge
A final reference to the series' iconic smiley face imagery comes with the drop of Judd Crawford's blood that falls on his police badge as he hangs from the tree. It's almost perfectly shaped like the splatter that adorns the cover of Watchmen.
The "Hiroshima Lovers" in the back alley
As Angela drives away from her bakery, leaving Will Reeves handcuffed inside, there's a quick shot of her driving out of the back alleyway. On the wall, there's some graffiti of two intertwined silhouettes engaging in a tight embrace. It's a callback to the "Hiroshima Lovers" graffiti that appears throughout Watchmen; Rorschach first notices it in Chapter 5, describing it as a "silhouette picture in doorway, man and woman, possibly indulging in sexual foreplay. Didn't like it. Makes doorway look haunted." Appearing to function as some last expression of sexuality in the face of apocalyptic destruction, it appears on walls, vaguely in inkblots, dubiously in one of Rorschach's childhood drawings, and perhaps most notably in Dan's sex dream in Chapter 7.
The New Frontiersman headline: "Global Squidfalls Baffle Scientists"
Early in the morning, a truck drops off several stacks of newspapers at the "Mister News" stand near Angela's bakery. One of these newspapers is The New Frontiersman, a right-wing paper that was Rorschach's paper of choice. In fact, he shipped his journal off to The New Frontiersman in hopes of posthumous publication, calling them in his last journal entry the "only people can [sic] trust." At the end of the novel, we see Seymour, a low-level employee, eyeing Rorschach's journal while searching for materials to fill in blank space in the paper. Supplemental materials released after the first episode reveal (via a lengthy memo from FBI Agent Dale Petey) that The New Frontiersman did eventually go on to publish the journal in full, leveraging it as proof of a liberal conspiracy. And then, you know, the squid rain.
Looking Glass eating like Rorschach
Another small detail that might not be worth noting if it wasn't so distinctive -- when Looking Glass joins Angela in the car at the scene of Judd's death, he asks if she has any food on her. She offers some nuts, and to eat them, Looking Glass rolls his reflective mask up so that it exposes his mouth and rests on the bridge of his nose. Later, he does the same thing while watching American Hero Story at home, not even removing his mask while indoors. Between the fact that Looking Glass is the only one of the detectives with a full-face mask (and no eye holes) and his rough stubble, it's almost a dead ringer for Rorschach eating beans in Dan Dreiberg's kitchen in the original novel. (We haven't seen it yet in the show yet, but the San Diego Comic-Con trailer has a shot of Looking Glass eating with his mask on straight out of a can of beans... Hurm.)
Two minutes to midnight
As Cal wheedles away to get Angela to let him open his present at midnight, he makes deliberate notice of the time on the clock -- the first time he remarks on it, it's two minutes until midnight. Maybe it's just a throwaway reference, but it's worth noting that the Doomsday Clock -- a metaphorical representation of how close humanity is to a man-made global catastrophe that features prominently through Watchmen -- is currently two minutes away from midnight as a result of a "devolving state of nuclear and climate security."
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Louis Gates Jr.
When Angela goes to the Greenwood Center for Cultural Heritage to test Will Reeves' DNA sample, she's greeted at a self-service kiosk by the face of the Redford Administration's Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Louis Gates Jr. (but "you can call me Skip"). Watchmen has been quietly inserting figures from modern American pop-culture consciousness into the new series -- per documents HBO released on the "Peteypedia" side website, Vox.com founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein is now White House Press Secretary; Doctor Oz is now Surgeon General; and of course, there's President Robert Redford. In our universe, Henry Louis Gates Jr., also known as "Skip," is an African American studies and literature scholar who has hosted and produced a number of ancestry-focused PBS programs. That history helps his role in the series -- assisting black Tulsa residents in determining whether or not they are able to claim reparations from the United States government and tracing their ancestry -- make a bit more sense.
Owl and pirate costumes
When Angela arrives at home, Cal is playing with their two daughters. One of them is wearing an owl costume and the other is dressed as a pirate, something that can't be a coincidence given the existence of Nite Owl and the scattered pirate imagery in Watchmen, respectively.
Magna-hattan Blocks and Topher's castle
When Angela breaks the news of Judd's death to Topher, he's playing with a set of toys called "Magna-hattan Blocks," building a structure that's strangely reminiscent of the castle we saw Dr. Manhattan destroy on Mars during the pilot. It also looks a whole lot like the fancy castle in the middle of nowhere where Jeremy Irons' character (probably Veidt!) lives.
Hooded Justice and Rolf Müller
During this episode, we catch the beginning of American Hero Story, which kicks off with some pretty emo narration from Hooded Justice, one of the original Minutemen. The narration -- which, we have to remember, is part of a dramatized TV special -- addresses one of the lingering conspiracy theories about Hooded Justice's death. In Under the Hood, Hollis Mason, a.k.a. the original Nite Owl, posits that Hooded Justice, who never revealed his secret identity, was actually circus strongman Rolf Müller, who disappeared at the same time that Hooded Justice vanished. As we learn both in Under the Hood and American Hero Story, Müller washed up in Boston with a bullet hole through his head. However, American Hero Story dubiously confirms that Müller wasn't Hooded Justice at all -- rather, he killed Müller himself so that people would think him dead and get off his tail. The sequence then jumps into a depiction of one of Hooded Justice's first hero appearances stopping a supermarket robbery in 1938. We got an outside perspective of this incident in Under the Hood's second chapter as well -- Mason writes of an "extraordinary being [who] crashed in through the window of the supermarket while the robbery was in progress and attacked the man responsible with such intensity and savagery that those not disabled immediately were only too willing to drop their guns and surrender." Sounds correct! There's also a throwaway reference on a newspaper at the beginning of the sequence to the War of the Worlds alien-invasion radio hoax of 1938. (It's also worth noting that the woman called upon to type the Germans' letter to "Coloured Soldiers of the States" at the beginning of the episode is named Müller as well.)
Senator Joe Keene
In this episode, we get to meet the "Joe Jr." who was referenced in the premiere on the radio program that Judd was listening to while driving to his impending doom. It's Senator Joe Keene, indubitably a descendant of Senator John Keene, who passed the 1977 Keene Act that outlawed all "costumed adventuring" not officially sanctioned by the United States government. We learn that Joe is not only a slick politician gunning to be president but also a close friend of the Crawford family: Jane Crawford previously organized his senate campaign.
Comanche Feats of Martial Horsemanship painting
Did you also wonder was up with that weirdly long shot of the painting at the base of the stairs in Judd's house? Turns out that the painting is actually the source of the episode title, "Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship." The only difference is that the painting, which was painted by 19th-century American artist George Caitlin, is titled, "Comanche Feats of Martial Horsemanship." Far from Caitlin's most famous work, it was unclear exactly what the significance of the painting was when Episode 1 aired, but after Episode 3, the Peteypedia gave us the goods -- detailing that it's an in-joke and call to action passed down from one Klan leader to the next, e.g., Senator Joe Keene, Jr.'s dad or grandfather gave Judd Crawford's dad or grandfather the painting, which makes it more likely that Judd was secretly in the Klan (which is now doing business as 7th Kavalry). And, uh, hey, you can buy the print at Walmart if you're so inclined.
Manhattan's origin story
Okay, obviously Veidt has a Dr. Manhattan hangup. Here, we see him bringing the play he hinted at in the last episode, "The Watchmaker's Son," to life via his very dimwitted, very disposable companions. The "watchmaker's son" is, of course, Dr. Manhattan, and Veidt's play is his origin story. The stage play is a pretty accurate account of what happened, with one key difference -- in the book, Janey can't bear to watch and instead runs out of the room so she doesn't have to see Jon get pulled apart at the seams.
"Nothing ends, Janey. Nothing ever ends."
At the end of Veidt's morbid reenactment of Dr. Manhattan's origin story, he parrots the words that Manhattan spoke to him at the end of Watchmen. At the end of the novel, Veidt seeks validation for his big squid scheme, asking Jon, "I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end." Jon replies, "'In the end?' Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."
Laurie tells jokes to Dr. Manhattan
The blue booth Laurie enters offers inquisitive minds the opportunity to leave a message for Dr. Manhattan, who totally gives a shit about humanity and is absolutely listening. Laurie, who dated Dr. Manhattan when she was a young adult, is still pretty hung up on him, and the episode is interspersed with her one-sided conversation. Of course, it's all one long, tongue-in-cheek joke that echoes the tone of Rorschach's infamous "But Doctor… I am Pagliacci" joke.
D.C. Post-Times headline: "Grisham to Retire from the Supreme Court"
A recurring joke in Watchmen is to turn pop-culture figures into government officials. This time, legal-thriller author John Grisham apparently serves on the U.S. Supreme Court. All right. However, the Peteypedia suggests that Grisham has only just been appointed to the Supreme Court, but that's likely a production error.
"Just Revenger, no 'the.'"
Maybe this is nothing and I'm too steeped in the horrible 2019 zeitgeist, but after Joe Keene congratulates Laurie on her capture of "the Revenger" at the bank, she corrects him: "Just Revenger, no 'the.'" It smacks of Joker (2019) energy: it's not The Joker, it's just… Joker. Maybe my brain is just broken. Or maybe this was a really, really funny joke about Joker, the 2019 comic-book movie.
Laurie's pet owl, Who
After Dr. Manhattan, Laurie got together with Dan Dreiberg, the second Nite Owl, in Watchmen. Now, sweet, sweet Dan is apparently in federal prison (Senator Keene hints that he can pardon Dreiberg if he's elected president) and Laurie keeps an owl with a fitting name caged up at home.
Watchmen pop art
While Joe and Laurie are talking shop in her living room, we catch a glimpse of a large art piece featuring Nite Owl II, Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan, and Laurie as Silk Spectre II. While Nite Owl II and Dr. Manhattan's illustrations seem to be drawn in the original style, Ozymandias' face is a bit thinner (and more Jeremy Irons-esque) while Silk Spectre II looks a bit more like a young Jean Smart than the straight-haired Laurie we see in the comic.
Rorschach's journal on Petey's slides
Poor, wonderful Petey. Beautiful, young FBI Agent Dale Petey, who apparently writes memos that no one cares about (see the Peteypedia, HBO's repository for auxiliary Watchmen worldbuilding content) and puts slides of Rorschach's journal in briefing slideshows for context. Here, we see the cover of the published version of Rorschach's journal, which features a butterfly-like formation on the mask with two very unsubtle guns in the ink blots. The journal entries that Petey puts on the projector are from the day following the Comedian's death when Rorschach visited a bar and later Veidt in hopes of finding some answers. No one respects nor appreciates Petey for this, but I do.
"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair"
As Laurie and Petey fly into Tulsa, we finally catch a glimpse of what reclusive trillionaire Lady Trieu has been up to: the Millennium Clock, a monument (device?) that we still don't know all that much about. Petey says to Laurie, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair," quoting Lady Trieu from the groundbreaking ceremony, a quote from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem Ozymandias in honor of Adrian Veidt, whose company she bought. But let's backtrack: Trieu bought Veidt's company. She's building a structure called the Millennium Clock in Tulsa for reasons that have yet to be revealed. Trieu invoked the quotation at the groundbreaking for the clock; Moore quotes Shelley at the end of Chapter 11 of the novel, and the full quotation reads, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Black Freighter Inn & Suites
Laurie and Petey have rooms at the Black Freighter Inn & Suites in Tulsa. The hotel draws its name from the Tales of the Black Freighter comic that features throughout Watchmen.
Pirate flag in the countryside
As Veidt gallavants across green hills on his white steed to the tune of Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet," he passes a flag that's a dead ringer for the skull and crossbones flag — yellow on tattered black fabric — from Tales of the Black Freighter. This one seems to be mounted on a scythe.
The Game Warden's pirate seal
Veidt's story is already Tales of the Black Freighter-esque in the respect that both feel like supplemental texts that run parallel to the main story. That being said, they're really laying the pirate imagery on thick: the Game Warden, who seems to be Veidt's personal keeper of sorts, seals his letters with a skull and crossbones.
Bucephalus, Veidt's horse
In typical obnoxious style, Veidt has named his horse Bucephalus, after Alexander the Great's steed. The naming convention makes a lot of sense: after all, Veidt's genetically modified lynx of Watchmen was named Bubastis after an ancient Egyptian city that was a center of worship of the cat goddess Bastet. Of course, Veidt's hero name, Ozymandias, comes from the Greek name for Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Gotta admire that strong of a personal brand!
After writing a positively scathing reply to the Game Warden (to the tune of Carmen), Veidt suits up in his classic Ozymandias costume, gold circlet and all. Presumably he's going hunting in it, or maybe he's just looking to gas himself up a bit.
The Russians' intrinsic field generator
After the funeral incident, a crowd of reporters asks Senator Joe Keene a series of questions to which he gives very diplomatic, politician-like answers, which is to say that he barely answers them at all. One reporter asks him to comment on the Russians building an intrinsic field generator. A botched encounter with an intrinsic field generator was what turned Jon Osterman into Dr. Manhattan; the fact that the Russians are working on one seems to be a clue that they're trying to create their own superman. On a larger scale, it's a nod to potential mounting tensions between the United States and Russia, something that Veidt's squid was supposed to have fixed for good.
"When my dad was murdered they found a secret compartment in his closet, so I always check."
Given that it's the first event in the entire novel, it's kind of hard to forget the Comedian's death. After the police leave, Rorschach investigates Blake's apartment, unearthing a secret compartment in his closet. In it, he finds the Comedian's costume and gear in addition to a picture of the original Minutemen. Laurie knew that Blake was the Comedian before Rorschach did, through her and Dr. Manhattan's government connections, but she only realized that he was her father after Dr. Manhattan took her to Mars and forced her to parse through her memories and put the pieces together.
Laurie's custom dildo
I have so much respect for Laurie for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that she apparently travels with an absolutely massive, shining, blue dildo. The blue is hard to mistake, and if you think about the fact that Dr. Manhattan has the ability to change the size of his body at will (when we first encounter him in Watchmen, he is very tall), it makes a good amount of sense. But also, just… my god.
"Silk Spectre takes Manhattan"
When Laurie opens her... dildo briefcase (truly, I don't know what else to call it), there's a vintage Esquire magazine cover embedded on the inside of a younger Laurie embracing Dr. Manhattan, whose back is to the reader. The headline reads "Silk Spectre takes Manhattan," which is obviously pretty thinly veiled innuendo. It's reminiscent of Laurie's mother — the original Silk Spectre — having a Tijuana Bible (an "eight-page porno comic they did in the '30s and '40s," as Sally describes it) of herself. Laurie initially chided her for it, lamenting that she had kept such a gross gift from a fan, but the Esquire cover has pretty similar vibes.
Rorschach journal and watch
After Petey and Laurie have sex (please note that Petey is, in fact, wearing the mask that Laurie berated him about on the plane), we get a nice shot that shows a copy of Rorschach's journal on the dresser. In his notes published on Peteypedia, we learn that Petey has a whole stash of them at his desk, just in case someone actually reads his memos and decides that they want to read it. It's worth noting that his watch is lying on top of the journal itself — while there doesn't seem to be anything particularly noteworthy about the watch itself, watches are almost always significant in some way.
Fogdancing, the book
As she mans the egg stand, Mrs. Clark is reading Fogdancing, one of the in-universe novels written by comic book author Max Shea, who wrote Tales of the Black Freighter. After DC began to reject his stories on the grounds that they were too pornographic, Shea penned two novels — Fogdancing and The Hooded Basilisk. The countdown begins until The Hooded Basilisk makes an appearance on the show.
Lady Trieu's name
Hong Chau's Lady Trieu presumably draws her name from a Vietnamese historical figure known as Lady Trieu (in Vietnamese, Bà Triệu) or Triệu Thị Trinh, among other names. A warrior, Lady Trieu led a rebellion against the Chinese occupation of VIetnam during the third century. She's said to have won over 30 battles against the Chinese over the span of two years. She's been mythologized — the legends also say that she was nine feet tall and had breasts that were one meter long that she threw over her shoulders during battle — but persists as a symbol of resistance.
Topher's Bubastis plush
After Angela relocates to Topher's bottom bunk for the night, they chat about the attack at the cemetery. When Angela admits that she's still scared from the whole affair, Topher hands a plush down to the bottom bunk. The doll, while tattered, is of Bubastis, Adrian Veidt's genetically modified lynx from the comic. Despite the fact that it's ostensibly been years since Veidt's disappearance, his merch line still seems to be running strong.
Looking Glass' squid obsession
This is the most we've really gotten to see of Looking Glass outside of the mask thus far. Not only does he have a nifty bunker, but he also apparently studies the squidfall itself, rushing out to take pictures of the little dudes before they dissolve. Based on the trailer for Episode 5, it seems like we'll finally get Looking Glass' origin story next week.
Laurie suggests that Angela's car disappearing on the day of Judd's death and reappearing on the day of his funeral wasn't a coincidence. Rather, she proposes that it was a thermodynamic miracle, which she describes as, "the science-y version of 'it's all connected, man.'" As Laurie goes on to point out, it's something that Dr. Manhattan brought up to her while they were on Mars together. Manhattan describes the miracles to Laurie as, "events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible." He longs to witness one. Obviously, the oozing romance of that line has waned over the ages, because Laurie delivers it mockingly, and then goes on to tell Angela (in a kind of threatening way, if we're being honest) that her husband Cal is hot. I mean... she's not wrong.
Petey telling Angela about Laurie's past in the car
Petey knows so many things, and it has led to so many weird, uncomfortable, and awkward situations with Laurie in the short span of only two episodes. This time, Laurie decides to humiliate him as they're all driving to Lady Trieu's estate. "Petey's kind of an expert on me and all the yahoos I used to run around with," she explains after Angela asks her what trauma led her to wear a mask. "Go ahead," she prods. "Tell Sister Night about my trauma."
Petey (kind of enthusiastically, if we're being honest) explains the history of Laurie's parents, the Comedian and Silk Spectre, who met during their time in the Minutemen. We know this story: the Comedian sexually assaulted Silk Spectre, Laurie didn't find out until years later, and didn't find out until long after that that the Comedian was actually her father.
There's also a throwaway reference to American Hero Story: Minutemen, which Petey insists is garbage after Angela asks if he means the TV show. For those keeping up with Petey's long-winded memos, you can read all about how inaccurate it is on Peteypedia.
Lady Trieu's Vivarium
Lady Trieu's daughter takes Angela and Laurie to meet her mother inside her Vivarium, which she constructed in order to uphold the promise she made to her mother to never leave Vietnam: instead, she created Vietnam in Tulsa. This isn't the first significant vivarium we've seen in Watchmen: Veidt also had one in Antarctica, creating a green paradise in a sub-zero landscape. It's where Watchmen's big climax went down, and in this case, serves to only further highlight the parallels between Veidt and Lady Trieu. From what we've seen, all of Trieu's big business happens in the Vivarium as well.
Lady Trieu's Veidt statue
Lady Trieu keeps a statue of Adrian Veidt in the chamber where she receives Laurie and Angela. Veidt is depicted in his classic Ozymandias costume, but with a tweak — it's not the strapping young man that decorated Veidt's own Ozymandias merchandise of the 1980s, but rather an older Veidt. When Laurie asks why, Trieu responds that "in my culture, our elders are revered." Laurie, in typical fashion, replies, "Well, yeah, but this is America, sweetheart. He looks like shit."
Cal reading Things Fall Apart
When Angela returns home, Cal is reading Chinua Achebe's hallmark postcolonial novel, Things Fall Apart. Angela spoils the book for him [Things Fall Apart spoilers ahead!], by telling him "Okonkwo hangs himself in the end" in an attempt to pick a fight. The reference to hanging is significant enough given Judd's manner of death.
Towards the end of the episode, we see Lady Trieu's daughter, Bian, wake up, rip an IV out of her arm, seek out her mother for comfort, get rebuffed, and retreat back to her room. While it's a somewhat odd sequence of events that reveals volumes about Lady Trieu's parenting style, it's also clear that Bian's dream is significant to the plot of the show. Judging by the look on Lady Trieu's face, Bian's description of the dream -- "I was in a village, men came and burned it, and then they made us walk" -- sounds like something that may have happened to her mother as a child, which is also hinted at by Trieu's tea partner, revealed to be Will Reeves, whose pills may be similar to the drug in the IV bag.
Radio chatter and the Doomsday Clock
The title card sequence here gives us a pretty decent sense of what time period we're in before the episode even starts. There's a radio that announces, "Eastern Europe tanks mass" (a headline lifted out of an issue of the New York Gazette in Chapter 10 of Watchmen) and few other blurbs about NATO and the California governor before the scanner stops and we clearly hear, "The Doomsday Clock stands at one minute to midnight." That pretty effectively places us just prior to Veidt's squid scheme.
Tales of the Black Freighter and "The Veidt Method"
As Wade walks through the carnival, we get a glimpse of a young man reading an issue of Tales of the Black Freighter. On the back, there's an advertisement for "The Veidt Method," a self-improvement course helmed by Veidt himself. We see advertisements for the course throughout Watchmen.
Pale Horse Poster
There's an advertisement for the Pale Horse concert at Madison Square Garden pasted onto the wall of the alley. The group played MSG the night of the squid attack, November 2.
The "Dimensional Incursion Event"
In this episode's opening sequence, we get our first on-screen depiction of Veidt's squid attack, referred to in-universe (and in the documents found on Peteypedia) as the "Dimension Incursion Event," or DIE for short. Not only do we witness the impact of the psychological blast, which reaches all the way out to Hoboken, but we finally get a good luck at the squid itself. Best of all, it's set to Sinatra's "Theme From New York, New York!" It's fitting — the carnival that Wade is at is located right on Sinatra Drive.
Oppenheimer on Broadway
The first couple in the New York tourism advertisement are standing outside a marquee, holding playbills for Oppenheimer, described on the cover as a "new hit musical." While there was a play titled In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer that ran on Broadway in 1969 and again in 2006, this doesn't look to be the same production. The marquee describes the play as "Mind-Blowing!" and calls out the "most terrible weapon," which… may not be the best messaging for a city recovering from apocalyptic trauma.
Millennium by Veidt advertisement
In the background of the marquee shot, there's an advertisement for Millennium by Veidt, the product line set to follow Veidt's Nostalgia brand. A pivot from the past-focused Nostalgia line, Millennium advertisements were future-oriented with slogans like, "This is the time, these are the feelings." The Millennium brand appears in the form of a poster in the last chapter of Watchmen, but now it's apparent that the line has carried on into the future. What's most interesting about this advertisement is that it features a silhouette of a couple that's reminiscent of the "Hiroshima Lovers" graffiti scattered throughout Watchmen.
Promethean Cab Co.
In the same shot, there's also a sign for the Promethean Cab Co., a business that we catch glimpses of throughout Watchmen. It's located across the street from a Gunga Diner and is also near the epicenter of the squid attack.
It is no exaggeration to say that I have been waiting for this exact moment throughout this entire season of Watchmen. "Why beans, Palmer?" you ask. "Why are you so obsessed with BEANS?" Let me tell you about the beans.
In the first chapter of Watchmen, Rorschach breaks into Dan's house to warn him about the potential mask killer. Because Rorschach is a grubby little man, he takes some of Dan's beans and eats them cold straight out of the can, and okay, yeah, it's pretty gross. Also, there's that line about "human bean juice," but -- I digress. It's iconic. I'm weirdly obsessed with it.
Looking Glass -- Wade Tillman -- finally eats some beans out of the can with his mask pulled up to his nose in perfect Rorschach fashion. There have been a number of unsubtle clues that Looking Glass is really supposed to remind us of Rorschach, but nothing puts the nail in the coffin more than this. Beans!
Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice having sex
As Looking Glass eats his Very Important Beans, he's also watching a kind of kinky dramatization of Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis getting it on. Essentially straight-up soft-core porn, the scene is part of the American Hero Story episode Wade is watching, so good for LG.
In the bunker, we catch a glimpse of a diploma hung on the wall next to various EDS devices and records. He has some kind of degree or certificate in Extraterrestrial Squid Science. Once again, good for LG.
The cereal given to the focus group of kids seems both generic and bad, but the smiley face is one of Watchmen's key motifs so we'd be remiss not to note it.
Nostalgia, the drug
Wade's ex, Cynthia, tells him that Angela's pills are Nostalgia, a drug that allows people to re-experience their old memories. The drug shares a name with Veidt's product line from Watchmen.
"Does it ever end? Of course it does."
Looking Glass, who puts up a great front despite being very much not over the squid attack, confidently tells his support group that things always do come to an end. It's a blatant lie, and one that's supposed to feel a bit tongue-in-cheek -- the show has previously made references to Dr. Manhattan's iconic line to Veidt at the end of Watchmen: "'In the end'? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."
"Technically, Dr. Manhattan won Vietnam."
As we've learned multiple times, Vietnam is a state in the Watchmen universe. That's largely due to the influence of Dr. Manhattan, who was predominantly responsible for a United States victory during the Vietnam War. Manhattan intervened on behalf of the United States in March 1971. By May 1971, the Viet Cong were expected to surrender imminently.
Pale Horse movie
Wade's new friend tells him her "squid story," which is centered around a fictional 1992 Spielberg movie titled Pale Horse. It's seemingly a dramatization of the events of November 2, 1985, the day of the squid attack, and titled after the band that was playing Madison Square Garden at the time of the event.
When Wade enters the 7K hideout/department store, there's a large eye symbol graffitied onto one of the walls. If you've been keeping up with Peteypedia, we've seen it once before — next to John David Keene's (a.k.a. Senator Joe Keene's father) signature on a letter addressed to Sheriff Crawford, Judd's grandfather.
Institute for Transdimensional Studies at Herald Square
Wade identifies the 7K teleportation device as a CX 924 model, which was apparently part of research happening at the Institute on 11/2. In the comic, we catch more than a few glances of the Institute for Extraspatial Studies, most notably during a front-facing view of the squid itself, which materializes within the building.
"The End is Nigh"
During Veidt's big confessional tape to Robert Redford, he parrots a phrase from Watchmen. During the first half of Watchmen, Rorschach (sans the mask, so technically Walter Kovacs) carries around a sign that reads, "The End is Nigh."
The Eye of Horus
Veidt's spacesuit… armor… spacesuit armor bears the eye of Horus on its chest plate. More specifically, it's the left eye of Horus, discernible due to the direction of the mark below the eye. At times, the left eye represents the moon and the god Thoth; it also represents healing and restoration. Aside from further hammering home Veidt's obsession with Ancient Egypt, it's also pretty solid confirmation that Veidt is indeed being held captive on a moon (plus Debussy's "Clair de Lune" is playing throughout the sequence). However, we get a shot prominently featuring a planet that looks an awful lot like Jupiter in the background. While Veidt may be on a moon, it looks like he isn't anywhere in Earth's orbit.
There are no references to George Michael's "Careless Whisper" in Watchmen proper, but the song featured so prominently in this episode that it would be weird not to include it. The first time we hear it playing, in the mirror funhouse, it's the original George Michael version, which makes sense, since "Careless Whisper" was a monster hit in the U.S. in 1985. The second time, it's an acoustic guitar cover playing over Wade and Cynthia's conversation in the lab. The final time, it's Nataly Dawn's soft but twisted cover of the hit playing over a close-up of Wade's forlorn face as he watches a perfume focus group.
During the dramatized interrogation of Hooded Justice, the agents bring up several old Minutemen enemies: Captain Axis, King Mob, and Moloch. While we see Rorschach interact with a retired Moloch in Watchmen, there are only passing references to Captain Axis and King Mob. Captain Axis was a Nazi and enemy of Nite Owl in particular -- Hollis Mason mentions him while talking with Dan in Chapter 1; later while being beat to death, Mason imagines himself fighting Captain Axis along with other villains. We see even less of King Mob -- only his "Ape Mask" encased in glass in one panel during the Comedian's assault of Sally.
Agent Jerry believes that Hooded Justice's noose and hood are for "sex stuff." The idea that HJ is into some kinky stuff is far from new -- in Watchmen, the Comedian suggests that being rough is what "gets [him] hot."
Cadet Class of '38
Will graduates from the police academy in '38 as the only new Black officer. However, there's another '38 New York City police academy graduate in the Watchmen canon -- Hollis Mason, who also served as an officer in New York before he was inspired by Hooded Justice to take up the Nite Owl mantle.
Action Comics #1
Will talks to the newsstand owner about the first issue of Action Comics, which was released in 1938 and also served as Superman's debut. In the Watchmen universe, the issue is somewhat credited with inspiring the "costumed adventurers" trend that began with the Minutemen. Hollis Mason writes about it in Under the Hood as a source of both intrigue and inspiration.
The Captain Metropolis/Hooded Justice Affair
Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice's relationship has always been a given in Minutemen history. While their relationship in this episode seems more sexual and strained, according to Sally Jupiter's manager (and later husband) Laurence Schexnayder, the two used to "row and act like an old married couple in public." While we clearly see Will's wife throughout this episode, in the days of the Minutemen, Silk Spectre was his public girlfriend in order to quell rumors about the CM/HJ affair.
The OK symbol on the forehead
The "ok symbol" -- the thumb and pointer finger joined together in a circle with the remaining three fingers held upright -- has a variety of meanings and, per the Anti-Defamation League, only became associated with white supremacist movements after a 4chan trolling campaign in 2017. After Will arrests the white arsonist, we see several other police officers (who are, importantly, also Klan members) flash the symbol.
Hooded Justice's first public appearances
Hollis Mason recounts the mugging incident in Under the Hood, describing it as "simple and unpresupposing enough." That being said, it was still enough to pique his interest in the first "costumed adventurer," and reading about it helped set Mason on the path to becoming the first Nite Owl. In this episode, we also get to see Will's perspective of the grocery store incident (actually a solo raid on a Klan hideout) that we read about in Under the Hood and saw dramatized on American Hero Story in Episode 2. Something to note: Hooded Justice slams one of the men into a lettuce display.
The Minutemen: "a great group of fellows, and there's even a couple of ladies"
When Nelson pitches Will -- who he initially believes is a liaison to Hooded Justice as opposed to the man himself -- on the Minutemen, he loosely describes the original lineup, which included himself as Captain Metropolis alongside Hollis Mason's Nite Owl, Dollar Bill, Mothman, and The Comedian. The sole women in the group were Silk Spectre and Silhouette.
The racist Dollar Bill poster (again)
We first saw this poster of National Bank hero Dollar Bill hanging in a Seventh Kavalry hideout in episode one. Here it is again, unveiled by Captain Metropolis immediately after he shuts down Hooded Justice's attempt to explain the Cyclops conspiracy to the press.
Dr. Manhattan in the Vietnam War
The documentary in the video store shows a clip of a supersized Dr. Manhattan destroying a series of homes in the Vietnam countryside. It's almost an exact replica of an iconic panel from Chapter 4 of the book, with Manhattan's weird triangle briefs and all.
Dr. Manhattan marionette
Although there's no puppet Manhattan in the comic, the appearance of one in the show harkens back to one of his most iconic lines. After teleporting himself and Laurie to Mars in Chapter 10, she confronts him about the fact that his perception of time disturbs her, asking why he just goes through the motions like a puppet without making an attempt to change the course of events. In return, he says, "We're all puppets, Laurie. I'm just a puppet who can see the strings."
As Angela spins around the VHS carousel, we get glimpses of a few familiar titles. Most notable is an adaptation of Fogdancing, a Max Shea novel. In The Treasure Island Treasury of Comics, an excerpted text that falls between Chapters 5 and 6 of Watchmen, we learn that there were two Fogdancing film adaptations; the one on the rack is by David Cronenberg. Also on the rack is a copy of Monsters From Outta Space, a rehashing of a phrase a receptionist at the TV station in Chapter 3 says when Dr. Manhattan teleports suddenly: “They’re not paying me enough to handle monsters from outta space!” Finally, there’s also a copy of Silk Swingers, the Edmund “King” Taylor directed B-movie about Sally Jupiter’s Silk Spectre.
Burgers 'N' Borscht
Angela runs past a Burgers 'N' Borscht restaurant while bringing the Sister Night VHS to her parents; she and her grandmother later eat there after June travels to Vietnam in search of Angela. In the comic, Seymour -- the editorial assistant at The New Frontiersman who uncovers Rorschach's diary -- picks up lunch for himself and his editor at the American/Russian hybrid chain. His editor is none too happy about the cultural exchange that it represents, especially given that it falls after the squid incident when the American press (even the right-wing New Frontiersman) is expected to play nice with the Russians.
During Veidt's trial, the prosecutor displays an artistic sketch of Veidt's squid monster. It's a dead ringer for Hira Manish's sketch in Chapter 8 of Watchmen. Manish was an Indian surrealist painter and one of the creatives who was taken to Veidt's island to participate in the monster's creation. While there, she has an affair with Max Shea before they both are killed in an explosion.
Squid on the table
When Lady Trieu and Angela eat lunch together, there's a plate of tiny squid on ice sitting next to a lotus root. We don't get a good look at them (are they normal tiny squid or insidious squidfall-esque tiny squid?), but it's another connection between Veidt and Trieu.
The golden device
From Trieu's pointed comments to the blue glow on Angela's face, it's clear that Cal is Dr. Manhattan. In order to awaken him, Angela pulls a small golden device out of his skull (this is after she bashes it in with a hammer). The device harkens back to the hydrogen symbol that Manhattan inscribed on his forehead, and appears to match its dimensions as well.
Mr. Eddy's Bar
The name of the bar where Angela and Manhattan meet is a reference to Edward Blake, the Comedian. Blake also fought in the Vietnam War alongside Dr. Manhattan. In the comic, he memorably and violently kills a woman (who calls him "Mr. Eddie") when she confronts him in a bar about the unborn child he fathered.
Manhattan's time perception making his girlfriends mad
If there's anything that the Watchmen series got absolutely right, it's capturing the fact that Dr. Manhattan is annoying as shit. The conversation he has with Angela is peppered with reminders that he doesn't experience before, and that's what he is doing, not was doing, slowly driving her up the wall as he dangles information that she'll eventually tell him. In particular, the news about her parents is reminiscent of a conversation he had with Laurie on Mars in the comic: Manhattan reveals that he knows that Laurie and Dan are sleeping together, she expresses surprise at the fact that he knows, and he corrects her, saying that he doesn't know yet but he will in a few minutes when she tells him.
The episode structure
The time-jumping structure of this episode feels like a retooled Watchmen Chapter 4, except this time it's all about Jon and Angela's story rather than just Jon's. Both rely on Jon's non-linear sense of time, jumping off and returning to a specific point. In the book, it's Mars in 1985. In the series, it's the bar in 2009.
When Jon travels to Antarctica, we get a glimpse of Veidt's destroyed vivarium dome in the background. Last we saw it in the comic, Veidt had opened it to the snow. Now, it's fully abandoned.
"Oh, sweet Jon. I made it 30 years ago."
After Veidt tells Jon about the memory device, he reveals that he's actually had it lying around for the past few decades. The phrasing is particularly reminiscent of Veidt's iconic line in response to Dan's attempt to stop the squid plan: "Do you seriously think I'd explain my masterstroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago."
Veidt's office is just rife with squid paraphernalia. I don't need to explain this one.
Intrinsic field substractor
Veidt tells Jon that the memory device was actually Plan A during their confrontation 30 years ago. Plan B (for "blowing [Jon] up") was the intrinsic field substractor, which in the comic, Veidt lures Jon into by muddling his senses with tachyon particles. It didn't work at the time, of course -- Jon was easily able to reassemble himself despite being blown apart by Veidt's machine.
In the conversation leading up to Angela's implementing Veidt's memory device, there's a shot of Jon and Angela's shadows up against a wall. It's reminiscent of the "Hiroshima lovers" motif that runs throughout Watchmen, but notable for the fact that Jon and Angela aren't embracing like the lovers typically are.
We know little about Max Shea's novel that keeps popping up in the show, but here's Veidt, reading it in his jail cell. "It's about loneliness," Veidt tells the Game Warden.
Ozymandias figurines on Veidt's desk
In the comics, Veidt had his own merchandise line of Ozymandias figurines, which were sometimes accompanied by other masked adventurers like Nite Owl or Rorschach. It appears that he kept plenty of them on his desk.
Ramses II password
Bian -- 1985 Bian, not the present-day clone -- unlocks Veidt's sperm cabinet via his computer. The password is "Ramses II," the Egyptian pharaoh also known as Ozymandias. It's the same password that Dan and Rorschach use to access the Pyramid Delivery files on Veidt's personal office computer in Chapter 10 of Watchmen.
Veidt catching the bullet
Veidt's final standoff ends with the Game Warden shooting him in a bid to prevent him from leaving. In ridiculous Adrian Veidt fashion, he catches the bullet in his bare hand. He manages to pull off the same feat in Chapter 12 of Watchmen, catching the bullet when Laurie tries to shoot him.
Copy of New Frontiersman
There's a copy of the New Frontiersman, the famed right-wing paper that famously published Rorschach's journal, displayed at the newsstand.
“The End is Nigh"
As Lady Trieu sets up her trap, Veidt remarks to the newsstand owner that "the end is nigh." He's parroting the sign that Rorschach carries around while unmasked in the earlier half of Watchmen.
Senator Keene Sr.
We've known for a while that Joe Keene is the son of Senator Keene Sr., also known as the author of the Keene Act of '77 that outlawed costumed adventuring. This is the first time we've ever seen him in the flesh, though.
Gila Flats, NM
As Joe Keene addresses the crowd of Cyclops members, he recounts how one of his men ended up getting teleported to Gila Flats, New Mexico during the White Night. Gila Flats was the location of the test site that Jon worked at prior to his forced transformation into Dr. Manhattan, and apparently where he reflexively sent the 7K member that triggered his powers that night.
Joe Keene in the Manhattan briefs
Before attempting to forcibly transform himself into the next Dr. Manhattan, Joe Keene strips down to his smalls. That includes a pair of Dr. Manhattan's iconic, pointy black briefs that he most notably wore in Vietnam before deciding to just go nude.
Manhattan parroting old lines
The material of the cage not only prevents Manhattan from escaping but also sends his consciousness haywire, blurring the temporal lines of his already funky perception of events. The lines he says are all pulled from the graphic novel: "Janey? what's up? Are you cold? I can raise the temperature?" is pulled from a conversation with Manhattan's first ex shortly at Christmas, just a few weeks after his rebirth. Manhattan later says, "as far as I know, there is no situation in Afghanistan currently requiring my attentions," which he first said during the disastrous TV interview from Chapter 3 of the comic. "Pay attention. You will all return to your homes" is a line taken from when Manhattan and Laurie were doing crowd control on a mob protesting costumed adventuring in 1977.
Archie, the owlship
After things wrap up in Antarctica, Veidt unveils Dan Dreiberg's old owlship, more familiarly referred to as Archie. While the model had since been mass produced (owlships, like the one Judd Crawford and Pirate Jenny use in Episode 1, are now commonplace in American police departments), this is the original. Last we saw it, Dan and Rorschach had crashed it some 20 miles or so outside Veidt's base, which caused it to sustain minor damage. Veidt managed to excavate it from the snow and put it back in working order.
Dr. M in the Dreamland sign
As Angela, Will, and the children walk away from the Dreamland Theater, we see that the lit-up sign to the theater has sustained damage. Now, the still-lit letters spell out 'DR M."
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Palmer Haasch is an entertainment and culture writer. Follow her @haasch_palmer.