(Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 28, 2019, and has been republished now that the entire series is available to watch for free on HBO.com.)
HBO’s Watchmen series is off to an explosive start, and the show based on the groundbreaking comic book series isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Episode 1 of Watchmen was packed with call-outs to its source material, clues about where the story is headed, and plenty of Easter Eggs. TV series creator Damon Lindelof gave audiences a lot to absorb in each episode, and there’s a good chance you might have missed some intriguing elements. To help you get the most out of your Watchmen experience, we’ve put together a list of some of the key comic references, story hints, and Easter Eggs from episode 2.
(Note: Plot details from the most recent episode of Watchmen will be discussed below, so make sure you’re caught up with the series to avoid spoilers.)
The scene of tiny squid raining from the sky in episode 1 was one of the weirdest moments of the Watchmen premiere — particularly because everyone seemed so calm about it. It seemed reasonable to expect that the strange event was connected to Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) teleporting a giant squid creature into the middle of Manhattan as part of a scheme to unite humanity against a common enemy, but in this second episode, we learn that there’s been no official word on why it is happening.
What there have been, however, are plenty of conspiracy theories. Those theories also have a familiar home in New Frontiersman, the right-wing newspaper that is glimpsed early in the episode featuring a “Global Squidfalls Baffle Scientists” headline. New Frontiersman was the publication of choice for Rorschach in the original Watchmen series, and it was also the outlet he mailed his journal to at the end of the comic. The publication of that journal led to the formation of the masked white-supremacist group 7th Kavalry.
Early in the episode, two camera-wielding journalists are seen flying (and painfully dropping out of the sky) in the area where Chief Crawford (Don Johnson) was murdered, flitting around on mechanical wings. Sister Night (Regina King) refers to them as “Moths,” and indicates they’re an all-too-common annoyance for law enforcement agents. Her name for them — and their mechanical wings — references one of the members of the original Minutemen team, Mothman, a rich inventor who designed a set of wings that he used to fight crime.
Mothman, whose real name was Byron Lewis, had a troubled career as a crimefighter that involved bouts with addiction and mental illness. He was a brilliant inventor, though, and it appears that his wing technology lives on decades later as a testament to that fact.
We know from episode 1 that Dr. Manhattan’s existence led to tremendous advances in energy use and battery technology in the Watchmen timeline, but he also appears to have been the inspiration for some fascinating toys, too. In the episode, Topher Abar (Dylan Schombing) is seen playing with Magna-hattan Blocks, a set of metallic, LEGO-like building blocks that also appear to be floating above the ground. It might seem a little strange to have a naked blue man be the mascot for a toy brand, but that’s the world of Watchmen.
American Hero Story is the series-within-a-series that plays out in Watchmen, with a dramatization of the original vigilante team’s story broadcast on every television in the show’s fictional world just as HBO’s show offers a dramatization of a world in which masked vigilantes face their own inner — and external — demons. One of the first masked heroes to surface in the original Watchmen is Hooded Justice, who — according to the Watchmen timeline — went on to inspire more masked vigilantes and become a founding member of the first hero team, the Minutemen.
His intense introduction in the HBO series does a nice job of conveying the brutal techniques (and simmering rage) he was known for in the comic, but he also has a connection to one of the show’s lead characters. When Watchmen author Alan Moore created the Golden Age characters for the comic, the character that would become known as Hooded Justice was initially called “Brother Night.” Is there a connection between the show’s Sister Night (King) and Hooded Justice, or is the name given to King’s masked alter ego simply an homage to the original comic?
During the episode, Angela (a.k.a. Sister Night) investigates Chief Crawford’s home using a pair of X-ray goggles. If they look a little familiar, that’s because they’re clearly based on costumed hero Nite Owl’s high-tech eyewear from the Watchmen comic.
This marks another appearance of Nite Owl’s tech in use by the new generation of costumed vigilantes in HBO’s series. An episode earlier, it was revealed that the aircraft piloted by Crawford and Pirate Jenny (Jessica Camacho) during the raid on the 7th Kavalry was a modified version of Nite Owl’s own Owlship.
Dubbed “the smartest man in the world,” Adrian Veidt has always been eccentric and unpredictable despite his brilliance, so it’s no surprise that HBO’s series finds him very much alive despite media reports of his death. What is a bit surprising, however, is the company he’s keeping. After hinting in the show’s first episode that there was something a little off about his butler and maid, the second episode confirms that the pair are actually clones — and that Veidt has a seemingly endless supply of each of them.
Veidt’s talents with genetic manipulation were already well-known to anyone familiar with the Watchmen comic, which often found him closely accompanied by a genetically altered lynx named Bubastis. Little is know about how he created Bubastis, but the clones in episode 2 of the TV series seem to suggest that his work in genetics has taken a few big steps forward since those days.
It’s worth noting that the play that Veidt has the clones perform is also the origin story of Dr. Manhattan — which should be clear to anyone familiar with the comic (or the movie, for that matter). Why Veidt is obsessively retelling that story remains to be seen.
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