Watchmen, explained: Easter eggs and references from episode 8 of HBO’s series

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 9, 2019, and has been republished now that the entire series is available to watch for free on HBO.com.)

HBO’s Watchmen series has swiftly become one of television’s hottest series, and the show based on the groundbreaking comic book series isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

So far, the series has been filled with call-outs to its source material and clues about where the story is headed, with each episode offering even more Easter Eggs and mysteries for fans to ponder. Here’s what to know about episode 8 of the series.

(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.)

Recap

After episode 7’s big surprise, the newly revealed Dr. Manhattan — who was hiding in the body of Calvin, Angela Abar’s husband — is forced to catch up quickly with the last few years’ events as the threat from the 7th Kavalry arrives (quite literally) on their doorstep. In order to process their current predicament, Dr. Manhattan recaps the key events that brought him and Angela together and up to the present moment in a time-hopping expositional sequence.

While Dr. Manhattan navigates his own timeline, Angela accidentally sets in motion the events that brought her grandfather, Will Reeves (a.k.a. Hooded Justice), to Tulsa and led to him murdering Judd Crawford — essentially kick-starting the entire series and bringing them to this very point. We also learn that it was Adrian Veidt who gave Dr. Manhattan the device that allowed him to hide within Calvin’s body and mind with no memory of his superhuman self, and that Veidt willingly exiled himself on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, where Dr. Manhattan created a utopian paradise decades earlier.

Despite Angela’s heroic efforts to repel an assault by the 7th Kavalry (and a last-minute save from Dr. Manhattan), the white supremacist group succeeds in teleporting Dr. Manhattan to the secret facility where they have their own, diabolical plans for him.

The title

The eighth episode’s title is a self-referential one, with “A God Walks Into A Bar” calling back to Laurie Blake’s joke in episode 3 that describes Dr. Manhattan as a “blue god.”

The episode opens with Dr. Manhattan walking into a bar in Vietnam where he first meets Angela, and that encounter then sets off the timeline-twisting series of events that connect everything that has happened in the series so far.

Big questions, answered

You have to hand it to Watchmen series creator Damon Lindelof: He managed to explain an impressive number of mysteries in the season’s penultimate chapter. The only catch? You had to sort through all of the parallel timelines and narratives laid out in the episode to make sense of it all. Here’s a rundown of the questions Watchmen answered in episode 8.

Where is Adrian Veidt?

The “prison” Adrian Veidt has been trying to escape from is on Europa, a moon of Jupiter where Dr. Manhattan experimented with creating life and essentially built a new Garden of Eden — complete with its own Adam and Eve. Manhattan’s self-imposed exile left Veidt with no way out of the idyllic world he previously asked to inhabit, and no one aware of his predicament.

What’s up with the clones?

The seemingly endless supply of clones serving Adrian was another of Manhattan’s creations, motivated by a singular drive to help their fellow humans as part of their blue-skinned creator’s attempt to improve on humanity’s flaws.

What has Dr. Manhattan been up to?

The episode’s lengthy expositional sequences clear up quite a bit about Manhattan’s activities between the events of the Watchmen comic and the HBO series. We learn that he spent time on Europa experimenting with creating life and “improving” on humanity shortly after the events of the comic, only to return to Earth to meet Angela in Vietnam and set the series’ events in motion there.

Along the way, he met with Adrian Veidt and Will Reeves at various points and spent several years pretending to be Calvin before wiping his own memory to truly become Calvin.

What about the squids?

During Manhattan’s visit with Veidt, we see the latter character casually activate a piece of equipment that causes a torrent of miniature squid to flow from a tube in the ceiling into a large receptacle. While the pair discuss Manhattan’s activities, Veidt can be seen setting a target on a map — one that will no doubt be subject to one of the mysterious “squidfalls” we saw in the show’s series premiere.

“Still fabricating alien incursions, I see,” remarks Manhattan.

“I’m maintaining world peace,” responds Veidt, “one cephalopod at a time.”

Given Veidt’s predicament throughout much of the season, it appears that the squidfall program might have been on autopilot during his time on Europa.

Questions unanswered

So what do we still need to know? It turns out there are plenty of mysteries that remain unsolved with one episode to go in Watchmen.

First and foremost among the mysteries is what the future holds for Dr. Manhattan, but the answer to that question will likely be preceded by a few more revelations in the season finale. Lady Trieu’s role in the events playing out across the season remains unknown, and the same can be said for the purpose of the massive “Millennium Clock” she’s building.

On a smaller scale, the whereabouts of Wade Tillman, a.k.a. Looking Glass, remain a mystery, as well as the fate of Laurie Blake, who was last seen being held against her will by the 7th Kavalry. How Blake will react when her former lover Dr. Manhattan is captured by the same white supremacists holding her prisoner is also an intriguing question — particularly when she discovers that Manhattan has been on Earth with Abar all along.

The final episode of Watchmen is shaping up to be a big one.

You can also read past recaps of the Easter Eggs and references from Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, and Episode 7.

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