HBO's Watchmen Premiere Episode: All The Clues, References, And Easter Eggs You May Have Missed
Who watches the watchmen? Hopefully, you do.
Since it's premiere, HBO has released a handful of worldbuilding documents online, and they're packed with even more Watchmen Easter Eggs.
HBO's highly anticipated Watchmen TV show has finally arrived and, in true Watchmen fashion, has packed in layers upon layers of meaning in each and every scene with the help of some carefully placed Easter eggs and references. What's more, as a direct sequel to the original 12-issue comic series, the show's alternate history worldbuilding relies on just how much you're able to pick out and notice as the characters go about their daily lives.
What we're saying here is: Watchmen is a show that demands a lot of attention, and possibly multiple viewings, to really take in every important clue and detail. Luckily, we here at GameSpot are ready to put in the time so you don't have to. We've combed over every frame of Episode 1 for these 22 hidden references, nods, and details to help you better wrap your head around the show's world and story. Be sure to also check out our Watchmen review for more thoughts on the very promising debut episode.
The "Tulsa Race Massacre" was a real event in US history that occurred between May 31 and June 1 of 1921. It's commonly known as the single worst incident of racial violence in US history and is still being investigated to this day. As of this year, the search for the rumored mass graves of Black victims is being conducted under the umbrella of a murder investigation.
Bass Reeves, the Black Marshal of Oklahoma, is another very real figure from US history. He was the first Black deputy west of the Mississippi River and worked predominantly in Arkansas and Oklahoma territories. Over the course of his career, he was credited with the arrest of nearly 3,000 felons. Unfortunately, though he was something of a folk hero in his day, there was never a silent movie made in his honor like we see in this episode.
The smiley face is a critical component of Watchmen lore across the board, so it's no surprise that they're hidden all over the place in just about every adaptation. The show is no different, seen here in Angela's egg yolk demonstration.
Four Important Presidents
The classroom is full of little hidden world-building details if you know where to look. Notice the "Four Important Presidents" poster on the wall, highlighting George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Richard Nixon, and Robert Redford. In the Watchmen universe, Nixon was elected and revoked term limits, so he remained president for over three terms. Then the actor Robert Redford was elected and has been president for more than thirty years.
The Anatomy of a Squid
Squid rains are so commonplace in this world that there are classroom posters about them, like this cheerful "anatomy of a squid," designed to inform kids about their interdimensional visitors.
Vietnam the State
The Vietnam war progressed much, much differently in the Watchmen universe with the intervention of Dr. Manhattan. As such, Vietnam was inducted into the USA as a state, which Angela explains happened during her lifetime.
The portmanteau of "Redford" and "reparations," Redfordations is a reference to the law passed by President Redford ensuring that victims of racial violence--like the descendants of the victims of the riots--would receive monetary reparations.
Apparently Ozymandias's interdimensional attack back in the '80s had a more lasting effect than even he could have imagined. Now, periodically, tiny versions of the giant squid monster will rain down for a few seconds. These events are so commonplace that they even have an alarm system in place for it throughout the city.
Battery powered cars
This version of history apparently has a much different relationship with fossil fuels than we do here in the real world. Did you notice that every single car is battery powered?
Manhattan On Mars
We get a very brief glimpse of Dr. Manhattan, still hanging out on Mars, just like he was back in the 1980s. Apparently he's still just as tired of Earth and humanity here in 2019. Who could blame him?
American Hero Story: Minutemen
A play on the real world hit TV series, American Crime Story, American Hero Story: Minutemen deals with the in-universe past. If you can remember from the graphic novel, the Watchmen world had a band of real-life superheroes in the '40s, calling themselves the Minutemen.
Apparently Ozymandias is dead here in alternate 2019--or so the newspaper seems to think.
Blink and you might miss it but the passcode to Angela's secret vault is 1985, the year Watchmen was originally published.
Walter Kovacs may not have survived the night Ozymandias was attacked, but his legacy--thanks to the journals he posthumously published--sure did (one version of it, at least). Over the last twenty years, the Rorschach mask has been co-opted by a group of white supremacists named the 7th Kavalry.
"And we will whisper, no"
Rorschach was appropriated so thoroughly that the 7th K even uses his most famous quite directly. "They will look up and shout 'save us,' and I will whisper 'no.'"
Angela drinks from an owl-shaped mug when she's in the Chief's office, a subtle nod to one of the original Watchmen heroes: Nite Owl.
Under the Hood
A copy of Hollis Mason's autobiographical novel, Under the Hood, which recalls his time spent as a member of the original Minutemen, can be seen on the Chief's desk. Actual excerpts and pages of the novel can be read as backup stories in Watchmen's twelve original issues.
Nixon in Rushmore
During Looking Glass's "pod" interrogation, the image of a very different Mt. Rushmore appears on the walls--Richard Nixon has been carved in.
During his interrogation scene in the pod, Looking Glass's mask reflects a bunch of warped and shifting images that make his own mask look like Rorschach'ss--real Rorschach, that is, who had a mask that was constantly in motion, unlike the 7th Kavalry's cotton ski masks with the eye holes cut out.
Tulsa's police force uses a slightly modified version of the familiar Owl Ship, as seen in both the comic and the movie adaptation. These were originally designed by Nite Owl.
The Blood Splatter
Blood splatters are never accidental in Watchmen, no matter what they land on. Here at the very end, the drop of blood that hits Jud's badge is directly related to the splatter of blood that landed on the Comedian's smiley face in the comics. Both are supposed to relate back to the hands on a Doomsday Clock, ticking down to midnight.
"It's summer and we're running out of ice."
The title of the episode is also a lyric from a song on Oklahoma, the musical. Not only was Jud watching a performance of the show during his first appearance on the show, the line actually comes from the song "Pore Jud Is Daid," which, given the way we leave things here, is a little more than on-the-nose.