HBO's Watchmen TV Show:Here Are The Clues, Easter Eggs, And References You Missed This Week
Things are only getting stranger.
HBO's Watchmen is back this week for a second episode, Martial Feats Of Comanche Horsemanship, and--who could have guessed?--It's just as jam-packed with Easter eggs, references, and strange clues as the premiere was--maybe even more so. But have no fear, because we're here to break them down one by one to catch you up to speed on anything you may have missed.
And while you're at it, you may want to take a trip to HBO's Peteypedia, where a ton of new information is being released and brush up on last week's references and Easter Eggs, too. In a show like this, you can never be too prepared. Also, head on over to Mike and Meg's moment-by-moment breakdown of Episode 1, just to make sure you're properly ready to take the plunge this week.
1. German Propaganda
During World War I, the Germans really did use this particular style of propaganda on African American regiments in Europe. The flyers that fall from the sky--the one that Will's father keeps and then later writes his "watch over this boy" note on--are real.
2. The New Frontiersman
Watchmen comics readers will immediately recognize this newspaper as Rorschach's go-to for current events, and the paper that he sent his journals to before his untimely death. Apparently 30 years later they're still going strong, despite some concerns at the end of the story in 1985 about not having anything to write about now that humanity didn't feel on the brink of nuclear war.
President Redford is opposed by Senator Keene in the upcoming election, a name that's pretty critical in terms of Watchmen history. The Keene Act of 1977 made "costumed adventuring" and vigilantism illegal in the US, and was passed by Senator John David Keene. We learn later in this episode that the senator running for president is his son (or grandson, maybe), Joe.
4. Dr. Manhattan's powers
Will and Angela have an interesting conversation about Dr. Manhattan's abilities, and whether or not he'd be able to look like a person. Angela, and later her husband, both seem absolutely certain that this would be impossible--but how can they be so sure? Wouldn't an entity with what are essentially limitless powers be able to change his own molecular structure or the molecular structure of one of his duplicates and make them look like a normal human, if he really wanted to? This question has never been officially answered in the series, so it's interesting that these characters seem so certain about it--and possibly a clue to some events that have happened between the comics and the show.
The paparazzi wear "jetpacks" that look like wings, which aside from looking extremely cool and weird, is evocative of Byron Lewis, aka Mothman, one of the original Minutemen. To really drive that idea home, Red Scare calls them "moths." A "glider suit" was part of Byron's costume, prior to his complete mental breakdown and eventual institutionalization. It sure seems like Byron's designs and tech eventually went public, but we can't be sure of how or when, or if Byron himself had any say in it.
6. The clock on White Night
Angela and her husband spend Christmas Eve on what would eventually become known as the White Night counting down to midnight, which, of course, in Watchmen world, has all too many dire implications. Tick, tock.
7. Who shot Angela?
After the White Night attack, Angela wakes up in the hospital to Jud telling her that she "got her guy." We saw in the scene that she was able to stab one of her attackers in the neck before getting shot. The man she stabbed wasn't the shooter--someone else was. But Jud makes no mention of a second attacker and Angela doesn't ask, which begs the question: Who actually shot Angela and why didn't they kill her?
8. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. isn't actually the US Treasury Secretary, but he is a very real person who happens to be a filmmaker, historian, teacher, and intellectual who currently serves as the Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, among other things. Pointedly, he also hosted a PBS show called Find Your Roots about tracing the ancestry of celebrities for four seasons.
9. Protests at the cultural center
The obnoxious kid in Topher's classroom isn't the only one taking issues with "Redfordations." The African American Cultural Center's entrance is being picketed by protestors with signs that say things like "you got a sorry, now you want a handout?" and yelling things like "Redfordations are abominations."
10. Magna-Hattan Blocks
Topher's insanely cool levitating building block toys are called "Magna-Hattan Blocks," an obvious reference to Dr. Manhattan, but did you notice the thing he's building in his room bears a striking resemblance to the structure Dr. Manhattan was building on Mars during the first episode? How would Topher know about that? And does the castle the two of them are making have anything to do with the castle Veidt apparently lives in now?
11. American Hero Story
We get an even more in-depth look at our story-within-the-story, American Hero Story: Minutemen, and it's a totally over-the-top action sequence of Hooded Justice stopping an armed robbery. Not only is the scene shot like it's something out of the Zack Snyder Watchmen movie (seriously, so much slow mo) but it also seems cartoonishly overblown for what we know was the reality of the Minutemen. Sure Hooded Justice may have been strong, but was he running around smashing dudes heads in with cash registers? Probably not.
12. Rolf Muller
The identity of Hooded Justice has remained a mystery since his debut, but Hollis Mason's Under The Hood heavily implied that he was ex-circus strong man Rolf Muller, who we see in this episode of American Hero Story, having faked his own death.
13. War of the Worlds
The kid on the street corner of this American Hero Story episode is hawking newspapers about the "Alien invasion" being a hoax. The papers refer to the 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds, which famously incited a panic when people believed the story was an actual news broadcast. It's also a little nod to the squid "invasion" of New York, which was actually a scheme planned in secret by Veidt, not a trans-dimensional enemy.
14. Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship
That weird painting in Jud's house is where we find our episode name. The painting's title is Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship and it was painted in 1984 by George Catlin. In the real world, it's on display in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. As far as the painting's significance is concerned, it's difficult to say--but, a safe bet would be about the subject matter. Catlin painted the Comanche warriors using their horses as living shields to defend from attacks. That feels pretty symbolic, all things considered.
15. The X-Ray goggles
Angela's x-ray specs sure do look like something Nite Owl would have designed, right? Even down to their strange silhouette and the way they light up in perfect circles around the eyes--they'd look right at home on the Owl Ship.
Veidt's horse is named Bucephalus, which was the name of Alexander the Great's horse--not to be confused with Baubastis, the name of his genetically engineered cat who died tragically back in the comics. The name Baubastis was historically inspired, too, however, and derived from the region of Ancient Egypt that chiefly worshiped the cat god Bast.
17. The Watchmaker's Son
We actually get to see The Watchmaker's Son, a play written and directed by Veidt and it's--well, frankly, flat out bizarre. It's not exactly news that Veidt has some deep-seated fixation with Dr. Manhattan--we knew that from the comics--but the fact that he's now apparently putting on shows all about his origin story--and murdering his clone servants in the process--is pretty wild, even for him.
Also to note, every little detail, low budget as they may be, of the play's version of events is accurate. The incident that transformed Jon Osterman really did happen at the Gila Flats test facility in 1959, and Janey Slater was really his first girlfriend. After the incident, she bridged the gap between human Jon and Dr. Manhattan for a short while before they eventually broke up.
18. Nothing Ever Ends
One possible explanation for Veidt's fixation can be found in a line of dialogue--"nothing ever ends," which he says in tandem with his actors as they wrap up their play. This was, infamously, one of the last things Dr. Manhattan said to Veidt after Veidt triggered his attack. He asks Manhattan if it worked, if he did "the right thing," to which Manhattan replies "Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends." Before vanishing, leaving Veidt with all his questions still unanswered.
Maybe he's still looking for those answers even now, 30 years later.