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Every last Watchmen Easter egg and comic reference in episode 3 of the HBO show
To paraphrase Doctor Manhattan, the search for Easter eggs in HBO’s Watchmen never ends. The third episode of HBO’s new series brought back a familiar character from Alan Moore’s original graphic novel, as well as finally confirming the identity of another old character (although his true identity was barely a secret). And, as you might expect, there were plenty of references and callbacks to the comic in the episode.
Here are all the Easter eggs we found in Episode 3 of Watchmen. If we missed any, we’ll update this post.
CALL DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Tulsa (and presumably other cities) has a phone booth of sorts where people can send messages to Doctor Manhattan on Mars. It’s implied that he doesn’t listen to them, but Laurie Blake still uses them, almost as a means of therapy.
THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT
Earlier this year, The Handmaid’s Tale transformed the Washington Monument into a giant cross. In Watchmen’s reality, though, there’s what looks to be a ring-shaped observation platform floating around the tip of the obelisk.
COMEDY BEGETS TRAGEDY
The story of the Minutemen is apparently the second season of American Hero Story, and the first season focused on the second generation of costumed heroes, the Crimebusters. The new season’s tagline is “Comedy Begets Tragedy,” which is pretty good.
GRISHAM TO RETIRE FROM THE SUPREME COURT
In another one of those weird little changes (like making Henry Lewis Gates Jr. the treasury secretary), a headline reveals that author John Grisham is a Supreme Court Justice. In our reality, Grisham is a bestselling author known for legal thrillers like The Firm and The Pelican Brief, but he’s also a trained lawyer.
NATIONAL BANK CO.
The bank where Laurie Black and her fellow FBI agents set up the rogue vigilante is the same bank that famously employed the Minutemen-era hero Dollar Bill.
MR. SHADOW’S DARK KNIGHT ENERGY
Even though masked vigilantes have been outlawed since the Keene Act was passed in the ‘70s, there are still plenty of wannabe do-gooders, including Mr. Shadow, who Laurie shoots and apprehends during the sting at the bank. Mr. Shadow’s black costume and gravelly voice resemble Batman’s in Nolan’s trilogy, which can’t be an accident, and he’s even described as a “rich asshole,” a la Bruce Wayne. The bank he’s in might also bring The Dark Knight’s opening scene to mind.
“SHE WAS KILLED BY SPACE JUNK,” DEVO
When Laurie returns to her apartment, she tells he voice-activated CD-player to “play Devo,” and the title of the episode, “She Was Killed By Space Junk,” is a lyric from the Devo song “Space Junk.” Devo is a quirky New Wave band that was popular in the ‘80s, and Laurie was a fan of them in the original Watchmen comic. In Issue #7, she told Dreiberg’s Nite Owl who the band was, and he later said his goggles probably looked "pretty Devo."
WHO THE PET OWL
Laurie has a pet owl, an obvious and affectionate homage to Dan, the second Nite Owl and her former partner. The owl’s name is Who, as in the classic Abbott and Costello comedy bit “Who’s on First.”
"HE COULD EVEN GET YOUR OWL OUT OF THAT CAGE"
Senator Keene convinces Laurie to take the Tulsa case by implying that he could pardon Dan Dreiberg if he became the president. The second Nite Owl is not present in the HBO show so far, and supplemental material on HBO’s website reveals that he’s in federal custody, having been arrested alongside Laurie for violating the Keene Act in 1995. It’s unclear why Laurie is not in prison too, though it likely has something to do with her connections to both The Comedian and Doctor Manhattan, as well as her possible new job working for the FBI against costumed crime-fighters.
Laurie has a Warhol print depicting herself as Silk Spectre alongside Nite Owl, Ozymandias, and Doctor Manhattan. Neither Warhol nor his work makes a direct appearance in the graphic novel, but the famed pop artist briefly appeared in the opening sequence of 2009’s Watchmen movie.
While on the phone sending a message to Mars, Laure tells two jokes — well, one, really, since the brick joke comes back in the end to kill God. The second joke essentially lays out how she feels about Nite Owl, Ozymandias, and Doctor Manhattan. Her feelings are, uh, mixed, to say the least!
THE NEW AMERICAN FLAG
This isn’t the first time in the series that there have been glimpses of the American Flag, which looks radically different from the stars and stripes we’re used to, but it is the clearest glimpse yet. Now that Vietnam is a state, there are 51 stars, and they’re arranged in a circle in the center rather than a rectangle in the upper-left.
THE RORSCHACH JOURNAL
Agent Dale Petey tries to include some slides about Rorschach’s journal in his meeting, and we see a glimpse of the cover of the published book as well as Rorschach’s writing, which is word-for-word the same as the captions in the comic. Supplemental materials on HBO’s website reveal that the journalists at The New Frontiersman did indeed publish the journal after Rorschach dropped it in their tip box before heading to Antarctica to confront Veidt. However, the journal — and its claims about Veidt’s diabolical plan — are largely dismissed as being a hoax by the general public.
LADY TRIEU’S MILLENNIUM CLOCK
Although the character hasn’t appeared in the series yet, Episode 3 features several references to Lady Trieu, who is played by Hong Chau. She owns Trieu Industries, which owns Veidt Enterprises (more on that in a second).
“LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR”
Lady Trieu quoted the poem that inspired Ozymandias’ name when she bought his company. The supplemental material reveals that things went pretty bad for Adrian Veidt after he unleashed the squid on New York, although not for the reasons he expected. Because he’d successfully tricked the public into thinking that Doctor Manhattan caused cancer, a panic broke out and there was a recall of all the synthesized lithium Manhattan had helped him produce. This was bad news for Veidt Enterprises’ electric car business. A fear of technology during the ‘90s in the wake of the inter-dimensional experiments that the public thought caused the squid to attack further worsened his businesses.
POLICE STRIKE OF ‘77
Agent Dale Petey mentions the Police Strike of ‘77, an event seen in flashbacks in the comics. Police went on strike due to their opposition to masked vigilantes, and the strike eventually led to the Keene Act. It was during the strike that the Comedian launched riot gas into a crowd of protesters while on patrol with Nite Owl, later firing into the crowd.
THE K9 TRAINER WEARS A MASK
Normal Tulsa police officers wear yellow masks, while detectives and higher-ranking officers like Sister Night and Looking Glass get to choose their own identities. Apparently, the officer who trains the department’s K9 units qualifies, because he wears a dog mask.
BLACK FREIGHTER INN & SUITES
When Laurie and Petey stop at a hotel to change before Chief Crawford’s funeral, they stay at the Black Freighter Inn & Suites — a nod to the pirate comic book within the original Watchmen comic, which was titled Tales From the Black Freighter. The Inn & Suites don’t seem to have anything to do with piracy, however.
“AN ALIVE BODY AND DEAD BODY HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF PARTICLES”
As they head to the funeral, Laurie quotes Doctor Manhattan’s detached view on life and death. The full quote continues, “Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?”
As Adrian Veidt rides towards the herd of American Bison that apparently live on his British-seeming estate, he passes a skull and crossbones flag hanging from a sickle — another nod to the pirates from the original graphic novel.
HOVERING LIKE DOCTOR MANHATTAN
While planning his next movie, Veidt meditates sitting on a table, but the way his robe hangs down and the way he’s positioned relative to the chair behind him makes it look as though he’s floating in mid-air, not unlike how Doctor Manhattan was as he built his first glass castle on Mars in the graphic novel.
SOME SORT OF REPUBLIC SERIAL VILLAIN
While dictating his letter, Veidt claims that he’s not “some sort of republic serial villain,” the same thing he said before informing Rorschach and Nite Owl that he’d unleashed his squid on New York City “35 minutes ago.” Republic Serials were pulpy, multi-chapter movies that were popular in the early 20th Century. (In Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie, Veidt instead says that he’s not “a comic book villain,” which is a weird change that looks down on the medium, imho).
This isn’t an Easter egg so much as it’s finally confirming the obvious — Jeremey Irons is playing Adrian Veidt, and he’s even got the classic Ozymandias costume.
SECRET COMPARTMENT IN DAD’S CLOSET
While speaking with Angela, Laurie reveals that she knows all about the secret compartment in Chief Crawford’s closet, and she makes it clear that she suspects Angela went in there. Laurie mentions that her dad had a secret compartment in her closet, a reference to a scene at the very beginning of the graphic novel when Rorschach finds a secret compartment in the murdered Edward Blake’s apartment where he kept his Comedian costume.
SILK SPECTRE TAKES MANHATTAN
Laurie has a large Doctor Manhattan-themed sex toy in her briefcase, seemingly called “Silk Spectre Takes Manhattan.” Laurie isn’t the first Silk Spectre whose image has been used for sex accessories or aids. The original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter, was the subject of many Tijuana bibles (small, crudely drawn erotic comic books that were popular during the ‘30s and ‘40s). Like mother, like daughter.
Laurie finishes her Mars-bound comedy set by directly quoting what Rorschach wrote in his journal after he recounted a joke he heard once — the one about Pagliacci the Clown. Solid joke!