The jaw-dropping sixth episode of Watchmen isn't as packed with obvious Easter eggs and comic references as past hours of the HBO series have been. "This Extraordinary Being" is told primarily through flashbacks, specifically a curated selection of Will Reeves' memories that Angela Abar is experiencing thanks to the Nostalgia drug. The episode is mostly in black and white and has a dreamlike quality to it, which director Stephen Williams told SYFY WIRE meant it would resemble the look of the comics less.
Williams, who also directed the third episode of the series, said this episode, which reveals the truth about Will Reeves and Hooded Justice, had a lot it needed to accomplish.
"Just being an origin story, and the specific requirements of constructing a visual grammar that was going to enhance the subjectivity of the viewing experience, meant that we strayed further from the comic book aesthetic than I had in the previous episode that I directed," Williams explained.
"Having said that, there are tons of Easter eggs that are just by definition littered throughout the episode," he continued. "It would be best for me not to spoil what those are."
Because Williams wouldn't spoil what the Easter eggs were, we've done out best to round-up all the important ones in the sixth episode of Watchmen. Someone has to do the hard work, after all.
Rather than begin with a version of the Watchmen title logo, as past episodes have, Episode 6 instead says "Minutemen," a reference to the costumed crimefighting team from the '40s, and seemingly the intro to American Hero Story, the series' show-within-a-show that tells a heavily dramatized version of the team's story.
CAPTAIN AXIS, KING MOB, AND MOLOCH
As American Hero Story's FBI agents attempt to blackmail Hooded Justice into erasing evidence that J. Edgar Hoover was gay, they mention a couple of the supervillains he helped put away, like Captain Axis, King Mob, and Moloch. Of those three, only Moloch made an actual appearance in the graphic novel. A stage magician-turned criminal, Edgar Jacobi retired from crime by the events of the original comic, where he appeared twice.
Captain Axis gets a mention in the graphic novel but does not appear, although a photo of him can be seen in a deleted scene from the 2009 Zack Snyder movie. King Mob similarly is only mentioned.
"THIS EXTRAORDINARY BEING"
The title of the episode comes from a line in the first Nite Owl's tell-all book, an "excerpt" of which appeared at the end of the first issue of the Watchmen comic. In the book, Sam Hollis recounts how the costumed crime-fighting trend started, noting that Hooded Justice was the first. Hooded Justice's first two costumed crime-fighting incidents in this episode — stopping the mugging and the incident in the grocery store — are referenced in Hollis' book, although the specifics are different.
Hollis quotes a newspaper story about the grocery store incident, which reads as follows: "This extraordinary being had crashed in through the windows of the supermarket while the robbery was in progress and attacked the man responsible with such intensity and savagery that those not disabled immediately were only too willing to drop their guns and surrender."
LT. SAMUEL J. BATTLE
The first of Will Reeves' memories that Angela Abar experiences is his graduation to the New York City police force, where he mentions that he was inspired by Lt. Battle, the officer who swears him in and warns him about the Cyclops. Samuel J. Battle was a real person, the first black police officer in New York City.
"I WANT TO GET HOME IN TIME FOR AMOS 'N' ANDY"
Fred tells Will that he wants to get home in time for Amos 'n' Andy, a popular radio sitcom of the era where white actors voiced black characters living in Harlem. It's a microaggression for sure, but it's thematically interesting because, by the end of the episode, Will will pretend to be white as part of his mission to bring down Fred's racist criminal scheme.
CYCLOPS SYMBOL (ACCIDENTLY)
Members of the racist Cyclops conspiracy identify themselves with an "O.K." symbol on their forehead, which you might think is a reference to the real-life adoption of the gesture as an alt-right symbol, one that's been officially designated a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. However, Watchmen writer Cord Jefferson told SYFY WIRE that the episode was written before the "O.K." symbol took on this new meaning.
"We were trying to do that circle like an eye on the forehead and then all of a sudden we realized that this was now a symbol of the alt-right," Jefferson explained. "It was an unhappy coincidence."
While on patrol, Will comes across a newsstand salesman who shows him the first issue of Action Comics, which is famously where Superman made his debut. It might seem a little weird for Superman to exist in the fiction of Watchmen, but this was the case in the graphic novel too. The supplementary material at the end of the first issue, an excerpt from the first Nite Owl's tell-all book, reveals that both Superman and the pulp hero Shadow existed, and served as inspirations for his costumed crime-fighting career.
However, once real superheroes started running around, there was no need for superhero comics, so Superman became a forgotten oddity, rather than the herald of a genre that would become a dominant, lasting cultural force for the next century.
TRUST IN THE LAW
Will and June talk about the silent film about Bass Reeves he was watching in the first moments of the series' first episode, Trust in the Law. Although Reeves' implored townsfolk not to resort to mob justice and trust in the law, Will becomes a vigilante hero when the law is complicit in a racist conspiracy.
During the fight in Fred's grocery store, Will tosses a criminal into a lettuce display, which brings to mind the lettuce from the back of the 7th Kavalry's pickup truck.
JUMPING OUT OF THE WINDOW
In a pretty clear example of how American Hero Story exaggerated or embellished what really happened, the flashbacks reveal that Hooded Justice actually jumped out of the grocery store's window to escape the cashier's gunfire, having accidentally burst in the back door while fighting criminals. AHS had him leaping in through the window, which seems more traditionally badass.
THE SEX SCENE
We also see what really happened when Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis had sex, and it's also not how American Hero Story said it went down.
Not so much an Easter egg as a reference to an actual thing that happened in American history. Good thing that home-grown Nazis aren't a problem in 2019…
At the press conference where Hooded Justice officially joins the Minutemen, Moloch gets another namedrop when Captain Metropolis cuts off Hooded Justice because he can talk about the Cyclops conspiracy, and then transitions to promoting National Bank. This is the fictional bank chain that employed Dollar Bill, and we saw this very same (very racist) poster in the present day in Episode 1.
DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ
June is reading Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz to her son, the fourth book in L. Frank Baum's Oz series, originally published in 1908.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
The movie playing in the theater where the Cyclops engineered a violent riot was 1947's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a film about a man who keeps getting caught up in his daydreams. By the end of the movie, Walter gets embroiled in a real adventure and builds up the courage to take action and stand up for himself, which may mirror Will's arc. The dreaming aspect of the film might be a little nod to the premise of the episode, which is that these memories have been Angela's dream-like visions.
When Angela wakes up from her coma, Lady Trieu is reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, a brick-like book that libertarians just freakin' love, because, of course she is.