Watchmen debuted this past Sunday on HBO to rave reviews and giddy fan fervor—and rightfully so. The creative execution and socio-political themes that made the graphic novel by Allen Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins a landmark piece of literature and perennial bestseller have been masterfully translated into a razor-sharp contemporary continuation for today.
Writer and Executive Producer Damon Lindelof has not shied away from declarations on how much the original graphic novel has meant to him over the years and it certainly shows in the premiere. Lindelof, along with director Nicole Kassell, have cleverly paid tribute to the comic in both overt and subtle ways. From a familiar blood splatter to blink-and-you’ll-miss-it set decoration, there are no shortage of Easter eggs and references to the groundbreaking book that inspired the show. Did you catch them all? If you didn’t, fear not! We’re here to get you off on the right foot with some of our favorite nods to one of our favorite books.
Many seeds have been planted and we cannot wait to see how things unfold over the next eight episodes. We’ll be looking at these connections over the course of Watchmen’s debut season, so let’s kick things off with some key elements from “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.”
Readers of the graphic novel are well aware of the fate that Rorschach faced upon his refusal to remain quiet about Adrian Veidt’s actions, so seeing members of a terrorist organization known as the Seventh Kavalry wearing headgear resembling Rorschach’s iconic mask certainly opened a floodgate of questions.
Near the end of the book, Rorschach mails his journal, which details his investigation into Veidt along with miscellaneous grumblings about the world around him, to the New Frontiersman, a muckraking right wing newspaper within the Watchmen universe. The journal is directed to the “crank file” and cast off as nonsensical ramblings, but in the final pages the story leaves us with the possibility that Rorschach’s writing may see publication. Based on the apparent motivations of the Seventh Kavalry and the political slant of the New Frontiersman, there is likely to be more to this connection.
In one of the most action-fueled scenes in the episode, Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) is aboard what appears to be the Owl Ship after a showdown with members of the Seventh Kavalry. The ship crashes into a field after an aerial assault.
Originally constructed by Daniel Dreiberg, a.k.a. Nite Owl, the Owl Ship was the crime fighter’s primary vehicle and the flamethrowers he installed came in quite handy for Judd in this first episode.
Within the show’s narrative, there are several references to a show-within-the-show called American Hero Story: Minutemen. The Minutemen were a group of crime fighting superheroes in the 1940s and featured members such as Dollar Bill, Captain Metropolis, Nite Owl (the original, Hollis Mason, who inspired Daniel Dreiberg to take up the mantle), Hooded Justice (who can be seen on a bus advertisement for the show in the episode), Mothman, the Silhouette and Sally Jupiter, a.k.a. Silk Spectre.
The Minutemen disbanded following a series of personal and public controversies, but laid the groundwork for many of the events to follow in Watchmen.
Veidt’s master plan, to bring Cold War era humanity together and save ourselves from destroying each other, was to teleport a giant squid creature to New York, causing the world governments to fear an alien invasion was imminent and unite against this extraterrestrial threat. His plan worked. Nuclear war was prevented. But the incident lead to the death of three million people and based on the “weather” seen in the first episode, there are definitely remnants of that incident causing messy commutes and necessary street sweepings for our characters.
HBO is clearly preparing us for stormy weather ahead. Click here from your mobile device to activate the Watchmen Squidfall effect on Instagram.
Watchmen begins its first chapter with the now-iconic image of a blood-spattered smiley button. In that case, it was to signal the murder of the Comedian, which ultimately sets the entire plot of the book in motion. HBO’s Watchmen does something similar, only this time it’s at the very end of the first chapter, as a similar splat of blood hits the fallen badge of the murdered Crawford. What will this equally mysterious murder unearth? Only time will tell.
These are just a few of the connections and nods to the graphic novel that you’ll find in the Watchmen premiere and likely in the series as a whole. Strap in! If the comic taught us anything it’s that things are certainly not what they seem and much like Rorschach’s mask, the picture is always changing…
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. The Watchmen graphic novel, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is available wherever books and comics are sold.