Warning: This article is full of spoilers for the premiere episode of HBO's Watchmen. So if you haven't watched it yet, do that... like, now.
Watchmen is a beloved comic book and notoriously difficult-to-adapt classic that HBO nevertheless took a crack at. And though HBO's Watchmen differs in many ways from the original, the premiere showed us a strong universe that tackles the tough, pertinent issues of today.
There are also Watchmen easter eggs all over the first episode of the show.
These little nods to the comic book, these tiny details of the world of the show, link it inextricably to its origin story and offer fans of the comic a line of connection to this new take on an old classic. Here are some of the easter eggs you might have missed.
The Watchmen Smiley Face:
Even if you're not a super fan of the comic, you probably recognize that the yellow smiley face is an iconic image in the Watchmen universe.
In the show's pilot, when Angela (Regina King) is doing her baking demonstration at her son's Career Day, the eggs she cracks take the shape of a smiley face. This is a clear nod to the comic book.
You kind of can't have Watchmen without the Smiley Face, which of course, is the badge of The Comedian, whose death is the catalyst for everything that happens in the comic book.
'Dr. Manhattan on Mars' newscast:
This is a brief reference but a very significant one. For a split second in the Watchmen premiere, you can see a newscast reporting on "Dr. Manhattan on Mars." Dr. Manhattan is a powerful being and an indelible part of the Watchmen universe, so his presence in the show, however background, is not surprising.
The squid storm:
At one point in the Watchmen premiere, while Angela is in the car with her son, an alarm sounds and they pull over to the side of the road as the sky grows dark. Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, little slimy squids rain down from the sky.
This squid storm is also a nod to the comic book. In the show, it's played off as a thing that sometimes happens. After the squid storm ends, Angela gets out of the car and nonchalantly scrapes them off her windshield.
According to IGN, this is a reference to "the giant squid monster Ozymandias created in order to trick the U.S. and USSR into averting nuclear war... We can infer from Looking Glass' interrogations questions that the U.S. government continues to perpetuate Veidt's hoax and perhaps causes these squid manifestations in order to keep the populace vigilant against a nonexistent threat."
President Robert Redford:
The Watchmen comic book alludes to actor Robert Redford succeeding Gerald Ford in the presidency in 1992. According to the HBO Watchmen universe, Redford has been president since then (obviously serving way more than two terms). He's sort of the stand-in for a Ronald Reagan type.
This seems to point to the idea that HBO's Watchmen is in most ways a sequel to the original.
The Vietnam connection:
In the pilot, Angela explains to the classroom that she grew up in Vietnam before and after "it became a state." According to TIME magazine, "this is a reference to the events of the comic book: The U.S. won the Vietnam War with the help of Dr. Manhattan. As a result, Nixon was re-elected."
American Hero Story: Minutemen:
In the Watchmen universe, the Minutemen are a group of masked vigilante heroes who fought crime together in the 1940s. They laid the groundwork for the Watchmen in the 1980s.
In the HBO show, you can glimpse advertisements for American Hero Story: Minutemen. This suggests that the Minutemen have gained hero status in the alternate 2019 of the show. It seems that they have been mythologized and made the subject of a hit TV show in this Watchmen universe.
The blood on the badge:
When The Comedian is murdered in the comic book, a drop of blood falls and lands on his Smiley Face pin, and that image is nearly synonymous with Watchmen.
In the pilot episode of the HBO series, the police chief is killed, and the episode ends with a drop of blood falling onto his badge. As TIME magazine writes, "It seems that Angela, like Rorschach before her, will have to investigate the murder — and possibly uncover an insidious plot against the police."
Basically, it's all very cool, very dramatic, and very mysterious, and we can't wait to see where it takes us next. Watch Watchmen on HBO on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET.