Here we are. After eight incredible episodes, we have reached the season (series?) finale of Watchmen. What started as a bold, smart, and very entertaining show ended as a fascinating piece of media that was like nothing else on TV.
Watchmen has not only given us a great season of TV, but it even managed to make the original graphic novel better. It’s a testament to the writers, directors and everyone who worked on this show that the season never dropped in quality, and it even stuck the landing. If you stuck around with this reference guide to the end, thank you. So join us one last time, won’t you? Let’s take a look at all the references to the original Watchmen and more (Lube Man!) in “See How They Fly.”
For the last time, this will be spoiler-heavy.
Ozymandias Has the Same Password For Everything
We start the episode on Karnak, Adrian Veidt’s Antarctic retreat. We see several Vietnamese workers preparing for Veidt to record the message he sent Robert Redford the day he became president – which we saw back in episode 5. You can even see the giant squid in the background behind Veidt. As we know from the comics, Veidt employed only Vietnamese workers in his retreat, offering them asylum after the Vietnam War (before having them all killed before they could talk about what was really going on.)
We then follow Bian as she enters Ozymandias computer in order to access a fridge full of Adrian’s semen. The password she enters on the computer is Rameses II. Not only does this refer to an actual pharaoh in ancient Egypt who was known as Ozymandias in Greek sources, but it’s also the same password that Nite Owl uses to access his computer in NYC to find out where he was hiding. You don’t use the same password for all your plans, Adrian!
Ozymandias Gave Away His Inheritance
When Lady Trieu meets her father for the first time, she asks him to invest money in her company so that she can execute her plan to kill Doctor Manhattan and steal his power. Veidt is instantly offended, and says when his parents died he inherited a vast fortune that he immediately gave away. He wanted to demonstrate that he could achieve anything starting from nothing.
This line comes directly from Veidt in the comics. In issue 11, we see him recount his own origin story, of how he became obsessed with Alexander the Great and set out to emulate his life and even surpass it. To do this, he gave away all his money and set out to “demonstrate the possibility of achieving anything, starting from nothing.”
A Bullet in the Hand is Worth Two in the Chamber
Throughout the Watchmen comic, Veidt boasts of his ability to catch a bullet, yet no one really believes him. In the final issue, he proves his superhuman ability when Laurie fires at him, and he reveals to reveal the bullet resting in his bloody hand. Even 30 years later, the man’s still got it.
The End is Nigh
As Veidt finally sees the machine his daughter built, he starts proclaiming “Israel is desolate and her seed is no more, and Palestine has become a widow for Egypt.” This is a quote from the Merneptah Stele, an ancient inscription detailing the victories of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah. This is the same speech he gave in the last issue of the graphic novel once he realizes that his plan to save humanity actually worked. He then ends his speech by saying “The end is nigh.”
This of course refers to the sign that Rorschach walked around holding throughout the graphic novel whenever he wasn’t wearing his mask.
Angela Breaking Fingers
When Angela is interrogating a member of the 7th Kavalry to find out where they took Cal, she starts breaking his fingers. This is a nod to Rorschach’s interrogation method of choice, as we see him break a more than his fair share of fingers in the graphic novel.
Nice Underwear, Senator
As Senator Keene strips down in preparation for what he believes will be his transformation into a blue god, we see that he’s wearing the same set of trunks that Doctor Manhattan wore during the Vietnam era before embracing his big blue nudeness. Of course, Laurie sees through his bullshit and says “you look stupid in those panties.”
All We Ever See of Stars are Their Old Photographs
While he’s imprisoned in his synthetic lithium cage, Doctor Manhattan starts having trouble keeping track of his current time and location, and he starts quoting some familiar lines from the source material. The first one is “All we ever see of stars are their old photographs” which is part of his inner monologue from issue #4 as he remembers his origin story. He also quotes his dialogue to his ex-girlfriend Janey from 1959, an interview with ABC where he comments on the situation in Afghanistan, and the police strike of 1977.
The Return of Big Blue
It took nine weeks, but we finally get a proper, full-frontal look at Doctor Manhattan in all his big blue, dangling glory – except he’s in a cage and about to die. Still, better late than never!
Archie Flies Again, and Looking Glass Pukes
It turns out Laurie and Looking Glass have more in common than they thought, as Wade pukes after being teleported by Doctor Manhattan twice this episode, just like Laurie used to do.
Once they arrive in Antarctica, Veidt reveals that Nite Owl’s old ship, ARCHIE remained in Karnak after Dan and Rorschach used it to get to Antarctica to confront Veidt back in 1985. Of course, as Veidt suggests, Wade knows how to fly it since Dan licensed his technology to the police department.
Lube Man Lives On
We all know what the biggest unanswered question of Watchmen is…the identity of Lube Man! While the show hilariously left his identity a complete mystery and we never saw him again after that all too brief appearance way back in episode 4, HBO’s companion site, Peteypedia does shine some light into this mysterious figure.
The last piece of Peteypedia, a memo titled “Dale Petey” included in File 9, deals with a note from the director of the FBI who writes that Petey was dismissed from the bureau after he refused to go back to Washington after the events of the finale. The memo ends with a concern that Petey is or always was at risk of becoming a vigilante, while a paragraph further up mentions the various things they found at his office, including “a jug of what appears to be some kind of canola oil.” Well played, Watchmen. Well played.
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