Anyone who’s only seen the 2009 Watchmen movie adaptation—and not read the original comics—might have been pretty confused by the random downpour of squids in the first episode of Damon Lindelof’s HBO show. Hell, even people who have read or recently caught up on the comic might have been confused, seeing as everyone in the show treats the squid rain as a common annoyance and it’s never actually explained.
If you’ll recall, in the end of the original Watchmen comic, Adrian Veidt’s grand plan involves kidnapping a bunch of scientists and writers to dream up a massive squid creature. This squid contains a brain created by the cloned brain of a dead psychic, and augmented to transmit terrible images dreamed up by the writers. Veidt uses one of his company’s technology to teleport the being into the middle of Manhattan. As the Watchmen wiki describes:
At midnight on November 2, 1985, Veidt teleports his monster into the heart of New York City. As predicted, large sections of its body (namely its tentacles) explode upon arrival, causing considerable collateral damage and killing the creature instantly. Its death generates a massive psychic shockwave from within its brain, killing half of the population of New York City.
Millions are killed in the incident, and, as Veidt predicted, world leaders believe the Earth is under attack by an alien threat and come together—ending the threat of nuclear war—to fight this new enemy. To be clear, the 2009 Zack Snyder movie changed the ending, removed the squid, and made it an attack to frame Doctor Manhattan. Damon Lindelof’s new show ignores this ending and only uses the 12 original comics as canon.
While it hasn’t been explained in the show yet, it seems like this squid rain must somehow be associated with Veidt’s attack squid monster. In the background of scenes in the classroom there’s a diagram on the wall showing the anatomy of a squid.
“We’re married to certain things that the canon put out, like Vietnam is a state, or that Robert Redford was running for president against Nixon, or that Adrian Veidt dropped an enormous fake alien being in the middle of Manhattan that killed three million people. That is a 9/11-like event. What does 30 years after something like that happens, what does the world look like?” Lindelof told me in a recent interview. “You can’t just do that in passing reference.”
Given that, there could be one of two explanations of this: 1) It’s possible that this squid rain is simply some sort of aftereffect of the initial attack. This could be some unforeseen lingering echo of the attack. After all, this technology had never been used in this way. And plus, considering this teleportation technique was developed using Doctor Manhattan’s powers, it’s possible this will function similar to him. As we’ve seen in the comics, when Doctor Manhattan was vaporized, his pieces scattered and reappeared a long time afterward. 2) Veidt has been consistently peppering the country with harmless lesser attacks to continuously make the threat of an alien invasion seem real.