[Spoilers for Watchmen’s seventh episode, “An Almost Religious Awe,” below.]
It was inevitable that Watchmen’s big, blue centerpiece would rear his gleaming dome at some point during HBO’s ambitious sequel series, but you likely didn’t expect him to be yanked from someone’s gored forehead. That’s exactly what happened during last night’s episode, however, which ended with Regina King’s Angela Abar taking a hammer to the head of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Cal to reveal that her supportive husband’s been a vessel for the superhero’s essence this whole time.
It makes some amount of sense, honestly, if only because it explains the relative blandness of Abdul-Mateen II’s character, who’s essentially just served the role of dutiful husband this whole season. It also dovetails beautifully with the reveal of the Seventh Kavalry’s plot, which involves destroying Doctor Manhattan and bestowing his powers on James Wolk’s racist senator. More clarity regarding the relationship between Angela and Doctor Manhattan (née Jon Osterman), as well as his supposed Mars residency, is on the way, but showrunner Damon Lindelof still offered some insight into the twist to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I started this whole journey from the perspective of a fan—what would I have to see in a television show daring to call itself Watchmen? Dr. Manhattan was near the top of that list,” he said.
But even higher was that we needed to tell a new story with a new character at the center of it. Once we landed on Angela Abar as that center, the new rule became that any legacy characters we were using (Veidt, Laurie and Hooded Justice) could only be used in service of Angela’s story…she was the sun, everyone else needed to be orbiting around her. So how could Dr. Manhattan, a man with the power of God, be in service of Angela’s story as opposed to the other way around? Based on his past (and all the tropes of Greco/Roman mythology), the answer was intuitive…love. We knew this relationship could only work if Manhattan took the form of a human, and so, the idea of Cal was born. And yeah, it came early. Almost from the jump.
Lindelof goes on to discuss the secrecy of the twist, saying that not even King and Abdul-Mateen II knew about it before they were cast. He also touches on how the show’s themes of appropriation relate to the Seventh Kavalry’s plan, and breaks a few million hearts by confirming that, no, we will not be seeing the comic’s Dan Dreiberg in the final two episodes.
Two episodes? To wrap this whole thing up? Lindelof knows it sounds crazy. “I’m answering these questions before it airs, but if I were watching the show, I’d be starting to panic that we can’t possibly bring this all together in just two more episodes,” he says. “So, uh…don’t panic?”