Who Is ‘Watchmen’s Cal Abar? Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Teases the Answer
[Warning: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 7 of Watchmen, “An Almost Religious Awe”]
If you thought Watchmen left a lot of questions unanswered, the latest episode only piled on as Angela (Regina King) turned on her husband Cal (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), calling him Jon and bashing his head in before digging out a mysterious device from his brain. The implication is that he’s none other than Doctor Manhattan himself, which was hinted at during interviews with Abdul-Mateen II and creator Damon Lindelof ahead of the show’s premiere.
“I think [the Watchmen graphic novel] almost invented the idea of the Easter egg, at least in terms that repeated [readings] revealed secrets that had been previously hidden,” Lindelof said. The showrunner has been dropping them all season on the series, hinting at the true identity of Cal.
Among the most prominent? Laurie’s (Jean Smart) repeated appraising of Angela’s “hot husband” could be one since the former Silk Spectre had been in a long-term relationship with the blue superhuman. Then there’s Cal’s blunt reveal to the Abar kids that their Uncle Judd (Don Johnson) didn’t go to heaven because there is none. “He tells it like it is ,” Abdul-Mateen told us of Cal who he went on to describe as a man who’s “attracted to balance and stability.”
Going on to support this Dr. Manhattan theory is another Easter egg from Adrian Veidt’s (Jeremy Irons) other-worldly “prison.” When the Game Warden pulls him back down to “paradise” from Jupiter’s moon, Adrian declares that their God has abandoned them — Dr. Manhattan is repeatedly referred to as a god within the source material that inspires this series.
Lindelof teased Cal’s character prior to the series premiere, claiming he was a character needed in the chaotic world presented. “You need somebody that’s true north, just to get some perspective,” he said at the time. And until now, Cal has been that, but that’s also the role Dr. Manhattan played in the comics — so were the clues in front of us the entire time regarding Cal’s true identity? It would seem so.
“Cal knows that he lives in the real world where danger is imminent,” Abdul-Mateen II said earlier this season. “One should not be fooled by his peaceful calming demeanor because he’s very aware and doesn’t have any qualms about expressing his views and expressing how dangerous the world is.” This bluntness is a characteristic of the transformed Jon Osterman that Angela refers to at the end of Episode 7.
“I figured if I’d do Watchmen, it has to have these hidden details and we took it to the next level and started hiding actual eggs in the show, pervasively,” Lindelof said. The mention does make sense as the show’s used egg imagery since its October 20 premiere.
“So, how many Easter eggs is too many?” Lindelof asked. “Once they start falling out of the basket and breaking on the ground, you should probably stop hiding them.”
While they may continue to be introduced, we’re willing to say the first one broke at the same time as Cal’s head. Don’t miss more answers in next week’s episode, which is teasingly titled “A God Walks Into Abar.”
Watchmen, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO