Mere hours have passed since the seventh episode of HBO’s Watchmen aired, and we’re still a little shook. We already knew the show was great and was building to big things, but how many of us saw that coming? If you haven’t seen the episode yet, power down whatever you’re reading this on and go watch it, because we’re about to discuss one of the coolest twists of the year, thanks to some insight from executive producer Damon Lindelof.
Ready? Like, really?
In the episode, called “An Almost Religious Awe,” we find out that Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) isn’t actually Cal Abar at all. In fact, he’s the legendary God amongst men of the Watchmen world, Doctor Manhattan. If you’re reading this we assume you saw the episode—but if not, read our recap for more details on how it all went down.
A reveal like that leaves audiences with so many questions and, thankfully, Watchmen executive producer Damon Lindloff spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about a few of them. The biggest thing is: When did he decide that not only was Doctor Manhattan going to be on the show, but be Angela’s (Regina King) husband, Cal?
“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?” Lindelof told THR. “Dr. Manhattan was near the top of that list. But even higher was that we needed to tell a new story with a new character at the centre of it. Once we landed on Angela Abar as that centre, 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 explain that in casting Abdul-Mateen II as Cal, only he and a few other key people knew they were also actually casting Doctor Manhattan. They tried to keep it as secretive as possible but it was “a hundred per cent” part of why they chose Abdul-Mateen. He also talks about the thought process behind the reveal of the Seventh Cavalry’s plan to basically recreate Doctor Manhattan.
It’s a very good interview and you should read the rest of it over at THR. Obviously, though, it doesn’t dive into all the plot questions raised by the big reveal. The teaser for next week hinted at a few of them but we still have so many. What’s the extent of Angela’s relationship with Doctor Manhattan? How much has that played into her masked heroism? Who was the real Cal? How does the Seventh Cavalry plan to make its own Manhattan? So much more is still up in the air.
Thankfully, Watchmen has two more episodes this season to answer those questions and more. We’ll have more when all that goes down.