As an actor, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is no stranger to keeping secrets. Having played the villain in the superhero flick Aquaman and starring in the mysterious Us from Jordan Peele, Abdul-Mateen has been tight-lipped about plenty of plot details. But he’s never had to keep a secret like the one HBO’s Watchmen just revealed.
Abdul-Mateen plays Calvin “Cal” Abar/Jelani on the series, the husband to Regina King’s police officer Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night. But in Episode 7 of Watchmen’s first season, titled “An Almost Religious Awe,” a major secret is revealed about who Cal really is, and it’s a moment that could change the entire series going forward.
NOTE: Below are SPOILER ALERTS for the series and graphic novel.
When Abdul-Mateen spoke to us earlier in 2019 about the show, he said: “Obviously Damon Lindelof and Regina King and the entire cast is really stacked. It’s one of those projects that people are going to be watching out for… so tune in.” Little did anyone know how much fun this series would be.
HBO’s Watchmen has been one of the most exciting series on TV this year, and part of the reason why is how it’s cleverly used the original Watchmen graphic novel to create an alternate history for the TV series’ world. On the show, the events of the book are considered canon, and the iconic characters of the graphic novel have showed up in various ways.
Up until this point, leading into Episode 7, viewers have believed Cal is simply Angela’s husband—and not directly connected to any characters from the original Watchmen graphic novel. But the final moments reveal that Cal is actually one of the most iconic characters from the Watchmen series: He’s Doctor Manhattan / Jon Osterman.
Here’s how Abdul-Mateen reacted to people seeing the reveal on social media:
— Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2 (@yahya) December 2, 2019
Long thought to be living on Mars or some other planet following the events of the graphic novel, the atomic-powered Doctor Manhattan is basically a god-like figure to the people of this world. He helped win the Vietnam War and allowed the U.S. to make Vietnam the 51st state. Later in 1985, he left Earth after a massive attack in New York City that killed 3 million people—or so everyone thought.
Instead, Doctor Manhattan has been hiding on Earth in the form of Cal Abar—who is oblivious to the secret he’s been hiding. Angela knows who Cal is underneath his skin, as she’s the one who hits him in the head with a hammer and opens him up to reveal who he actually is: the blue-glowing superweapon that is Doctor Manhattan.
With just two episodes left in the first season, Watchmen has a lot of secrets to reveal and questions to answer, but it’s possible none of them will be as big as the one they revealed with Abdul-Mateen.
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