HBO Watchmen: 15 Doctor Manhattan Clues You Probably Missed
Episode 7 dropped a major bombshell on us about the classic Watchmen comics character. Did you see it coming?
This week's episode of HBO's Watchmen, "An Almost Religious Awe," gave us the most mind-bending revelation of the series so far--and if you haven't seen it yet, this is your cue to stop reading, because we're about to get into some serious spoiler territory.
Consider this your final warning.
We learned this week that Doctor Manhattan, the original Watchmen comic character famous for being god-like, blue, and totally naked, has in fact been in the show from the very beginning, hiding in plain sight among normal human beings. Remember when Angela insisted that he definitely couldn't do that? It turns out she had a good reason to say that--and that she was lying--because Jon Osterman is, in fact, Cal Abar, Angela's mild-mannered husband.
Obviously, this revelation was a shock--but it wasn't entirely from out of left field. As it turns out, Watchmen has been peppering in clues (some more subtle than others) from the very beginning. With this new knowledge fresh in our minds, we went back and found 15 of them--how many were you able to catch?
1. Is There Life on Mars?
Our first look at Doctor Manhattan in the show is something of a red herring. In a brief news clip that seems like it's there only to remind us that this is indeed a Watchmen show and not some new HBO original sci-fi, we see him building sandcastles on Mars. What was easy to miss about the moment, however, is just how innocuous it seems--the news reports are establishing that Jon is simply still there, and apparently has been there for quite some time. Even going off of what little we know about Jon's plans immediately after the end of the Watchmen comic, this seems odd. Why would he simply stay on Mars when he could go anywhere in the universe? Why would he have remained there for so many years doing nothing but the exact same thing he's been doing since the '80s?
Cal may be short for "Calvin" in this show but it's also a homophone for "Kal," the shortened form of Superman's real name, Kal-El. Watchmen hasn't been subtle with its Superman references when it comes to Will and Hooded Justice, but it turns out it snuck this one in under our noses.
3. Brides of Christ
Angela's secret identity, Sister Night, may have been inspired by a movie she never got to watch as a kid, but it's also no coincidence that she's based on a nun. Catholic nuns are said to be "married to God."
4. Twas the White Night before Christmas
The aftermath of the White Night attack on the Abar household has been bothering us since we saw the flashback. Not only did Angela mysteriously survive when she was pinned to the ground with a shotgun pointed directly at her head, Cal did as well. This is especially strange when virtually every other White Night victim was murdered along with their entire family, save for a very lucky few. It makes a whole lot more sense if you consider there was likely some literal divine intervention.
5. Will's Suggestion
Will's cheeky suggestion that he might be Doctor Manhattan when she first brings him into the bakery for questioning has a whole new meaning in light of this revelation. He was baiting her because it's possible he somehow knew--and knew that she knew, too.
6. What Can't Doctor Manhattan Do?
One of the more confusing conversations about Doctor Manhattan's powers happens between Cal and Angela where they both adamantly agree with one another that he cannot look like a human being. There's never been any indication in the Watchmen comics that that was somehow beyond Manhattan's capabilities--so why were they both so sure? Turns out they both know about his powers intimately.
7. The Girl Who Threw the Brick
The punchline of Laurie's "joke" throughout Episode 3 is that a little girl would throw a brick, unnoticed by God, and wind up killing him. This takes on new meaning in light of Doctor Manhattan's current status and Laurie's predicament at the end of Episode 7.
8. Lessons in Parenting
Cal's extremely nihilistic view of the afterlife--or total lack of afterlife--seemed like a nonsequitur for his character when he was having a nice conversation with his daughters at the breakfast table. It wasn't. If anyone knows how life and death works, it would be him.
9. "He's No Cal"
Laurie plays off her connecting Cal to Doctor Manhattan as a joke--she just thinks Cal is hot--but the comment hits Angela too strangely to not be suspicious. Also, that whole conversation in the car where Angela pretended not to be aware of Laurie's personal history? All a lie, it would seem--if Angela is married to Doctor Manhattan, she must know who Laurie is.
10. Sexual Tension?
At the funeral, there's more tension between Cal and Laurie. We're supposed to assume that it's just because she thinks he's attractive and wants to get Angela's hackles raised, but we know now that the awkwardness actually may have gone both ways. Cal even asks Laurie, "Do I know you?" as she approaches.
11. Cal's Accident
Angela was terrified that Cal may have told Laurie about his "accident," which would jeopardize everything for them. He didn't, he said, but we were left wondering just what the accident was and why it was so important for Laurie not to know. Turns out Angela was worried Laurie had already caught on.
Laurie's hilarious giant blue dildo has an actual name, and it's "Excalibur." Deconstruct that word a little and you've got "ex-Cal-Abar." No, we're not kidding. Yes, we're betting that wasn't an accident.
13. Will's Worry
Will's concern for his plan ruining Angela's family certainly takes a whole new context now. We were struggling to figure out what, exactly, Will could be planning that he was so sure would not only make Angela hate him but ruin her family--but if he's known about Cal all along, he had very good reason to believe it. He tells Trieu he's "betrayed" her, and now we know why.
14. "A God Walks Into a Bar"
If you remove a single space, Episode 8's title is not "A God Walks Into A Bar," but "A God Walks Into Abar," as in Angela Abar. Coincidence? Once, we might have thought so, but not anymore.
15. The Knuckles
Lastly, the most damning evidence for the "Cal is Manhattan" theory actually came from a Redditor who went beyond the bounds of the aired episodes and examined the blue knuckles glimpsed in a previous "next week on Watchmen" preview. The Redditor then compared those knuckles to actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's, and noticed some convincing similarities. How could we have ever missed it?