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Source: HBO

Why Watchmen's Sister Night is a top-tier heroine

Contributed by
Feb 28, 2020, 3:00 PM EST

In one season, HBO's Watchmen managed to do a fantastic job with the character of Angela Abar and her alter-ego, Sister Night.

I thought Sister Night, the movie from which Angela takes her crimefighting alias, was a real Blaxploitation film for the briefest moment when it was first revealed. In case you weren't aware, it's not, but that didn't stop me from considering how Angela's Sister Night fits among Blaxploitation heroines who do exist. She is all the anger and justice I could ever want in a heroine, but what makes her so relatable is who she is when the costume comes off.

Warning: Spoilers for Watchmen below.

Credit: HBO

One of my biggest takeaways from Watchmen happens in its final moments. Angela has just witnessed the love of her life die and run through a storm of hailing frozen squids, arguably having the second-worst day of her life. She seeks refuge and talks with her grandfather, finally having the conversation she's wanted to have since taking his memory pills — and her grandfather says to her, "Wounds need air to heal, Angela." His words were profound, and it was at that moment that I understood why Angela makes Sister Night such an amazing heroine. It's not because of her fighting skills, her ruthlessness, her detective skills, her commitment to killing Nazis or the dope-ass car she drives — as great as all of that is. No, it's that Angela isn't Sister Night 24/7. She's Sister Night when she has to be, and most of that anger and blind fury goes away when she takes the mask off. There is such a seamless transition between Angela and her Sister Night persona that the full depth of both characters is not only prominent but relatable as hell to me as a Black woman.

Credit: HBO

You can't think of Sister Night without thinking of Angela, and therefore you can't disregard the authentic human being, albeit a strong one, that exists under those garments. It may seem silly to mention something like that but for a Black woman, sometimes that S on your chest feels like it's supposed to be more of a tattoo than just a piece of clothing. It's clear Angela has some wounds that need to heal, and we see throughout the series why all of the things that have happened to this woman hasn't fully consumed her and left her only to be able to live in the world as Sister Night. After all, Angela is part of one of the most arresting love stories to happen in a television series, let alone one that has squid storms in it.

A scene that depicts both the love Angela has for her husband and her ability to transition between her roles happens the night of the "White Night." Angela and Cal are having an intimate moment, dancing with one another before Christmas Eve rolls right into Christmas Day when the Seventh Kalvary attacks. Angela goes from a woman enjoying a blissful evening with her husband to a lethal killer in a matter of seconds, doing what she can to protect them both.

Credit: HBO

This is only one of several similar switches she makes throughout the series. It's a beautiful thing to behold, partly because Regina King is a phenomenal actress, but also it's a stark display of duality for her character. Angela and Cal spent ten perfect years together, some of which she spent as Sister Night, and he never got in her way even though he could have. Not only did she have the respect and love from a being who could create life on one of the moons of Jupiter, but she allowed herself to receive that respect and love — something her grandfather was unable to do, and what sets them apart as the masked heroes each of them were.

I'm still torn on wanting a Season 2 of Watchmen because it concluded in such a fulfilling way, all things considered. By the end, it's evident that Angela's wounds were getting the air they needed to heal whenever she wasn't Sister Night. Whether Season 2 happens or not, there's no doubt that Sister Night remains a top-tier heroine because Angela is such an imperfect, complex human being.

Credit: HBO

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