REVIEW: The Watch, S1 Ep2- Ook

The Watch series

The Watch picks up in its second episode already with a major character death and the team properly investigating the mysterious case, now involving the appearance of a legendary dragon.

Now that the characters have all been introduced and the setting more or less established, the series can begin to explore the complexities of the new case. The framing device from the premiere of Vimes chatting with Death is dispensed with in this episode as Vimes did not, in fact, die.

Unfortunately, another major character did and though we only knew him for a brief moment, we can still mourn the loss of Constable Detritus. It is a bit of a stretch, even for a fantasy show, that a troll whose body is made of stones and therefore should be impenetrable, is taken down by several crossbow darts. But, more likely than not, his death was driven by budget constraints and not plot requirements, and that is forgivable given how costly it can be to produce a fantasy show like The Watch. Fortunately, the CGI on the dragons is pretty decent and the rest of Ankh Morpork seems to be built on practical sets that do not rely on too much visual effects and that is welcome.

The Watch seriesThe second episode continued with its quick pacing and some wacky jokes. It’s a bit on-the-nose but I do enjoy the subtitled exchanges between Carcer Dun’s minions, who prove to be more cultured and intelligent than their indistinguishable grunts suggest. There’s a running gag with the Archchancellor of Unseen University being unable to swear and each curse word coming out as a weird orchestral noise.

Lady Sybil Ramkin quickly became an integral part of the team as they all deepen their investigation into Carcer Dun’s existence, the appearance of a legendary dragon, and the greater chaos than usual in the city. Lord Vetinari confers with the leaders of both the Assassins’ and Thieves’ Guild who are both perplexed as to what is causing the disruptions.

We learn a bit more about Carcer Dun, who is very different from his book counterpart, and turns out to be a member of a new organization, indicated by a maze tattoo that glows, that is committed to rewriting the system by burning down the status quo first. Standard villain motivations and not very interesting to explore at the moment. But given the corruption and imperfection of Ankh Morpork, one can kind of sympathize with this line of thinking.

The Watch seriesAs the members of the City Watch explore the library of Unseen University (an impressive set piece and fascinating bit of architecture), they also meet the Librarian who in the books is an orangutan but in the show seems to be a strange kind of human hybrid creature. I don’t exactly understand this particular creative choice and why The Watch showrunners are determined to make the story darker than it should be, but that seems to be the road they have chosen to take.

We got to see more of the team’s internal dynamics at play, not just when they were collectively mourning their colleague, but when, more interestingly, Angua and Cheery find a section of the library that reveals one’s deepest secrets. After a confrontation, Angua tells her teammates to leave as only she gets to choose who will see her when she transforms to a werewolf, and that was a compelling moment. Later on, Cheery tracks her down and provides her with a tool that will help her determine the weather so as to know when it would be safe for her to walk about. The team’s general supportiveness and acceptance of each other for who they are gives the series its heart and I hope we get to see more of this and less of the magical mayhem, amusing as the latter may be.