REVIEW: The Watch, S1 Ep3- The What?

The Watch, S1 Ep3- The What?

This week’s episode of The Watch explores Lady Sybil Ramkin’s tragic past while the members of The Watch have to form a literal punk band in order to infiltrate the headquarters of the Assassins’ Guild.

The show continues to veer further away from the source material and also lessens some of the trademark Pratchett humor. I’m still enjoying it because I already gave up on the notion that this will be a Discworld show and I am simply enjoying the characters and exploring this strange, mixed-genre world.

The Watch, S1 Ep3- The What?The spotlight is on Lady Ramkin in this episode even as the investigation continues on Carcer Dun’s nefarious plans. A report by a former member of The Watch reveals her tragic past and the motivations behind her determination to overthrow the current system. As a teenager, she witnessed the murder of her parents by a masked assassin and after she reported this to the authorities, she was simply told that it had been a “legal inhumation” because it was carried out by a member of the guild and she was instructed to simply say that she saw nothing because assassins usually left no witnesses. Talk about trauma.

She is, undoubtedly, one of the many victims of this corrupt system of the guilds and her motives for destroying the status quo are justified. The character in the books did not have a dark past and given the tone of the novels, did not need one. She was already fascinating in her own right. But this television adaptation seems determined to put a darker spin on the story, what with Vimes and Carcer Dun’s angsty history (flashbacks of which are already getting tiresome and we’re only three episodes in!) and now Lady Ramkin’s life.

The main plot involved the team trying to find an artefact mentioned in the book Carcer Dun stole that allows him to summon and control a legendary dragon. This will apparently be the key to the mystery and is also hidden in the vaults of the Assassins’ Guild. An elaborate (and slightly ridiculous) plan is formed with Lady Ramkin disguising herself as an assassin while the rest go to the building next door, the Musicians’ Guild, and go undercover as…a punk rock band called The What?

Again, a wacky idea that somehow pays dividends by the end of the episode because of the specific legal loopholes when it comes to guild membership. The plan almost fails when Lady Sybil finds the man who murdered her parents, and she decides to pursue him.

The Watch, S1 Ep3- The What?The Assassins Guild, led by the ruthless Doctor Cruces, gets some development in this episode and it was interesting, from a world-building perspective, to see how one of the more important guilds in Ankh-Morpork functions. It is literally a cutthroat job but the other assassins still manage some humor and to show some distinct personality. In a strange way, this legitimized group of murderers brings some morbid humor to the show. The gag where they throw bricks into the Watch headquarters to send ominous messages is a bit funny. And for all their dangerous tendencies, they still respect the laws that bind the guilds to each other.

There’s a minor subplot with Carcer Dun using a “surveillance spell” to spy on Vimes, one which backfires when Vimes recalls the same (tedious but traumatic) memory. The more interesting development is a vision that Vimes has of a possible romantic future with Lady Ramkin. Book readers will not be surprised by this but it would be interesting to see how they will reach that point in the series. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they both sang a duet at the end of the episode though that was mainly so Lady Sybil could become an impromptu member of the Musicians’ Guild. But that would be something.

The tone of the show remains uneven with Lady Ramkin’s story being more serious and introspective, Carcer Dun’s side still being sinister, while the rest of the team are just wacky. Lady Sybil even has a fascinating conversation with Death as she hesitates over getting her revenge on the man who murdered her parents. It’s a bit strange though that Death shows up whenever someone almost kills another person. Seems a bit inefficient, but it made for an intriguing exchange and Death’s comment about himself and taxes being the only sure things in the multiverse even serves as a Chekhov’s Gun for the characters later on.

For all its faults, The Watch continues to keep me entertained and I have already grown quite fond of this band of misfits and the fabulous Lady Sybil. The Carcer Dun plot remains uncompelling but I would not mind seeing the team get into more crazy shenanigans like starting a band, as they continue their investigations. And I suspect the mysterious sword they seek may be closer than they think.