In last week’s review of the first episode of The Watch I gave a mixed opinion. I was critical of the first half of the episode. Overly childish humor and a confusing setting nearly ruined it for me. Nearly, that is. The loose adaptation of Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld improved remarkably during its second half. The introduction of Lara Rossi‘s Lady Sybil Rankin gave the main character, Captain, Sam Vimes, his foil. Their witty banter as well as the increasingly intriguing setting ensured I immediately watched the second episode. Both episodes were released back-to-back. This week, along with the remainder of this season will be released on a weekly basis. The second episode entitled ‘Ook’ was again an improvement. This time the secondary characters, Vimes’s colleagues at the watch, managed to find their stride. While overall concerns over the show’s quality remain, I am beginning to like it!
In episode 3 entitled ‘The What’ the members of the Watch attempt to undue Carcer Dun’s attack on Ankh-Morpork City. In a nod to Game of Thrones we saw how Vimes’s old friend turned foe attacked the city with a dragon he summoned through a spell. How and why aren’t really important. The Watch is not a high fantasy series in which every action need explaining or stands as a metaphor. What it does do is afford the imbecilic members of the Watch a reason to break into the headquarters of the Assassin’s Guild. There they hope to find an artifact they believe Carcer Dun needs. But it is Lady Rankin who volunteers to go. In a flashback we see how guild assassin inhumed her parents, which has left her scarred and bent on revenge. As she has the assassin’s mask, she is the only one with a way in.
Lady Sybil’s journey through the headquarters of the guild is definitely the highlight of this episode. As she is unfamiliar with their baroque customs she stands out, despite her mask. The overly bureaucratic of the guild and in fact of the entire society of Ankh-Morpork City remind me in no small measure to older British humor. In particular the scene at the police station in the movie Brazil seems to have inspired The Watch a lot. Lady Sybil eventually manages to make her way to the basement. Instead of unlocking the door to let Vimes, Angua, Carrot and Cheery in she becomes distracted when she recognizes her parent’s assassin – Inigo – (played by Paul Kaye). There is even a sardonic scene in which Death pays her a visit and show his impatience when she delays using her crossbow. In the end she decides to use Inigo to get the artifact.
It all comes together
Meanwhile Vimes and the rest manage to let themselves into the HQ. In the basement Vimes has a fit when Carcer Dun’s spell to see what Vimes sees backfires. The artifact they were looking for is revealed to have been a sword, but it was stolen from the guild years before. Emptyhanded they manage their escape, taking Inigo with them. However, the head of the Assassin’s Guild – Doctor Cruces know perfectly well what happened. With her guild she visits the Watch. It nearly becomes a lethal showdown. Cruces reveals she wants Lord Vetinari killed so she can become the leader of Ankh-Morpork City. Vimes and the gang bluff their way out of a fight. The episode ends with Vetinari forbidding Vimes to continue his investigation of Dun. But wink and nod she gives mean the opposite. Lady Sybil vows to join The Watch, but wont wear a badge.
Final opinion on ‘The What’
‘The What’ is as close to an origin story for Lady Sybil as we will get. Her characters chemistry with Vimes is certainly at the heart of the show and the primary reason for watching it. However, that we know what drives her desire for justice her actions become more understandable. Slowly but surely world of The Watch is making more sense. As I mentioned the fantasy elements are nor important. The quest for the sword that Carcer Dun may use is not important. The quest affords the story a way put it characters into all sorts of absurdist situations and use this as leverage for humor. While I am not a fan of the punk rock setting, I do understand it was chosen to make the most out of a limited budget. For now I think The Watch is a definite must-watch!