Somewhere in a distant second-hand dimension, episode 2 of The Watch begins with Vimes learning that Carcer didn’t die 20 years ago. In fact, Vimes hasn’t died either as he’s saved at the last second by Sergeant Detritus. He stands in front of Vimes and takes the crossbow fire, sacrificing himself to save the Captain of The Watch. Carcer snatches up the book and takes off.
Following Detritus’s death, the misfits gather together to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Carrot shows up and immediately comes under fire when Vimes learns he was the one who issued the command for Detritus to jump in and help.
While Carrot decides they should investigate this case properly, Vimes continues to drink at the bar, blocking out the racket from a local band playing
Eventually he visits Lady Sybil. She nonchalantly picks out different weapons at her place and points out that Vimes is standing on a trap. However, that’s the last of their problems.
Rumbling outside sends them both to the balcony as they witness an urban dragon appearing out the clouds. It turns out this was conjured by Carcer. At least momentarily anyway. He’s not able to maintain its power and the dragon soon disappears.
Vimes rocks up with the others and realizes they have another crime scene on their hands. The Guilds are rocked by this attack too, as the Thieves and Assassins Guild butt heads in the presence of Lord Vetinari. Vimes shows up and decides to set his sights on the thief who took the book from the library originally; if he can find that person then that should lead him to Carcer.
Back at the police station, Carrot decides they should run toward danger. Angua has other plans but when Lady Sybil joins them at the station, The Watch rally around Vimes who decides they should go and do some investigative work.
They show up to meet the Arch Chancellor and intend to ask him questions about the book. As they sit in the waiting room, it turns out none of them have realized that Xavier, the man face-down by the front desk, is actually dead. The interview is cagey and doesn’t reveal much. However, Vimes concocts a plan with the others to show up later that night and set off the alarms inside the library.
And just like that, the group show up and rappel down on a chain into the library. Carcer’s gang shows up as Vimes reads the girl and learns through her that Carcer is struggling to control the magic. His grand plan here seems to be destroying the entire town. But why? And why is he not aging?
Well, they don’t get long to think as Carcer’s gang attacks. While the group get away, Angua sacrifices herself and decides to turn into a werewolf and attack… off-screen. We hard cut away from the exciting action to find her outside afterwards. Well, that’s disappointing.
Anyway, Vimes heads back to the police station and rallies the troops with a rousing speech. Or, well, as rousing as one can muster with so much to say. His speech loses its initial meaning until he slaps down the ripped out page from the book. Lady Sybil recognizes the sigil and takes charge, seemingly turning her attention toward the Assassin’s Guild.
As The Watch set to work putting their collective investigative brains to the task ahead, Carcer remains determined to put his plan into action and burn the entire world to the ground.
The Episode Review
The fantasy world created here is far removed from Discworld and the holographic projection of a round Earth seems to act as a visual motif to remind viewers that Pratchett’s name is only being used as a promotional tool. I’m also not sure whose idea it was to add a loud noise every curse word but it really doesn’t work. In fact, it actually feels distracting more than anything else.
The characters here are bastardized versions of those from the Discworld novels and it honestly feels like someone read some cliff notes and decided to wrap a generic cyberpunk/fantasy world of their own around Pratchett’s incredible world.
No one here really has that much charisma or commanding screen presence, with everyone either bleakly moody or over-the-top silly. The result is a tonal mess that fails to hit any sort of emotional highs. (Did anyone really care that Detritus died at the start given the minimal screen-time he had?)
Terry Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna warned fans that this has no DNA to the Discworld novels – and it absolutely doesn’t. More puzzling than that, I’m struggling to see exactly who the audience is for this show. Those who know nothing about Discworld will rightly be lost and struggling to work out who everyone is. Those enthused with the books will hate this adaptation or begrudgingly accept it.
Between this and The Stand, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of bad book adaptations. And yes, I do appreciate The Watch isn’t an outright adaptation of a book but it does seemingly pull inspiration from the City Watch series of books.
Still, we’ll have to wait and see if this one gets better but ironically if The Watch had gone under its own alias away from Discworld it may actually be a half-decent fantasy adaptation. As it stands, this show only reinforces that there’s much better TV to watch out there.