The Watcher Season 1 Review – An endless cascade of red herrings and twists that leaves you with no answers

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5


Open-ended endings are not for everyone. Closure is a powerful emotion. Its strength does not need any demonstration. Traditional knowledge of making films and then television shows always espoused a story that went from point A to point B, or the reverse of that. Then came the invention of nonlinear styles where the path to the end was even twistier.

And then came works like Ryan Murphy’s brilliant The Watcher, which leave you with no answers, preceded by endless charades of teasers to many. If you are not quite the person who can bear to watch something so enticing with its twists and turns and then not have closure, The Watcher isn’t for you. But if that isn’t true, this will be one of the year’s highlights for you.

As hard as it is to believe, The Watcher is based on a true story that was covered here. It somehow evaded critical media attention and remained hidden from the average creative minds that could bring it to life in a dramatized version. Even thinking about what the family would have gone through with those menacing letters and creepy incidents in the house gives one chills.

Seeing it come alive in this miniseries is even worse. The number of times you would gasp in astonishment and squirm in your bed every single episode cannot be counted on fingers. A very tangible, compelling tension drives The Watcher into overdrive mode with no certain directions to take.

What Murphy does so well is to simultaneously embellish his storytelling with relentless shenanigans and also humanize his characters. Ultimately, the success of any story or character rests on how well the groundwork is to make us root for them. In such an absence, you can always feel a void and come out as an unsatisfied viewer.

Murphy certainly has that part covered but not with the desired perfection. It is perhaps Dean’s character that is the most endearing to us, despite his descent into paranoia in the latter half of the series. The writers drive the point home to showcase through dialogue how much the family man felt like a failure. He could not protect his family and the life he always dreamed of providing them was snatched away from him.

But most importantly, it was the manner in which it was done to the Brannocks. The randomness and childish prank-like reality of the supposed haunting of 657 Boulevard was chief in aggravating Dean’s grief. Something that was missing in this regard was the impact that the events had on the entire family.

Mrs. Brannock, for most parts, was as devastated, if not more, than Dean. She was eventually able to let it go, though. But the kids were never brought into focus. It is quite common to find distressed parents feeling the brunt of their failure through the treatment of their children. Ellie and Carter were almost forgotten in the madness.

More foundational work on them could have swayed the tides in the show’s favor. The other part of Murphy’s good work was keeping us guessing. It is one thing to write about what you see and then generalize it. And completely another when it is actually true. In the case of The Watcher, this proves to be entirely true.

Every time an episode ended, we had a new layer added to the overall mystery. We were misled and then misled again to keep going in circles chasing our own tales. That is why “a cascade of red herrings” is perhaps the best two to manifest the experience of watching the show into a singular phrase. It is another issue that all o it felt like a sadistic prank to the viewer, given how it all ended for us.

That was out of Murphy’s hands. But he did well to contend with what he had. Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, Mia Farrow, and Jennifer Coolidge star in the main roles. They really complement each other well, proving to be a delightfully eclectic group of imperfections and creeps.

All the actors bring a piece of their signature styles to their roles. Cannavale’s explosive burst of emotions, Naomi’s crushing vulnerability, and Coolidge’s combination of oozing sexuality and unintentional humor. The potpourri constantly keeps the drama alive.

The Watcher is a remarkable dramatization of an incredulous real-life event. The catch here is that both of those cannot be weighed and scrutinized side by side, which works well in favor of the former. Despite the rather extravagance in how the drama unfurls, the actual experience of watching the series remains unaffected.

It is the perfect example of how the exciting flavor and penchant of a storyteller can transform a news piece into a full-fledged television show and something larger than life. The Watcher’s mystery will forever remain unresolved but do not let that stop you from watching how it all happened. With a dash of showmanship, of course.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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