The Watch season 1, episode 5 recap – “Not On My Watch”

January 25, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
2.5

Summary

Basically a team-building exercise, “Not on My Watch” has some nice performances and character moments, but continues to flounder when it comes to the storytelling.

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2.5

Summary

Basically a team-building exercise, “Not on My Watch” has some nice performances and character moments, but continues to flounder when it comes to the storytelling.

This recap of The Watch season 1, episode 5, “Not on My Watch”, contains spoilers.

If there’s a word to describe the members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, it’s probably “dysfunctional”. The Watch episode 5, “Not on My Watch”, looks to rectify that with some team-building plotting, splitting the gang up a bit to eventually bring them back together, united, in the nick of time. It’s a good excuse for character beats and a couple of performances to stand out, but it also gives no real sense of where the show is heading, long-term. We’re long past the point of being able to win back the die-hard Pratchett fans at this point, but it’d be nice if any fans, even of just the show, had an idea of what they were in for.

The main thrust of the plot here is given over to Captain Vimes taking it upon himself to dispose of Wayne the talking sword in a magical lake used by the Unseen University for the disposal of various dangerous artifacts. His plan is to prohibit anyone from wielding the power of a dragon and, in his act of rebellion, prevent any of his team from taking the blame along with him, although Cheery and Lady Sybil end up accompanying him anyway. In the meantime, Angua and Carrot investigate a booked robbery that the Thieves Guild failed to carry out, which is a good excuse to openly discuss the city’s dynamics and morality – as though the debate around whether or not to destroy a sentient sword to prevent ownership of a literal dragon didn’t do that already.

The sword is on everyone’s minds in The Watch season 1, episode 5. Carcer enlists the Thieves Guild to steal it, but when they ransack the Watch House they discover is already missing. Of course, we know that Vimes is attempting to dispose of it, and Wonce quickly puts this together too, and then Carrot and Angua determine that those two are after a rogue Vimes who is attempting noble self-sacrifice. All roads lead to the desert wasteland where the powerful Thaumic energy is forcing everyone to confront their traumatic backstories.

This is the oldest trick in the book, obviously, and “Not on My Watch” takes a bit more pleasure in wheeling out the trope than seems reasonable. And nothing gleaned in these surreal flashbacks is all that revelatory, really. We see Lady Ramkin’s early vigilantism as she’s haunted by the failures of her ability to change people; Sam’s background with Carcer; Cheery’s beard fear (fans of the books will be particularly annoyed about this one); and Angua grappling with her identity as a werewolf. These are all personal hang-ups that have been at least touched on before, so the scenes don’t amount to much. At least Wonce is able to circumvent a whole bunch of similar flashbacks for Carcer and the thieves, though, and by the time the all-too-convenient escape comes, it’s overdue.

With last week’s episode having gathered some momentum, The Watch episode 5 feels particularly torpid, even if the fresh scenery of the wastelands and some of the visual humor involving magical objects, a grasping, feminine hand belonging to, Cheery suggests, a lady of the lake, and Death in the body of a dog, certainly help to keep up a sense of welcome anarchy. But that aesthetic hodgepodge shouldn’t apply to the storytelling, and probably not the overall tone, either, which continues to wildly fluctuate from scene to scene.

At present, The Watch is interesting and worth watching, but sometimes only out of morbid curiosity. There’s enough potential in the actors and their characters that I wish the whole thing hung together better, in all honesty, but here we are. There’s still potential, of a kind, but it’s eroding faster and faster every week.

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