What would you get if you took the premise of the murder and mystery show Only Murders in the Building, stripped it of its humour, crossed it all with some of the elements of the spectacular series Servant, and gave it more of a trashy thriller sensibility? What you would get is a show that is very similar to what you would get if you took the premise of the murder and mystery show Only Murders in the Building and gave it a So, in terms of appearance and general vibe, it might be something comparable to The Watchful Eye.
However, despite what that description may lead you to believe, this series is not as much fun as it promises. A narrative that is defined by turns of events that appear to be major but which are almost always reversed immediately afterwards, this type of narrative is continually looking for something more substantial to sink its teeth into but never finds it. Even when you think it may finally be kicking into some kind of higher gear during the eight episodes submitted for review, it will quickly downshift and, as a result, scatter whatever of the already little interest one would have.
The Watchful Eye Trailer
Elena Santos (Mariel Molino), the protagonist of The Watchful Eye, has a promising beginning when she learns that she will be employed as a live-in nanny at The Greybourne, a posh residential building in Manhattan. The neighbourhood is reeling from a tragedy that occurred not long ago, when it is thought that a woman fell to her death from one of the high above upper stories. Elena has to deal with people whose family money brings an air of arrogance and a sense of superiority. This makes an already difficult situation even more difficult for Elena. When she first goes in for the interview, she is immediately questioned about her lack of qualifications, even though she has far more experience and training than is necessary to care for a child.
The question then is why she would want to work such a job. Now, Elena is using this employment as a front for her real plan, which is something else entirely, as it turns out. This secret she brings with her is nothing compared to what she will discover in this protected environment that hides a sequence of deaths that will bring the past and the present into dangerously close proximity. At the very least, this is what the theory suggests it should be. Even though Molino does her best to carry the story, the experience is hampered by the absence of actual stakes and a general dearth of momentum to any of what is playing out. This is the case even when Molino does her best to carry the plot. The more it goes on, the more it starts to feel like it’s dragging.
When discussing some of the reasoning for this, it is necessary to exercise caution because there are aspects that could be ruined by doing so. Nearly every episode contains at least one revelation that, in a narrative with more depth and commitment, would have marked a significant step up in the level of suspense. Instead, it feels like primarily unnecessary embellishment to usually tiresome tales that all feel stalling for time. Even while each episode is filled with romances, betrayals, and other forms of deception, you are still left wondering whether any of this will even end up being significant.
At the conclusion of each episode, when the proverbial other shoe is meant to fall, the score will intensify, and we will be left hanging. Because of this, it seems somewhat strange when the next episode picks up with the story, effectively ignoring what we have just learned. It lowers everything to only be a ruse to keep us watching, regardless of how little anything actually matters with the people or the scenario they’re locked in. This reduces everything to merely being a gimmick to keep us watching.
It goes into a circular pattern of characters travelling around the same settings, constantly talking stilted dialogue, and making it seem like we are getting somewhere, only for it to hit the reset button effectively. This is frustrating because the story could be so much better. Even while some of the episodes, like the one about the masquerade ball or the one about the power outage, should help differentiate them from one another, they all share a general tepidness that makes everything seem like a cliché. The fact that this is the case is sad since in her role as Elena, Molina creates a captivating centre figure, and you can’t help but wonder what secrets she will unearth. It even had moments where it seemed like it might be approaching a likeness to components of the series Archive 81, which was unfortunately cancelled.
This hope for anything a little more inventive eventually shows to be a wish for a lost cause, as The Watchful Eye only merely rearranges characters and story pieces. There are sporadic instances in which it ventures into the realm of the supernatural, such as when someone unexpectedly pulls out an ouija board. Still, for the most part, it is just a cumbersome way to convey information to the audience. These occurrences are clearly out of the blue, yet they do not carry any significance. Finding out about a significant familial tie late in the season doesn’t really influence the path the tale will take in any significant manner. During one scene, one of the characters comments on how they are “weary of this conversation.” This gives a moment of accidental hilarity, which derives its primary source from the fact that it epitomizes the sensation of monotony that permeates the entirety of the series.
There is a lot of busyness to things, which may fool you into thinking that there is something more going on for a couple of moments. The Watchful Eye jumps from one character in the building to another, and each one acts as a technique to make it appear as though this is a complicated plot about competing players who might all be a part of a coverup. It becomes increasingly difficult to care about any of it the longer this continues. There is never sufficient meat on any of the bones of any of it.
When the characters contemplate leaving the building so they can put everything in the past, you will do all in your power to urge them to do so. Because doing so for an extended period would be tantamount to throwing out the entire idea upon which the series is based, obviously this never happens. Nevertheless, it makes one desire some wider perspective or scope beyond the little one that this story keeps fixed on, even though there is very little to look at.
The one scene that is ingrained in my mind, in an inadvertently amusing way, is the one in which Elena stumbles into something that she isn’t intended to. A character asks her, “exactly what do you think you’re doing down here?” in response to her discovery. We never really get a response that satisfies the requirements of such a question, even if there might have been one. The Watchful Eye lacks the required tension to hold up a story whose greatest revelation is how superficial it all is, although it wildly hints at something more than it actually shows. This is the case regardless of how much it wildly gestures at something more.