Naomi Watts and Bobby Canavale star in The Watcher

Even the Stars Don’t Know Who ‘The Watcher’s Title Character Is—Will We Find Out in Season 2?

Some mysteries seem destined to remain unsolved. In October 2022, Netflix debuted The Watcher, a mystery-thriller based on the true story of a New Jersey family terrorized by a mysterious stalker via threatening letters. The show was an instant hit on the streamer and quickly became one of their most-viewed series of the year.

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Although The Watcher was originally intended to be a standalone miniseries, the fact that the watcher’s identity is never revealed left fans wondering if there might be a second season after all.

What’s The Watcher about?

To recap, The Watcher follows the story of Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora (Naomi Watts) Brannock, a fictionalized version of Derek and Maria Broaddus. Journalist Reeves Wiedeman first reported on the Broaddus’ bizarre tale in an article on The Cut, exposing the traumatic series of events that led the family to abandon their recently-purchased dream home for a huge financial loss.

The story goes that after the family moved into their posh Westfield mansion, anonymous letters started arriving. Some of these letters threatened members of their family, referenced cult rituals, and called out each family member by name. The letters were signed “The Watcher,” and the family never discovered who sent them.

Renowned television writer and producer Ryan Murphy saw the story during the COVID-19 pandemic and started writing a loosely based version of it for the small screen. Ian Brennan helped him finish the script and get the show made by Netflix.

Watts stars and co-executive produces with Murphy, Brennan, and others. She and Cannavale lead the cast with a stoic unease, and Jennifer Coolidge appears as a scene-stealing corrupt realtor called Karen Calhoun. Isabel Gravitt and Luke David Blumm appear as the Brannock children, Ellie and Carter. Noma Dumezweni stars as Theodora Birch, a private detective who plays a crucial role in the series, and Hollywood royalty Mia Farrow stars as nosey neighbor Pearl Winslow.

How did season 1 of The Watcher end?

Netflix's The Watcher shows the house on 657 Boulevard
(Netflix)

**Spoilers for The Watcher season 1 ahead!**

In the last episode of season 1, Theodora, dying from terminal cancer, calls Dean to “confess” to being the watcher just to ease his troubled mind. Later, her daughter admits she lied. Karen uses a duplicitous LLC to purchase 657 Boulevard from the Brannocks, then moves in. Nora warns Karen that she “will be watching,” and it doesn’t take long for Karen to find an ominous watcher letter addressed to her. When her dog turns up dead, Karen gets out of there as fast as she can, and a new young couple purchases the home from her.

Months later, Dean sneaks back into the house disguised as “John,” perpetuating the whole curious storyline for the new homeowners. Meanwhile, Nora watches silently as her husband lies to her about returning to the house. Are they the new watchers? Is that how this works?

No one knows who The Watcher is … not even the cast

After seven increasingly troubling episodes involving dead pets, eerie music playing from an empty room, creepy strangers prowling where they don’t belong, neighbors turning up dead, then alive again, and, of course, a “the call came from inside the house!” moment, the main mystery remained unsolved. Who is the watcher? We have no idea … and neither does the cast.

Entertainment Weekly reported that at a special New York City screening of the show, Watts admitted the entire cast and crew were left in the dark about the identity of the watcher.

“We didn’t know, and we still don’t know,” she said, adding, “I loved that. I loved not knowing. I think that we knew the story and that was unresolved, and I liked how this couple—who started off in a great place, seemed to be enjoying life and reaching their dreams and still having sex, everything is peachy—become unraveled by this situation and turn on each other.”

Cannavale agreed that not knowing the watcher’s identity was a strong motivation for his character’s development. He equated not knowing to how helpless and confused we all felt during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was when Murphy came up with the idea to write The Watcher.

“He came up with the idea during [the pandemic]—he wrote it during that—so it was always sort of metaphorical for me: loss of control, loss of power, loss of protective ability. So, in the end, it didn’t really matter to me. What mattered was what it put these people through.”

Booby Cannavale, Jennifer Coolidge, and Naomi Watts in The Watcher
(Netflix)

Will there be a continuation of the story or not?

In reality, the mystery of the watcher remains unsolved, but Murphy and Brennan could correct that injustice in their fictional version. In November 2022, Variety reported a second season deal for The Watcher and two more seasons for Monster, another Murphy/Brennan collaboration. Both of the first seasons of these series were among the most-watched Netflix originals for 2022, so it makes sense to bring them back by popular demand.

As for whether or not we’ll see more of fan-favorite Coolidge in the next season, we can only hope. The actress herself told Entertainment Weekly that she’d love to reprise her role, but she hasn’t heard anything about casting or production just yet. “I mean, I’m wondering. I wonder if they will call Karen back,” she said. “I would definitely go if they offer, if they ask me. I hope she’s back.”

Same!

You can catch up with all seven episodes of season 1 of The Watcher right now on Netflix.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is a contributing entertainment writer for The Mary Sue. She also creates calendars and books about web memes, notably "You Had One Job!," "Animals Being Derps," and the upcoming "Mildly Vandalized." When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or streaming content under a pile of very loved (spoiled!) pets.