Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, Welcome to the Neighborhood is the series inspired by a true crime from Netflix. The story is based on an article by author Reeves Weideman published in The Cut of New York Magazine and tells the true story of a family who received a series of disturbing letters after moving into their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey.
in the series of Netflix, Dean (Bobby Cannavale) and Nora Brannock (Naomi Watts) have spent most of their lives in New York. In search of a quieter and less tumultuous life, Dean spends almost all of his savings to buy the house at 657 Boulevard, a beautiful building in the early 20th century. However, soon after, they begin to receive these unsettling letters from a person who identifies himself as the Observer (or Watcher, in Portuguese).
So who is this person?
The question that most provokes the spectators of Welcome to the Neighborhood is about “who is the Watcher/Observer”?. In each episode, one or more characters are put under a microscope, and the likelihood that they are the culprits is weighed against sparse and often conflicting evidence.
However, by the end of the season, we are far from getting the answer.
Welcome to the Neighborhood – as we mentioned – is based on a true story, although considerable artistic freedom goes into production.
Perhaps this is the reason why Murphy and his team didn’t use the real names of the family that was persecuted by the real Watcher.
Derek and Maria Broaddus became Dean and Nora Brannock in the Netflix series. However, certain aspects of the series are quite similar to reality, and arguably the most important thing among them is that the Watcher’s identity remains a mystery in the real world as well. That is: both the series and in real life, the identity was never revealed.
While it ends without providing a definitive answer to the most important question, the series does provide a few suspects.
For example, the Brannocks’ neighbor duo, who immediately clash with them. Mo and Mitch are a couple whose property borders 657 Boulevard. In Episode 2, they apparently die in a murder-suicide case, but they return to Westfield later. And then, it is revealed that their son, Christopher, killed two older people with the same body type as his parents to get the insurance money while Mo and Mitch were on vacation in Florida.
There’s also Pearl and her brother Jasper. It is quite evident that they are hiding a big secret, but only a small piece of it is revealed by the end of the season.
At one point, Nora suspects that Dean himself is sending the letters. And so Theodora, the private investigator they hired, supports that. Although the theories don’t fit together for some points.
Dean doesn’t send the first two letters, but is behind the third. He really needs the house sold to avoid a second bankruptcy. Karen Calhoun, the realtor, is another suspect, and she has real reasons for wanting the Brannocks out of the house.
While Karen wants the house and goes to great lengths to acquire it, she is not the Watcher/Watcher. On her first night at 657 Boulevard, her pet dog is killed and she watches someone come out of the trapdoor on the stairs. She flees the house immediately and puts it up for sale.
According to Theodora, of all the suspects, Roger Kaplan, the local architecture aficionado and English teacher, has the best chance of being the Watcher/Observer.
But ultimately he looks like a victim of conjecture. And then, there’s Theodora herself. A terminal cancer patient, she accepts being the Watcher on her deathbed. But it is later revealed to be a lie, told to stop Dean’s march towards self-destruction because of his obsession with the unsolved mystery.
This brings us to John Graff, the man who lived at 657 Boulevard until 1995 with his family. According to Theodora, John also received letters and later killed his entire family before disappearing. John Graff and the person who introduced himself as William Webster are the same. It is heavily implied that he is the one who lives in the tunnels that the 657 Boulevard reformers find.
Pearl and Jasper know about him and have hidden him in the tunnels for all these years. He is likely the person Karen sees at her house and sends most of the letters to the Watchers’ allies. He is not the original Watcher. Someone sent you those letters. But like many people, the property became obsessed with her.
A key component of the narrative that supports this theory is Dean’s behavior at the end. Despite having his own happy ending, he hasn’t been able to give up on the house and the mysteries that surround it. We see him introducing himself to the new owners as John, just like John Graff did when they first met. Like Dean after him, John was probably not able to give up and tried to torment the Brannock family in the same way he had, perhaps even expecting a similar outcome.