The Watership Down remake has arrived just in time for Christmas and similar to the source material, there’s a lot to unpack from the newly adapted TV Miniseries.
Throughout this video, I will be breaking down everything that you need to know about the four-episode series as well as it’s ending.
There will, of course be heavy spoilers here, so, if you don’t want to know anything just yet, then I highly suggest that you turn off now.
For everyone else, I’m Deffinition and Welcome to the channel where I ruin it so you don’t have to!
Watership Down Plot Synopsis
Our story starts at a Warren in Sandleford where we join a group of Rabbits, yes Rabbits, I know they look like hares but it’s clear that the BBC spent more on the cast budget than they did the animation but I don’t make the rules. Anyway, after one of The Rabbits, named Fiver, has a premonition that humans are coming to build a housing estate on the area they live, they decide to leave.
This doesn’t sit too well with the elders of the Warren even though there is a massive sign that saying that he’s right so he, his brother Hazel, a larger Rabbit named Bigwig and a handful of others decide to leave in search of a new place to live which Fiver refers to as The Down.
Eventually, they come across a Rabbit named Cowslip in the wild who invites them to join his Warren.
‘There’s Something Wrong With This Place!’
On the surface this place looks like a paradise, Humans from a neighbouring farm bring food to them daily and the area is well sheltered but there’s a clearly something wrong with the place. Fiver warns against them living there and he is soon proven right when we discover that the humans are in fact only feeding the Rabbits to harvest them for their meat and skin. It’s pretty terrifying and the rabbits have turned into fearful creatures, almost inventing their own religion to give reasoning and purpose to their death, living by the mantra ‘A day less for one means a day more for everyone else.’
After Bigwig nearly dies on a snare set by a farmer, the herd decides to continue to the Down and they stumble across the farm where they see some female rabbits trapped in cages. They finally reach the down but quickly realise that their new home won’t be able to thrive due to their being more males than female rabbits, which are referred to as does.
A former survivor from their previous home, named Captain Holly, arrives heavily wounded and states that fiver was indeed right and that the housing estate pretty much killed the majority of the population which ends part one.
Part 2 which is called The Raid, no not after the movie, though this is probably a lot more gory, involves the Rabbits trying to find does does does, in different area codes. Do you see what I did there?
Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig set off to the farm to free the trapped Rabbits and a bird with a broken wing crash lands at the Down. Eventually, they nurse it back to health and when out flying it notices a group of Rabbits off to the east that Captain Holly, Blue Bell and Blackberry set off to find.
Meanwhile, at the farm, they are spotted by the farm cat which chases them away. Captain Holly and co arrive at the other Warren which is named Efrafan. This is a totalitarian Warren in which stronger Rabbits rule over the weak, forcing them to work and being extremely vicious to those who refuse. The Warren’s leader, General Woundwort is pretty much Negan in a Bugs Bunny Costume and he threatens them, branding them and forcing them to work in the process. This Warren is like George Orwell’s 1984 and the Rabbits that live there have surrendered their freedom in turn for protection from Humans but it’s not even guaranteed.
Captain Holly takes the other and decides to make a break for it and the Rabbits end up almost dying after playing chicken with a train.
Hazel decides to return to the farm under the cover of night but discovers that The Rabbit huts have been moved inside so he goes into Solid Snake mode and breaks in to free them. Unfortunately, he is discovered after he sets them free and they encounter the Farmer’s Dog before the Farmer chases them shooting Hazel in the process. Hazel dies for a moment and is greeted by the Black Rabbit which is the personification of death. The Black Rabbit informs him that he will be a great leader which shocks him back to life.
Episode 3 The Escape centres around the Rabbits of the Down following Fivers vision of his brother in order to save him.
After one of the Rabbits, named Clover, wanders around in Silent Hill for a while she discovers him. However, she is soon caught by the Rabbits from Efrafan and is taken there.
Bigwig infiltrates their ranks as an officer and informs the Does of Watership plan to spring them. The Rabbits try to escape but this fails and after suspicion arises around Bigwig he is put in a position where he must kill one of the dissenting does to prove his authenticity. Bigwig refuses to and instead fights the other officers, springing the does free and regrouping with the other rabbits. Unfortunately, they’re met by Woundworts forces in the rain so you know it’s epic.
Keehar aka Steven Seagull busts in and dispersed them pretty quickly which buys the rabbits time to return to escape to the down where they flourish for a while until Efrafans forces track them down.
The Final Battle
They lay siege to Watership and attack, killing several rabbits in the process, man I thought this was meant to be a kids movie. All looks lost until Professor X with some help from fiver and travels to the farm to free the Farmers dog to lead it back.
In the meantime, Bigwig provides a distraction and battles Woundwort head to head. Hazel arrives with the dog and Woundwort refuses to back down, leaping at the dog stating that he fears no dog. We never get confirmation of his death and in the book some of his followers even believe that he still exists. Rabbit parents would tell their kittens that if the didn’t do as they were told, he would come for them; “such was his monument, and perhaps it would not have displeased him.”
Watership Down: Ending Explained
Fiver returns after being saved by a human girl and the colony thrives once more as the seasons pass with Mackenzie crook doing an eye saw her first reference that fans of the office will love.
Hazel rests now that the conflict is over and that he and his brother built a new place for him and his friends. Fiver comes to the river to say goodbye to his brother after sensing that he will die soon. The black rabbit comes to greet him and states that she wants him to join her most privileged subjects. Hazel accepts this honour safe in the knowledge that the rabbits will live on, Hazel becomes a legend that is recounted to the children for generations to come.
The main message to take from Watership Down is humankind’s effect on the environment. There are clear symbols of how each Warren has been affected in different ways due to man’s damage to the environment. Sandleford slowly is polluted and though it is a Greenland, items like the trashcan lid highlight the opening of garbage into the environment. The area that Cowslip lives in seems like a paradise due to the environment, but this farmland is cultivated by farmers who are only generous because they are getting something out of it in the long run.
Efrafan is set in an industrial area and this too has clearly had an effect on the wildlife which have regressed into Rabbits that live in the darkness and their personalities have become twisted because of this. It highlights that we must be mindful of our actions on the environment as they have dire consequences that we should perhaps be more mindful of.
So, what did you take from Watership Down? Did you enjoy the film and what did you think of the animation and style?
Comment below and let me know!