The Watchers: What does Ainriochtán Mean?

Starring Dakota Fanning, ‘The Watchers’ follows the story of Mina, who finds her way into a forest that no one can seem to leave. Whoever enters it is trapped there forever, with mysterious creatures who only come out at night. The only way to survive the place is by locking themselves in a room with a mirror through which the creatures can observe them without hurting them. Knowing nothing about the creatures puts them at a disadvantage, and Mina aims to rectify that situation. So, despite being told how dangerous it is, she decides to enter the Burrows, the creatures’ hideout during the day. This is where she comes dangerously close to one of them, who calls her Ainriochtán. She doesn’t understand the meaning of this word until much later. SPOILERS AHEAD

Ainriochtán Points to a Major Plot Twist at the End

After fleeing the Coop and the forest, Mina decides to do what the Professor wants. She visits his office in the university and finds his research on the Watchers to destroy it. There, she also finds his photos and sees Madeline in them. The professor’s secretary tells him he is the Professor’s wife, who died years ago. This means that Madeline, along with them at the Coop, was a watcher.

Later, a confrontation happens between Mina and fake Madeline, and after confirming that she is one of the Watchers, Madeline reveals that they used to call her Ainriochtán, which means “the strange one,” “the daywalker,” “the deformity.” They called her so because they didn’t consider her one of them. The Watchers cannot go out into the sun, but Madeline can. She was also a bit different than them, something the Professor pointed out earlier. She was more curious and even innocent. These qualities come to her from her half-human half because, as Mina tells her, Madeline could only have the ability to walk in the sun and leave the forest because she was not entirely a Watcher.

Mina Being Called Ainriochtán Raises Several Questions About Her

While it makes sense why the Watchers would give Madeline a name, it feels odd for them to use the same word for Mina. The most obvious answer to this puzzle could be that for them, “Ainriochtán” is used to describe a “daywalker.” Mina, being a human, is able to walk in the sun and goes down to the Burrows when the light is still out simply because she knows the Watchers will not come out at this point. Sure enough, when a Watcher raises its hand in her direction, it gets burned. But is this really the end of it?

Madeline uses three words to explain the meaning of Ainriochtán. The strange one and the deformity: How do they apply to Mina? Did they call her the word because they confused her with Madeline, or did they really mean it? It feels weird for them not to know the difference between a normal human and one of their own (even if half-breed). This leaves us with another possibility: they saw Mina as the strange one, the deformity. So, if they saw Mina as one of their own, does this mean that she, too, is a Watcher (even if half-breed)? This explains their heightened interest in Mina, which was initially explained away as her being the newcomer and more fascinating. And it makes things even more interesting for the movie.

One of the running themes of the movie is duplication. Mina and Lucy are copies of each other, being twins. (The last scene creates a clear demarcation between them by putting a huge scar on Lucy’s face, so we know which one is Mina.) There is a clever use of mirrors throughout the film, especially in the Coop and in the last scene, where Mina sees Madeline take her form through the glass wall. Like the Watchers, Mina also tries to mingle with others by trying to be someone else (referring to her using fake personalities in bars with men). She is also the only one in the Coop who watches a reality show, ‘Lair of Love,’ observing people confined to one place through the glass screen of the TV.

It could be that, on some level, the Watchers recognize this trait in her, which makes them see her as one of their own. They are more interested in her because, somehow, she has mastered looking like humans, as if she were one of them. They want to study her more because she has done what they have been trying to do for a long time. She has fully transformed into a human, maybe so much that she has forgotten about being half-Watcher.

Read More: The Watchers (2024): Is the Movie Based on a Book?