The Witcher is a 2019 NETFLIX television series based on the popular book series: The Witcher. Set in a magical, medieval world we follow our protagonist; a witcher ‘Geralt of Rivia’ (Henry Cavil). A mutated monster hunter, created by mages, defunct to human emotion as he tries to survive in a world that doesn’t want him or his kind. Moving from town to town slaying monsters, we learn very early that Geralt is nothing like the assumptions given about Witchers – always seeming to want to save lives instead of take them. Very much shown to be a lone ranger, Geralt is told that his destiny is to be linked with a girl and that ‘the girl in the woods’ will always be with him. We are then introduced to Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), a tormented young woman who has the potential to become a powerful mage and a young princess named Cirilla (Freya Allan); all three of these individuals are destined to meet.
So; just how good is The Witcher? I, just as you, have heard that The Witcher is to be the ‘new Game of Thrones‘. Do I think that is the case? No – not in the slightest. The Witcher is widely different to Game of Thrones, the politics, deception and big wars you loved in Game of Thrones, is almost non-existent here, and any attempt the show does to give you one of the three is completely over hit because of the nature of the show. By that, I mean keeping track of the names, the characters and the history is hard because of the magical element that is attached. But that isn’t the only way this differs to Game Of Thrones, the show is called The Witcher, and thus, it is about The Witcher, meaning there aren’t that many different characters. Interestingly, however, even though the show is named The Witcher, there are definitely three leads in the show. On the other hand, I do understand where the comparisons start, Game of Thrones was such a mainstay in pop culture over the last decade and The Witcher will most likely be at the forefront of pop culture for the next decade.
The Witcher ends better than it starts, and by doing so, manages to entice so many fans. Even though I struggled to get through the first two episodes, after seeing the final episode, I desperately want to see where the next season can go. And, I think that is what the series does so well, the possibilities of where this show can go next is endless, the first season successfully builds the world, and brilliantly builds these characters for audiences. Furthermore, a high budget was spent on this show, and you can definitely tell NETLIX would not let this be a failure, the action scenes are incredible, and the CGI is impeccable – the world and monsters look amazing and it is definitely a reason to keep watching even when the narrative seems a little slow moving. I also really liked how The Witcher managed to make most of the episodes self-contained, its story line mirrored a similarity with all three characters, and what they were facing.
Whilst many may come for Henry Cavil, the audience will quickly learn to stay for the other characters, played by Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan. Henry Cavil is quite the enigma because he is amazing, he manages to be amazing even though for large portions of episodes he doesn’t even have much screen-time. It is almost as if this role is tailor-made for him, bringing this character to life, it is worth pointing out that the chemistry he has with his on-screen actors is amazing. Cavil shares some great scenes with Joey Batey (Jaskier), which adds so much character development. You definitely won’t forgot Jaskier’s song. As for, Yennifer (Anya Calotra, another that has amazing chemistry with Cavil), her arc (parallels the series) gets better as it goes along. At first, Yennifer is a strain on the show, because (as I will explain); she seemed to be taking away from the rest of the show, but episode by episode, her character grows and it results in a very powerful episode in the finale. A finale that she arguably makes so much better, and there could be a case made that she is the true protagonist of the show – especially with the final stand she makes. Whilst Yennifer’s character gets better with each episode, Princess Cirilla’s seems to decline with each episode, but that is because she has such an importance in the first few episodes, being the centre of a massive action piece that could be argued is (really) the only reason to continue watching.
The show is really slow at the start, to the point where I wasn’t entirely sure where the show was going due to its pacing. Luckily, there is enough action to tie you over, with Princess Cirilla’s arc (early on) being instrumental to the action, and the creator’s way of story-telling meaning that Geralts arc in each episode is self-contained and can be enjoyed without having to remember everything from the previous episode. Unfortunately (as I just said) Yennifer’s arc takes away from that action and replaces it with a lot of jargon that, (although that will later be important) can be extremely confusing for the viewer early on even though she the MVP by the end of the show.
Which, like I said – reinstates the idea that the show demands a lot from its viewer, terminology will be thrown around and hardly explained, names will be said with no faces to be shown, magic will be a universal umbrella that can be used by anyone until it won’t be, and there will be a difference between the types of magic that can be cast. Without spoiling anything, the way in which the show presents these characters is the defining reason one may or may not like the show, I actually watched with subtitles and so I managed to cotton on to the whole plot lines very early on, but it could take some a lot of confusing episodes to understand what is going on, and because of the way the show presents itself, there are months, years and even decades skipped in which we are just left to assume The Witcher has had no problems in.
The Witcher has the luxury of a second season to fall back on, meaning it could take the first as slow as it liked. The best thing NETFLIX could have done was give it an early renewal and back it with a massive budget because they definitely took their time building the world and characters. You won’t understand half of what is being said to begin with and the pacing of the show is a little slow for my liking in revealing its plot-lines but because of a very powerful final few episodes (especially the final episode), I am so optimistic and am genuinely excited with where this show can go.
2 thoughts on “REVIEWED: THE WITCHER SEASON 1. 3/5 or a B. SPOILER-FREE”
Thank you for this review. I wish I had read it before watching episodes one and two. I was about to give up on this series, but I think I will go back and rewatch them with the subtitles on and try and soldier through to the final.
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The story elements with Geralt align closely with the book The Last Wish, which is, essentially, a series of short stories that helps the reader (watcher) get to know the character. In the show, because they’re using them to tie together the three main characters, the timeline can be a challenge as the show jumps back and forth. I greatly enjoyed the first season (having been a fan of the books and the games). As for Cavill, I was worried – but he did an excellent job due to his enjoyment of the source material as well. That he was a fan of The Witcher makes his enjoyment in playing this role obvious, and I’m very impressed and pleased by how well he portrayed the character.
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