The Witcher – Review of the Netflix series

Let’s do a bit of reviewing here. I have never read the books or played the games. I have only ever seen the trailers for the games (which are amazing by the way) and seen references around the internet in various fan groups I am part of (of different fandoms, ironically). However, after recommendations coming from a certain group of friends, whose judgment and taste I trust very much, I decided to go in virtually blind on the subject and watch the Netflix TV series “The Witcher”.

———\\ Finally and only warning – There will be spoilers //———-

Firstly, I must say that I did not know that my friends were this malicious and sneaky, so (said in a VERY sarcastic voice) thank you so very much for this recommendation, you fiends!

After having watching this TV series, and now having to wait more than a year for season 2, because I freaking loved it; is utter torture! It was amazing and I am even more tempted to play the games and read the books, but we will get to that in a moment. Let’s start from the top and the beginning of the TV series.

The introduction scene to this whole thing is a great establishing shot of the calming environment with a doe grassing and, BOOM, our title character is fighting a great big monster and with killing that, he kills the doe for good measure, for food. I love the piece of dialogue Henry Cavil delivers and how neutral it almost sounds. He is merely stating a sad fact and implying the consequence going relating to what he is about to do. It sets up, not just the environment,  but the simplified way of life and the character of Geralt as well.

This leads me to one things I really like about this TV series and how it is done, and that is the language and dialogue. The dialogue is written so well that it makes sense for Geralt to go around saying “Fuck” without it being weird. He is a straight-forward character and very frank so it makes it even more sense that he can say it without much effect on the viewer or the story world. Occasionally other characters says it too, which of course only helps with achieving normalcy.

The TV series is (mostly) divided into three stories, Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri. At a first glance it seems like these stories are happening at the same time, but there are small hints throughout that indicate that they are in fact happening at different times. For instance, after the second visit to Ciri’s story we learn of a battle her grandmother won long ago (first battle in Hochebuz), when she was Ciri’s age. Next, this battle is mentioned to Geralt, but told from the point of view of it just happening. I love this kind of payoff in movies and TV series. From those two small disconnected pieces of dialogue, we now have a timeline for both stories, set around 30 years apart.
The connection to Yennefer story and time had a more vague first hint, and for me it was the mention of “The Great Cleansing” that let me to believe that this was in yet another time. In Geralt’s time, it sounds like it happened in a more distant past, whereas in Yennefer’s time, it is more recent, as it is how her father died and she is quite young. It became more more apparent with the appearance of Foltest as a child in Yennefer’s time, where he is a grown man in Geralt’s time.
This keep happening throughout the episode and is well used for the viewer to keep track of how far along the timeline we are, and how close the characters are to meeting.

Now, there is one teeny thing that I feel is missing, but it is something I can overlook. I would have like more from the character of Ciri. I feel like we learn most about her not second hand, but third hand. Also her actions does not say much. Granted she is a child at this stage, so it sort of goes with the character (and is why I can overlook this easily) and she is constantly around new characters, without a stable or regular flow of interaction with other characters. We don’t really have a ‘side-kick’ to her yet (Dara was the closest character to abchive this, but did not ultimately). The one scene that really stands out for me, when it comes to Ciri, and we learn more of her character, is when she and Dara are escorted by the dopplegänger-Mousesack. She is quite perceptive and quickly learns that this is not the real Mousesack. Hopefully, we will get more and see a bigger development of the character of Ciri in season 2 (2021 is far away at this point).

Here, we come to my favorite character (beating Geralt with less than an inch), Jaskier! He makes every scene he is in that much better, just by being Jaskier. He is the comic relief, but has more depth to him that just being the comic relief. With all the magic and monsters going on, Jaskier is by far the easiest to relate to and he just brings a smile to your face. He is wonderfully written and a great counterpart to Geralt, as Jaskier makes him question things. During the whole episode with the Djin we see a friendship grow stronger between Geralt and Jaskier, with Geralt being pissed off and moody (as usually) and Jaskier causing and are in trouble. The difference here, I think, is that Geralt is not just his usual moody self, but is it for Jaskier, as he is concerned. We had a real good bromance going here, and then Geralt gets pissy for losing Yennefer’s affections and blames Jaskier for all bad ever happening. (Bad Geralt, bad, I say. Go to the naughty corner and do not come back until you can apologize to Jaskier!). It really moved me, how sad Jaskier looked as he left after Geralt dismissed him completely.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I am thinking of looking into the books and games, but I am quite unsure. The reason for this is that as far as I understand the TV series is based on the books, so it would make sense to go there to explore more of the story world, but I do not want to spoil myself beforehand, as I really like the Netflix series. Therefore, I could go play the games, since this would naturally deviate from the TV series. However, would that set up the ‘wrong’ expectations? I am pretty good at keeping adaptations of a story separate in my mind so I just enjoy the story in that particular medium. Short answer? It is more likely that I will play the games, because I have wanted to play them for a while.

I could keep talking about this for a while, but I think I should stop here and perhaps continue in another post later.

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