Just as with The Mandalorian, here are my episode by episode Hot Takes on The Witcher.
#1: The End’s Beginning (The Witcher introduces and exits its most interesting character)
- That was really… oddly paced. For a first episode it rushed in way too fast. It could really have benefited from setting up Geralt, the role of a Witcher, and the world just a bit more before complicating it with the Renfri situation. That was an impossible amount of info dumping from the wizard to intake. On the other hand, after eight plodding Mandalorian episodes it’s nice for something to actually happen in a timely manner.
- Speaking of Renfri, oof. What a great character. With great hair. I did like the inversion of having the normal human who initially accepts Geralt end up also being a mutant. It’s clever.
- It’s impossible to tell, but I’m curious how much my tangential knowledge of The Witcher universe is coloring my view of the series. I haven’t played the games or read the books, but I’m fairly aware of
- This is not how battles or sieges work. Just saying.
- It’s certainly faithful to the original canon, but I do wish they had gone with a bit more of a low fantasy approach to the magic.
- Geralt’s armor looks really, really dumb. I wish they had gone with something practical and based in reality, or something closer to his Witcher 2 jacket. I always liked that look.
- Seriously, that was too much for a first episode. They really needed to chill and lengthen things out a bit. Especially the Cintra bits. We don’t even really get a proper introduction to Nilfgaard before they’re slaughtering everyone.
- Nice to see some competently done action after Rise of Skywalker’s muddled fight scenes.
- Someone please tell me Renfri comes back in some capacity, because I will be sad if she does not.
#2: Four Marks (a Very Special elf episode of The Witcher)
- Not that Henry Cavill is doing a bad job exactly, but I still think it’s a shame they didn’t cast Mads Mikkelsen as Geralt. Geralt isn’t supposed to be a super cool silent badass, there’s an extent to which his character as far as I know is supposed to be kind of ordinary and workmanlike (nerd talks to his horse), but Mads Mikkelson could still do it better and actually be convincing in the parts where Geralt is supposed to be badass.
- I guess this was officially The Elf episode. There’s a bunch of thematic stuff going on with the elves and marginalization that’s honestly kind of a headache to parse. As they’re introduced here they’re a pretty clear Native American analogue, and that’s… not great. Especially with the whole ‘don’t become what they want you to be’ thing which is honestly just a tool of marginalization and preventing genuine rebellion and change.
- Yennefer is a bamf. Her storyline is kind of slow, but still interesting. I do wish they’d gone a little less high magic with the portrayal. People are a lot less skittish about goofy magic then they used to be, but I still think the show could’ve gotten a lot more mileage out of a low fantasy approach. If magic was strange and horrific, it would sell the monster vs human conflict better.
- Honestly it feels sometimes like this show is a really high quality teenager fantasy story, from Geralt’s terrible wig and contacts to the muddled and breathless exposition that feels like someone trying to fit all the backstory into a elevator conversation. It’s both charming and kind of irritating.
#3: Betrayer Moon (Triss is supposed to be a hot redhead wtf show)
- God, Geralt’s armor is stupid looking. Not only that, but it hurts the storytelling. Gaunt and practical armor would sell the mutant and inhuman nature of Witchers far better.
- Why did we not get some exposition before this about what the magic users purpose in this universe is? This goes back to the breathless teenage world building exposition thing I mentioned last time.
- These Geralt A-plots are getting really boring. I’m beginning to think the first one was an aberration because of Renfri’s bamfness. Theoretically each should be telling us something new about Geralt and complicating his character, but so far he’s just in the holding pattern of what we learned in the first episode.
- The action this time around is actually pretty good. Kind of boring, but the cgi was nice, and it had some good shots.
- At least the show recognizes that Renfri was a bamf and its best character so far.
#4: Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials (porcupine is the new sexy)
- Bard dude is legitimately pretty fun. A lot of times those characters are just irritating.
- The show really should be more clear about its timeline. This show is really careless in pretty much aspect; both for good and bad. I’d sorta assumed Yennefer was happening before the other two because I’m mildly aware of Witcher canon, but it wasn’t really clear.
- Ok, Calanthe is officially accepted into the club of bamfs. Still not as bamf as her head bamfness Renfri, but not bad.
- Geralt as a grumpy monster killer is so much better than silent badass.
- Ok, that clears up Yennefer’s timeline a bit, but she is concurrent with Geralt, Ciri, or on her now? Very irritating.
- Not that it’s unique in it, but why does every piece of media seem to think swords can slash through plate steel? Why would people even wear it if that was the case?
- I’m continually surprised by how competent the action in this show is. Though I feel like missed something about why they’re fighting.
- A big thing in the Witcher lore if I’m remembering correctly is the subversion and deconstruction of fairytales and stuff, but I’m still really unclear on this whole law of surprises thing. Though also i wasn’t totally paying attention so its kind of my fault. It’s clearly a play on the sleeping beauty and Rumple whatever his name type trope, but I’m not really sure how it contributes to the message of the Witcher as a whole.
- So is Ciri just going to dick around forever…?
Photo Credit: IMDB