From 2011-2019, Game of Thrones was one of the most popular TV shows and a huge pop culture sensation. The show had eight seasons, and season eight is widely considered to be a massive failure and a huge letdown for fans everywhere. Late in 2019, a new Netflix original show called The Witcher debuted and it is the new popular fantasy drama. It is based on The Witcher book series (not the video game trilogy with the same name) and has been a huge hit with fans everywhere. The first season is a very good start to the show and it will satisfy viewers.
The show follows three different characters, Geralt of Rivia, Princess Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg, across three different periods of time and the show progresses to a point where some of the characters start coming across one another. Geralt is a mutated monster hunter who has a slower heartbeat as he does not feel emotion. During his travels, he kills monsters as he is followed by Jaskier, a bard that shares the stories of Geralt’s adventures through songs. Geralt through his adventures realizes that some humans are even worse than monsters and must fight them as well.
Yennefer is a hunchback who has magical powers and is bought by Tissaia, the Rectoress of Aretuza, which is a magical school for female mages. She eventually transforms from her body into a more conventionally beautiful one after rebelling against Aretuza but had to give up her fertility in the process, which is something she wants back. Ciri is the crown princess of the kingdom of Cintra and has been linked with Geralt through destiny before she was even born. After Nilfgaard captures Cintra, Ciri goes on the run to find Geralt.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Freya Allan as Ciri and Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg. When Cavill played Superman in the DCEU, he often portrayed a Superman that was brooding and serious and that did not always work for that character. However, that works very well in his portrayal of Geralt and I would even say that Cavill is perfect for that role as Geralt is a killing machine filled with darkness and conflict. Allan portrays a character scared and on the run, and her performance is chilling to watch at times. Chalotra is the star of the show as you see her character, figuratively and literally, change throughout the show and the raw emotions that she brings to life are incredible to watch.
The way the show jumps between three different stories in the same world is incredible. They use this to do a lot of world building and, while sometimes characters have a bad habit of throwing out a bunch of unfamiliar names with a lack of context, it does bring this world to life. You see what kinds of monsters are around, the display of power and corruption, and the magical world. The writing excels at world building and that was an aspect the writers had to do very well.
The biggest part of this show that must be praised is the action and look of the show. The costume design for the characters is tremendous as it makes it feel like we are watching events taking place during the Middle Ages, which is the point. Also, the action is filmed fantastically as one can not only see everything that is taking place, but the hits feel real and that elevates the tension of those scenes. When Geralt kills someone with a sword, the scene is filmed in a way that makes it feel authentic. The magic is also well done as it looks believable and not over the top. The symbolism portrayed is the strongest part of the show. In the ending of episode three, there is a scene that shows Yennefer transforming along with Geralt fighting a monster created as part of a curse. The duality and imagery of those scenes are horrifying yet astounding. There are many scenes like that and they are all great to watch.
My one negative with the show is related to a positive I previously mentioned, the fact that Yennefer steals the show. Yennefer is a great character and the way her character develops is special. She grows and develops more than any other character and, in many episodes, has most of the screen time, especially in the season finale. She feels like the main character and that is a problem with the showing being called The Witcher. Geralt, the title character, feels less impactful in this show than Yennefer and I feel like that is misleading. The title character should without a doubt be the main character and that is one area that prevents this show from being a masterpiece for me.
With that said, The Witcher is a high-quality fantasy drama with great character development, action and acting. During this time of self-quarantine, this is a show that I recommend if you can handle some of the rated-R aspects of it.
Just remember to toss a coin to your Witcher.