The Witcher - Netflix | Better the second time around

I just re-watched the Witcher on Netflix and wanted to share some thoughts on the show. I watched it once before around the time it released and thought it was nothing more than ok. Not bad. Just ok. I had a rough time following the story and was put off by the many time jumps that they do. It was making it sort of hard to follow. Now that I watched it again I think different.


The Witcher

The Witcher is based upon the books that go by the same name. They tell the story og Geralt of Rivia. A Witcher on the path to fulfill his destiny. The books, and now the series, take place before the story of the games. According to this Wikipedia-article The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the 25th best selling video game of all time. It's safe to say it was pretty hyped.

The lead role of Geralt of Rivia is played by Henry Cavill who might just be the perfect fit for the role. Not only does he fit the role physically but he's also a huge fan of the Witcher himself. He's held several interviews talking about this, and you can read over at Screenrant how he's a fan of both the games and the books. He is also a huge nerd which I think is fantastic. Check out this article mentioning how he almost lost the role of Superman in Man of Steel due to playing World of Warcraft.

The full cast can be found here.


Better the second time around

I had a great time re-watching the Witcher. The show really was better when watching it the second time around. At least for me. The series takes us through three different timelines, similar to how the movies Dunkirk and Pulp Fiction play out.

What was not clear to me the first time around was that one storyline spans 70 years, one 20 years and the last just two weeks. Knowing this going in to the series the second time around made the story easier to follow. It made me appreciate the details. In fact I found the whole thing to be a stroke of genius. Sure, it's been done before but it's not easy to get it right.

I think they played out this season very well. It's based upon the first two books in the series, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. These are in fact collections of short stories instead of full length books. I think they did a great job of tying the short stories together into a show.

I appreciated every scene. I was excited for every episode and I got way more engaged in the show.


One for the fans

While the show is made for anyone to watch, the fans of the Witcher universe will likely appreciate it more. The book readers get to relive the epic tale visually on the screen while the fans of the games get the backstory.

There are certain things that's not explained in the show that might leave newcomers to the universe thinking. What is a Witcher? What was the Conjunction of the Spheres? While this was clear as day to me who has played all three of the games several times over it was not clear to my girlfriend. She was left confused through several parts of the show which did not mix well with the relatively confusing story timelines.

I'm sure it's done intentionally to some degree. The old fans who already know will be left longing for more. The newcomers will be left with questions and will look to the upcoming seasons to answer them.


A setting to reflect upon

This section contains some spoilers.

The world of the Witcher is a dark one. There's a lot of heavy thematics going on.

Ever since playing the games I've felt like the Witcher universe touches in on some great topics. While the Witcher takes place in a fantasy universe the world might not be so different to ours after all. We get to witness a world ruled by humans driving back all of the others races deemed less superior. Elves are hunted, placed in slums and simply the victims of some heavy racism. There's basically a race war going on between humans and elves.

In fact, the humans don't even belong in this world. The humans first arrived in this world through the aforementioned Conjunction of the Spheres alongside other creatures such as a lot of the monsters we get to see. Over time the human race has spread and multiplied and are now the rulers of this earth. Slowly driving back and erasing other races as they see fit. Anything "different" is looked down upon. I like to draw parallels to how humans have taken over our own world. Driving several species of wildlife to the brink of extinction.

There's also the over-arching theme that the monsters aren't the real monsters. Sometimes people are way worse. We don't need to look further than the shows slogan to find the first example of this.

“The worst monsters are the ones we create.”


The verdict

The Witcher is, in my opinion, a great show. It leaves both newcomers and veterans of the universe wanting for more. The cast is great. The acting is great, although cheesy at times. Even though the story might be hard to follow it makes sense in the end. It is however the kind of show where it might help to watch it a second time. There's a lot of details to pick up on which might have been missed the first time around.

This show left me wanting for more. Ever since discovering the first Witcher game back in 2007 I've consumed everything that's been released apart from the books. I might jump on that to get a head start on the show. I am however afraid that it might leave me disappointed when the next season drops. Book adaptions aren't always great if you've read the book beforehand.

If you haven't already I would recommend watching this show. Even if you aren't a fan of fantasy settings. It's worth a shot. That way you can be as excited as me for season 2. There's been some delays in the development of it but as far I can tell they're back on track for a 2021 release.


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