The Witcher (2019): High hopes, wasn’t disappointed (for the most part)


When I first heard about the announcement of the serialization of The Witcher in 2018, I was ecstatic. As a fan of The Witcher video game and book franchise, a TV show or movie was something that I was always hoping for. 

Nevertheless, I was skeptical about the idea of the show as I thought it was based on the video games. Trying to emulate a video game experience – especially a game with such diverse options like the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which had 36 different endings–  is a tall task to say the least. This skepticism settled down a little after hearing that Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, the writer and director of the Netflix shows Daredevil and The Defenders, was the executive producer and that Geralt of Rivia being played by Henry Cavill –famous for his role as Superman in Man of Steel (2013). Hissrich herself didn’t really ease my mind that much, as personally I believe Daredevil is one of the best Marvel shows created while The Defenders had a lot to be desired. However, Henry Cavill definitely increased my confidence in the show given that he is known to be a huge fan of the Witcher franchise as well. In addition to this, Hissrich stated that the show is based on the novels. Given all this, it is safe to say that I walked into this with high expectations.

Before we actually talk about my opinion regarding the show, let’s talk a bit about what the show is actually about. The Witcher revolves around three main characters: Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter with superhuman powers, Yennefer of Vengeberg, a sorceress and Ciri, the granddaughter of Queen Calanthe of Cintra  –a country in the Witcher universe. To put it in simple terms, this season is an introductory season, which explores the origin of these three seemingly unrelated characters and slowly builds up their character while slowly displaying their relations with each other. It also builds upon its fantasy world, its creatures, countries, and conflicts. 

When it comes to what I liked about The Witcher, the first thing that comes into my mind is Henry Cavill. Cavill’s performance of Geralt was probably one of the shining points of the show. While it isn’t a perfect adaptation of the Geralt in the books –who is represented as an emotionless wanderer, showing compassion to very few– Cavill’s Geralt is shown as silent, strong and sensitive with a deadpan sense of humor. This made him a far more entertaining and unique character in the show, even though it isn’t really a faithful adaptation. Personally, it also made me more invested in Geralt as a character in the show. 

I also liked how the show went into Yennefer’s origin story, something which isn’t really done in the books or the video games. Not only was it by far one of the best origin stories compared to all the characters in the show, but it also gave me – and perhaps a lot of other who are invested in the franchise– insight into why certain traits of the character, such as her incessant need to have makeup on, exist, which are seen throughout the books and games. 

The show also had phenomenal fight choreography, with every fight scene putting me at the edge of my couch! The show also had really good CGI, something which I am glad is the case. Bad CGI can absolutely destroy any fantasy show that’s trying to take itself seriously. The final positive thing I wanna talk about is Geralt’s companion/sidekick in his monster-hunting adventure: the traveling bard Jaskier. Jaskier’s general comedic capability and joyful but pragmatic nature added on to Geralt’s deadpan humor creates this unexpected implementation of comedy between the gruesome and horrifying world of The Witcher which I found extremely enjoyable. Jaskier is also responsible for creating a song that I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. 

However, that’s as far as it goes when it comes to the positives of the show, as The Witcher is nowhere near a perfect show. The first issue that I realized was in terms of plot progression. This season of The Witcher was meant to adapt the first two books called The Last Wish and Swords of Destiny, which were a collection of loosely connected short stories. Naturally, this makes it harder to adapt than a proper novel. However, even given that the convoluted way in which the plot progresses throughout the season is confusing, to say the least, with each character and their storyline happening at different points of time. Even as someone who has read the books and already has a background in the Witcher world, this plot progression was difficult to follow. I believe that these three separate storylines happening at different time periods would definitely have been something that would leave many people with an extremely confusing first impression, possibly making the show look bad. 

On top of that, I felt that Ciri and her storyline was nowhere near as interesting as Geralt and Yennefer’s storyline. This made most scenes with Ciri seem somewhat disinteresting. On top of that, I felt that certain aspects of the plot and world were either rushed or not that fully developed. While someone who knows about the world can fill the gaps by themselves, newcomers to the franchise would be left confused at certain parts of the show which I feel is a huge problem. 

When I was planning on what score I would want to give The Witcher, I decided to look at critics and audience reviews on the show. This led me to find that many people were comparing it to the popular fantasy show Game of Thrones. I felt that this was an unfair comparison as the only connection between both shows is that they have similar elements, and in terms of the world, however, for the most part, The Witcher is a completely different show. It is also important to note that The Witcher never intended to be a replacement for Game of Thrones as well but to be its own independent show. As for my general opinion on the show, it is nowhere near perfect –as I’ve mentioned–  but it is very enjoyable with an amazing story –if you are able to decipher it’s complicated plot progression. If you’re a fan of The Witcher franchise, you will almost certainly love this show; as for people who are into fantasy or just have 8 hours of free time to binge a Netflix show, you should definitely give this show a shot as well, but I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy it. 


My Score: 7.8/10