The Witcher is a perfect combination of rich fantasy, well-built and developed characters, and some pretty awesome swordplay. I’ve already watched the show three times all the way through and am currently watching it again because it’s just that good.
The 8-episode first season of the TV show follows Geralt of Rivia, a witcher (the best witcher), on his monster-slaying adventures. The Witcher is largely based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, a Polish author. I’m currently reading through the first book, The Last Wish, and the show definitely draws a lot from the book. The fandom for Geralt of Rivia and his adventures grew exponentially; however, after video game developer CD Projekt RED took the book series and adapted it into a video game trilogy.
For those who haven’t read the books or played the video games, a witcher is someone who used to be human but has undergone mutations and trials to become someone supernatural who has powers and abilities to slay monsters. Because of the grueling trials they go through to become a witcher, witchers are often emotionally detached, gruff, and they pretty much just live to kill monsters, earn money, and enjoy the finer things in life, like alcohol and sex.
The show originally premiered on December 20, 2019 (with the second season coming out almost exactly two years later, on December 17, 2021). One of the biggest critiques of the show when it originally came out was that it didn’t have good flow. The show follows three different timelines, but no clear transitions when you switch from the past to the present.
Because I was already familiar with the video game series, the TV show flowed (almost) effortlessly for me. That said, there was a lot that I understood better after watching the show a second time. And for someone who’s not familiar at all with the series, I can totally understand how the time jumps would be confusing. I think when you know that there are time jumps before watching the series, it’s easier to recognize them, even on your first watchthrough.
The cast is one of the best things about this show. They chose fantastic actors to play Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and Princess Cirilla (Freya Allen). Anya and Freya play two powerful female characters with story arcs that perfectly showcase their growth. And if you’ve seen Henry Cavill play Superman, you’ll be impressed by how different his performance is in The Witcher; not to say that his performance as Superman was bad, but he goes all in for Geralt of Rivia.
Cavill has said in the past that he’s a big fan of the video games and played all of them before auditioning for the role. Whether him connecting with the character is the reason he gives such a good performance, or it’s a combination of the hair, the makeup, the voice, and the writing that makes Geralt, well, Geralt, Cavill plays the role very well.
One of my favorite parts about The Witcher is the swordplay and the fight scenes. In the first episode, there’s a fight scene that is so brilliantly choreographed by Wolfgang Stegemann, the stunt coordinator (who also did stunts for Mission: Impossible – Fallout in 2018). I don’t want to give away any juicy details, but I’ll just say that I was on the edge of my seat, amazed by what I was seeing.
It’s worth mentioning that although Stegemann choreographed this fast-paced fight scene in the first episode, there was another stunt coordinator who did most of the fight choreography for the rest of the show. Pictures of Stegemann working on season two have surfaced though, so hopefully there will be some breathtaking fights next season.
Also, much like Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible movies, Henry Cavill was adamant about doing his own stunts in The Witcher. Because he dedicated himself to this, he was able to bring an extra element of realness to his performance as Geralt of Rivia.
If you haven’t seen The Witcher yet, you still might be familiar with the song below. This original song written for the TV show has become a wildly popular tune, even among people who haven’t seen the show. Warning: If you listen to it, it will most likely be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
As I said, I’m in the process of binging this show for the fourth time in preparation for the second season coming out this December. Chances are I’ll probably watch it a fifth time because there are only eight episodes and three months until the second season releases.
You can watch The Witcher on Netflix right now. Netflix also has a spinoff original animated film titled The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf that focuses on Vesemir, another witcher. If you like the world of witchers, you might like this movie, too.