“I bow to no law made by men who never bore a child.”- Queen Calanthe (The Witcher-2019)
Netflix’s new show, The Witcher, based on a slew of books, stories, video games, and more content of the same name, premiered just at the end of 2019 and really ended the streaming services year of shows and original films with a ‘bang.’ In the new series, we watch as states literally rise and others fall at the hands of those risen states, and we watch as Mages helm the opposing sides into victory. The Witcher is much like many fantasy shows of it’s kind, with witches and kings and queens galore, but what I believe this show began, and what I hope it will continue to do, is tell in-depth stories about the characters of its show and also offer ample opportunities for people, especially women, of color.
Henry Cavill plays the Witcher, also known as Geralt of Rivia, also known as the ‘White Wolf.’ From what I’ve gathered, the witcher’s are a race of humans who were mutated by magic, thus making them unwelcome, but also needed, by the small towns of humans. You see, witcher’s hunt mythical monsters plaguing small towns for money, and once their job is completed, they are re-ostracized by the town, so they must move on to the next. As we watch Geralt on his path through each monster-infested village, hunting disgustingly fearful creatures and sleeping with beautiful women along the way, we are also watching the paths of Cirilla (Freya Allen) and Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) on their own paths, destined unbeknownst to them, to cross. All the while, there is a city named Nilfgaard on the rise that threatens their lives and the state of the Continent.
The show itself was very much made for the fans of the material. There were a few times I had to look up information to feel “in the loop,” but the show truly attempts to catch you up, even if you’re a complete newbie to the whole thing. However, this show jumps through time a lot and in no particular order. For me, the time jumps didn’t make any real sense until the final 2 or 3 episodes. Because they happen unannounced to three, specific main characters, it takes a moment to recognize what has happened already and what is currently happening. Google was definitely my friend during this viewing. But I absolutely loved it. Despite being confused with the timelines sometimes, the story made absolute sense, and I was hooked from the first episode.
Geralt is a very interesting protagonist. He has a high moral ground and all the likeness of the lone-wolf craving a deep and passionate love. Which is where Yennefer comes in. She was the highlight of the show for me. Yennefer is a powerful mage with a thirst for love, acceptance, and power to thirst the deep, burning revenge she wants to carry out on the pain residing in her. Ugh, she was phenomenal and enticing! The choice to show her entire story was very much needed. The audience is brought deeper into understanding the character, and with that, every step of her transformation- physically and emotionally- is liberating even for the audience. Anya Chalotra and Henry Cavill’s chemistry was undeniable. They came together and delivered longing looks and a sexual tension that seemed to explode every time they find each other.
Freya Allan plays Cirilla, the lone child- the silver-haired dyad to the lone wolf. Their destinies are laid out and explained through every episode of the show, leading up to a fist-clenching cliffhanger of a finale, literally leaving you wanting to tune into the next episode right away.
The amount of people of color on this show felt so full and natural, I didn’t feel the need to hyper-fixate on them, like I would with other shows. The women are definitely the crown jewels of the show, even more than the ripped, velvet toned Witcher himself. Each woman he encounters actually highlights his character and brings an array of emotions and fascinating power to the screen- leaving you wondering what will happen to them next. Fringilla Vigo (Mimi Ndiweni) was another powerful mage who seems to be cut-throat and fiercely strong minded. I have hopes that this character, even though she’s against our heroes, rises even higher and proves to be a formidable foe. The Queen Lioness Calanthe (Jodhi May) is a passionate and fearless leader, who delivers powerful lines every chance she gets. She was another standout for the show, with a personality that exudes protectiveness and an unwavering will that suits her better than many other characters who attempt the same. So many other women of the show also deliver strong performances as the mages and truly, the heart of the season. The dialogue of this show is crisp and almost always serves a later purpose, which is to keep you as updated as possible with the lore. Even without knowing much about the material, there is something to keep you returning to all of the characters. The costume design really is the icing on the cake. The stunt choreography of every fight scene is full of intensity, concise cutaways, and movement with the characters. There are so many fantasy elements introduced in the first season alone that it surpasses many other recent fantasy endeavors in that aspect. It keeps you drawn with more than just the plot. The writers not only wanted to truly honor the lore of the material and bring it to life, but they also wanted to bring some newness to the fantasy genre and the fans alike. This show laid a groundwork for a massive world just ready to be explored, and I am so ready for more- more monsters, more destinies, more magic, and more passionate love.