The Witcher arrived on Netflix last December, and it's a show which has dominated headlines ever since. Whether it's the transformative performance delivered by Superman himself, Henry Cavill, or Anya Chalotra's star making turn as Yennefer of Vengerberg, the attention the series has received has put it on the map, and it receiving a season two renewal before the first even debuted definitely helped increase excitement. Unfortunately, shooting restrictions in the United Kingdom have slowed production down, but things are ramping up again, and it's likely The Witcher will return in 2021. Now, following the announcement of a spinoff series, we're going back to review season one for those of you who may have been on the fence about checking it out.
At times, The Witcher can make for difficult viewing thanks to the decision to have three stories play out simultaneously, all at different points in this world's history. The fact the series never makes that clear results in some early episodes being a slog to sit through, and it's not really until Geralt of Rivia and Yennefer's paths cross that things start making sense. Relying on audiences binge-watching the series is likely what led to this unorthadox approach to telling the story, but it's not one we'd like to see make its return for season two.
Looking beyond that, however, it's hard not to fall in love with this world, and the characters who inhabit it. While it feels like an encyclopedic knowledge of Andrzej Sapkowski's novels would be beneficial for following what's going on here at times, the show becomes easier to get into as time passes, and the world more engrossing with every new episode. Cavill's Geralt takes some time to get used to after seeing the actor suit up as DC's most iconic superhero, but he's superb in the role, and a believable, formidable badass who it gets easier to root for once he starts showing some emotion. Interestingly, he's frequently put on the back burner for Yennefer's story, but that's no bad thing, especially as Chalotra is The Witcher's breakout star and someone who you'll enjoy spending that time with. The show's third lead, Freya Allan, is also very good. Unfortunately, the time we spend with Ciri isn't quite as enjoyable, and it's those parts of these eight episodes that somewhat slow things down more than they should.
The Witcher feels a little more contained than Game of Thrones (an obvious comparison), and as impressive and exciting as the final battle is, it doesn't feel quite as polished or epic as what some viewers might be used to seeing on HBO. Despite that, this world is every bit as intriguing, and the leads are just as, if not more, compelling. With something of a "monster of the week" format, we get to see Geralt match wits with all sorts of opponents, and watching Cavill slice and dice these threats down is a treat from start to finish. An atmospheric score from Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli adds a lot to the action, while the visual effects are undeniably top-notch.
Despite requiring some patience in those early episodes, The Witcher will hook you around the halfway mark, and it's worth sticking around that long (what comes before is still undeniably entertaining, just a tad confusing). The fact that you'll be left desperate to read the books and play the games by the time you reach the finale arguably proves that Netflix's series has delivered a world just as compelling as any other great fantasy franchise, and if you did decide to dismiss The Witcher at first glance, it's time to rectify that, especially as the series is likely to really find its footing with that second batch of episodes.
Henry Cavill reinvents himself as Geralt, while Anya Chalotra steals the show from start to finish in The Witcher, an epic fantasy series that will definitely fill the void in your life left by Game of Thrones.