Outcasts seek destiny in Netflix’s fantasy series ‘The Witcher’
“Throw a coin to your Witcher…” OK, sorry I spent a good chunk of my holiday vacation bingeing Netflix’s new series “The Witcher,” which is based off a video game of the same name, and now, I find myself oddly attached to the bard who periodically pops up.
Before the show was released I heard some rumblings and rumors about how “The Witcher” was supposed to be the next “Game of Thrones” due to the dramatic costuming and the way the characters individual stories are interwoven. Having seen it, “The Witcher” is not “Game of Thrones,” but it is certainly an arresting series and it does feature a dragon.
The titular Witcher, Geralt, is on a quest to find his destiny and as he does so he travels the realm slaying beasts. As a Witcher (a human who has been mutated by magic to become an enhanced person), he’s essentially paid to be a magical baddie exterminator. While going about his quest, he is promised the child of a princess (who will also be a princess) through the Law of Surprise. Geralt is one of the three characters the interwoven narrative follows and most notably is a spectacularly monosyllabic figure. Yennefer is a disabled woman who can naturally access chaos (aka magic) and is brought to Aretuza (think a grittier and angstier version of Hogwarts) where she’s trained to become a mage. Yennefer’s plot line revolves around her efforts to seek a future that was stolen from her. The third narrative focuses on Cirilla, a princess who has been displaced from her home after an opposing king took it by force. Cirilla is left to wander the realm on her own, trying to carry out her grandmother’s dying request.
The series jumps back and forth through time, making it difficult to keep track of what is happening in the series.
While the hero’s journey that unfolds is fascinating, the lack of exposition or even a clear timeline makes for clumsy storytelling. It’s as if the bard who crafted the story had one too many ales when he was telling it and keeps going back in time to tell a piece he had forgotten to explain earlier. The flashbacks and flash forwards to the present would be much clearer if the show added a quick then and now title card on the screen (and it would have saved me a considerable amount of googling).
While the story is bumpy, the dramatic cliffhanger in the finale will certainly keep viewers asking for more. Especially when the question of how the mage, Witcher and princess are connected hangs heavily over the end credits.
“The Witcher” has one season available on Netflix and is geared toward a mature audience. Viewers who enjoy “The Witcher” might also enjoy “His Dark Materials” on HBO.