The Witcher: Season 1   Books Included 
December 21, 2019 11:56 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Netflix adaptation of the Sapkowski books.
posted by Pendragon (103 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked this very much! Only thing that was confusing in the beginning was the time difference between the Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri plots.

I found this handy chart on reddit, which makes it more clear.
posted by Pendragon at 12:03 PM on December 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


Thanks, this is indeed a very helpful chart.
posted by dominik at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2019


The Entertainment Weekly review is a joke... They watched episode 1 and 2, skipped to 5, stopped and gave the show an F.

I mean, sure, I get that the show isn't for everyone, but that's just not a good way to write a review.
posted by Pendragon at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


I’m only four episodes in, but not particularly impressed. Random thoughts:

- The show must seem bewildering to someone not familiar with the source material: a flurry of unfamiliar names and locations.

- I don’t care for the tone of the show at all. The books were closer to Xena, but the show thinks it’s Game of Thrones. The novels had a wry, down-to-earth quality to them, which befitted what was essentially popcorn reading; the show seems very po-faced and self-consciously EPIC. There were many plays on fairy tale tropes in the books (wasn’t Renfri a recasting of Snow White?) and I wish there were a bit more of that whimsy in the show.

- I would have liked the show to have reflected its Slavic origins, style-wise; the costumes and sets all look generic grimdark fantasy to me.
posted by kaisemic at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


I finished it last night, satisfied but not thrilled. I'm definitely watching season two, but there was something at the end missing in the Geralt and Cirri meeting, a sense of their emotions. Cirri is either not a great actor or she's been told to play shock and anger, but there's been no sense of child around her, or vulnerability. She felt real when she was angry and playful, but not sad even though her entire home has been massacred. The effect was creepy. Geralt seemed to have no real sense except duty towards her, and that was I think badly chosen in the script, to have just one brief conversation about parenthood and his reluctance, and not see him more with children. Milk-girl helped only a little. Make a choice, have him feel something clearly, resentment, hope, resentful duty, something.

Yennefer on the other hand had a lovely clear arc throughout. The double-betraying sweet romance was nice and all hee choices shaping her, plus her prickly angry loving relationship with Triss was wonderful. The end where she realises how much she loves these annoying sorcerers she's spent years scorning and throws her heart into defending them all because her mother-figure is hurt - that felt earned and powerful.

I really want to learn more about Frill? and whatever the hell is going on with the Nifgardians - look I'm not spellchecking on my phone, the names are hard! Because she was glorious with her calm scary intensity of the true believer.

Is the skinny white knight dude, Caith?, made up for the show or from the books? He can't be Duny - and if they've really sent my sweet Duny to the bottom of the sea on this show I will be vastly annoyed.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:02 PM on December 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


That was a fun way to spend a Saturday, and now I like Henry Cavill. But you know who smashed it out of the park? Anya Chalotra!
posted by valkane at 6:35 PM on December 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


- I don’t care for the tone of the show at all. The books were closer to Xena, but the show thinks it’s Game of Thrones. The novels had a wry, down-to-earth quality to them, which befitted what was essentially popcorn reading; the show seems very po-faced and self-consciously EPIC. There were many plays on fairy tale tropes in the books (wasn’t Renfri a recasting of Snow White?) and I wish there were a bit more of that whimsy in the show.

Yeah, I agree. I think that the show has the potential to be really fun trash, but it needs to go all in on that. Every time the show is whimsical, or funny, or weird, or trashy it feels briefly like a much better show, but then there's 10 minutes of really dull cod fantasy.

All of this is to say that I had about given up on the show and then there was "I... uh... brought you apple juice".
posted by selfnoise at 8:16 PM on December 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


I’m still only halfway. Dandelion (or, uh, Jaskier, I guess) remains my favorite thing. Not loving the casting for Triss or Yennefer, but there’s room to surprise me I suppose.
posted by corb at 12:57 AM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not feeling Ciri at all. I was very tempted to skip her scenes. I'm not sure if it's the actor or the writing - probably both. What does she want? What does she feel? The focus is on the people who do things to her and want things from her and it's boring and weird.

I think the time-hopping could have been done much better. I also agree that the tone of the show is all over the place and not great when it goes for epic serious high fantasy. (Doesn't help that the dialog in these scenes is often painful. I literally covered my eyes during the Geralt/Yennefer bath scene because it was so awkward). Cavill and the show really shines in the quirky, funny moments.

Speaking of Henry Cavill, I'm very impressed with his Geralt voice and body language. He tends to struggle with emotional, dramatic scenes (writing doesn't help him there - like, wtf was that brooch scene on the bridge with Foltest? Ugh), but he and Joey Batey's scenes are wonderful.

Anya Chalotra carries the show. I binged the entire season yesterday because of Yennefer.
posted by Feminazgul at 9:24 AM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by srboisvert at 10:22 AM on December 22, 2019 [9 favorites]


I was confused about Geralt's wishes in the djinn episode -- wish #1 was unexpectedly exploding that dude's head, right? So was #2 binding his destiny to Yennefer, the #3 freeing the djinn? Was it clearer in the book/game exactly what wishes were made?

Do you suppose we'll get the bard back in season 2? Or since he was part of the middle timeline when Princess Cirri was just a fetus, would he have to be aged up? (And what about Roach, for that matter? He seemed conspicuously absent at the end.)

Anyway, I enjoyed this season and will look forward to its return in 2021.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:18 AM on December 22, 2019


RE: Geralt's wishes. His first wish was for some peace, which is why the djinn attacked Jaskier's throat and why Geralt felt so guilty and sought out a mage to heal him. Wish #2 exploded the dude's head. Wish #3 was not to lose Yennefer, in order to save her life.
posted by Feminazgul at 11:29 AM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


Was it clearer in the book/game exactly what wishes were made?

No, the third wish is notoriously not spoken exactly in the books, and only heavily implied in the game. The author has been really cagey about it as well. I was annoyed too, until I remembered that.
posted by corb at 12:14 PM on December 22, 2019


Did I miss a scene or something? Why did the doppelganger turn on the black knight? One minute he's chasing Ciri in the woods, the next he's attacking the Nilfgaard guy.
posted by axiom at 1:07 PM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Is the skinny white knight dude, Caith?, made up for the show or from the books?

Cathair is in the books.

I agree Ciri is the weak ink and I think the problem is they only used one actress and compressed her story. She's supposed to be a small child when a lot of the stuff happens that she's so passive about then she matures into a teen and becomes more willful/ takes more control. I think it was a mistake not to show that as the character just seems to be petulant and dim-witted when she looks like shes 15 and acts like she's 6. And it's weird that everyone wants to parent her like a tiny kid.
posted by fshgrl at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


Okay, that was a lot of fun and to me anyway read a LOT like "Xena, but R-rated and not willing to go to full-on camp."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:53 PM on December 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


Henry Cavill‘s emotional range runs from A to... well, A.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:14 PM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m really loving this so far. There’s an awful lot of deep female pain and rage; it’s so intense. And it’s weird that the females get to express it but the males not so much. I am confused about the timelines though. I didn’t realize they weren’t all in the same timeline until I saw the comments above.
posted by gt2 at 5:48 PM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


The books were closer to Xena, but the show thinks it’s Game of Thrones.

Yeah, it certainly had plenty of the Gratuitous Boobage of GoT. *eyeroll* And it does feel like it's swerving wildly between Xena/Supernatural style fun trash and far too serious for its own good.

I'm guessing the grunt thing they're having Cavill do regularly is drawn from the game? I think in a lot of ways the show is trying to hit that humor/action balance of the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns but it's not gotten there. At this point the "annoying sidekick that won't shut up" trope is entirely worn out, so having Annoying Bard Boy be the main driver of "funny parts" was waaaaaay overdone.

I think Cavill's actually capable of more range than he's given credit for, and I think we do see some of that here (you gotta kinda look at the eyes rather than get distracted by the Superman dimpled chin.)

I also think the show is having the rather common problem of finding the balance between "Monster-of-the-week" and the larger story arc - like for example I'm still not clear on whether the dragon episode showed us stuff important to the larger story or Geralt's character or if it was just more of a way to get him back together with Yennefer.

The show must seem bewildering to someone not familiar with the source material: a flurry of unfamiliar names and locations.

Mostly I was ok with it (never read the books or played the games), the biggest thing for me was that without much background/exposition given on the whole social/cultural/political situation the big story arc and the big battle in the last episode had no real emotional stake at all - why should I care about nifflewhatsis invading the north or whoever? Supposed religious fanatics (although we never really see any of that) who might be enslaving people or they might be improving the lives of common peasants, who knows? are invading a land of Stock Fantasy Feudalism, which somehow divides all the mages into 3 different alignments so they all fight each other because . . . ??? Like, I think it would've worked better if they'd committed to three seasons right off the bat and most of this first season had been Geralt wandering around monster-hunting. Ciri and Yannefer could have been developed more slowly and thoroughly and used to give a deeper look at the sociopolitical world of the continent so that when Destiny and invasion starts to happen in the second and third seasons we understand that stakes better and care more about what happens to the characters we've met.

All that said it wasn't the worst way to spend a few hours, I'll be tuning in for a second season and probably give the books a whack. Although supposedly the most common English translation is kinda meh? Anyone have any input there?
posted by soundguy99 at 6:56 PM on December 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


Did I miss a scene or something? Why did the doppelganger turn on the black knight? One minute he's chasing Ciri in the woods, the next he's attacking the Nilfgaard guy.

This is a pretty good example of what I'm talking about above, about how we don't have enough world-building information. The doppelganger (who is a "we"??) yelled something about how if he'd known Ciri was the one he was chasing and who she really was he would've never accepted the task, so he felt the black knight betrayed him somehow by withholding that info - but why that's important enough for the doppelganger to pull a turncoat and try to kill the black knight is not just unknown but unguessable because we don't know really anything about Ciri or the black knight or the Nilfgaardians.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:16 PM on December 22, 2019


I thought it was fun enough, and there were some things I really like about it. Overall, though, it definitely feels like an adaptation. The pacing is odd. Some things are under-explained, and some things are over-explained. There are plot points that feel like they're only there because they're in the books rather than because they contribute to the overall arc.

Of course it is an adaptation, but the best adaptations usually don't feel like one.

I do wish they had toned down on the T&A. It's just a trope at this point: let's put sex in it so people know we're serious adult television.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:23 AM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


So my random thoughts:

It's not good, but it does get enjoyable after the first two or three episodes. Good to watch with drunken pals or a couple robot friends

Oh...my God. The...DIALOGUE. Is so...portentous.

OK so the queen is all "Let's let them have one last night of enjoyment." Instead of maybe warning the assembled guests and giving them a chance to escape.

Oh look it's a nice open field, perfect for oh, a medieval knight charge. Instead we get a lethal rugby scrum. Evidently there's only two horses in the North.

Seriously I would just once like to see a medieval show actually show medieval military tactics.

*presents poison* "This is our escape." Or there's the secret passage. Maybe it's only a one-princess passage.

Oh fuck. They've got a bard. Kill the bard. Kill him kill him kill him kill him kill him.

The elf ears are distracting. Fortunately, because I wasn't paying attention to the dialogue.

Hogwarts: We are an active threat to the lives and sanity of our students.
Magic Academy: Hold my potion.

Seriously, the ableism in Yennifer's origin is actively painful. And it's a pity I missed the Striga fight, but I fast forwarded through the entire section with the magical plastic surgery.

Y'know, given how easily Yennifer makes portals, you'd think she could weaponize the damn things. Like open one end into lava or the bottom of the ocean. Sorcerers generally don't seem to be good combatants.

So, about episode 4 things pick up with the bard needing Geralt as a bodyguard. I still don't know Why the bard was at the feast other than to get laid. Also, Jim Henson's The Storyteller wants his Hedge Piggle Knight back.

And I didn't realize until later that this couple was just summarily bumped off to make room for the plot. Sorry. Destiny. I just substitute Plot whenever Destiny is mentioned.

I think I seriously started enjoying myself when Geralt and Annoying Bard show up for emergency medical care at...an orgy. Their expressions were priceless.

I did enjoy the romantic triangle between Geralt, Yennifer, and Henry Cavill's wig. Alas, it runs afoul of Geralt using Charisma and Wisdom as dump stats.

Did anybody explain why the Obviously Evil Legion Wearing Black has a bug up their collective ass? Do they have any ethos other than "Capture the Death Star Plans Princess"?

It was so obvious that the siege of the castle between the sorcerers and the Evil Legion of Evil was going to end up with the sorcerers all being killed, that really I could only sit back and wait to see how the ELoE was going to kill off all these minor characters. But at least Yennifer finally learned Fireball.

Wait, so Geralt and Destiny's Child just wander into the woods, bump into each other and hug? That's...weak.
posted by happyroach at 10:12 AM on December 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I guess that's destiny :-)
posted by Pendragon at 11:28 AM on December 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


"Don't be too proud of your magical terror. The power to destroy a castle is nothing compared to the power of the destiny."
posted by happyroach at 12:43 PM on December 23, 2019


This was both awful and great simultaneously.

Likes: Geralt, eventually. Although I could have done without the never-ending guttural grunts. Yennifer was good. Ciri might grow on me, but right now she’s nothing but a cipher being used for plot advancement purposes. The Bard was fun.

Dislikes: The portentous writing. The (lack of) plotting. The total lack of any guidance for the viewer as to what the hell was supposed to be going on. They appear to have given the writing for each episode to different writers & just told them to write a 'monster of the week' and then chained them all loosely together. (Netflix cheaps out on writing & it shows, yet again. I don’t mean to knock the writers themselves here: it wouldn’t surprise me to be told that they were given neither the time nor the direction to be able to do any better. For some reason Netflix is happy to pour money into production values but just doesn’t seem to care about the writing.)

Not sure I’ll watch the next season. Might skip watch it for interesting bits.
posted by pharm at 2:45 PM on December 23, 2019


This was a big meh for me too. It felt like a play with set pieces and stock characters, not a world. In the books Geralt and Yen have a whole long and interesting history and feel very connected to their respective social circles. Geralt and the bard are good friends of long standing and Geralt also has plenty of other friends and relationships with back story. They all belong comfortably in their world. That was really missing from the show, it felt too much like a western with everyone constantly a stranger in a strange land.
posted by fshgrl at 4:24 PM on December 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


The final episodes got kinda weak, they really padded the events out a lot and did way too much telling way too much destiny. It felt both abbreviated and stretched out. The writing was pretty bad, especially with making strange awkward leaps to things that didn't quite seem to follow.

The mage castle defense was at least trying to be creative but it felt very silly and arbitrary which IMHO makes magic power fights bad. I was really annoyed at the dragon lair fight with the Reavers though, because it was a very very generic fantasy show fight, but fights in this show need to be like the one in the first episode where tension leads to Geralt murdering ppl.

Mostly I think the show didn't quite find a baseline. It sort of had one with Geralt wandering around with his bard pal.. for five minutes. But because they never really let Ciri settle down and have any life except PERIL COMING SOON it felt like things couldn't calm down and breathe.

But at least Yennifer finally learned Fireball

Surely some kind of homebrew wild magic boosted burning hands.
posted by fleacircus at 11:22 PM on December 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


This io9 review mirrors my impressions of the show: 5 Things We Loved, and 3 We Didn't, About The Witcher's Netflix Debut.
posted by pharm at 7:27 AM on December 24, 2019


Having watched up to Episode 6 of this, the show is only OK, and, uhh, the Dragon, sucks. Worst dragon CGI I've seen in a long time. You can tell that they did not have a Game of Thrones CGI budget.

Thoughts so far:

Good action scenes, mostly.

Weird to make this a procedural, like some kind of magical detective show. I guess that's kind of what the Witcher is, a magical monster killing detective, but prestige dramas tend to be more plot driven than this nowadays.

The nudity is generally completely gratuitous. Is this the Game of Thrones effect on fantasy?

Henry Cavill is doing the Christopher Bale Batman Voice as Geralt. Wonder if he did any Batman screen tests?
posted by dis_integration at 9:21 AM on December 24, 2019


I liked the Geralt-meets-Yennefer episode. I did not like it that they broke up in the next episode, seemingly without having really been a couple at any point. Overall, I'd say it strikes me a lot sillier than I expected--I keep imagining Geralt asking people, "Are you a side-quest?"
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:55 AM on December 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


The nudity is generally completely gratuitous. Is this the Game of Thrones effect on fantasy?

I think.. no. Fantasy has had gratuitous tiddy for a long time, and sex has been known to sell for a long time. If they'd come out in the opposite order, The Witcher would probably have had as much gratuitous nudity but no one would particularly remember it for that (or any other) reason. I think TW could do sexiness better -- I know some people's reaction is like, "Show us Geralt's big dong you cowards!!!"

I think GoT has sensitized people for gratuitous nudity mainly because it was accompanied by a kind of nasty prudish sexism with lots of sex workers and rape that is sort of in the books but that Benioff and Weiss enlarged and built upon over and over.
posted by fleacircus at 12:56 PM on December 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


> posted by happyroach at 1:12 PM on December 23
I think this show would improve immensely if it was snarkily narrated by Geralt's horse.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 7:14 PM on December 24, 2019 [19 favorites]


Played a little bit of Witcher 3 (didn't finish), haven't read the books.

This was entertaining. Confusing, but generally entertaining. But ultimately not satisfying.

The maturity level is pretty much 13-15 yo cishet white N.Am male gamer. At least the mages had some diversity in appearances - did love the diversity of mage skills/ specialties.

Henry Cavill, I think, was trying to channel Geralt rather than do any serious acting. Definitely on Anya Chalotra's Yennefer! A little problematic, but I liked her arc - despite that her transformation felt inexpensive?

The magic system is interesting, but between the lengthy scenes showing us that magic needs "energy" and the Elfinger (?) mages sacrificing themselves to make fireballs, and the good mages mass killing dudes and only need time to "recharge" - it feels inconsistent enough to be annoying.

The costuming wasn't first rate (not embarrassing though, certainly), but Yennifer's black cage dress before she makes Geralt bathe and her coiled rope dress at the final battle were definitely interesting. The former as a nod to in-game modelling/ texture-transparencies and the later again to in-game textures but also interesting ideas when it came to historical "padded armour"/ light armour/ cloth gambesons.
posted by porpoise at 12:13 AM on December 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


dis_integration: Henry Cavill is doing the Christopher Bale Batman Voice as Geralt. Wonder if he did any Batman screen tests?

Wasn't there an issue where Bruce Wayne swaps costumes with Clark Kent, then swap girlfriends? It has a happy ending for everyone, but not in the sexual way.

Another defence of Cavill's Geralt - his wig has to be a nod to the in-game 3D rendering engine.
posted by porpoise at 12:17 AM on December 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


I liked Yen's dresses they looked like Project Runway winners (from the good seasons).
posted by fleacircus at 1:23 AM on December 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


I just couldn't make it past about thirty minutes of the first episode. After that, I fast-forwarded to see if anything interesting happened. The swordfight scene was good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:15 AM on December 25, 2019


an extremely important post
posted by poffin boffin at 8:12 AM on December 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


There are good unseen monsters, esp the djinn. An incomprehensible TV plot & batshit dialogue. And I do not enjoy fantasy with its elves and titties and incest. But overall this was not terrible— more SHREK than GoT.

Henry Cavill is finally in the correct role for his weird acting. Liked the occasional "FUCK!" when something went sideways. Yennefer is why I might eventually watch S2. I loved the Lioness Queen, too.
posted by edithkeeler at 11:50 AM on December 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


I generally enjoyed this -- binged it over a couple of days when it was released. It's definitely rocky in spots, but I'm engaged enough that I'm looking forward to season 2 despite the flaws. I noped out of the games (the sex-card-trading in the first one was enough to make me skip them), and haven't read the books, but have a very tangential knowledge of the broad strokes. So not 100% cold (I recognized the potions as being A Thing) but pretty close to it.

I did enjoy the different episode sigils, and the ending songs (I need to go back and listen to these).

I spent a large portion of the series wondering if Black Knight was the elf in episode.. 2?.. with his ears somehow hidden. Facial structure and hair seemed pretty similar.

Thank you Pendragon for that first comment -- if I hadn't read that, I think my enjoyment of the series would've been pretty seriously diminished (I didn't read it til I was through episode 3, maybe, and then things started to click into place).

Calanthe was deeply flawed and badass and great.

I'm iffy on Yennefer's big thing being "I thought I didn't want a kid, but it turns out I do, maybe, and I will burn the world for it."

None of the Nilfgaard mages look very happy to be sacrificing themselves so I'm wondering how they're convinced/threatened into doing it. I had gotten the impression there was some kind of religious fervor but they didn't seem to be buying.
posted by curious nu at 1:53 PM on December 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


“Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” is quite the earworm— this is its origin story.
posted by edithkeeler at 4:21 PM on December 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


Jaskier seems like a deliberate misspelling of Joxer.
posted by xigxag at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


it literally means Buttercup in polish
posted by poffin boffin at 12:47 PM on December 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


I was going to make a show only post, but I guess it's not too necessary since I'm probably never going to read the books, though I might play the games at some point.

I liked it alright. The fighting and action are pretty well done. The dialog was fine, since I don't expect shakespeare out of these shows. Cavill was better than I expected so that was great. But yeah, Yennifer was definitely really interesting and captivating. I agree that we didn't get a moment for Ciri to breathe, although the Brokilon forest was relaxing for a bit.

I didn't compare it to GoT, a show I stopped watching because they were doing a disservice to the books, nor other medieval shows. Right in the first episode I realized the world building was going to take a different turn than others. There's no detailed map, no extended discussions of where things are unless they're necessary to the scenes, like battle planning. You don't actually need to know nor should you care about all of that.

The story beats "Destiny" into your brain over and over, and there's a implication of just taking the plot as blind faith that everything will come together instead of trying to weasel out the details. Why are some people dead? Why did this person go this way or that way? Why don't the mages with portal magic just pop behind soldiers and stabbing them? Destiny, that's why. It's enjoyable enough to just watch and not think too much about things.
posted by numaner at 2:57 PM on December 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not 100% sure what I watched. It almost felt like the prequel for show that needed a reboot? I mean, I felt like the climax was a good payoff were I to respond "Oh, that's how Geralt and Ciri finally got together" when it was not, in fact, an event I attach much significance too.

I appreciate them trying something other than straightforward linear story telling but I was slow on the uptake. I figured a few of Geralt's scenes were clearly flashbacks but it took me til like episode 6 to realize his whole arc was sequential, starting earlier and moving faster than Ciri's. Would a few captions have messed with the artistic integrity of the narrative for some reason?

I will watch the next season.

The nudity is generally completely gratuitous. Is this the Game of Thrones effect on fantasy?

Dunno about the books but gratuitous nudity is 100% true to the spirit of the games.
posted by mark k at 8:34 PM on December 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


I thought Jaskier was fun, personally; I would’ve happily dumped the entire Ciri plot line for monster hunting with the bard. Really could’ve done with Yennefer having a motivation other than “yes, I sacrificed my reproductive system to be beautiful, but now my life is just worthless without a baby” - I realize that was in the book, but it was gross there and I’d hoped Netflix would make some different choices.

Is Nilfgaard this pointlessly evil in the games? I got the impression they were presented more like Fantasy Rome/Germany, but I never played much (the cards, as curious-nu mentioned, are kinda gross) so I’m just curious.
posted by tautological at 9:11 PM on December 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


The books start with a collection of short stories, and then later books are novels, with a plot that spans several novels. To me the first books ended up feeling like the backstory to the real story in the later books. I think this is what people might be noticing when they are surprised by how episodic it is, or how it feels like a prequel,and also what the showrunners are talking about when they say future seasons will be less episodic (though there are still plenty of short stories for one-off episodes)

As far as nilfgaard being evil... I think the perspective in the books is very much that of the Northern kingdoms, so Nilfgaard are generally seen as the baddies by a lot of the characters, but the North really isn't so great either, and I expect we'll see that play out.
posted by surlyben at 10:22 AM on December 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


One of my least favorite 'tropes' is "The hero stubbed his toe and can't fight at full strength and/or will not be participating in the climactic fight scene." But Yennefer was enough of a badass that I didn't really even miss Geralt.

I thought the way they shot the last scene, with Ciri running up to Geralt in the woods, was lovely--but does he really have to greet her with some tedious line about Destiny? Don't people say 'hi' in this world? Jeez.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:32 PM on December 27, 2019


I was really hoping the non-Geralt witcher (before being killed by the striga) would turn out to be Lambert. The W3 Lambert is a little too gross, but he's a good contrast to Geralt and a great heel.

I think this is what people might be noticing when they are surprised by how episodic it is

It's not even that episodic, it's just jarring because they don't establish Geralt's episodic job/life well first before showing lots of serial Yennefer and Ciri stories. Though, the jump between episodes 5 and 6 where Geralt meets Yennefer in one episode and then she seems like a creepy ex in the next episode is pretty jarring at any speed.
posted by fleacircus at 2:08 PM on December 27, 2019


I am six episodes in and I'm hooked. This series is about 50% good and 50% OH COME ON! This is often easily as cheesy as Merlin or even Xena. But there's all this gore and nudity and Geralt growling "fuck" whenever things go wrong.

There is so much good cheese (Toss a Coin to Your Witcher) and then just OH COME ON cheese (The Hedgehog Knight). And what the hell kind of a name is Yennefer? Is that really Polish? I hope it is because the alternative is ridiculous. The Nilfs are pretty much cardboard baddies so far, as others have noted. Queen Badass was more like it - a genocidal warrior queen with a soft spot for just being entertained. Henry Caville seems to nail Geralt, especially when he's all growly, been there done that stop whining about your precious kingdom. Ciri is boring but I imagine that will change. Yennefer has the most intriguing story line. There's some troubling issues with the amount of time she spends nude as opposed to the male characters. I am sure advocates for the disabled have some objections with her story but I think they never slack off on how broken she is, even though the outward appearance has changed. I want more Yennefer. I want her to kick some ass, take some names, throw down some magic that will BURN.
posted by Ber at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the books or played the games, and I... fell asleep during the first episode. When I woke up I went to r/witcher to read about WTF was happening and who were these silly people and why should I care about them (at this point I didn't care about spoilers) and I resumed watching once I had a better handle on the story. I wish they'd gone the Mandalorian way, starting with the characters and then building up the story in a more linear fashion, rather than starting with 3 lore- and name-heavy timelines with characters dying and then popping up again. It took about 4 episodes for things to settle but yes, it's quite fun, very cheesy, alternating between great and terrible. Cavill is doing something original with his Fuck and Hmm, it's a breakout role for Joey Batey and the songs are very good.
posted by elgilito at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2019


>There is so much good cheese (Toss a Coin to Your Witcher) and then just OH COME ON cheese (The Hedgehog Knight).

I think Cavill is really making the whole thing work. Yennefer is playing it straight, the bard guy is playing it ridiculous, and Cavill's got to make the ends meet. He's doing this marvelous deadpan camp that's very respectful and serious, so you can kind of set the silliness slider wherever you want it, or wherever it has to be, on a scene-by-scene basis. I haven't really seen him in much nor cared much about him before this, but I really like him here. (In a completely heterosexual way, of course, though good lord the man's good-lookin'.)

I find "toss a coin to your Witcher" to be a little TOO cringy. And I thought the Hedgehog Prince had a nice Weird European Folklore feel to him--not cool enough for a PC game, but fits nicely on the shelf next to the Frog Prince.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:42 PM on December 28, 2019 [13 favorites]


I find "toss a coin to your Witcher" to be a little TOO cringy.

Our dogs have started singing it. "Toss a cookie to Nina, 'cuz she's a good doggie..."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:03 PM on December 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


I've only a vague knowledge of the game and never read the books. This was entertaining. I liked the gold dragons but the whole thing with his "weapons" was weird.

I like Yennifer but don't get her desire for a child. She did choose power over baby. The mage told her. Just as she chose to push her colleagues-turned eels into the water. Couldn't she have said no to the transformation? It only changed her appearance, her power was always there.

Ciri is so boring. I laughed when her young elf friend untied her from the tree and just left her. Especially since she ran off and left him for dead in the fight with the doppler.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 9:11 PM on December 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I like Yennifer but don't get her desire for a child. She did choose power over baby.

While this definitely has a distasteful "women all want babies" subtext to it, to me it does make some sense in that Yennefer was too young and inexperienced and abused to really grasp the full ramifications of that deal. And then on top of that by the end of the series she's spent years (I think, the timelines aren't really clear to me there) wandering around gaining power and defying all the rules and customs and expectations of the Sorcerer's Guild (or whatever it's called), so it's understandable that she thinks that she can find or force some kind of loophole or process to give her her fertility back.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:07 AM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


I thought some of it was like, she got power and freedom and control, but there's one thing she can't have. Like if you made a deal with some witch that you could be rich and powerful but go bald forever, then go a little crazy investing in hair regrowth research because it's the only thing left to conquer... even if you're basically otherwise ok w/ being bald.
posted by fleacircus at 2:14 AM on December 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think it's also kind of like: she thought power would be a lot cooler. She thought she'd be like, Advisor to Kings, shaping the fate of nations, and really she winds up ignored and mistreated and abandoned out there. And often viewed as like a sexual plaything. And she feels like she can't be loved by anyone seriously - sorceror dude whose name I forget was also using her, and no one else until Geralt formed any kind of lasting connection. She doesn't seem to have any serious friends - and maybe she can't, because the last friend she made she pushed into a pool to be an eel forever. So it's not just about Having A Baby, it's about having a connection that she can trust, because everything else is lost to her.

It's also worth noting timeline wise that I think this is right before the Lodge of Sorceresses formed because the women didn't want to deal with the dudes making dumb decisions anymore, so things were particularly bad.
posted by corb at 7:42 AM on December 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


I finally burned off the last three episodes. The last one strained the limit of the show's budget - the army gets reduced to a bunch of dudes walking casually through the woods. But the stakes were well done and I got my wish to see Yennefer release the chaos within. I am now excited to see where she goes next season. Geralt and Ciri were reduced to subplot and that was fine.

The timelines were finally put back together but damn, there should have been a better way to do that. At least now they can move forward.

The golden dragon - I should have seen that coming but it was still pretty satisfying.
posted by Ber at 1:48 PM on December 30, 2019


The show really butchered the magician story imho but remember Yennefer is 80+ years old. She and Geralt have a decade of history, kinda alluded to in the show, and he's a relative newcomer in her life. None of it has worked out. She's lonely abd looking for connection and belonging so therefore a child seems like the last chance.

They gloss over it but all the sorcerers have relationship problems. Most are infertile. If they get with another sorcerer they compete with each other If they hook up with a human the human ages and they don't. Or the human leaves them for a partner who can have children. They can stay young and attractive looking forever and have vast wealth but at a cost they don't understand when they agree to it.

I thought the book handled this really well tbh, it was true to many women's experience. The relationships between the women were so good as they had such long histories. I hope the tv show goes there. But it probably won't.
posted by fshgrl at 1:53 PM on December 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


True, it's difficult to make new friends in your 80s.

Of course, she could adopt. She could also get a dog. All these sorcerers should have pets and bring them to the council meetings no matter how obnoxious they are, like my aunt at Christmas.

What Yen is doing, claiming she wants something but limiting the route she will accept it to the way she kinda knows is impossible, is definitely relatable.
posted by fleacircus at 3:59 PM on December 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


I really wish the show had done a better job explaining the timelines. It wasn't until episode 7 that I was so confused I looked up the timeline and realized this entire damn show has been a flashback before episode one. I thought the whole thing was after - except for the hedgehog night ep.
posted by rebent at 9:06 PM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah I was also surprised that none of the mages have "familiars" or other animals. Although given the lore that you have to "sacrifice" something to control chaos, especially strong magic, that would lead to some mages having a revolving door of "sacrifices" and it would probably turn away a lot of readers/viewers.

I got the sense that the writers really cared about animals, and was probably true for the book's author too, and we didn't see much if any animal sacrifices (I'd have to rewatch but I can't think of any right now). And the care for animals was further evident in Geralt's relationship to his horse, Roach. This article explains where the name "Roach" came from, which got a little convoluted, but I liked the info at the end about how Henry Cavill really formed a connection with the horse/horses in production to make the scenes believable.
posted by numaner at 9:38 AM on December 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


Spoilery I guess but it doesn't seem like it really matters:

Is Roach enchanted or whatever so it's always the same Roach, or is he like the various Snowballses on the Simpsons?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:02 AM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


I believe as soon as Geralt gets a horse he names it Roach.
posted by corb at 11:12 AM on December 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


I really liked the whole thing but man it really felt like this season is Yennefer: A Witcher Story.

I was really hoping for a Geralt fights monster of the week and happens across the Ciri storyline kind of show. Yennefer (from the game) never interested me and always boggled me how she ended up being Geralt's main squeeze.

I have to laugh at Cavill's performance, usually an actor will say something like "oh I never read the source material" or watched the original movie when they do a remake. He's just gone full on mimicking the Geralt from Witcher 3 and it's sort of the perfect role for him. Although after watching Guy Pearce in A Christmas Carol, he might have been the better Geralt.
posted by M Edward at 8:38 PM on December 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


Why The Witcher Is Better Than Game of Thrones
By contrast, Netflix’s new series The Witcher isn’t “only tits and dragons.” It’s all about the tits and dragons. Until I saw it, I hadn’t realized how debilitating it can be for a program to be ashamed of itself. An episode of Game of Thrones often looked like everyone involved was thinking: I went to drama school so I could make profound meditations on the human condition, yet here I am in the snow, with my leg cut off, while some naked priestess spouts gibberish. The Witcher shares the Game of Thrones attitude toward gore (plentiful) and nudity (gratuitous), but its tone could not be more different. It knows it is ridiculous, and it simply doesn’t care.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:35 PM on January 1, 2020 [3 favorites]


The Witcher shares the Game of Thrones attitude toward gore (plentiful) and nudity (gratuitous), but its tone could not be more different. It knows it is ridiculous, and it simply doesn’t care.

Eh. I'd be more sympathetic to this argument if there was beefcake to match the cheesecake. That article quotes Ian McShane referring to GoT as "only tits and dragons", and it's kind of the "only tits" (well, mostly tits) part that's the problem. At this point I've seen more of Anya Chalotra's boobs than those of some women I've dated. It's the 21st century, equal opportunity gratuitous nudity seems pretty literally the least the show could do.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:52 AM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]


I'd be more sympathetic to this argument if there was beefcake to match the cheesecake.

Henry Cavill is pretty well beefcaking it up shirtless for a lot of scenes. Although I do admit great disappointment when he got out of the bath with Yennifer and we didn't get to see his bare ass.

I really liked the whole thing but man it really felt like this season is Yennefer: A Witcher Story.

A feature, not a bug. I felt like Yennifer's story was even more about resenting having her choices taken away, than having a baby. That's why she gets so mad at Gerard in the dragon story, because he betrays her by making decisions for her, rather than letting her make them herself. She finally matures at the end when she makes difficult choices for herself, instead of waiting for other people to grant her authority.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 3:39 PM on January 2, 2020 [6 favorites]


"She finally matures at the end when she makes difficult choices for herself, instead of waiting for other people to grant her authority."

But Yennefer has always made her own choices. She just complains about the unfairness of having only 99% of what she wanted or about not liking the bargains she makes. The only choice she never made was about whether to leave her father.
She chose to spy on her lover. Complained when he did the same.
She chose to push her schoolmates into the pool.
She chose to have her body redone even though her mentor suggested looks don't equal power.
She threatened the mage-surgeon until he remade her even though she had missed the ceremony that allowed for that.
She manipulated events to get the posting she wanted and complained about being stuck there.
She walked away from her lover then complained when he didn't go running back to her when she got bored.
She hypnotized a mayor and complained when enslaving him and his subjects got boring.
Yennefer has youth, beauty, long life, power, a mentor that actually cared about her and a lover who was willing to put aside his career for her and it wasn't ENOUGH.

Yennefer said it herself. She wants everything. That's not healthy.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 9:44 AM on January 3, 2020 [8 favorites]


As a novice viewer, I loved this so much! On rewatch there are loads of clues about the timelines and whatnot that I didn't pick up the first time through. So. Many. Clues.

Also the fandom seems really fun. Like the covers of Toss a coin to your Witcher which are springing up. I am quite partial to this one , for example.
posted by Coaticass at 3:52 PM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]


But Yennefer has always made her own choices. She just complains about the unfairness of having only 99% of what she wanted or about not liking the bargains she makes.

Yennefer is your friend from grad school who got tenure and complains about having to live in a college town and work with academics.
posted by This time is different. at 11:42 PM on January 3, 2020 [12 favorites]


But Yennefer has always made her own choices. She just complains about the unfairness of having only 99% of what she wanted or about not liking the bargains she makes.

I agree - her feelings about her lack of agency with her life didn't match up with reality. She's a pain in the ass but I ended up liking her by the end of the season.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 7:37 AM on January 4, 2020


Yennefer said it herself. She wants everything. That's not healthy.

Well, Yennifer was never going to be emotionally healthy. She was neglected, abused, and used by everyone in her life, and her most significant emotional connection was with the mother figure who was determined to burn every last vestige of pity and trust out of her, followed by the lover who betrayed her. She was never going to be satisfied with her choices, never going to be satisfied, full stop ... only the impossible seems worth striving for. I guess this is what makes her cooperation with the mages at Sodden a watershed moment, but I also didn't really understand it in terms of her self-interest — except perhaps as a suicide mission? If I can't have what I want, at least I can go out in an epic blaze of glory with the closest thing I have to a family?

I didn't read the books or play the game, but had a pretty good time watching this. Other than near total confusion about what happened when, I didn't get really annoyed with anything, and liked the cheesy bits a lot, though I agree with a lot of what people have said about soft spots in the story telling, especially lack of much to hook onto with Cirri, which could be intentional? It's not like she's really had much of a story to hook onto, until now. She was a spoiled princess who liked to think she could socialize on an equal basis with the street urchins, but they viewed her as a pain in the ass who was never going to have to face the privations or dangers they did. It seems her escape and search for the Witcher is really the beginning of her character development, unless the book had more insights?

I love the bard. How do we get him some long-livingness so he can continue his medieval Top of the Pops / traveling minstral as Momager role?

/me tosses a coin to my witcher
posted by taz at 1:02 PM on January 4, 2020 [6 favorites]


>Yennefer is your friend from grad school who got tenure and complains about having to live in a college town and work with academics.

Did everybody see the episode where her dad revealed he thought she was worth less than a pig? She had a nightmarish childhood, most of it offscreen, but these things stick with you (as many of us know judging from the other contents of this site). She wants everything because she's trying to fill a hole that's not easily filled. I mean, not to take it overly seriously, she's a fictional character in a world with pointy elf ears, but man you guys are being harsh on her.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:33 PM on January 4, 2020 [11 favorites]


The male protagonist is real good at killing but he cannot emote; don’t worry, he still fucks a bunch. His female counterpart has a physical deformity for a little while but her boobs are totally rockin’ and you will see them a bunch; later she gets super conventionally attractive and you see her boobs some more. She has immeasurable power that she forgets to use several times an episode but she has lost the ultimate power: a woman’s ability to become a biological mother.

The show is mostly fun but I would be fucking embarrassed to pitch those characters.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:05 PM on January 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


I love the bard. How do we get him some long-livingness so he can continue his medieval Top of the Pops / traveling minstral as Momager role?

Heh. Pretty clearly the fandom/audience is split between "Love The Bard!" and "Hate The Bard!"

Personally I'm in the "Hate" camp - it certainly didn't help that the first song from him was just straight up modern American acoustic pop (which seems so anachronistic to the setting that it made my teeth ache), and that I find "Toss a Coin" unbearably twee and clumsy, both lyrically and musically. (I will be the first to admit that I can definitely be That Guy when it comes to songs & music in-universe in my fiction.)

Which I'm bringing up because I just started reading one of the books - "Sword of Destiny", which is the second short story collection covering (I believe) Geralt's earlier adventures and which the show pulls from - and the bard character (Dandelion) is very different there. Far more of a cynical rake, with his own life and agendas; he's a person Geralt runs into occasionally, he's not attached to Geralt at the hip in order to jumpstart his bard career. (Although Dandelion may have been like that earlier in the series, I dunno, i haven't read them yet.)

So for any other Bard Haters reading this, feel free to take a whack at the books, The Witcher doesn't seem to have a tweedly naif tagging along all the damn time.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:16 AM on January 5, 2020 [2 favorites]


I also hate the songs with a passion--but the bard guy himself isn't so bad. I like the scene where he's asking Geralt to be his bodyguard at the betrothment party. Geralt Batman-grumbles something about how he doesn't intervene in the petty affairs of men, and Bard Guy says, "Oh, right--you don't get involved... except you do, EVERY TIME."
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:13 PM on January 5, 2020 [5 favorites]


As I have discovered from the fact that YouTube has suddenly surfaced a years old video: the actor who played the bard learned to play the lute for his role as Mark Smeaton in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. I guess that work paid off twice over!

(The YT algorithm can be good, sometimes!)
posted by pharm at 12:10 AM on January 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Some positive and genre-savvy reportage: The Witcher is absurd, that's why it's brilliant. Season of the Witcher.

A twitter thread from fantasy author Alexandra Rowland on why the song is brilliant in context.

Also on twitter this awesome fan recap/livewatch (she hasn't finished it yet but... *chef's kiss* and don't read while drinking).
posted by Coaticass at 1:43 AM on January 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


I am absolutely loving the fan-made material that has sprung up in response to this show though. The ones that mix a Witcher-game HUD with the on screen antics, the reaction shots, the 10-hour remixes of that song, everything.

I think that article in the Atlantic is very on-point: a show that knows it’s absurd and leans so far into that that it comes out the other side can be simultaneously endearing & watchable despite (because of?) its absurdities. The Witcher is exactly that show.
posted by pharm at 2:18 AM on January 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


> I think.. no. Fantasy has had gratuitous tiddy for a long time, and sex has been known to sell for a long time.
...
I think GoT has sensitized people for gratuitous nudity mainly because it was accompanied by a kind of nasty prudish sexism with lots of sex workers and rape that is sort of in the books but that Benioff and Weiss enlarged and built upon over and over.

I agree, and the refreshing lack of nasty prudish sexism or rape in The Witcher meant that I was not particularly annoyed by the gratuitous nudity. Y'all, there were no rapes in this plot except the reference to Renfri's past, which was understood to be unacceptable and traumatic rather than GOT's grimly voyeuristic "what you get for being a medieval female" approach.

I didn't love that they used ye olde friendly prostitute trope to give him Gerald a three-day tumble, I would have preferred them to come up with some sort of FWB explanation. But I put that in the category of a bunch of other sort of minor lazy fantasy tropes like everyone throwing sacks of coins around as payment that never need to be counted, Ciri leaving her distinctive hair flying around unbraided while on the run in the woods, and of course Yennefer's extensive travelling wardrobe and un-smudgeable eyeshadow.
posted by desuetude at 9:42 AM on January 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Oh, BTW, I'm completely unfamiliar with the books and game, and didn't find the story particularly confusing at all.

I am grateful that I was tipped off that the plotlines aren't synchronous. I wasn't given any further information than that, just that "these stories aren't happening at exactly the same time." That was really helpful to know, so that when I started noticing little "tells," (most notably the child versions of Foltest and Adda) I could just make a mental note rather than having to mentally process whether I misunderstood or there was some sort of magic happening or what.
posted by desuetude at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2020




Okay I have one more rant. The more I think about it, the more bothered I am by Yennefer's baby lust. I am just so, so tired of biological motherhood being presented as the ultimate fulfilment of self.

I'm not even attacking the somewhat clumsy way they wrote it, like her complaints that she was robbed of a choice that we just saw her willingly make a few episodes ago...okay, the show didn't play up just how very much time had passed since she made that choice. But in terms of her seeking a cure, didn't we see an actual uterus-and-fallopian-tubes-shaped organ get removed in the big surgery/transformation montage? It doesn't even make magic-logic sense that she would be able to just regrow that part within her magically transformed body that no longer performs all sorts of normal biological processes.

And even still, it didn't occur to Yennefer in all of her many many years that she could keep her eye out for a kid with magical powers to take under her wing? There were no orphaned or abandoned or abused kiddos that she could have rescued -- perhaps in a kinder and less terrifying way that her own "sale" to a stranger?

I know, I know, this is a setup for a family structure with Ciri. It still really bothered me that this is the story arc they chose for her this season.
posted by desuetude at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2020 [4 favorites]


For me, the story the writers were telling was that Yennefer’s baby lust was more than just some “irrational female thing”, but rather (as pointed out above) part & parcel of her drive to have total control over everything as a consequence of the way she was treated as a child. This was something she couldn't do, therefore she must find a way to do it.

To me, it felt like the writers were trying to spell out that biological motherhood was not going to give Yennefer fulfilment, even if she managed to achieve it.

I appreciate this might not be a universal take...
posted by pharm at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2020 [4 favorites]


and of course Yennefer's extensive travelling wardrobe and un-smudgeable eyeshadow.

That at least I'm willing to chalk up to magic. IIRC in the dragon episode she basically had no gear with her, yet had a luxurious tent. And well, if she can open portals...

I'm still amazed she hasn't figured out how to weaponize those petals better. Face toward enemy, then open the other end to a point a thousand miles straight down...
posted by happyroach at 1:31 PM on January 7, 2020


Yennefer's extensive travelling wardrobe and un-smudgeable eyeshadow.

Sorcery has to be good for something....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:33 AM on January 8, 2020 [3 favorites]


> To me, it felt like the writers were trying to spell out that biological motherhood was not going to give Yennefer fulfilment, even if she managed to achieve it.

I would have been thrilled if they'd gone explicitly with that take. I don't think they achieved it, though.
posted by desuetude at 7:09 AM on January 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


That’s fair. It felt implied to me, but it’s definitely not explicit in the text.
posted by pharm at 11:19 AM on January 8, 2020


I think honestly this shit is damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't.

As a woman who is currently suffering fertility problems as a result of my life choices, I feel really seen by Yennefer's feelings in this matter - which isn't the only way to feel about it, and not the only way to be a woman, but like, these are definitely real feelings that some women feel. I am currently deeply struggling with the idea that I may not be able to be a biological mother to the amount of children that I had hoped and dreamed, and I wish we didn't portray those feelings as some weird irrational woman thing. Women contain multitudes. For some, biological motherhood is unnecessary. For others, it can absolutely be a driving force. Yennefer is not any less a badass woman because she feels the latter.
posted by corb at 2:34 PM on January 8, 2020 [16 favorites]




I was mostly uninterested/unengaged with this show during the first couple of episodes (my wife put it on and I sort of half-watched until around episode three, when I got more interested), but I grew to enjoy it more as it went along. I did not realize the timelines were all over the place until the Hedgehog Knight episode (and even then I was initially confused for a while...wait...*another* warrior queen...played by the same actress?...oh...this is a flashback...and so has everything been, except Ciri's timeline, I think?). Having never played the games or read the books, I'm still not 100% clear on the timelines and plan to rewatch the series with a closer eye, now that I'm more engaged/invested in it.

Overall, it was pretty silly fun and I didn't quite get why all Yennefer seemed to do was make portals when they were attacked by the assassin. She's supposed to be uber powerful, but all she can do is make portals and run away? wut?!

So, basically, I felt some of the writing was a bit sloppy and they definitely rushed the character development. I think I'd liked to have seen more monster of the week episodes, with the "epic" storyline developed a little more slowly, over a couple of seasons, but I still enjoyed it for what it was and look forward to Season 2.
posted by asnider at 11:09 AM on January 10, 2020




I loved this show, and desperately want it to have a crossover episode with Galavant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:09 PM on January 16, 2020 [9 favorites]


I finished it this evening and I'm still working out how I felt about it as a whole. I liked the parts of it that focused on witching quite a lot, and the middle part of the season breezed along quite pleasantly. If that's what we get going forward, I'll definitely be back. However, I found the beginning frustratingly confusing, and I found the end both frustration and confusing. I had a bunch of problems with the obligatory Huge Battle for the Fate of Everything which I will try to save for the next paragraph, but I think there are more fundamental issues stemming from how, even after I'd pushed past the bewildering feeling of not understanding who any of these characters were or how they related to each other, the motivations and stakes for all the characters other than Geralt and maybe Yennifer were almost entirely absent. The unstoppable and evil religious fanatics are trying to get the princess to fulfill some purpose that the show doesn't even begin to bother to explain. The battle comes and goes with every named character who'd appeared in more than one episode confirmed still breathing and a candidate to come back in Season 2, so it didn't feel like anything had been lost. It's also kind of unclear to what extent the plans of the evildoers were thwarted beyond losing a lot of cannon fodder, so it didn't really feel like anything had been gained, either. Plus, ending with the Ciri/Geralt reunion is fine, but it means that she never did anything at all other than helplessly bumble around for the entire plot. What are her powers and what do they mean? Good luck getting an explanation from the show.

I already sort of got into the climactic battle, but it really felt to me like they took all the wrong lessons from the setpieces in the later seasons of Game of Thrones. The action is visually jumbled, and there's no sense of geography, so you don't know where anyone is in relation to anything else you're seeing. Other than some showy tricks, no one on either side seems to have any sort of plan, so it's 90% random charges at the enemy. To the extent there's any narrative to the action at all beyond "Wow, look at this crazy thing!", it's basic and hackneyed: "They're scary; we're doing great to start; oh no, now we're all dying; time for a dramatic redemption of some sort". A lot of it was also dumb in terms of stuff like solving problems with weird swordfighting when we know these characters have bonkers magical powers, but, whatever, I can take dumb in a show like this. It's the incoherence that gets to me.

I guess what has me so worked up about this is that I think there's the core of a very enjoyable show in here, so it's not a lost cause or an abject disappointment. If this turns into the Geralt & Friends Monster of the Week Fighting and Singing Power Hour, they have all the pieces they need and that will probably be great. If they want to do more Fantasy Politics and Wizard Drama, they really need to provide a lot more basic information about the world and how this all works, because right now that's sorely lacking. And if they want to do more multi-episode sagas of heroism and struggle in a bleak and mysterious world, they need to put more effort into developing the characters other than Geralt and Yennifer, because too much of that character work so far has been propped up by cardboard cutouts.
posted by Copronymus at 11:32 PM on January 21, 2020 [1 favorite]


Just finished this and I quite liked it. It's trashy but fun and Henry Cavill is very easy on the eyes, even with the wig. And I have that damned song stuck in my head--it's so earwormy.

I've played a bit of Witcher 3, and this has inspired me to pick it up again. I will warn others that the games take place after the events of the novels, so there are some pretty heavy spoilers right up in the first few hours of W3. One of which makes me VERY interested in seeing what's up with Nilfgaard in Season 2.

I believe this season was mostly based on the short stories, hence the jumping around and monster-of-the-week feel at times, but the end sets up the start of the novel arcs?

Re: all the tiddies. I know that HBO at least has a nudity mandate in a lot of their shows. They're not bound by the FCC rules on nudity/language/violence, so they want people to know it. It's probably similar with Netflix.

And there are lots of boobs in the games. So many boobs. Don't play them if Nana's coming to visit.
posted by lovecrafty at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2020


> Y'all, there were no rapes in this plot except the reference to Renfri's past

And the whole magic/mind control orgy in episode 5.
posted by Tenuki at 5:55 AM on January 26, 2020 [2 favorites]


Ah, good point, Tenuki.
posted by desuetude at 7:10 AM on January 27, 2020


The Soundtrack has been released!
posted by Coaticass at 8:56 PM on January 28, 2020


I wasn't in love with the first hour of this. I gave it another try by skipping to the fourth episode, and now I firmly believe it should have played first. Yennefer and the Bard were both great -- the Bard is the one that clued me into all the Xena/Hercules energy everyone kept mentioning. I was relieved that the "Yennefer wants a baby" thing was played more as a existential crisis than actual maternal yearnings, because female characters being obsessed over their lack of a child is almost as upsetting as characters being "strengthened" through sexual violence.

Speaking of, Fragile Girl In Peril is not my favorite, so I fast forwarded through most Ciri scenes. I'm hoping she'll have something more interesting to do next season. Also, I wouldn't mind some flashbacks to Fringilla's early years next season. (What...is forbidden magic? Is fog forbidden? I feel like fog should be allowed.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:40 PM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


I just finished this and I really enjoyed it. I had no previous knowledge of the books.

I enjoyed the costumes, the locations, the setting in general. Having spent a lifetime reading sword and sorcery fantasy and hardly ever seeing any justice done to it on the screen, this last decade of high production-value long form television is wonderful.

I liked the non-linearity of the narrative, and didn't find it off-putting. I'm looking forward to season 2.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:18 PM on February 9, 2020 [2 favorites]


A making-of documentary is up on Netflix now- about 30 minutes, and then 5 minute mini-docs for each episode.
posted by Coaticass at 3:42 AM on September 2, 2020


It took me a while to get into the Netflix show and I'd never played the games and barely was even aware of them (I think only the first which my impression was "isn't that the medieval fantasy with like sex stuff?"). Anyway after we watched the show, I started reading the books. The first two are, as noted above, mostly short stories. Structurally they are fascinating to me because some of them are very confusing and I think intentionally so by the author. I don't know if the Netflix show runners made the timeline stuff so subtle in order to keep that confusing tone from the source material or not, but it totally works for me.

As an example of deliberate confusion, the dragon hunt / Borch story is quite different on a lot of details but, aside from Geralt ripping into Jaskier/Dandelion, not anything that really matters. It's just different. In the show they have Borch clearly on screen appear to die, whereas in the written story he just kind of disappears from the narrative, which is mostly dialog through this part anyway, so he just appears to not be saying anything. Then you realize that wait, Borch just isn't around and hmmm what's that about?! This was so very exciting to me the first time I read this story because even though I knew where the story had to be going (assuming the show was somewhat true to the source material) it took me a bit to realize.

The only major storyline & theme that I think the show did a disservice to is Ciri & Geralt's relationship. In the books, Geralt meets Ciri when she's younger (7 or 8?) in Brokilon after she gets lost in the forest trying to runaway from the nobles taking care of her (she was visiting a noble family she might eventually marry into). Geralt & Ciri bond quite a lot and Geralt ultimately delivers her back to Moussack where he again tries to convince Geralt to be more involved in her life. Then the final story when they meet again after the fall of Cintra, Geralt is struggling with Destiny and what it means for him. Part of him meeting Ciri before is that we as the reader can interpret Destiny as a bit more complicated than just "and then Destiny makes them meet and love each other!". In the books, Geralt actually has a lot of relationships (him and Dandelion are actually friends and Geralt calls him a friend) but the idea of him having a child is one he rejects (even though as noted above he intentionally claims the Law of Surprise, he later doesn't really claim it). In the books, after the fall of Cintra, Ciri recognizes Geralt because she had actually met him before and he's someone who is safe to her. It's not just some mystical Destiny bond that makes them both find each other and care for each other. It's both random chance (okay Destiny) and people caring for each other during those random circumstances.

Anyway some ramblings because I'm kind of in love with these stories right now and read through this fanfare thread and had to share even if very much later than all of you! :)
posted by R343L at 11:01 PM on November 11, 2020 [2 favorites]


For all those complaining that Jaskier’s songs suck - is that not explicitly the point? I got the strong impression that the lyrics were deliberately ludicrous.

Overall this show played for me like it was a selection of 8 episodes from a 24-episode season of a mostly episodic show. Like those VHS box sets of The X-Files they used to sell. I still don’t know how I feel about the pacing and structure but I respect that they were trying something, yknow?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:31 AM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


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