It may be a surprise to some that I merely stumbled upon The Witcher. Unlike many I didn’t play the game and certainly never knew the corresponding book series existed. Alas, here I am, spending hours at a time investing my interests in a show that looks like it could be interesting but didn’t expect it to be something I’d write home about. What is a Witcher? As far as I can tell, it is a man in knightly dress ready for battle ensuring violent entertainment. Nothing new to the likes of someone unfamiliar with the series. In a time when show after show is designed for quick enjoyment with overkill amounts of violence it is easy to watch something with no real interest in the development of the characters and story.
In the first few seconds of the show, I thought it was going to be the same as any other medieval show with an innocent deer grazing in the forests and an expectation that the protagonist would gracefully appear. As I was about to treat the show as background noise and do something else the sound of immense struggle between a man and mythical creature erupted. Followed by endless violence, the surprise transition made me realize that this show had potential since this man who had survived being thrashed around for minutes on end was clearly an übermench.
The story quickly diverted to a sense of normal expectations where politics prevailed over conflict. Geralt of Rivia, the übermench let’s call him, emerged to be an ethically minded contract killer of monsters who himself was an admonished member of society. After completing his duties to kill Renfri, there is a lapse in time where the prosperous Kingdom of Cintra falls to the Nilfgaard. By this time, I was attached to the fact that so early on in the story the ideal kingdom brutally fell. Aside from my slow understanding of the magic and the characters I was committed to the show.
After the first episode the most difficult thing for me as a new viewer is the timeline. Going back fifty years, Yennefer, a disabled commoner is taken in to be trained in the ways of magic. As one of the most marginalized people in medieval times, being part elf and a hunchback, she comes to learn her capacity for power and transforms herself and her ways. Throughout this time, the last remaining heir of Cintra is wandering the world in her efforts to avoid being killed by Nilfgaard. She wanders into Brokilon but is pursued with knowledge of her advisor Mousesack that was magically extracted by a Nilfgaardian assassin who copied Mousesack’s identity and found her. Five episodes in and I still hadn’t understood the character of Princess Cirilla. She clearly had powerful potential with magic that was slowly being unveiled.
In any event I can say I am committed to relearning the story by reading Blood of Elves in preparation for season two to get the full experience.