Why Dara is so Important to the Netflix Adaptation

By Danielle Whitaker

One major selling point of Netflix’s adaptation of the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski is that the show’s creators stay pretty true to what was in the books. One of the biggest distinctions regards the show’s addition of Dara (Wilson Radjou-Pujalte), an elf and fellow refugee who accompanies Ciri (Freya Allan) on her journey to find Geralt (Henry Cavill).

Now, in order to keep the same layers to the Witcher show as there were to the book series, the show’s creators had to figure out a way to give viewers the same information in a visually fascinating way. By adding the Dara character to accompany Cirilla while she runs from Nilfgaard, viewers are able to take an inside look at the essence of Princess Ciri’s character, and luckily, all without suffering through a bunch of scenes where we have to just listen to her inner monologue.

In Season One Episode Two, “Four Marks”, we are given a thorough overview of just how sheltered and misinformed Ciri is from the realities of the world just beyond the castle walls. Now it’s important to note that while she clearly doesn’t know as much when it comes to which of the local plants are safe to eat, she is fully aware of how much danger she’s in if she falls prey to Nilfgaard. In fact, the only actual survival skills she manifests for several episodes are all tactics to keep her hidden from the Black Knight (Eamon Farren).

Over the course of the season, we also learn that Princess Ciri is the type of person to hold higher esteem for the content of a person’s character than their external qualities, a characteristic that seems pretty ironic for someone with her lineage and former tax bracket.

In Season One Episode Four, “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials”, we start to get a real grasp of how big  a deal it is that she fulfills her destiny, both to her and, well– every one. Dara’s character also serves as Cirilla’s exact opposite: a member of a widely discriminated against race with a tragic past that he’d rather forget.

In Episode Six, “Rare Species”, Princess Ciri’s lack of real world education drives her to put too much trust in things that seem too good to be true, a trait that would soon proves almost fatal when she nearly falls for the Doppler’s impression of Mousesack (Adam Levy). Luckily, when Ciri falls for the Doppler’s deception, Dara again comes to the rescue by asking the right questions. Unfortunately, Cirilla again fails to consider the long game and rushes the process, causing the Doppler to break free and leave the children answerless. She also fails to kill the doppler despite him threatening their lives.  During their final exchange, Dara’s character forces Princess Ciri to realize that she embodies some of the worst qualities of all of the things she used to think of as pure: her grandmother, her people, her kingdom. 

By forcing Dara to leave Brokilon Forest with her despite his desire to stay in Episode Five, “Bottled Appetites”, Ciri proved that she can be just as reckless with other people’s lives as her people have been towards those who aren’t the same as them. This is worsened when her mercy almost gets them both killed by the doppler.  The burden of her destiny has continuously brought down terror (and most often death) on both her and those around her, just like Queen Calanthe’s (Johdi May) rule has to those in her proximity.

This time Cirilla decides that she’s had more than enough guilt over having to apologize when she’s doing the best she knows how to do. Especially when she’s only doing what she has to to survive.

By the next episode, “Before A Fall”, Princess Ciri is a brand new person. She steals (or tries to) without remorse and isn’t one to put her trust in something that seems too good without actual proof first. When told that the market she’s in isn’t safe, she answers “then it’s the same as any other place”, no longer naive to the dangers of the Continent.

Yes, Dara did save Ciri’s life three whole times this season, but that’s not the reason that he’s important. He’s important because he brings out the change in mindset that Cirilla needed to undergo in order to survive long enough to unite with Geralt, in a Netflix show friendly format.

Using a character that embodies the truth behind every illusion you’ve been fed and sticking them right next to you while your whole world crumbles behind you? That’s one surefire way to visually display a character’s personal growth.

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