By Luis Navarro, Writer, P.F.I. Co-Host
The Witcher: Blood Origin is a limited series released on December 25th, 2022 by Netflix. It is an adaptation from The Witcher book series written by Andrzej Sapkowski and created by Declan de Barra and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich as a prequel to the main saga. The show stars Michelle Yeoh as Scian, the last member of a nomadic tribe of sword-elves, Sophia Brown as Eile, a former warrior of the Queen’s guard turned wandering musician, and Laurence O’Fuarain as Fjall, an exiled warrior who had sworn to protect his king.
While lesser in scope relative to the show it derives from, The Witcher: Blood Origin is a flawed but entertaining story that expands the universe of the live-action adaptation of The Witcher. The show delivers on the promise of a fun and action-packed story at the expense of the grandiose dialogue and stunning visuals expected from bigger productions in the fantasy genre.
The story is set 1,200 years before the events of the main show. Blood Origin takes place at the height of Elven civilization and explores the creation of the first witcher and the events leading up to the “Conjunction of the Spheres”. The show follows seven distinct outcasts, all strangers to one another and with motives of their own, on their journey to fight an unstoppable, ruthless empire.
As Geralt would say, watching this show feels at times like ordering a pie and finding it has no filling.
Blood Origin is a show with many drawbacks. The premise of Blood Origin is not unique by any means. At its bare bones, it is a story about a ragtag group of rebels rising against an evil empire (See: Star Wars). The show’s writing is not up to the standards set by Sapkowski in his Witcher novel. The dialogue is flat, lacking much in the manner of decorum. Characters are one-dimensional and there is minimal growth. The special effects are sub-par. Scenes meant to show the glamor and sheer scale of Xin’trea fall flat due to a poorly generated palace that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Compared to the main show, it lacks the charm and intrigue brought forward by Henry and the supporting cast. Relative to other recent fantasy shows, such as The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon, it lacks gravitas and fluidity in storytelling – Rings of Power has pacing issues, but there is no shortage of content within its story. Meanwhile, House of the Dragon is a masterclass in how to approach a story that no one asked for nor was highly anticipated before release.
Blood origin is a show that had the potential to be extraordinary -and perhaps with a bit more dedication and effort that potential could have been realized – but frankly, there is nothing too special about Blood Origin.
With that being said, Blood Origin is a fun show to watch. It is accessible to the widest audience possible as it does not require knowledge of the series beforehand to watch it and understand what is happening. The action scenes are beautifully executed and compensate for the lack of flair in the show’s writing. The cast does a phenomenal job and delivers a wonderful performance, and the soundtrack is solid for a spin-off show. Those familiar with The Witcher will be treated to easter eggs here and there, some subtle ones such as stuffing a sheep with poison, and others not so much like Avallac’h and his discovery of time traveling.
Blood Origin is a great show for introducing newer fans to the lore of The Witcher universe and why things are the way they are. It is a sampler plate of endless opportunities for story-telling in a world rich with detail. Most importantly, it leaves people wanting more.
This can be interpreted in two ways. Some people will like what they see in this show and will want to immerse themselves further in The Witcher. Others will not be satisfied with what Blood Origin offers, having expected much more from this show. This is a delicate balance that franchises nowadays try to maintain, that is, to remain faithful to the source material and the fans of it, while also making their story as accessible as possible for everyone.
The Witcher: Blood Origin is a story meant to expand the lore of Netflix’s The Witcher. It manages to do just that by using a simple yet effective story structure to carry out an immersive degree of world-building – all while greatly restricted by the number of episodes in this limited series. Blood Origin achieves what it sets out to do, but it doesn’t do much more than that; It doesn’t particularly excel in any facet of story-telling. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining show that is cursed to exist within a much wider world with characters with more compelling stories to be told.
*On the Path rating scale, 0-10, 10 eqauls masterpiece, 5 equals average, and 0 equals irredeemably bad. Show reviews are averaged from the scores given by each writer on the podcast, so the score for a written review does not necessarily line up with that of the review writer 100%.