How is it such a popular series?
The Witcher series has gained increasing popularity in recent years thanks to the game Witcher 3. The books and previous games were spectacular, but Witcher 3 made the franchise take off. It achieved awards three years in a row; Game of the Year each time, Most Wanted Game, and Best Soundtrack, to name a few. This achievement led Netflix to create an original show based on the books, and it has not disappointed.
The Last Wish
The storyline follows Geralt’s journey just as it did in the books. In the first episode, Stregobor asks Geralt to kill the cursed princess Renfri for the greater good, and this is where the audience gets a glimpse into Geralt’s moral code. This series truly delves into the depths of human motivation, morality, and depravity. It is revealed to Geralt that this princess was not as evil as the sorcerer said. She was driven out of her home as a child because the sorcerer believed she would become evil as she was born during an eclipse. Subsequently, Stregobor and Renfri seek to kill each other, and neither will stop until they succeed. When Geralt discovers Renfri is trying to kill Stregobor, he attempts to prevent her. In the end, he ultimately ends up killing her.
The Law of Surprise
The following episodes continue his journey from monster hunting, getting captured, and solving mysteries. Finally, he ends up in a castle, and the queen asks him to watch over a betrothal feast for Princess Pavetta. During this, the Urcheon of Erlenwald (also named Duny) disrupts the proceedings to ask for Princess Pavetta. Duny says Pavetta is his to wed as she was given to him by the Law of Surprise. The queen was against it as she wanted Princess Pavetta to marry someone else, but Princess Pavetta loves Duny and throws a fit that unleashes a maelstrom through the hall that would have killed everyone had Geralt not intervened. Duny insists on rewarding Geralt in exchange for saving them. Geralt requests the Law of Surprise to attempt to be redundant. This agreement would mean that whatever surprise may come to Duny, for example, a loaf of bread awaiting him, would then be Geralt’s. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, the Law of Surprise is a child. This event marks the halfway point of the series, but ends the first book. Part two of the series follows the second book and third perfectly from Geralt’s perspective.
What may be confusing
What confuses many people who watch the series are the characters Yennefer and Ciri. It all comes together later in the series when they finally meet each other, but not for many episodes. Ciri’s journey causes the most confusion because she takes place in the future, not the past. Their timelines do not intersect until the very last episode.
With that said, Yennefer’s story arc would have happened quite sometime in the past. When she meets Geralt in the book series, it states that she could be significantly older, “She looked to be about 20 years old, but he preferred not to guess her real age.” (The Last Wish, page 271). Yennefer and Ciri’s story is where Netflix takes the most liberties with their television show. The books focus on Geralt’s journey with only slight mentions of the girl’s stories. Netflix did a great job bringing these books to life and adding an intriguing story for the two girls. Netflix provides a visually appealing masterpiece in the first season.
Where it deviates
The second season deviates from the books series, which would begin about halfway through the third book. In the book, Geralt takes Ciri to the witchers’ keep, Kaer Morhen, as he seeks to train and educate her. The oldest witcher then requests help with Ciri from Triss, a witch, as Ciri behaves in a way that he believes is abnormal.
Triss finds Ciri to be completely normal but discovers she has what is called the “Source” and needs more training than Triss can give, and she suggests Geralt take her to Yennefer. Geralt does, and Yennefer takes in Ciri. At first, Ciri does not like Yennefer, but, over time, they grow a close bond. Ciri’s elven blood. Ciri has terrifying visions she doesn’t understand but allow her to glimpse the future, and she has incredible powers that somehow break monoliths and release creatures from the past.
The Show’s Take
The television series also has Geralt take Ciri to the witcher’s keep, and they do have Triss come in to help with Ciri. It otherwise deviates entirely from the main plot of the book. The second season focuses on Ciri’s elven blood. Ciri has terrifying visions she doesn’t understand but allow her to glimpse the future, and she has incredible powers that somehow break monoliths and release creatures from the past.
Meanwhile, Yennefer, whom everyone believes is dead, has been captured by elves with a fellow witch named Fringilla. Yennefer has lost her ability to use magic, and she thinks the reason is she has done what she was meant to do and fulfilled her purpose. They persuade the elves to allow Yennefer and Fringilla to help them with their plight. The elves are dying out. It turns out that Francesca, Yennefer, and Fringilla all share a similar dream. Francesca has Yennefer and Fringilla join her in awakening the Death Mother as she believes that fate has called them to her. Unfortunately, the Death Mother haunts Yennefer for a long time to convince Yennefer to ask for her powers back in exchange for delivering Ciri to her. Eventually, Yennefer concedes and meets Ciri at a temple. Ciri goes to the temple after Triss discovers her elven blood. There is also a large focus on Francesca having her baby, her baby then being murdered, and finally her going on a rampage against the humans.
Overall, Netflix’s season 2 is very detailed, engaging to watch, and the plot is intriguing even if it deviates from the source material. Deviating from source material will always upset a portion of the audience. Its pacing could have been better as they were trying to create a lot of detail and plot in a short number of episodes which gives it the rushed feeling. The Witcher has been an enthralling series in every aspect; books, games, and the series even with the number of creative liberties Netflix has taken.
Vibe Rating: 8/10
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