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The Witcher: A Primer for the Next Netflix Smash Hit

Game of Thrones is over. The Lord of the Rings TV show is more than a year away. How are we going to get our medieval fantasy fix?

Answer: The Witcher.

Coming to Netflix on December 20th, the small-screen adaptation of the renowned series by Andrzej Sapkowski promises to be BIG. Even if you’ve never read the books or played the video games, lovers of the genre are sure to be pulled in by the depth of the setting.

If you’re completely in the dark, I’m here to shed some light on the series so you know what you’re getting into.

The Witcher: Overview

The Witcher takes place in a world called The Continent. A specific event led to the release of a terrifying swathe of monsters over the land. We’re talking about rotting undead abominations, spectral ghouls, and everything in between.

In an attempt to put these monsters to rest, humans created Witchers. At their core, Witchers are genetically mutated humans that are more capable of taking on the horrors that go bump in the night. They’re stronger, faster, and heartier than the average Joe. Sort of like a mashup between Captain America and Catwoman, since they are distinguishable by their yellow eyes.

Witchers-in-training begin the process at a young age. Besides undergoing intense physical and mental training, the end of the process involves the Trial of the Grasses. It sounds innocuous, but there is a high fatality rate during the Trial. People don’t usually volunteer their children to become Witchers for this reason.

From Superman to Super Man, Henry Cavill is the Witcher

Once their ‘initiation’ is complete, Witchers roam the countryside killing monsters. They’re basically mercenaries that fight the supernatural, and they tend to be quite stingy with their payment. In situations when people can’t pay in coin, there is usually some creative bargaining so that the Witcher’s always end up with something of value.

The Netflix series is set to follow the story of the most well-known Witcher of them all, Geralt of Rivia. You’re bound to recognize his glowing eyes, wolf pendant, and flowing white mane of hair. He also possesses magical powers. That’s right–magic exists in this world!

When using magic, Witchers call on the powers of various Signs. Whether it be the telekinetic force of Aard, or the pyrokinetic ability of Igni, Witchers can easily tap into their power with basic commands and hand motions.

Witchers aren’t the only ones to hold magical abilities, however; anybody in this universe can be born with the gift. Sorceresses are incredibly powerful wielders of magic, and are clearly separate from ‘ordinary mortal’ people.

The Witcher: The Cast

It’s time to run through the characters that we’ve seen through the trailer for the show. There may be some mild spoilers for well-known characters in the Witcher universe, so tread at your own risk.

We’ve already touched on Geralt of Rivia, who is played by Henry Cavill. You’ll recognize him as the Man of Steel in the most recent Superman reboots in the DC Universe. However, this series promises to follow the stories of several other characters as well, as shown in the trailer.

Yennefer is a sorceress who is speaking through the majority of the trailer. Not only do we see a brief moment of her purple eyes, but we also catch a glimpse of a potential romantic scene between her and Geralt. In the series, they are definitely an item, so it will be interesting to see how that is potentially portrayed on screen.

Yennefer played by Anya Chalotra

Jaskier is one of Geralt’s traveling companions, and considers Geralt to be one of his closest friends. As a bard, Jaskier is constantly documenting his experiences. He is famous for writing his own memoirs, originally titled Half a Century of Poetry.

Ciri is another main character, whose destiny seems to be intertwined with Geralt’s. At risk of spoiling too much from the series, Ciri is sort of taken under Geralt’s wing. She is bound to experience trauma, and there’s a somewhat disturbing image in the trailer of something dripping from her hands. What has she done?!

Freya Allan with her portrayal of Ciri

Geralt’s horse, Roach, also makes an appearance as a supporting character. Perhaps we will see a horse win an Emmy? I’m not sure if it’s ever been done before.

We also meet a character named Renfri, who is often compared to a mutated version of Snow White in the lore. Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich points out a part of the trailer where Renfri’s brooch is shown on one of Geralt’s swords. The brooch plays a semi-important role in her backstory; time will tell of its significance in the show.

Emma Appleton plays the mysterious Renfri

The Witcher: Themes

There are several themes present in the series that will certainly play out over the course of the first season. These are broad strokes and classic tropes, but I’m interested to see how they are handled in the show. Here are some things to keep an eye on:

  • Good and Evil: Nothing is clear cut, and the difference between good and evil isn’t always readily apparent. Expect to see both sides of every character, which may mask their true intentions. First impressions can be deceiving as well; trust no-one.
  • Rebirth and Change: From becoming a Witcher, to embracing your powers as a sorcerer, characters on The Continent are always experiencing life-altering changes. How they deal with this change can be a blessing, a struggle, or a curse.
  • Being an Outsider: The general populace is split on the topic of Witchers. On one hand, they help protect cities from the ravages of awful monsters. On the other hand, they demand exorbitant payment and possess unnatural strength and power. The trailer shows a tense moment between Geralt and an angry mob, and I’m sure it’s not the only one.
  • Destiny and Choice: When someone’s destiny is written on the wall, do they have any chance at subverting it? Or do will their actions ultimately lead them down the same path? A voice speaks towards the end of the trailer that drips of prophecy. Will all of these things come to pass?
The Witcher with his trusty horse, Roach.

“You will unleash true calamity upon us all.”

The Witcher: Join the Hype!

I haven’t been this excited for a show since The Mandalorian, which has been sweeping the world. Lucky for us, the last episode of Mando’s story is on December 27th, which is perfect timing for us to jump into The Witcher.

The show releases in full, so prepare to binge-watch all weekend long. If I don’t dye my hair for the occasion, I can at least reuse my Khalessi wig.