‘The Witcher’ series reigns supreme on Netflix

Written By Amanda Andrews, Co-Features/A&E Editor

 Fans of the supernatural and fantasy have a new, highly developed universe to delve into—if they haven’t already. 

The Netflix original fantasy series “The Witcher,” which debuted Dec. 20, gained massive popularity towards the end of December, even briefly contesting the highly praised Disney+ show “The Mandalorian.” 

Starring “Superman” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” actor Henry Cavill as the main character Geralt of Rivia, the eight-episode show explores three different stories that all eventually converge. 

Geralt is a rough-around-the-edges monster mercenary for hire, with a skill set unlike most men. He is a mutated human, belonging to a dying-out group of men called witchers, whose superhuman strength and training allow them to uncannily slay monsters with relative ease. However, witchers are often viewed warily, cast as outsiders in a world of men unless they are absolutely necessary.  

Geralt receives a prophecy in the first episode that he will be forever followed by a girl in the woods who is his destiny. The concept of destiny and fate is a huge element of the show. However, it will take several years for that prophecy to come to fruition. 

In the meantime, Geralt rather grudgingly befriends charismatic bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) whose insanely catchy song gains Geralt notoriety across multiple kingdoms. 

Geralt and Jaskier eventually journey to the kingdom of Cintra where military powerhouse Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May) rules. She is hosting a banquet for her daughter Princess Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori) who is to wed a nobleman from another kingdom, which quickly goes sideways. Spoilers aside, Geralt accidentally makes himself the godfather of Pavetta’s soon-to-be-born daughter, which is upheld legally and magically by destiny. 

Geralt decides to instead run away from destiny and in doing so meets his main love interest, a powerful mage named Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). Yennefer is the second protagonist, and her painful backstory is thoroughly chronicled in the first few episodes. 

The third story follows the tumultuous journey of Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) of Cintra. She is the granddaughter of Calanthe and daughter of Pavetta, who raised her after her parents died when she was young. 

Cintra currently is under attack from the neighboring kingdom Nilfgaard, ruled by religious zealots who seek to use Cintra’s magic powers as a military weapon. Calanthe on her deathbed tells Ciri she must find Geralt because he is her destiny. 

The story is highly engaging, even with the initial confusion of keeping track of the three separate timelines of the three different protagonists. It may not be for those not fond of graphic images, as a lot of explicit violence and sex features throughout all of the episodes. 

The music, composed by Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli, sets the tone of the show at times intense, hauntingly beautiful or comedic with Jaskier’s unique lyrics in his songs. It very much matches the very medieval setting of the show and appropriately sets the mood for many seasons. 

In particular, “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” is a definite earworm, and the main theme “Geralt of Rivia” will get any viewer pumped for a fight scene. 

The acting is also very well done, but the noteworthy performances of Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Calanthe (Jodhi May) alone are worth watching the show for. 

Calanthe is fascinating to watch as a military matriarch who cares deeply about her loved ones and quite literally has more than a closet full of skeletons; May’s portrayal of the character immediately draws viewers in. 

Even more importantly, the character evolution of rough-around-the-edges Geralt who denies he feels emotions to selflessly sacrificing for other people is a very satisfying character arc to watch. 

Many online have compared the essential premise of “The Witcher” to “The Mandalorian,” and for good reason. Aside from some similar plot elements, the latest statistics show that the two shows were the most streamed last week, with “The Witcher” ranking above “The Mandalorian” in the week it premiered on Netflix. 

For those who binged the series and can’t wait for more content, they actually don’t need to wait for season two. 

The show was adapted from a book series that started in the 1990s by a Polish author, which then led to three video games: The Witcher (2007), The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (2011) and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015). The books were also adapted into a Polish film and a separate TV show, both called “Wiedźmin,” which roughly translates to witcher in English. It was redubbed “The Hexer,” for its internaional release, which debuted in 2001. The Polish people are reportedly so enthusiastic about “The Witcher” that their prime minister at the time gifted President Obama a copy of the collector’s edition of “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” back in 2011. 

The show on its own is absolutely approachable to newcomers to the franchise, so don’t feel as though you need to read the books or play the games before watching. 

Luckily, there is no question that there will be a season two—showrunner Lauren S Hissrich announced that there will be a season two before the first season even aired.