The Wizard universe, in all its incarnations as books, video game and multiple Netflix series, tends to revolve around his brooding monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia. He is the witch. The mythology blends bloodlines, timelines, magic, gore, and war with insidious plots, requiring you to keep up with it all and stick with your hero. There are always mysteries and questions floating in the mist, and The Witcher: Blood Origin prequel answers at least one of them: How did the first Witcher come to be?
The prequel series is the second spin-off in from netflix hit Witcher franchise, consisting of four episodes that air on December 25. The show was originally supposed to be six episodes, and in terms of character development, the shorter length may have worked against him a bit.
As promised, viewers will meet the heroes who laid the foundation for the monster slayers we know along with the backstories of other key elements of the original series. There is a general prophecy and a ragtag team of seven chosen ones who must unite with a common goal. Of course, they are all stray souls in some way who want revenge or redemption. Sometimes Blood Origin feels like Game of Thrones or rings of power either Willow and Wheel of Time (you get that), but one thing this show does well is connect the dots, and it’s pretty clever how it’s done. I found myself saying, “Hey, that’s ___!” a few times. If you’re new to the franchise, there’s plenty of action to get you hooked, but all the fancy swordfighting in the world won’t help you understand how it all comes together.
Fans of The Witcher know that whenever Geralt’s yellow eyes turn black, he goes into beast-slaying mode. Fast-paced, bloody, and action-packed, this series is not just a look at the first of its kind, but a dive into the history of Xin’trea (now Cintra) and the prophecy of Ithlinne. We don’t explore the famous Kaer Morhen Wolf School, as the focus here is on the elves and their dominance in politics, magic, and society on the continent. You will discover that many of them are idiots.
Set over a thousand years before Geralt’s time, the story centers on the “Conjunction of the Spheres”. Showrunner Declan de Barra deliberately ripped this vague moment from Andrzej Sapkowski’s books and built the entire show around it. At the Netflix Tudum fan event, he said that while working on The Witcher season 2, “we had a story point that we couldn’t fix because we needed to know what happened.” So the prequel takes us to a time when elves were settlers with a well-defined caste system of monarchs, wealthy nobles, merchants, warriors, and lowborn. Some want peace and others thrive on conflict. Resentful dwarves? Yes. Scheming wizards? Yes. Humans? No. Brutal fights that spatter blood on the camera lens? Yes actually.
A familiar face greets us in the opening scene of the first episode, which serves as a great nod to let you know that this prequel ties back to the original series. Sorry, not Geralt, not even Vesemir, but everyone’s favorite hateful bard Dandelion (Joey Batey). It’s immediately clear that the theme of this Witcher installment is the power of story. Whether told through song, gossip, or campfire tales, the stories are meant to inspire. Y change real world outcomes. As the narrator and Seanchaí, the character of Minnie Driver drives that point home for Jaskier and for us viewers.
Éile (Sophia Brown) is a tough fighter from the Raven Clan who was once loyal to the kingdom of Pryshia. Although she is now a celebrated bard herself, she has many enemies and a grudge against Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), an exiled Xin’trea warrior who lost his job for sleeping with a princess. Together, Fjall and Éile decide to avenge those who wronged them and uncover a deeper plot.
On the run, they eventually bond with Scian by Michelle Yeoh, a master swordsman and the last living member of the Ghost Clan. Although she is not a main hero, Scian will keep you guessing her true intentions. Yeoh doesn’t disappoint in her performance, whether it’s a busy action scene or the calm way he expresses her point of view. We learn enough about the people of Scian to get a snapshot of her schedule, but it would have been cool to see how her clan figured into the prophecy that drives this entire series.
Four other characters join Éile and Fjall on their quest, which turns into a mission to save the world with a side of revenge. There are the celestial twins Syndril and Zacare who have magical powers, and Brother Death, a skilled hunter with a wicked penchant for blades. Meldof, a dwarf who at first seems like a potential psychopath, wields a powerful hammer named Gwen. Take that, Mjölnir! And he sure knows a lot about monoliths: another great wink.
Who are they up against? An unexpected coup throws things into chaos, leaving the gang to face off against the Empire. More than one bad guy exists here. An arrogant super wizard named Balor (lenny henry, who was also in Rings of Power) decodes the monolith’s magic and unknowingly sets the stage for a cosmic event. His run-ins in the palace with Captain Eredin, who many will recognize from The Wild Hunt in the video games and the main TV show, makes Balor feel like himself. But with great power comes great sacrifice and a lot of backstabbing.
Through a combination of brilliant and ethereal lighting, the show traverses the continent’s beautiful mountainous landscapes and delves into darker realms where despair or chaos looms. The brutal fight scenes grab your attention, and the deaths are in true Witcher style: graphic. Many of the costumes are beautiful, but if you’re expecting traditional medieval attire, remember that this is an advanced elven civilization in a period before monsters and human interaction.
Over the course of the show, we see the magnificent seven become friends or lovers. Some of it fits. The celestial twins are magical siblings, and one was already in a romantic relationship with Brother Death. Meldof is tough but heartbroken. There is supposed to be a love story between our star heroes, Fjall and Éile. However, it doesn’t seem like there’s been enough time to let their chemistry seep into some genuine and epic love. They certainly share a bond, but the romance needs to heat up a bit more to hit us right in the heart.
Although parts of the series feel rushed, you’ll still appreciate the action, support the group’s cause, and get in some laughs before it’s over. One of the reasons is the show’s insistence on highlighting Éile’s songs. She sings at first, but she loses her will to be “the lark” when things get dark. Part of her journey is to see if her voice can change the world.
The Witcher: Blood Origin delivers by giving us the prototype Witcher and helps explain plot details in the original show’s first two seasons while tying the stories together for the upcoming season 3. Easter eggs and important connections are scattered throughout. everywhere, flipping the script on what we know of magic and the goblins and monsters of the Continent. For these reasons, you’ll want to pay special attention to the final episode of the series, which is arguably its best.
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