Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Witcher - The End's Beginning / Four Marks

As one who never read the fantasy series on which the series is based or played the various video games inspired by the novels, I found the first episode of The Witcher perplexing. "The End's Beginning" offers two disconnected tales. The first involves the introduction of the title character, a wandering nomad and monster killer Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) who is a Witcher. Just what a Witcher is the episode doesn't take much effort to explain. The other story involves a princess named Ciri (Freya Allan) and the fall of her kingdom. Both characters are touched by magic, the Witcher being stronger and faster than mortal men and Ciri holding a hidden power only glimpsed at as she flees the burning remains of her home. While touching on both these tales, the second episode introduces an entirely separate thread involving a woman with a twisted spine but hidden gifts for magic as well who is purchased for a meager sum by a witch (MyAnna Buring) with plans for Yennefer (Anya Chalotra).

While eventually these three threads may come together in a single storyline, the disconnected narrative isn't helping flesh out the characters or the world in which they inhabit. After two episodes we still haven't gotten to know any of the three characters all that well (and much of the events of the first episode involving Gerault's trouble in Blaviken avoiding getting in the middle of a conflict between a wizard (Lars Mikkelsen) and a defrocked princess (Emma Appleton) and the fall of Ciri's kingdom are little more than backstory for what is come). All of this could just as easily been footnotes introduced later in the series. While I enjoyed Appleton's character in the opener, and was sad to see her exit so quickly, the second episode of the series (despite it's attention being even more divided) offers a more complete tale with two of the main characters already having started their journeys.

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