Over the first two seasons, The Witcher became one of the most successful video game adaptations to date. While it pulled heavily from the popular fantasy novel series, creature designs from the games helped elevate the visuals. Pulling popular characters from the novels, the series built brilliant lore around its central characters. Unfortunately, The Witcher Season 3 gives us a taste of what we’ve desired from the start. However, it quickly turns away from letting our characters be together, instead forcing them to separate to handle “monster of the week” quests. At this point, the well has run dry on this idea.
To begin The Witcher Season 3, Geralt (Henry Cavill), Yennifer (Anya Chalotra), and Cirilla – a.k.a. Ciri – (Freya Allan) head deep into the woods. Following the events of Season 2, they’ve gone on the run. However, no matter where they find peace, it remains temporary. Calling in every favor they can, Geralt and Yennifer realize that Ciri requires safety, and the two must split up again to advance her training. While Yennifer takes training duty, Geralt and Jaskier (Joey Batey) attempt to stop those in pursuit.
While Season 1 worked as a pseudo-prologue to understanding the series’ future, Season 2 allowed our characters to connect. The best moments of The Witcher Season 3 give the audience exactly what we want: the trio of Geralt, Yennifer, and Ciri together. Together they are extremely exciting to watch. Separated, we lose their chemistry and frankly, whey we care about the series.
Otherwise, the series continues to excel at the elements its always been good at delivering. The world building remains impressive. The side characters on other storylines are interesting, especially the addition of Hugh Skinner. Bigger roles for Graham McTavish and Cassie Clare pays dividends. Batey remains as funny as ever, and gets more emotional depth this time out.
The monster creation is also excellent. The designs are not only surprising, but often showcase the visual effects budget. With combinations of practical and visual effects, its super enjoyable to watch them in the world. However, this also leaves us in a familiar pattern, creating a “monster of the week” feel. While we dig deeper into the lore in some aspects, this remains too frustrating a structure for a high-concept fantasy story. Unlike The Mandalorian or X-Files, the core relationships are rarely displayed of affected by these events, and thus feel more hollow.
Still, The Witcher showcases more than enough emotional and visual power to earn our attention. It will be curious if Part 2 of the season can grab our imagination as well as this half did. The Witcher still puts itself in a position to be one of Netflix’s trademark shows. However, we need to let our characters develop with each other to get the full impact. Rather than let the show make the best choices for its future, it feels too beholden to storytelling from the novels and games to be the best version of itself.