Geralt Of Rivia
The Witcher wastes little time getting right to the heart of its drama and from there, the entire episode does a perfect job capturing the essence of both the books and video games of the same name. With some gritty production design choices and a perfect casting in Henry Cavill as Geralt, The Witcher feels like a sure-fire winner.
Geralt begins the episode by cutting up a monstrous behemoth in the swamp before riding to the nearby village, dressed in black robes. He arrives at the tavern and asks where the alderman is, but unfortunately is met with hostility instead. After being saved by a cunning mage, Geralt is persuaded to visit Master Irion by Marilka.
Standing before the menacing tower, Geralt leaves Roach outside and heads in alone through a portal. There, he learns the sorcerer wants him to kill a human – Renfri to be precise. The sorcerer implores Geralt take up the contract before he eventually runs into Renfri herself – the woman he met in the bar earlier in the episode. After giving her an ultimatum, he rides away.
Meanwhile, Ciri is taken back to the royal palace from the streets outside, where it turns out she’s part of the royal family. At the banquet later that night, she reluctantly gets up and dances with Martin. Hostilities remain in the Kingdom though and as we cut across the battlefield, large swathes of soldiers line up and charge at them. Ciri meanwhile, remains cooped up inside while the battle for Cintra rages on.
In the midst of the battle, Eist takes an arrow through the eye and as the Queen screams in rage, she charges at the killer. As we cut back to the castle, a bloodied and beaten Queen returns and tells her Cintra is lost to Nilfgaard. From the windows, Mousesack puts up a force-field around the castle, stopping all the ensuing soldiers from being able to advance. Unfortunately this may not hold for long.
While Geralt tempts fate when it comes to Renfri, the force-field at the castle breaks and the soldiers flood inside. As they do, the Queen tells Ciri she needs to choose mercy when the time comes before showing off her siren-like powers and screaming a bloodcurdling cry. Ciri is tasked with finding Geralt and slips away, as those left inside the castle take the noble approach and kill themselves as the city burns around them.
Geralt awakens to find Renfri gone and as he heads into town, he effortlessly fights off the villagers before engaging in a slick sword fight with Renfri. Evenly matched, they trade blows until Geralt gains the upperhand and holds a sword to her throat. He strikes with the killer blow and as she bleeds out, promises the girl in the woods will be with him forever.
As the episode reaches its climax, Ciri uses her own siren powers to hold off one of the guards as he clutches his skull in pain. It’s so sharp it knocks a stone column down and shatters the earth in half, allowing her to run away. Meanwhile the sorcerer attempts to take Renfri’s body away but Geralt refuses to let him touch her. Believing her power has influenced him, the villagers tell Geralt to leave and as Marilka turns on him too, he leaves whence he came, alone and without Renfri but with her sigil in hand.
The Witcher gets off to a good start here, one that effectively introduces our characters and the world. Between the monster hunting at the beginning and the way Geralt is vilified by the villagers, The Witcher does a wonderful job capturing the essence of this character. The high production design and impressive choreography helps too, especially the climactic sword fight at the end which will undoubtedly be a big talking point in this series.
Inevitably, comparisons to Game Of Thrones will persist and it doesn’t help that the scene involving the queen jumping out the window is a little too similar to Game Of Thrones’ iconic segment depicting the same thing. Having said that, the visual effects and general cinematography of the show are very good and there’s certainly enough here to pique your interest for the episodes ahead.