Netflix’s Witcher series has been embroiled in controversy recently, after it was announced that Henry Cavill would be departing the lead role as Geralt of Rivia in Season 4, and will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth. It is enough to make one’s head spin. Season 3 hasn’t even premiered yet, but the idea of replacing a main character with another actor so deep into the run is… a choice. And of course there is the endless speculation about why. Because Cavill is taking up the mantle of Superman again, and it would interfere with filming? Or because of conflicts behind the scenes?
We’ll probably never know. But Netflix bet big on The Witcher after a blockbuster first season based on Andre Sapoznik’s novels, expanding the franchise beyond the initial series into anime one-offs (like Nightmare of the Wolf), and now, an miniseries titled Blood Origin.
According to Netflix, Witcher: Blood Origin, written and showrun by Declan De Barra, is “set in an elven world 1200 years before the world of The Witcher, [and] tells a story lost to time – one of seven outcasts who unite against an unstoppable power that took everything from them. Their blood quest giving rise to a prototype Witcher in a conflict that brings about the ‘conjunction of the spheres,’ when the worlds of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one.”
As a Witcher 3 player and now reader of the books, I have enjoyed Netflix’s series well enough, but even I wonder who this miniseries is really for. It has an impressive cast, including Minnie Driver, Michelle Yeoh (being her typical badass self), Lenny Henry (recently seen in Prime Video’s The Rings of Power), and will connect with the established Witcher series via Joey Batey’s Jaskier, who I can only assume narrates. But the trailer also looks… generic. I love fantasy and will watch it regardless, but I’m also very tired of a crushing amount of special effects and everything being dialed up to 11 as mages blast out world-ending spells.
One of the things that originally made The Witcher story so interesting and different from other fantasy was that it was largely a detective story. Also, the lasting impression made by Geralt, an affably gruff, flawed, and fascinating character. Without an anchor like that, it’s hard to know if Blood Origin can find a way to make viewers really invest in what looks like a pretty complicated story that’s very far removed from the series, and do so quickly.
Granted, its focus on elves is slightly different, but we also got a lot of elf stuff in The Rings of Power. At least these elves here look slightly weird, which, they should (rather than just humans with slightly larger ears).
The four-part Witcher: Blood Origin limited series premieres Sunday, December 25th on Netflix. Check out the teaser trailer below:
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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