Royce Pierreson

The Witcher (2019) s01e07 – Before a Fall

“The Witcher” never expressly says “we’ve been Westworlding you” but this episode is where they show how they’ve been Westworlding the viewer. It’s Freya Allan’s part of the pilot, only with Henry Cavill mixed in. It’s been twelve years since Cavill was last in Jodhi May’s kingdom, which means Allan is like eleven and a half or something. Okay. Fine. She seems a little older, really doesn’t matter.

So while the show’s revealing how Cavill didn’t actually forget about his responsibility to Allan (which they still haven’t explained other than he feels responsible) and tried to save her in the first episode, May being a tyrannical warlord grandma blinded her to the better choices for Allan’s safety. Again, fine, whatever. If “The Witcher” were confident enough in its story, it wouldn’t have needed the fractured timeline because the show gets nothing out of the fracturing other than some momentary surprises. Lacking momentary surprises.

But while Cavill’s Back to the Future II adventures in the first episode are twelve years after he was last in the castle, there’s also Anya Chalotra’s arc. She’s visiting old boyfriend Royce Pierreson, who’s doing some Planet of the Apes-style archeology to discover the world before the three worlds converged or whatever. He’s basically just a cameo to set Chalotra up for going back to the mage training castle where she spent episodes two and three. There, she avoids mentor MyAnna Buring until the most dramatically effective moment while corrupting the current crop of students. And has flashbacks. Flashbacks to episodes two and three. In case anyone forgot, even though it was only four episodes ago and it’s a Netflix show so the episodes were intended to be binged.

Maybe if Chalotra had been introduced in the first episode instead of second, the flashbacks would… no, they’re just pointless. Worse, they take away from Chalotra getting to act in the present. Because she’s presumably had some character development between this episode and last, only… we don’t get to see it and we don’t get to infer it from her actions because her actions are mostly setups for exposition or flashback.

This episode is the season’s shortest at forty-five and change and it feels like at least ten minutes is reused footage.

The ending has Freya Allan revealing she’s got a different superpower than we knew about before—she’s got some arc about trying to survive among war refugees or whatever, doesn’t matter until the cliffhanger. Only it seems like her time in the magical forest was really important so it’s too bad the show didn’t use that time better.

Also, there’s a big exposition dump from Buring about the bad guys, who are basically medieval fundamentalist Christian Nazis.

But, hey, at least the timelines are all synced? And the “Destiny” drinking game rules are in full effect here as well.

The Witcher (2019) s01e02 – Four Marks

Another episode another main character… this time introducing peasant girl Anya Chalotra, who’s got magical powers. She’s got a spinal birth abnormality, leading to a pretty big hump and something going on with her jaw. She’s hated by all—including her father (who’s half elf and so it’s his fault she’s got the birth abnormalities but also why she’s got the magic, also because she’s a girl… no magic for man elves or something). The father sells her to witch MyAnna Buring, which is kind of weird since the previous episode said something about only dudes could be witchers. Or something. There was so much talking in the first episode, I’m sure I glazed over on some of it.

Anyway, the episode’s split between Chalotra and her troubles becoming a super-sorceress, Cavill as he gets a singing sidekick (a trying way too hard but vaguely adorably Joey Batey) and discovers his monster prey is actually just trying to help out exiled elves, and also princess Freya Allan, who’s living in the forest, on the run, and coming across other refugees from her kingdom. Chalotra’s got the most affecting arc, as she’s getting involved with hot boy Royce Pierreson but also trying to get her magicks on. Cavill and Batey’s arc is an exposition dump about the state of things with the elves. There’s way too much elf-related exposition, but at least it matters for almost everyone involved, not like the constant blathering about faraway kingdoms last episode.

The CG on Cavill’s monster prey is pretty bad, which certainly seems to suggest the reason there isn’t more monster hunting is they don’t have the budget for monsters.

Lars Mikkelsen’s back for a particularly dumb reveal.

Allan’s arc is somewhat effective, but more because she’s discovering what a crappy world she really lives in. Not even the monsters or the bad soldiers or whatever, her country people are awful too. Good thing she makes an elf friend (see, every story arc has something to do with elves, so all the exposition informs rather than bewilders).

Though Chalotra’s the big upswing. Even if she’s got absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plots yet.

Still not “worth watching,” mind you. Just… on an upswing.

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