Not only has the newest season of Netflix’s The Witcher, season 3 volume 1, been received with all the fanfare and attention that a wet fart is granted, but it has also exceeded all predictions for how horrendous this season would be. The constant disregard and mockery of the source material have continued with season 3, finally proving Lauren Hissrich’s claim that season 3 would be the most faithful unequivocally false. What firmly cements this as the worst season to date, beyond the desecration of the books, is the substantial dip in overall quality. The sets all appear cheap and cobbled together by a high school theater department with wood that, more often than not, looks like plastic. In episode 1, Geralt even appears to be eating Macaroni & Cheese from Walmart.
The costume department shopped at J.C. Penny’s for half their costumes, while the other half was comprised of cheap and obvious pleather. There is nothing of quality to be seen anywhere in this season. From clear budget cuts, previously good actors phoning in their performance, talentless hacks artificially inflating, to writing so atrocious that Congress and the U.N. should ban these writers from ever putting pen to paper again.
Even the fight choreography, which was often the only redeeming aspect of previous seasons, is sorely diminished in volume 1 of season 3. For the most part, the one fight per episode is a grand total of ten seconds long, shot in nearly complete darkness to cover CGI errors, and as exciting as watching two old men aggressively bumping their walkers together. The paltry and embarrassing action is far from enough to redeem this ramshackle farce of a show.
The few glimpses of the source material that were allowed to survive the writers’ vitriol were bastardized beyond recognition, any original meaning or purpose so warped and eviscerated that the moments are near unrecognizable. These few moments feel like attempted appeasement for book fans, as if the writers went, “Oh, you want book accuracy. Here is the Dear Friend letter. See, we did a book thing. We’re so accurate now.” Either stupidity or arrogance — or perhaps both — prevented the writers from seeing that this only enrages book fans more. It proves that the writers have read the books or are at least aware of their contents. This proves everything the writers have done to mock, denigrate, and ignore the source material was intentional and maybe vitriolic. Book fans don’t want the meaning and point of the Dear Friend letter to be cruelly excavated for some awkward apology from Yennefer and repeated a godless number of times within the first episode’s prologue. Repeatedly saying, “See, see, we said ‘Dear Friend,’” does not give the writers the free pass they apparently expected from such an inclusion.
The first episode is one of the most tedious and uneventful wastes of time in a volume chock-full of vapid wastes of time. It spends the majority of its time playing catch-up, attempting to repair Yennefer and Geralt’s relationship, developing one between Ciri and Yennefer, and finally giving Yennefer a chance to train Ciri with magic. All this catch-up is delivered in a slow and poorly paced montage with drab voiceover from Yennefer. The episode ends with another kind of monster attacking them, forcing them to lay a trap for Reince, a mage hunting for them. A short, underwhelming, and bafflingly idiotic fight ensues.
In this trap, Ciri is the bait while Geralt, Yennefer, and a group of dwarven allies lie in wait within sight of Ciri in some abandoned ruins. Instead of coming to Ciri’s aid immediately when Reince and his men arrive, Geralt and Yennefer wait several minutes, giving Ciri a chance to girl-boss it up before casually sauntering up to the fight. Then, Reince’s men are reinforced before the dwarfs decide to help. It looks like waves of opponents and allies spawning under the bidding of video game logic. After several minutes of fighting, another wave of enemies appears, but these enemies are the elves who are hunting Ciri both because they want her and because the empire has employed them, too. A chaotic fight scene, full of swords missing contact by miles yet somehow killing, is played parallel with Geralt, who chases Reince through a portal in retreat. Once Geralt defeats Reince, the obvious thing to do would be to drag him back through the portal that Yennefer is keeping open for him. Otherwise, if he leaves Reince behind and rejoins Yennefer and Ciri alone, he will have to go on a pointless side quest in episode 2 to hunt him down again. Geralt decides the latter is the better choice for some inexplicable reason, leaving the now crippled Reince behind instead of taking him with him.
Those are just a few examples of nonsensical writing in episode 1. The same problems riddle the following episodes as well. There is not a single redeeming aspect to them. Even the extremely talented Henry Cavill phones in his performance so hard that Geralt is just a blank, flat non-entity, allowing the actions of others to blow him in whatever direction they decide.
The only standout thing worth mentioning that exceeds the problems already listed comes in the final episode of the volume. In an effort to come across as Nolanesque, or perhaps to remind the audience of the insane timeline decision in season 1, episode 5 of season 3 plays the same ten minutes of banquet footage over and over again, only occasionally adding a few seconds to each replay to provide additional context, and intercutting it with Geralt and Yennefer later briefly discussing the event. Without this idiotic delivery device, the episode would be a total of fifteen minutes long, not counting the gargantuan bloat, which also exemplifies this volume.
What makes the annoyance of watching the same footage so repetitive is the addition of Valdo Marx, who is singing at the banquet. Throughout the entirety of the banquet scenes, he repeats the same line, “All is not as it seems.” He sings this a minimum of five times per replay, totaling dozens of times that the audience must endure the monotone man singing this line. As most audience members will realize, this line is meant to foreshadow the deception that everyone is participating in. However, this foreshadowing is done with all the subtly and finesse of a brick getting thrown in your face. We get it: at a political dinner full of people known for lying and manipulating, “ALL IS NOT AS IT SEEMS!”
There is very little else worth discussing when it comes to The Witcher Season 3 Volume 1 beyond that it is one of the worst and most pointless things ever put to television, on par with The Rings of Power, Velma, and She-Hulk. This is not the incredible story of The Witcher. Not only does it bear no similarities to the source material whatsoever, it was cobbled together in such a chaotic and unrefined manner that there is not even a single thing of quality that can be derived from it. Even technical things like set design, costuming, editing, CGI, and cinematography are devoid of quality, to say nothing of the horrendous writing and empty performances. With Henry Cavill, this series has crumbled into a complete farce. One can only imagine how much worse the viewership and the quality of the show will dip when Liam Hemsworth takes over the role of Geralt of Rivia for the upcoming seasons 4 and 5.