Sigh… here we go again.
We open on a kid talking about a monster that attacked him, he is being tended by a man (I will assume is his father) who does everything for him except put something on the wound. As always I am sure this is meant to show the audience how bad the wound is, but it makes the guy look like an idiot. I mean put a bandaid on it, a paper towel, even a napkin would make more sense than just letting it sit open. For my own sanity I will assume this attack had him smashed up against a rock or something before I go off on a rant about a flesh wound making someone cough blood.
Minor note here but the boy dies when the father(?) is paying the Witcher and when he turns back around the boy is dead. Next shot he grabs the boy’s face and cries. The boy for some reason is holding his wrist and squeezes it when this happens, either the boy wasn’t dead and the father(?) is being a drama queen or the director was completely asleep at the wheel.
A new Witcher is shown and gets bodied in a hut, presumably by what killed the boy. I find myself forgetting who he was before he’s properly introduced. Moving on.
Geralt is in a tavern after sum sex and talks to the whore afterwards where he finds out about the other Witcher that passed through. He is very interested in learning more and clearly plans to follow this lead, but the innkeeper busts in the room. Geralt does not have the money to pay for the room, based on the dialogue he has been using it for three days. The innkeeper then… I don’t know the scene cuts, I assume he just asked him to leave, Geralt is amicable enough in most situations for that to be the case. The next shot is of them outdoors and apparently the arrangement is that Geralt will return to pay his bill leaving his horse as leverage. Why not just throw that information in the previous scene? The world will never know.
This brings me to the thing that confused me in episode one. Okay, so this whole show kind of predicates that a Witcher is a fearsome beast, like a day-walking vampire. Dummy strength, magic use, and long life are their most notorious traits and Geralt, in particular, has become infamous for his use of these things. He is known as the Butcher of Wherever the F**k and as such everyone treats him like a monster. Until the plot calls for him to be oppressed, and then the nobodies of the world feel free to just try and bully him with inferior weapons or none at all. Like before with Yennefer there are two different characters happening at the same time and it just makes his position confusing. Or more accurately makes any normal human who challenges him over money, or him standing too close, look far dumber than the plot intends.
We then cut to workers in a mine, turns out the boy who died in the beginning did die with his father there and that same father is working this very mine… I think. I don’t know because the editing is shit, let me try to explain. Geralt approaches a sign bad-mouthing the king and heads to a sloppy CG hole in the ground that implies the next scene will take place underground. In what looks like a mine a bunch of people dressed like miners are all holding mining tools except for one guy that is holding a woodcutting axe, but wtf do I know about mining that could be fine. They talk about attacking the king because the creature that killed his son is still on the loose and Geralt appears behind them like Quint in Jaws offering to hunt the thing at a discount since the last Witcher failed. Then the… I guess king’s guard? Some random branch of the military? Show up and demand they break up their plot/protest. My question is how in the holy cream cheese f**k did they know this speech was happening? When the camera joins it seemed like the speech just began so the law rolling up so soon is strange unless they have Twitter and someone in the group is a snitch. Or was this a planned gathering? If so shouldn’t the story be how someone ratted them out? I mean a passing line would be fine. The whole thing LOOKED spur of the moment, like they were all there just working and someone turned around and started complaining, but because this whole thing is being put together by drunk chimps I have no idea. There should not be this much confusion as to the when, what, where and how of a scene. This is how they treat every scene and it is the key to them setting up some bull, like; ‘this whole time they were in a giant prison, except we didn’t establish that at all, are you surprised??’
The guards decided to boot Geralt out of the… providence? City? Area… lets go with area… boot him out of the area despite his promise of discounts, play before pay business model and smoldering eyes.
To push this along as I am endlessly irritated and we are only 10 minutes in lets just do broad strokes for a bit. Geralt is lowkey hired on his way out of town by the King’s sorceress, he finds out that the monster killing people is, through a needlessly complicated backstory, the rightful princess of the kingdom under the effects of an errant curse. We then hop over to Yennefer who is having betrayal sex with Istredd while ghosts she summoned watch. For reasons. The point of the scene seems to be to exposit more about her and Istredd’s upcoming duties, and, when she goes to be fitted for a dress for her upcoming journey, show how uncomfortable she is in her own skin. It does nothing but put forth the dual characters they have created in Yennefer. One version is confident enough to not only show her naked body to her lover, but to a few dozen onlookers while she does the dirty deed and the other is a girl so uncomfortable with her form that no amount of power or praise can make her feel in empowered. This type of duality is not impossible to portray, they just do a trash job of it.
Geralt meets with the king, there is a very confusing volley of dialogue where he gets into a spat with one of the men from the king’s court about whether or not the monster is referred to as princess, then is like ‘I don’t even believe that this thing is related to the king!’ which… par for the course at this point. The king is insulted when Geralt implies the king was pulling a Lannister with his sister leading to her pregnancy and gets thrown out of the kingdom. Again.
Elsewhere Tissaia is meeting with her mage council to sent their apprentices around the world and because Yennefer told Istredd about her being a part elf, the earlier betrayal splashes onto the screen as Istredd’s master blurts out she is a quarter elf and the information gets the prestigious assignment that was promised stripped away. Upon hearing this Yennefer is given the information to know who betrayed her, leaving me wondering why they played this as a betrayal if it was going to be this weak, confusing and immediately called out.
Back in the kingdom he was kicked out of Geralt waits around, not at all kicked out, to sneak into an abandoned castle and play detective. The sorceress who tried to hire him joins him and with his trusty nose he finds out that the king was totally sexing his sister and the princess’ confidant was the one that placed the curse. Turns out the confidant’s master plan was to curse the king, it resulted in the creature being born from the princess’s corpse, the same creature that has been killing the people of the kingdom. Since the curse did not affect the king directly the new plan became to wait for enough people to die, assume the king knew the monster was somehow his child and also assume that knowledge would make him hesitant to destroy it. Then after everyone is mad because of all the deaths, they will blame and turn on the king.
I don’t think I need to explain how dumb this whole thing is as a plan. It’s explained by the confidant saying that he would get the kingdom to turn on the king as the king had made the princess turn on him, but even then. It’s too convoluted to even be considered a plan, it’s just happenstance. Something that would be fine if it was intended, but this asshat stands by the plan even in the face of the Witcher’s wrath. To be clear, Geralt’s smolder stare made him word vomit his own evil scheme, he just told them everything, then when Geralt smolders at him to tell them how to break the curse he just like ‘LOL no.’ I have no idea what the script wants me to know about Geralt’s intimidation stats.
Back at Tissaia’s fun clubhouse everyone is getting sorted into their houses when Istredd learns that Yennefer isn’t there. Cut to him walking in on her trying to forge a letter that says she is full human *sigh* I’ll just let this go as her being too overcome with grief to think clearly about how dumb that is. The two of them proceed to get into an argument that is tantamount to Istredd saying, ‘We can still be together’ and Yennefer shouting ‘F**k that! I didn’t get what I want so everything is shit!’. Yennefer is all mad about the betrayal but Istredd correctly points out that she was being a shitty tattle tale as well. Doesn’t stop her from raging and running out saying she wants power more than she wants beauty and that she is owed that power. How she figures that, or where we were definitively shown that she wants power more than beauty will remain a mystery to the end of days, but there you have it. The show has just decided to tell us that is the case.
The show snaps over to a scene that seems to be taking place in the past because two people who look like the current king and his sister as children are there, with the same names and everything, but there are present day characters there too. There could be some element of eternal youth at play but honestly that would raise more questions than answers in some cases. It is also possible that everything happening with Yennefer is in the past as it has NO correlation with anything happening in Geralt’s current story. I mean… fine if that’s the case, but I don’t think these writers have the chops to make that move worthwhile. Cutting between two timelines needs to give important information or re-contextualize events, given that this show doesn’t even give you basic information on events as they are happening I don’t see how they will make this work if it is the case.
HYEN-E-WAY Yeneffer then burst into the tailor’s sanctuary and it turns out he is also a plastic surgeon for those who get their assignments. Apparently she was meant to get made completely over before she was told she was going to a third rate kingdom, and apparently that reassignment meant that she would not get the surgery. Why? I don’t know. The king they planned to send her to apparently liked sexing up his advisors so why not give her the makeover? Also ONCE AGAIN I am having to infer all of this because the story writing is so shoddy it’s like its been sent through Google Translate by way of three disparate languages then back to English because SHIT IS MISSING. The scene is short and is basically her walking in and saying ‘Suit me up in pretty skin fam’ and him going ‘No our bosses will kill me if they find out’ her going ‘You won’t, no balls’ and him going ‘Touché’.
BTW last two scenes with Yennefer and Istredd are the first time I am clearly shown that Tissaia’s school is a part of the guild of mages that all convene to rule things. This would have been relevant to reveal in episode 2 at some point where we were blazing through the whole betrayal plotline that hits a brick wall here, but whatever.
Geralt finally gets the advisor to tell him how to break the curse and finds out he’s going to have to fight all night. Cool I guess.
Cut to Yennefer naked on a chair, having decided she wants the surgery without anesthetics (sure, f**k it, why not?) asking that her self harm scars be left as well as the color of her eyes. And at this point it feels like the character is looking into the camera and saying ‘I’ll need them for plot reasons later.’ The surgeon then tells her she can’t have kids if she makes the change. Neat-o.
Back to Geralt and his fight with the monster which is intercut with scenes of Yennefer getting her glow up, both scenes have a lot of blood and screaming. Again the no anesthetic thing feels like a stupid, unexplained plot point so they could have scenes of Yennefer screaming and rolling around. Like the whole thing could have been explained by her saying, ‘There is no time, it has to be now,’ or something, as is she just comes off as a masochist. Back in the action, they juxtapose the monster becoming human with Yennefer getting her makeover, the former in the fetal position covered in mud while the latter is in the same position covered in blood. If I had to guess I think it’s supposed to be a ‘look this monster is becoming human next to this human becoming a monster’ thing, but for that scene to be poignant on its first view I would have to know that Yennefer was becoming something more monstrous than she already is. One could argue that it’s meant to only hold meaning on the second viewing but I would say I don’t actually have the willpower or the time to explain why that, in this story, in this instance, is dumb as f**k.
In the end Geralt and the monster-now-a-girl injure each other and we cut back to Yennefer showing up to the
Yule Ball Tissaia’s party with her new look gaining everyone’s eye including the king of the kingdom she was denied. They dance and it is conveyed through looks that the king will dump the mage he had been assigned and take up this new piece because ‘She so hawt’. This bugs me a little because unless it is disingenuously revealed that Yennefer added a spell onto her nip-tuck that made her more attractive than other women, I don’t think I fully understand. Is the implication that she is impossibly more beautiful than the woman the king was already assigned? If so then why didn’t all of the mages get a touch up to be on Yennefer’s level since they have a surgeon that is capable of such? Or is the trade-off of no kids something that scares all the other mages away? Does it cost a full set of ovaries to change the shape of your nose or can you give up, like, one? Or a fingernail? What if you already couldn’t have kids, how is that a sacrifice? I don’t NEED the answer to all these questions, but when her whole entire plan was to use a guild surgeon/tailor/makeup artist to style on women he had presumably made up to look their best by him how I should be given some of this information. How could she rely on her beauty surpassing all the other mages if they used the same dude for makeovers? To the level that she was willing to be basically operated on while awake to be sure she didn’t miss the party, I mean that is one f**k of a gamble unless, once again, they are hiding facts for reasons.
Anyway Geralt wakes up from his battle and everything is fine now, he’s banged up and he and the sorceress exchange some painfully contrite dialogue before he gets paid.
The show then decides to tantalize me with a scene of Ciri following a mysterious voice and the elf boy she met trying to stop her. He narrowly misses getting shot by an arrow and, as he persists in following and calling out to her, actually does get shot after that making me wonder why on earth he is so interested in following her.
I’m SURE they’ll explain it clearly and properly in the next episode.
Five more episodes to go.