TV

Finding Yourself in Fiction – A Witcher Appreciation Post

With season two’s production moving at the stop-start pace of a student driver (thank you, COVID), I know many of us Witcher fans have been left wondering if we will ever see that much anticipated red banner announcing “new episodes” adorn our favorite fantasy series. No one is to blame, of course. This year has been, among many other things, a right bastard.

In attempts to keep the interest piqued, Netflix has released the occasional production photo and even a short “Monster Mash” teaser on Halloween that appeared to show brief glimpses of new monsters to come (don’t blink, or you’ll miss them!) Purely crumbs, of course. Just enough to make the mouth water- hardly enough to satiate our hunger.

So, what’s a Witcher fan to do? The only thing for it is to dive back into season one for the 5th time. Or is the 6th? Honestly, I’ve lost count. This is a show I can watch repeatedly without it losing its luster, and I don’t think I’m alone in my zeal. The Witcher has truly become a crown jewel of Netflix- a place that was never certain for the series. With a massive fanbase existing around both the books and the games, The Witcher was only ever going to sink or swim. From the very first whisper of Cavill’s involvement, the wolves began circling, teeth bared, ready to tear apart anything that might threaten the sanctity of their fandom. Fortunately, the series surpassed all expectations, soaring to become the most in-demand show in the world upon its release, surpassing even The Mandalorian.

If you haven’t delved into the show yet, now is your time, my friend. The story follows a man who, given away by his mother as an infant, is raised within a Witcher stronghold. Very few children survive the training, and those who do are never the same. With a host of super-human abilities, from increased life span to cat-like eyes that can see clearly in the darkness that surrounds their work, Witchers are carefully honed for their monster hunting occupations. And while Geralt only wants to do his job, destiny has other plans for him- entangling him in the lives of a cursed princess, a powerful she-mage, and a chatterbox bard. Even if you’re not an ardent fan of Fantasy, this show has a strange magic that is sure to pull you in.

I was personally drawn to the series by the promise of that fantasy world. God, do I love a good fantasy! The darker, the better. And it’s safe to say that my bar has been set high by the likes of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. Going into The Witcher, I decided to take that bar and place it at my feet.

Maybe even kick it a few feet away.

Back up a few paces.

Alright, good to go.

Having never gotten around to the games (it’s on my list, I swear) and never (until recently) having read any of the books, I went into this series with a wary sort of hope and zero expectations. Like so many others, I was still nursing the wounds inflicted by Season 8 of Game of Thrones. I craved comfort in the form of a fresh world with fresh heroes and fresh monsters. And boy, Netflix couldn’t have gotten its timing any better. Geralt rode in on a chestnut steed named Roach just in time to save us from our sorrows. I was hooked almost instantly- from the moment the Kikimora erupted from those shallow bog waters, Geralt caught in its many-legged clutches. The battle is swiftly won, and Cavill’s character stumbles back onto dry land, covered in blood and muck. Forget “cleans up nice,” that man is grime-covered eye candy, and we’re ready for another sample.

But as stunning as the visuals are- from the actors themselves to the incredible locations, sets, and costumes- what ultimately kept me invested in The Witcher was the character of Geralt himself. Every now and again, you find a reflection of yourself in a fictional character that forges an immediate affection and interest in their journey. From his tendency to “hmm” and curse his way through conversation to the quiet exasperation displayed when pushed to attend a social event, to his proclivity for conferring with horses… as someone who grew up on the back of a horse and has social skills in the negatives- I get Geralt.

And that’s the real magic of fiction, isn’t it? The ability to find bits of ourselves in the characters we love or sometimes the ones we don’t. These connections can affirm our own journey or give us pause as we reflect on who we are and who we want to be. What was it that drew you in? Was it that sense of connection? Was it the comfort of a series that stuck like glue to its source material? Or were you pulled in by the flood of enthusiasm shown all around the world for this remarkable show? No matter how you got here, I know we’re all champing at the bit for more. Until that time comes, I hope you’ll tag along in my upcoming articles as I revisit season one in all its gritty glory.

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