Gather your swords and prepare your horses, The Witcher has returned once more to our screens! The newest season arrives on Netflix today, with five episodes to devour at quickly or as slowly as you like. The Witcher season 3 vol. 1 sees the return of Henry Cavill as the wickedly handsome Geralt, although this season is his last in the role. That means there are just eight episodes left before Liam Hemsworth takes over the role of Geralt of Rivia.
Netflix is taking a different approach to this season of The Witcher, dividing the episodes across two volumes, similar in fashion to the last season of Stranger Things. With the first five episodes delivered today, fans of the series have to wait about a month to see the epic conclusion to the story at hand. So what is Geralt up to this season? Protecting his charge Ciri (Freya Allan), with the help of his on-and-off-again love Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). The stakes have never been higher, as the entire kingdom seems on the edge of something terrible. Can Geralt keep those he cares about safe? Let’s see what The Witcher Season 3 Vol 1 has in store for you.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from The Witcher season 3 vol 1 are below!]
A makeshift family and divided heroes
When this season opens up, viewers will have something different from the past two seasons to look forward to, a moment to breathe. Geralt has taken Ciri into hiding, moving around from one safe house to the next. It seems like the majority of the world is seeking Ciri and her protectors, due to the large bounty placed on their heads. It’s during this moving around that we get to see the bonding that begins to develop between the three main characters.
Geralt is obsessed with safety, forgetting at times that Ciri is still a child, even if she’s one of the most powerful magical beings in existence. His goal is to keep her alive and have her instructed in the magical ways from Yennefer. The latter to whom he is cold and distant due to her actions in previous seasons.
While it doesn’t seem to be a fantastic life, these three form a bond, creating a family in spite of the harsh conditions. These moments humanize our characters, setting aside the plot for character growth. Sadly, and for the sake of the story, this doesn’t last. Eventually, trouble comes for our heroes, reminding them that destiny is at play and nothing can stop it.
To get to the bottom of what’s going on, and to protect Ciri, our heroes have to divide and conquer. If you’ve grown up watching Scooby Doo, you know that never works out as well as you’d like. However, the splitting up of Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer allows for some new and interesting dynamics, as well as problems. For this reason alone, The Witcher season 3 vol 1 is cemented as one of my favorites, because one of the dynamics leads to some of the best television in recent history.
Yennefer’s journey in The Witcher season 3 vol. 1
From the very first season, I have been enamored by so many of the characters in The Witcher, however none as much as Yennefer of Vengerberg. While both she and Geralt are so complex, Geralt is more of the sexy muscle type, who broods in the shadows about his misfortunes. With Yennefer, her tragic life is spelled out on screen, for everyone to see.
And yet, she remains resilient and strong, in spite of losing everything in her pursuit of happiness. There’s a shift in her in season 3 vol 1, where she unknowingly comes close to what she wants, and when someone points that out, she’s happy for the first time in a long time. This scene gave me a lot of emotions because you can’t help by want her to feel that happiness that she so rightfully deserves. Although I worry it’s not meant to last as the show progresses.
At the core of Yennefer’s journey is her relationship with Ciri, her magical charge. It seems like Ciri is at the center of the entire story, but feels the most natural in her relations to Geralt and Yennefer. The new dynamic between the two is exquisite, even when the two aren’t agreeing on how to proceed. Anya Chalotra plays the role of Yennefer magnificently and I love how well she can adapt to the changes in Yennefer, exhibiting a craft that is above many others I’ve seen.
The good and the bad of The Witcher season 3 so far
As stated above, Anya Chalotra is a treasure as always as Yennefer, but she’s not the only one that shines in this first part of season 3. Henry Cavill continues to dazzle as the tall and handsome Geralt. Cavill brings a realness and energy to Geralt that I worry no one else will be able to match. Seems like Hemsworth has his work cut out for him because Cavill just continues to get better with each passing season.
Freya Allan is also fantastic as Ciri, who continues to grow up in front of the viewer’s eyes. No longer is she the child princess, but growing into a fierce warrior in her own right. She’s also incredibly frustrating in the way all teenagers are. She thinks she knows everything, to the annoyance of everyone else trying to keep her alive. However, she also has the weight of the world on her shoulders, sought by everyone for powers she doesn’t understand. As well, her story continues to develop in new and interesting ways, some of which I didn’t see coming.
And of course, I can’t forget about Jaskier, who is once again front and center along with the three main stars. I don’t know about you, but there’s just something so loveable about Jaskier, even though he’s a scoundrel when it comes to love. Artistic types, am I right? Joey Batey is still a superstar in the role and I hope that no matter what, Jaskier makes it to the end of the series.
Those looking for nonstop action might be disappointed, as the first episode or two has quite a bit of downtime. There’s never a moment, at least to me, that felt like it was boring, in fact, the episodes moved quickly and I was always shocked when I reached the ending. That being said, the first episode doesn’t have an action scene until almost the end.
Instead, the beginning of the season focuses on the personal growth between characters, as well as setting up some of the political storylines that are essential as the season grows. Although the action that is present in Vol 1 is top-notch, with a good mixture of sword, hand-to-hand combat, and my personal favorite, magic. There are some action sequences that left me gobsmacked, which is what I’ve come to expect from The Witcher.
There are also a few characters introduced that don’t seem to be necessary, at least for now. Robbie Amell’s character felt mildly wasted, which is a shame as he is a good actor. He does well with what he’s given, but I was definitely wishing for more from him.
Overall, I was impressed with The Witcher season 3 vol. 1, feeling like the show continues to learn and grow. I thought this season was a significant improvement over the last, which is the exact same thing I said about season 2. I’m eagerly awaiting the second volume, and I’ll guess others will be too after they consume every second of this first volume.
The Witcher Season 3 Vol 1 is streaming on Netflix! Will you be watching it this weekend? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And be sure to check out our previous reviews and coverage of The Witcher as well as an ongoing series reviewing the books that inspired the game and Netflix series!