The Witcher Season 3 Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
You know a show is important when Netflix gives it its own variation on that pa-poww logo animation that introduces every programme: The Witcher, a fantasy saga set in a faux-medieval, perpetually unstable land called the Continent, puts its big N on the screen with a special backdrop of gnarled branches and eldritch screams.
But season three arrives under a cloud, and it’s not an exciting electric cloud caused by wizards fighting on a mountaintop. This is the last time Henry Cavill will play wandering swordsman Geralt of Rivia: from season four onwards, the lead role is to be taken over by Chris Hemsworth’s less successful brother Liam, from the Hunger Games movies and, before that, Neighbours. This week, a Witcher producer boldly compared the move to the recasting of James Bond or the Doctor: “We’re trusting that … the IP itself is what is drawing a lot of fans.”
Replacing the current Geralt of Rivia with Ersatz of Erinsborough is, however, a gamble. Cavill is a particular kind of anti-heroic hunk: clipped and stubborn, dry almost to the point of being wilfully humourless, confident that others will crave his gruff approval. He looks grubby, and many Witcher watchers would like to taste that funk. He is the groove upon which the show maintains its course.
As we reunite with our Gerry for the five new episodes that form the first part of season three, his quasi-familial unit is on the run. Crown princess Ciri (Freya Allan) is under the protection of Geralt and trying to unleash her magic/psychic powers under the tutelage of capable trickster Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), whose fiery sex thing with Geralt is on pause because she betrayed him in season two by colluding with a demon from another realm. Like warring parents who have rashly taken their teen on a make-or-break tour of remote Airbnbs, the trio pitch up at a series of coastal huts and rural cabins, Ciri’s training constantly interrupted by the arrival of bandits hunting her down.
That’s happening because the grand narrative pivots around Ciri, not Geralt: virtually everyone in The Witcher’s increasingly knotty spread of characters wants to be in a room with her, because they’ve been told it is their destiny. They either believe she can save their people – elves, for example, think only Ciri can return elf society to pointy-eared tranquillity – or they’re a ruthless warlord who is secretly her dad. This year’s effort to harness her burgeoning telekinesis and clairvoyancy feels a lot like last year’s scenes where she underwent combat training: in a show that often feels like it’s building to a major event that never occurs, Ciri is still all fresh-faced potential and not much action, two and half seasons in.
Lack of female agency isn’t a problem for the show as a whole. though, as Yennefer morphs into a canny politician and her old pals at Aretuza, the academy for young sorceresses, play a key role in season three’s main storyline. This involves various factions uneasily coming together or scheming against each other in preparation for either disastrous war or lasting peace. We flit between several locations, often leaving Geralt unseen for long periods, as if the show was getting ready for the loss of Cavill.
Sometimes the political manoeuvrings cause a glut of sequences where characters explain or complain about what just happened without furthering the story, but the ensemble is capable of distracting us with pure fun. The kingdom of Redania is a standout hoot, with the buffoonery of its king, Vizimir (Ed Birch), now offset by his playboy younger brother Radovid (Hugh Skinner), who is not quite the dissolute booby he first appears to be and whose romantic subplot is an unexpected delight. Redania’s intelligence operations, meanwhile, are in the hands of Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) and Philippa (Cassie Clare), whose snappy office banter has progressed, rewardingly, into sub-dom kink.
The Witcher isn’t afraid to toss something weird, transgressive or disturbing into its mix, as it does with an extraordinary scene where Geralt – the pulse still quickens when he reappears, damn him – has to fight a giant crab-like creature made from the fused torsos and limbs of decapitated women. Other memorable monsters this time around include a malignant armadillo rolling around a maze, and a Demogorgon-y reptile that endears itself to us by attacking a group of overly florid close-harmony singers doing the 13th-century, alternate-universe version of show tunes.