The Witcher: Blood Origin is set 1200 years before the events of the main series. Sadly, watching it feels like living through that not-so-fleeting amount of time. Read our review.
Netflix promised fans that it will expand The Witcher’s – the wildly popular fantasy series starring Henry Cavill and as of season 4, Liam Hemsworth – universe, which is based on the books written by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
The series seems like Netflix’s response to Game of Thrones, which recently returned to our screens with its own prequel House of the Dragon, as they are aware that Sapkowski’s world still has a lot of unexplored secrets. Therefore, the producers wanted to tell the story of the very first Witcher, long before Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia. What is amusing is the fact that the series is a pretext to depict an event called “Conjunction of the Spheres”, which is only briefly mentioned in the books.
Despite the series’ short length (surprisingly, the show consists of only four one-hour-long episodes), The Witcher: Blood Origin is frustrating in its structure. The plot’s core feels banal: the seven heroes decide to kill the mischievous sovereign (so the kingdom will be prosperous again).
The show looks like a mix of The Fellowship of the Ring with a fan film done by book buffs. Blood Origin looks like another generic fantasy show that will be cancelled after the first season. It is The Witcher in name only.
The show explores its themes in a meaningless manner. There is a romance between two main heroes, Éile and Fjall, played by Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain, but the chemistry between them is not tangible. There is a relationship between a brother and a sister, Zacaré and Syndril, yet we tend to – and it is sad to say – forget that they are related to each other.
It’s not even the fault of the actors who are mostly well cast. It is rather a fact that their characters are vague. Lizzie Annis, who plays Zacaré, uses a similar noteworthy manner as she did while playing against Amy Adams in The Glass Menagerie in the West End. While justified in a stage production, here it leans too heavily on the typical cliches.
When Lenny Henry appears as a bad wizard named Druid Balor, we are shocked by the dose of ambiguity that suddenly strikes us: Balor is pathetic and farcical. What is worse, at this point in the show, we do not even care who he is and what he says or wants.
Balor resembles a caricature from a fantasy B-movie. And, to be completely honest, it often feels like we are watching one. The problem doesn’t lie with his acting – Henry’s powerful voice is essential here and could have been used more competently.
Blood Origin tends to be entertaining only in particular moments; the ones where it genuinely tries to impress us with some refreshing ideas. The show is mysterious in answering who from its roster of characters is going to be the first Witcher. The music is also particularly dynamic and irresistibly compelling, but we are not here for a concert. Unfortunately, The Witcher: Blood Origin is not the small miracle of a TV show we hoped it would be.
The Witcher: Blood Origin is streaming on Netflix December 25.