The Witcher: Blood Origin spoilers will not be found in this review.
The Witcherverse is changing dramatically, and no, we’re not just talking about the arrival of Blood origin. Henry Cavill is leaving after three seasons The witcher flagship show for destinations – and bathtubs – unknown.
“We’re all going to miss him,” co-star Joey Batey recently told us, and while he talked about the cast, so does pretty much anyone with an interest in the show.
Although Geralt has already been recast with Liam Hemsworth, fans are still worried about the future of this franchise, so that puts a lot of pressure on it Blood origin, The witcher first live-action spin-off show.
Blood origin trying not to be The witcher though, and it’s all the better.
Set 1,200 years before Jaskier first flipped a coin at his Witcher, the prequel follows an unlikely group of heroes who fight to stop a tyrant from destroying everything. And by “everything” we mean really everything. Because this isn’t just some fantasy show. We now live in a post-Marvel world, which means a multiverse of madness is coming to The Continent.
To be honest, this conceit has always been inherent in The witcher books. In fact, the main idea behind this entire franchise is that monsters and humans (the same) entered this world during a cosmic event known as The Conjunction of the Spheres. However, no book or game or show has yet explored this key moment properly. At least not until now.
Last year, Blood origin co-creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich told us that the prequel will feel different because the world itself was so different before the Conjunction:
“One of the things that [co-writer] Declan de Barra brought it up: what if that world isn’t a medieval version of our medieval world, but in fact an Age of Enlightenment? How is it a little more modern? How has that civilization become more learned in some ways? And then how do we start laying the stepping stones to where we are today?”
And Hissrich was right. This is a world that would be almost completely unrecognizable to Geralt. Yes, there are still elves and swords and battles to be won, but Blood origin Continent is clearly more advanced than the world our regular Witcher is in, which is an intriguing direction for a prequel.
And we don’t just talk visually either. Beyond the complicated expensive looking world design, Blood origin is also more advanced when it comes to reflecting diversity in real life. White characters are no longer in the forefront as elsewhere, and varied body types are more common here too.
Strangeness – which is still noticeably lacking in the main show – is also more organically woven into the prequel. This shouldn’t be groundbreaking, but it definitely still is in a world where even the biggest fantasy shows can’t get it right.
That’s not to say the story itself is particularly groundbreaking, though. While all these elements mentioned above help set it up Blood origin apart from The witcher (along with other fantasy shows of its ilk), the plot is definitely one you’ve seen before.
Jaskier even jokes about that at one point, which makes the fact that it’s true even harder to swallow.
What is What’s different about all of this is how quickly the story unfolds. Netflix is notoriously bad when it comes to pacing across the board, and The witcher is also guilty of that, so the decision to cut spending Blood origin to just four episodes feels like a deliberate refutation of this. And it’s one we welcome, but with a few caveats.
By condensing the main arc in this way, Blood origin avoids some of the boredom that can often come with similar shows around halfway through. The problem now, however, is that the story is almost too short.
With such a limited runtime, we don’t spend enough time getting to know this brand new cast of characters, so it’s inevitable that some will fall by the wayside. Yet four episodes is still too long to fully capture the snappy, exciting pace a film could achieve. What’s left is a strange hybrid of TV and film that doesn’t quite match the highlights of either.
Highlights from that cast include Laurence O’Fuarain as Fjall, a muscular brute with a tender heart, Sex education Mirren Mack as a tyrannical princess and Lenny Henry in a role literally worlds away from his work in Rings of power.
Rest assured, you’ll also fall in love with Francesca Mills, who plays a potty dwarf whose tragic backstory is easily the most heartfelt on the show. In fact, it’s characters like her Meldorf that really make us wish this wasn’t just another one-shot series.
Aside from Minnie Driver’s intriguing, franchise-spanning role, it’s likely we won’t be seeing many of these characters again, which is a shame because there’s real potential here to get through the teething troubles.
But as it stands now, The Witcher: Blood Origin lacks one central figure as strong enough as Henry Cavill to pull it all together.
That’s not to say that Sophia Brown isn’t up to the task as Éile, or that Michelle Yeoh isn’t her typically brilliant self. It’s just that most of these characters, and that’s why Blood origin itself, remain frustratingly limited, like rough sketches that haven’t been worked out quite enough yet.
So as it stands, we still miss Henry, but Blood origin has also given us hope that the franchise can continue without him, as there’s something really special here that almost justifies the Netflix label of “Special Event” for the show.
The witcher Seasons 1-2 are now streaming on Netflix. Season 3 is in production and spin-off The Witcher: Blood Origin premieres December 25, also on Netflix.