The Witcher Update: Look How They Massacred My Boy

All right, look, I only gave season two one episode. And I’m not here to shit on the people who like the show. I have watched and enjoyed season one of the extremely inconsistent Wheel of Time (which probably needs its own update post) without the background knowledge of the books, and I know for that show, plenty of people could write a similar article to this one. We like what we like and all is good. (Visuals from The Witcher are certainly better than Wheel of Time.)

Here’s the thing about my experience with The Witcher on Netflix, though. I adore those books, and I was promised a faithful adaptation. I even thought, during S2E1, that the mess of season one was being walked back and soon I would be getting what I hoped for, because the story with Geralt, Ciri, and Nivellen was very close to the tone and plot from the books, with some necessary book-to-show changes thrown in.

It’s the auxiliary stuff that made me lose faith.

I already wrote a lengthy article about the season one changes to my favorite character Cahir and how they don’t make any sense in terms of his final arc. That continues into season two. Why is he being held prisoner by the Brotherhood? Why is he being tortured by Tissaia? Why is his execution even a thing? There’s literally no tension, except to wonder whether the show, already mostly off the rails, is going to drop a bomb on the whole railway system.

Yennefer’s entire backstory/character has felt made up to me since the beginning of the show—I certainly don’t recognize her in comparison to her book counterpart—and that also continues into season two. Why is she traveling with Fringilla? (Who was not a religious zealot, by the way, and neither was Nilfgaard as a whole.) Why is she the hero of Sodden, when it completely alters the significance of Vilgefortz? Personality-wise, just … why is she the way that she is?

Honestly, guys, Reddit can do this better than I can: here is a list someone compiled of all the changes from books to show. (There are more in the comments.) Some changes were always on the table, of course, because books and TV shows are two different mediums, but I look back on the showrunner saying “I think there’s just so much material that I don’t feel the need to start inventing my own to keep it going,” and I feel immensely betrayed. Because that’s the show I wanted, and not the one I got.

Although, I suppose the showrunner also said “straight translation,” and sometimes translations are garbage.

Save me from myself by spinning this in a positive way. What do you think about The Witcher? Leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “The Witcher Update: Look How They Massacred My Boy

  1. I’ve enjoyed Witcher’s 2nd season, but then again, I did not read the books and have no preconceived notions. Like your disappointment with Game of Thrones, those studio producers fling promises around like dirty Kleenex, apparently a deniability in using said Kleenex when found on the ground equates to blowing off promises never intended to be kept. Frolicking in my ignorance of the written word, I remain your humble servant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. (I also wish I had not read the books and thus could enjoy the TV version of The Witcher…)

      And it’s obviously a more nuanced issue than this, but: I wish studios would learn that faithfully adapting these works AND giving them enough space to finish in a satisfying way would get them exactly what they want (money, just in long term rather than short) — it’s like they completely forget that these shows already have a dedicated fan base before they begin, one that would hawk the show relentlessly if they were happy with its cleaving to the source material. I can’t help but think GoT was so successful (until they ran out of source material, botched the ending, the list goes on) because the first four seasons were so close to the books; the story had wider appeal, so it was an easy rec, but in the early days momentum was almost certainly gathered by diehard fans of the books.


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