If you’ve enjoyed watching Henry Cavill play a hot dad, you’ll love seeing him joined in his parenting duties by a hot mom. Netflix’s hit fantasy epic The Witcher is back with its third season, and it’s all about family. Season 3’s Volume I premiered on June 29 with 5 episodes, while the final 3 episodes will drop on July 27 as Volume II (more on this later). Season 2 ended with monster hunter Geralt of Rivia (Cavill) and the powerful sorceress, as well as his on-again-off-again lover, Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) pledging to keep the young Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan) safe no matter the costs. In Season 3 they are making good on that promise as the family unit travels across the Continent on the run from, well, everyone.
Convoluted politics and found family dynamics
If there’s one drawback to The Witcher series, it’s that among the monster fighting, legendary battles, magical spells, political intrigue, and steamy love affairs, it can be hard to follow what’s going on. While Season 1 tripped us up with multiple timelines, Season 3 presents a whole host of various kingdoms, mages, and elves who are hunting down Ciri. It’s tough to keep straight why each power is after her, who is allied with who, and everyone’s different schemes. That being said, the series once again does an excellent job of bringing us into this world and invested in the characters.
A big part of that is the relationships between the characters. Geralt and Yen are devoted to Ciri, and some sparks are reigniting between them as well. As Yen’s mentor Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) says to Yen, “After all these years, you finally did it. You became a mother.” Occasionally joining the trio on their escapades is the fan-favorite bard Jaskier (Joey Batey). If Yen and Geralt are Ciri’s mom and dad, Jaskier is the quirky uncle. Despite possessing a smaller role in Season 2, Jaskier continuously finds himself pulled into helping to protect Ciri this season, whether posing as bait for a particularly mad fire-loving mage, or playing babysitter. He also gets an enticing new love interest in the form of a certain roguish prince. We’ll toss a coin to that.
Ciri the Witcher
It’s disappointing that after meeting so many more witchers at Geralt’s home Kaer Morhen last season that those characters haven’t carried over to Season 3, but we do get even more backstory on the inscrutable Geralt as we learn a smidge about his life from before he became a witcher.
Something that does carry over from last season? Ciri’s witchering skills. After watching her be a damsel in distress for so long, it’s thrilling to watch Ciri hold her own in sword fights and taking down monsters as she puts all that training from last season to the test. If only her magical skills had progressed as much. Ciri spends the season failing to master most of what Yen tries to teach her, to the point that Yen becomes convinced that she has to take Ciri to Aretuza, home of the mages, to be trained by Tissaia, who’s impressively still loyal to Yen despite the mess Yen made last season. We’ve been hearing about how powerful Ciri is for three seasons now, I’d like to actually see some manifestation of that.
The Henry Cavill shaped elephant in the room
Some of the biggest drawbacks of this season have little to do with the way the series is made, and a lot to do with Netflix’s decisions regarding it. The streamer has taken to splitting its more popular shows into two volumes so as to drag out the coverage and attention surrounding them. It’s their way of continuing to stubbornly resist airing episodes weekly, but still finding a small way to benefit from not dropping a season all at once. The result, however, is that it doesn’t feel like the season was structured to be split into two. Episode 5 was likely chosen to finish out Volume I because it ends on a cliffhanger, but the result is that an episode that doesn’t even include Ciri is basically functioning as a mid-season finale.
And of course there’s the elephant in the room—Season 3 will be Cavill’s last. Amid reports of creative differences, Geralt will be played in future seasons by Liam Hemsworth, in a shocking recasting of the character. Between his intense chemistry with Yennefer, his fatherly demeanor towards Ciri, his ability to make a grunt or a smirk serve as a whole meal, or just the way he wears that armor, these episodes remind viewers that Cavill fully embodies Geralt. You can tell how much he earnestly loves the character and this story. Every last scene with him is a reminder that we’ll be losing him very soon.
Three more episodes to go
The series is as good as ever (even if I think it could use a touch more monsters), for it to lose its lead—one of the main things that makes it great—is a huge blow. You have to wonder how Netflix ever let him go. At least for now we have three more episodes coming with Cavill as the gruff, monster-hunting, girl-dad we know and love. See you all back here for Volume II.
The Witcher Season 3, Volume 1 is available to stream on Netflix. Volume 2 will premiere on July 27.
Feature image courtesy of Susie Allnutt/Netflix
'The Witcher' Season 3, Volume 1 - 7.5/10