The Witcher season 1 premiere recap: The End’s Beginning

The Witcher - Credit: Katalin Vermes
The Witcher - Credit: Katalin Vermes /

In the season premiere of Netflix series The Witcher, we meet Geralt of Rivia, a monster slayer. We also meet a roaring Princess of a fallen kingdom.

The Witcher begins immediately with Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) engaged in battle with a strange, spider-like creature called a kikimora. While it makes a valiant effort, Geralt stabs it through the head. He soon heads to the Alderman’s tavern in the town of Blaviken. They immediately make it clear that they dislike “mutants” and don’t want his kind around. A woman named Renfri (Emma Appleton) intervenes, curtailing any immediate bloodshed. We also meet Marilka (Mia McKenna-Bruce), who tells Geralt that no one in town has any use for the strange, slain beast he has on the back of his horse named Roach. Marilka also says she’s bored of life in Blaviken.

It’s obviously a day for meeting people, as Geralt also meets a sorcerer named Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen). Semi-impress with Geralt’s work, Stregobor soon dispenses with chitchat and asks Geralt him to kill Renfri. He claims Renfri carries the curse of the black sun and is a servant of Lilit — demon goddess of the night. However, Geralt doesn’t really know if Renfri was sent to exterminate humans.

In an attempt to sway Geralt, Stregobor says he personally locked girls of the black sun in castles where they died (hey, everyone needs a hobby!). He notes that Renfri’s the daughter of King Fredefalk of Creyden, delivered by Stregobor himself. However, she mutilated animals, took out a maid’s eye and allegedly murdered merchants. Stregobor says slaying her would be the lesser of two evils. However, Geralt says he does not choose like that.

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Renfri/The girl in the woods

The Witcher gives Renfri a chance to tell her version to Geralt. She says Stregobor’s man raped and robbed her and she actually wants him to kill Stregobor. However, Geralt advises her to leave Blavikan and finally live rather than take revenge.  He then says the first monster he ever killed was a man who attacked a woman, and he seems to carry guilt for the death. Renfri seems to relent and says she will leave Blaviken, then they share a somewhat awkward kiss. Before long, however, Geralt returns to the center of town, knowing that Renfri won’t stop against Stregobor. She also happens to be holding Marilka hostage.

Geralt is attacked by a band of men loyal to Renfri, and he slays them without much fuss. However, much to his regret, Renfri attacks him next. She lands a good stab or two but ultimately loses the swordfight and her life. Before dying, however, she says “The girl in the woods is your destiny.” Weird, huh? Soon, villagers throw stones at Geralt, believing he killed Renfri for no reason. He also refuses to let that pesky sorcerer have Renfri’s corpse. Even Marilka seems against him, telling him to get out of Blaviken. What’s a Witcher to do?

The Kingdom of Cintra get their butts royally whipped by Nilfgaard

The Witcher hasn’t fully given context for all its characters, but it’s obviously a complex tapestry. The premiere also introduces the kingdom of Cintra, a floundering kingdom run by Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May) and King Eist Tuirseach (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson). As they dance at a ball, they discuss the encroaching Nilfgaardian army.

Before long it is not mere talk. In fact, Queen Calanthe is bravely involved in a bloody, losing battle. In fact, the King dies from an arrow in the eye before we really get to know him. As the Nilfgarrdians take over, Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan) is told that she must survive the attack on Cintra. A royal magician named Mousesack (Adam Levy) tries to repel the Nilfgaardians with a magic force. However, they soon overcome it and take the castle.

Calanthe decides to surrender, believing it may prevent some protracted torture for her people. She calls Cirilla, her granddaughter, the “lion cub of Cintra,” then says Geralt is her destiny (similar to Renfri’s words to him earlier). It becomes apparent that the “lion cub” thing isn’t just a cute nickname. The girl can actually roar like a lion. As the Princess leaves with Sir Lazlo ( Maciej Musial), Calanthe and others in the castle kill themselves rather than face some cruel fate.

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Unfortunately, Lazlo is slain before we get to know him (a common fate on The Witcher, it seems), and Cirilla falls off the horse. However, rather than being captured by Cahir (Eamon Farren), she saves herself with her roaring scream. In the process, a literal chasm opens between her and Cahir, leaving her to escape as he stands by helplessly like a befuddled miscreant. The question is, how will her life intertwine with Geralt’s and how many beasts will he slay along the way?

What are your thoughts on The Witcher premiere? Let us know in the comments!