Here’s part 2 in “if you’re looking for stuff to do while being responsible and safe at home,” and while this one is obviously less new I can certainly recommend it still! Stay well, stay home, *stay home*, if you can stay home and you aren’t doing that I am upset with you.
Yep, you guessed it, I finally watched The Witcher a month or so ago and if you yelled at me to watch it and kept yelling I owe you an apology if I ever snapped at you because it is great, you’re great, and I am sorry to my bone marrow that I didn’t listen immediately. You were right it was marvelous. Andrew watched it almost as soon as it came out, and then rewatched it with me.
The big question gets answered here: nope, I haven’t read the books. (It’s not the big question, you don’t care, I’m just incredibly conceited.) For once in my life, I consumed a piece of media before having read the source material. It went against every smug cell in my body to not buy all of them at once and devour each so that I could act superior to everyone else. This was healthy for me, it really was. Personal growth. I’m better for it.
…she says to herself every night, while anxious, trying to tamp down the voices that say stuff like “can you really analyze something if you haven’t consumed every facet of its being”
I’m fine guys, really
And I loved this show. I loved it so much. I loved the silly names, I loved the White Cliffs of Dover that is Henry Cavill’s hair and being, I even loved “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” that song that everyone has stuck in their head. My dog has even gotten a version of the song because my interests are exclusively goofy fantasy shit and Bailey. (I lied; I also care deeply about the Fast and Furious 9 trailer we received that will now have to sustain me till 2021. #JusticeForHan)
The song in its entirety is below
*toss a treat to your Bailey, yes she is a doggie, she’s just the best doggie*
So remember how for Thrones eps I used to split things into stuff I liked and stuff I didn’t and I was polarizing as hell and emotional? Not really the case, here! There was some stuff I could have done without, and that’s all the stuff that made the show TV-MA. I don’t particularly love that one sword sliceyyy boi move that every show seems to have where you’re facing the person and you do a throat cutting move and there is an arc of blood and the person drops and then the hero person staggers away gasping for breath like that balletic weirdo move was all they had energy for and then looks around and there are no other enemy soldiers close by? You know what I’m talking about, don’t lie. I’d like less of that. Save some money on the blood budget and let people get sliccey’d less dramatically.
And this is me repeating myself, but I’ve never found a show enhanced by the nudity of the actors or a particularly detailed sex scene. Props to this show for not putting any plot points directly behind a butt or anything, and I know I’m a prude, but my brain is always kinda like “oh no way people wanna bang Henry Cavill? no way that’s absolutely shocking to me” and I ruin things for them. The world’s collective thirst for Charles Superman Brandon is not going to be tamed by his having unusual hair and eyes, and to make his appeal any kind of plot point is absurd. The show did not do this a lot, thank you show, but it did do it a little, and just… sigh.
Oh, I can also ruin most romance/sex scenes by thinking too hard about the details! For example, if people sleep in the same bed and then wake up and make out I want to die so hard oh my God you have medieval morning breath and no amount of Being Henry Cavill is sufficient to get past that go brush your teeth. Toss some Crest to your Witcher. I’m a delight at parties you should invite me.
Otherwise? Show’s good, guys. Watch the show. Toss a coin to your Netflix.
Some stuff I particularly liked:
No weird or stilted exposition
You meet these people and they just dive right the heck in to whatever stuff they were doing without pulling some “as you recall, it’s been 78 years since our queen, Aloysiaseus, was killed by the BeastMan, and an unstable regency rose from the ashes, and due to internal squabbling and assassinations the true power lives with the High Priest Marcellinavan who requires a sacrifice of ten thousand egarons or your firstborn child as a tax every ten years and the last tax was nine years and eleven months ago”
“indeed I do recall, how’s your horse feeling”
“she’s feeling much better thank you for asking”
Basically none of that! I love it! You might very well get a bit lost at the beginning and especially when they are throwing around proper nouns but I put on subtitles (again, here’s my requisite subtitles plug for everything always) and that helped a lot: I wasn’t thinking they said something I should know when they are just referring to something the audience hasn’t seen yet. There are unusual place and people names, but it’s never really thrown around as “nyah nyah nyah we know something you don’t know” it’s just “hey we’re going to [place name]” and then they go there. The one exception is referencing “the spheres,” but every fantasy story gets a pass for having some kind of event that was a while ago. It’s worked in fine, though, and you can tell it’s just “oh wow long time ago cool” and you can move on.
Realistic reactions to stuff
Geralt responding to things going badly with “…fuck” is amazing and should be in every fantasy show and movie forever. Yes, the ones for kids, too. They need to learn. I’m kidding. Maybe.
I’m not kidding
There is no character, especially a hero/protagonist, more real to me than one who can admit to themselves and the camera that boy, howdy, are we in the shit. I will never not love a Return of the King “for Frodo” moment and I will cry the whole time and love it and rewatch it unto forever, but for the every day plot moments, let me hear my characters note the garbage situation in which they are standing.
It’s mostly Geralt who does this, but the other characters also have a pretty good read on the pulse of things. And when they are being dramatic? They know it. “for Frodo!” does not require that the characters know they are being watched. In The Witcher, a character called Calanthe walks into a banquet still in her armor from a battle, with blood in her hair and dirt on her face. She knows she’s being extra af and it’s on purpose. It’s not the directors or writers trying to say “look how badass and dramatic she is,” it’s her trying to tell the room “shut up, fives, a ten is walking” and it kinda rules. Her smirk during the scene is A++++.
And in that vein
Actual humor and laughter and joy?
I think I’ve been absolutely bludgeoned into pessimism and doubt due to Game of Thrones but any time someone did a nice thing for another person on this show, I was like NO DON’T YOU WILL PAY FOR THAT LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF YOU’LL DIE AT A WEDDING etc etc and yeah sure some people do not make it but the show lets characters (including Geralt! especially Geralt!) do nice things to help when they very could do no things and not help and those characters get to live. They are not Ned Stark chumps for being honest and kind.
One of the important characters gets taken care of by a stranger near the end of the season, and I kept looking at my spouse and asking “what is she gonna do to her oh God or is the nice lady in trouble no does the nice lady die” and he very kindly and calmly said that they are both fine, because not everyone dies for no reason, you Thrones weirdo. (Not that last part.)
There are jokes, and not Bronn bullshit, like actual funny scenes and lines and plot points and it’s great. There’s mud and death and pain and fire and betrayal and cruelty and blood, but it’s also a place you could conceivably be a good person and not die immediately. And Jaskier is a joy at all times. He sings the song. The song is fun and good and so is he.
This is a tough one to do without spoilers, but it’s also not like a show-ruiner if I say it, but I do want to give it praise, bleh, here, short thing
Really flippin’ cool stuff with timelines
Usually I am not a fan of flashbacks or things that trick the viewer. As always, I do not like it when art thinks it is smarter than me; it is probably true, but I don’t wanna hear it. But how they do it in this show, which is both of those things and neither of those things, is just good and cool and they let you in on the secrets steadily, at the right time, and without a sense of “a HA! we got you! we are so TRICKSY and CLEVER” because when people do that I just wanna scream directly into their eyes because of course you can trick us, you are making the damn show, you inherently know more things, that isn’t impressive at all, you twerps, no I’m not coughing Benioff and Weiss why do you ask
Just trust me, it’s pretty fly for a timeline, hang in there.
Oh and this is a big one:
Women done well
I really should change that subtitle, it makes them sound like steaks. They are not steaks.
They are great, though. You know that stereotype of “complex female character” that a lot of writers seem to think means “ice-cold killer with a revenge motivation?” It actually happens here. There are so many women in this show, everywhere, who are a mix of good and evil, just like real people are. They are motivated by real things, they are responding to cruelty and hurt in the way that people do, and every one of them who is on-screen for more than like a minute feels fully thought out.
And yeah, the bar is on the floor, in a basement, but there are no rape scenes, so it’s got that going for it. Hooray? Anyway, specific ladies.
Ciri, the blonde in all the promo stuff, is a mystery to us still, but she’s so interesting and smart and not smart and young but also acts old and she keeps it together during bad stuff but also doesn’t?? It’s great? I love her? I’m psyched for season 2 because we will get to see more of her doin’ stuff. She’s in some of those scenes with Calanthe, who I mentioned above, and just… dammit, I don’t wanna do spoilers. See me after class; class is Season 1.
There’s also the requisite “evil” witch, who is only kind of evil, and gets a back story, but also gets to be interesting in a non-*manic cackling* way. She also orchestrates the coolest magic battle I’ve ever seen on TV in the last episode, it just rules. We also have our teacher character to young women who is evil but not evil and cares but not always in the right way and she’s a mother to her students but also a bully and she’s proud of them and scared of them and just AHHHH. It’s a lot, I am a mess.
And then we have Yennefer, who is apparently somewhat polarizing among people who have watched the show, and I don’t get that at all, she is my queen and she can have my sword and my bow and my axe and my undying love. The show lets her be so interesting I could write a ten-thousand word post on the first three episodes. Yen goes through Some Shit, and then she also causes Some Shit, and her causes are sometimes for the good of others and sometimes for her own good and sometimes not even for her own good it’s just because she wants the option, and she’s selfish and giving and ashamed and confident and powerful and weak and admired and hated and just *makes fist* this is IT, kids. She’s great, I love her, she’s a messy mess who could also rule the world, watch the show so I can yell about it with you.
ANYWAY, TEAM, that’s all I got. Go watch it if you haven’t. This rec is obviously a little bit less of an insider’s tip for stuff to do while self-isolating, but I had most of a post drafted about this show and needed a reason to post it, so here we are. Be good to each other.