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The Witcher season 3 review: Henry Cavill bows out with a whimper

By Hoots the Owl - 7 Aug 2023

The Witcher season 3 review: Henry Cavill bows out with a whimper

Bidding goodbye to Henry Cavill. (Image Source: Netflix)

The Witcher season 3 was supposed to be a grand final act for Henry Cavill. Instead, it felt a bit like a meandering lark in a bog. Its mid-season break, which saw the second half of the season release later, only served to make things feel even more anti-climatic. After a first five episodes packed with intrigue and political scheming, the second volume promised an epic finale with a showdown with the season's big bad.

While we did get a generous dose of action and literal fire, brimstone, and exploding flesh, the plot ultimately feels clunky. The monster-of-the-week action that made the first season so good has long since been subsumed by opaque maneuverings and an ever-expanding cast meant to further flesh out the world of the Continent. Geralt is a witcher that has woefully little to hunt in the way of monsters in season 3 — as the show careens between different factions, not all of whom are equally interesting.

The break only served to highlight the odd disjoint between the two halves of the season. We did get the big villain reveal, but the run-up to that revelation feels a little flat. There is a hapless red herring dripping in bright crimson paint, and when the truth finally comes out, it never feels truly shocking. And even after being unmasked, his true motivations lack nuance — almost as if he is engaging in villainy for villainy's sake. 

The enigmatic Yennefer gets to try her hand at playing detective this season. (Image Source: Netflix)

Similarly, Cahir's sudden switch in allegiance feels incredibly abrupt. After Fringilla tells him that "it's amazing what you can do when you think of yourself" — right in the middle of the battle at Aretuza — he appears to experience a sudden awakening that sends him straight after Ciri in search of redemption. 

I have never read Andrzej Sapkowski's novels, so questions about the handling of the source material have never bothered me. But what I remember, after the conclusion of the third season, is the amount of waffling that happens in the last two episodes.

After being soundly defeated in one-on-one combat, Geralt is sent to Brokilon for healing, which ends up doing absolutely nothing. He spends way too many scenes just lying in bed in the wood, worrying about Ciri, while Yennefer hangs around with the mages doing nothing in particular. Yennefer later shows up in Brokilon and heals him right away — which only makes things even more puzzling. Why didn't she do that right at the start? Why didn't Triss?

Political machinations abound in season 3. (Image Source: Netflix)

Ciri also spends an entire episode wandering in the desert, snacking on poisonous lizards and following a unicorn over the dunes. The show appears to be setting her up for a new and more independent arc in season 4, where she strikes out on her own without Geralt and Yennefer.

The final scenes reunite us with Geralt, who after slipping past the Nilfgaardian border patrol with a bribe, decides to slaughter the entire encampment after witnessing their treatment of a helpless family. Henry Cavill's turn in The Witcher comes to a close after an admittedly impressive display of swordsmanship, although the incident itself appears to have little import on the overall plot.

Nevertheless, Cavill imposing presence has remained the heart of the show, and it remains to be seen how The Witcher will fare following his departure.  

The Witcher season 3 is now streaming on Netflix

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