On paper, Liam Hemsworth has a thankless task ahead of him. He’s all set to replace Henry Cavill as Geralt, a pitch-perfect portrayal that is universally beloved by both critics and fans alike.
Mercifully, the Netflix series has made his job that much easier with The Witcher season 3, volume 2.
While we don’t yet know what the youngest Hemsworth’s approach to playing Geralt will look like, everything around him has improved – setting the stage for the best season yet.
Why? The Witcher is now a far more simple, straightforward series. Gone are the days of convoluted timelines (seriously, what was that first season trying to achieve?) and several warring factions crisscrossing The Continent.
Spoilers for The Witcher season 3 follow. You have been warned!
The last few episodes alone have removed Rience, Tissaia, Codringher and Fenn, Filavandrel, and Vizimir. In one fell swoop, the cast has been streamlined. Simply put: There are fewer characters, less politics to worry about, and finally an endgame in sight with The Wild Hunt.
Baptism of Fire
The Witcher season 3 was in danger of moving too far away from Geralt’s story. Now, it’s able to get back on track by narrowing down the number of parties concerned in Ciri – and greatly reducing the potential for interminable plotlines with the likes of the elves or Nilfgaard.
The show’s writers always seemed far more concerned than the viewers with the political powderkeg of The Continent. The Witcher, as it always should do, can now focus on The White Wolf – and Liam Hemsworth.
It helps, too, that The Witcher appeared to quietly ease Henry Cavill off the show during the third season. Geralt being sidelined after a brutal battle with Vilgefortz at least gives a thematic reason for Hemsworth to appear as a spry new monster hunter next season without getting into the weeds of multiverses or addressing the change through other means.
While it may take some time for the new Geralt actor to bed in and find chemistry with the likes of Anya Chalotra’s Yennefer or Joey Batey’s Jaskier, it’ll just be refreshing to see Geralt do something that isn’t moping about in the proximity of peace talks or recovering in a forest.
On that basis alone, The Witcher will be injected with a kinetic energy that’s been missing throughout the show’s run so far. If we’re being honest, it’s been going through the motions since Kaer Morhen.
Away from the Geralt of it all, The Witcher has finally propped Ciri up as a fully-fledged main character. While I personally didn’t enjoy the Lion Cub of Cintra’s trek through the desert in the third season, it at least unlocked the chance for Freya Allan – who has excelled in the brief chances she’s been given – to truly shine in the role. The Witcher will be a better show with three (including Yennefer) fleshed-out leads instead of Geralt feeling like second fiddle in his own story.
The likely next source material, Andrzej Sapkowski’s third novel, Baptism of Fire, is also perfect fodder for a stellar Witcher season. Not to get into too many plot-heavy details here, but Ciri heading off with The Rats – the gang of Artful Dodger types introduced in the season 3 finale – and Geralt joining up with a fresh band of travelers will bring out new sides to their characters, ones that will surely stop them becoming even more two-dimensional. For Hemsworth, too, he can neatly sidestep any accusation of being a Cavill copycat with the meatier material.
The personal, more intimate journeys of the pair should also allow more character-driven work to thrive. In truth, the beasts and bruisers of The Continent have often failed to consistently impress in recent seasons. A real sustained look at what makes everyone tick in a slower, more measured season is long overdue. It’s the perfect time to reinvent the series anyway, so let’s go all-out in making it stand out and feel different enough from what’s come before.
Is The Witcher season 4 going to be perfect? Probably not. It’s got an uphill climb ahead of it on the Geralt recasting alone. But the show has undeniably learned its lessons. Most of the suffocating politics has been cast aside, Ciri’s story now has more drive and purpose, and everything just feels that much easier to follow. If the new Geralt can find his feet – and his sword – quickly, we could be on to a Witcher winner.
The Witcher season 3 is now on Netflix. For more from the streamer, check out the best Netflix shows and best Netflix movies you should be watching right now. And, for more on the show, check out the rest of our coverage:
- The Witcher season 3 volume 1 review
- Our ode to Henry Cavill’s perfect Geralt of Rivia
- The Witcher season 3 cast break down volume 2’s big death
- The Witcher season 3 cast on the show’s most brutal episode yet
- Freya Allan talks Ciri’s The Witcher season 3 ending
- Why is Henry Cavill leaving The Witcher?
- Henry Cavill helped choreograph The Witcher’s best fight scene
- Why The Witcher needs to embrace soap opera with its Geralt recasting