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The Witcher on Netflix 2: Man of steel and silver

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1 hour ago, akh said:

The worst part is the dialogue

This. The script is terrible. Fucking dreadful.

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I've watched a few of the episodes and my verdict is that its a very mixed bag, with some decent aspects and some much less so. 

Not a 'terrible' show, certainly not a 'great show' either - just passable for me, with something "lacking" compared to a few of the other modern fantasy re-makes/adaptions I've watched so far this year (i.e. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and His Dark Materials which I thought were both , overall, brilliant forays into the fantasy TV bidding wars). The dialogue, in particular, was often a bit sub-par imho. 

Cavil actually handled the lead role very well - as the emotionally stunted monster-hunter with flashes of nobility and chivalry - and he certainly looked the part, he has quite the physicality and charisma on screen. The actresses playing Ciri and Yennefer I thought were great as well. So the casting was strong. 

And contrary to some overly critical professional reviews, I didn't find it 'boring' in the least - it was visually interesting (even if some of the CGI didn't look realistic) and there was a lot I found "fun" about the show (i.e. well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat).

But the timeline shifts didn't work for me - I thought the narrative structure was all over the place. It didn't give me the time or ability, frankly, to properly invest myself in the plot. 

I have never read the books or played the games, so the names and events alluded to were often confusing for me. Like, the stuff in episode one with the sorcerer (Stregobar?) mentioning past lore about something called "lilith" and cursed girls...I didn't have a clue what all that was about tbh.  

The Renfri character - absolutely no idea what all the backstory brought up in her regard was about. A princess that turned evil and sadistic? That was all I really got, along with her brief love affair and then fight scene with Geralt. 

I was especially disappointed that no wider context was provided for the invasion of Cintra by Nilfgaard, even though they did the 'worldbuilding' work for other more obscure elements of the lore (as with the aforementioned 'cursed girls' thing). This entire series of events seemed to transpire much too quickly for me to have any emotional connection with the inhabitants of the besieged city.  The feast scene involving the Queen, her husband and Ciri was too expositionary in my opinion. It literally amounted to (if I may paraphrase from memory of the sequence): 

 

Royal husband: "What if the Nilfgaardians invade?"

Queen Calanthe: "Nilfgaard isn't going to invade"

Ciri: "I want to know about Nilfgaard!"

Queen Calanthe: "It doesn't matter child" 

Messenger arrives 

Queen Calanthe: "Oh, I was terribly wrong. We're all screwed - the Nilfgaardians are going to invade after all".

 

....Couldn't that sequence of events have been handled in a better way dialogue-wise and for dramatic tension, with greater emotional depth and subtlety? 

There is the kernel of a compelling and gripping epic tale in The Witcher - but the confusing presentation, timeshifts, expositionary dialogue and underdeveloped backstory (in places, with far too much over-development of lore thrown at the viewer in other regards), along with some very dodgy CGI, just didn't work as well for me as I'd been hoping from the trailers. 

That's my honest take on it.

Edited by Krishtotter

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Watched some of this after the Annual Christmas Met Museum crawl.

Wot da hell?

What a mess this is!

Is that woman Geralt kills in the first episode the same character as Ciri?  According to what other people have said Renfri is a recurring character in the book series, but Renfri's only in the first episode?  Which takes place long after the rest of the episodes we see later? This is made worse by the audio mix in which whole lines turn to mush (or maybe it's only my system?).

And lordessa are the blank flatness of CGI dependent works boring.  (Also very tired of drone, above it all, shots by now, but nevermind.)  They look like formulaic theater stage sets filmed in the 1950's.)

I've never read the books etc., and I have no idea what is supposed to be going on, as with the scene of sorcerous accension.  Why are they now eels, and what are they doing? Why isn't Yennefer one of them?

It seemed to me like this at the time of the Jackson LOTR films -- if one didn't know the books very well there had to be long sequences that made no sense at all -- not to mention the stupid changes he made, like having Frodo side with Gollum against Sam, which was exactly antithetical to their relationship and Gollum's response to it -- that actually heartrending scene when the deformed hobbit sees the tenderness of Sam and Frodo together, sleeping -- and what did he do to the only friend he had?

Gads I hate that bard.  Was it Helena who said this was Xena with a bigger budget?  She's right, especially with the retelling of all these fairy tales, myths, folk lore etc.  Except that Xena did more with less -- and it wasn't male gazed like this is.  Why in the world did Yennefer's breasts have to be exposed during the entire operation that was to make her beautiful?  That was all so weird and creepy, but the whole thing pretty much is.

I do, however, very much like Henry Cavill's Geralt. Without him anchoring the series I wouldn't continue watching.  I also really like MyAnna Buring's Tissaia -- Buring played Susan in The Ripper, another of her characters that appealed greatly to this viewer.  O, and Roach.  Want. More. Roach. 

The winter scenes, and the sense of gloom, doom and heaviness -- and deep, old mystery -- one gets from scenes that have castles in them I also appreciate.

But it is, again, a true mess. So much of the mess, one senses, comes from the showrunners's messes in GOT, and though less so, still they were present in The Watchmen, depending on the watchers already knowing the material.  It's not a good move to depend on that, if quality and a larger audience is what one is shooting for.

People who don't know the previous incarnations handicapped that way quickly lose interest, or their mild interest doesn't bring them back for another season.

That is why franchises are ultimately kill present and future creative work.  That ort of dependence ultimately stifles the creative, original sizzle and spark that brings us to the work and returns us to it, to watch or re-read over and over, as with LOTR. 

That's how I see it, anyway.  Not everybody does, certainly not the industry factory!  Capitalism -- present profit and let the future worry about itself, as we devour our own tail and all our young.

 

Edited by Zorral

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2 hours ago, Krishtotter said:

 

The Renfri character - absolutely no idea what all the backstory brought up in her regard was about. A princess that turned evil and sadistic? That was all I really got, along with her brief love affair and then fight scene with Geralt. 

 

A book spoiler about this specific story if you're interested...

Spoiler

You should see about picking up the short story collections. The story of Renfri really felt...gutted and hollowed in the show. In the short story, she is hunted by an evil queen/stepmother who used a magical mirror that told her Renfri was trouble. So Renfri hits the road, is hunted by a Woodsman (I think), and soon starts a band of outlaws who "terrorize" the land. Oh, her band of outlaws? Dwarves. Stregobor is hired by the queen, and whether or not he's telling the truth about her cruelty and mutation is kind of up in the air. The story is really a lot more complex and the ending when the town turns on Geralt is much more powerful. This was a small town that actually liked Geralt. If he had a friend in the world, it was the local alderman, who Geralt had buddied around with a bit in the story, that tells Geralt to leave and never come back. The story is called the Lesser Evil if you can find it. I highly recommend it.

Now obviously, a lot is lacking in the show's version. The weight of Geralt's decision to fight and kill Renfri. The idea that he can't ever truly remain neutral. Oh, what else? Right. This is Snow White. Sapkowski's first book was short stories, and many of those stories were classic fairy tales told in new ways.

So they cut all that. I don't know. I kind of think had they followed the book stories and waited to introduce Yennefer later in the first season (for only one episode) then worked Yen and Ciri in during the second season, it would make much more sense and allow them to fully explore these stories.

Though it'd be very much a monster of the week type story.

 

Edited by Simon Steele

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45 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Watched some of this after the Annual Christmas Met Museum crawl.

Wot da hell?

What a mess this is!

Is that woman Geralt kills in the first episode the same character as Ciri?  According to what other people have said Renfri is a recurring character in the book series, but Renfri's only in the first episode?  Which takes place long after the rest of the episodes we see later? This is made worse by the audio mix in which whole lines turn to mush (or maybe it's only my system?).

I kind of wondered if non-book readers would think that. The way Renfri started talking about fate and the girl in the woods, or whatever. It was super confusing, even to me, who has read the books! She is not Ciri. 

Spoiler

Renfri's not a recurring character

, but it seems like this episode gutted a lot of why she's such an important encounter. I spoiler tagged a bit about that in my previous post to another poster. 

And lordessa are the blank flatness of CGI dependent works boring.  (Also very tired of drone, above it all, shots by now, but nevermind.)  They look like formulaic theater stage sets filmed in the 1950's.)

I've never read the books etc., and I have no idea what is supposed to be going on, as with the scene of sorcerous accension.  Why are they now eels, and what are they doing? Why isn't Yennifer one of them?

This is purely TV show invention. We never see Yennifer go through this in the books. She hints and talks about some of it, but most of this is...I don't know...it'd be like if Peter Jackson thought it'd be cool for us to see Frodo's life and times a few years before Bilbo leaves.

It seemed to me like this at the time of the Jackson LOTR films -- if one didn't know the books very well there had to be long sequences that made no sense at all -- not to mention the stupid changes he made, like having Frodo side with Gollum against Sam, which was exactly antithetical to their relationship and Gollum's response to it -- that actually heartrending scene when the deformed hobbit sees the tenderness of Sam and Frodo together, sleeping -- and what did he do to the only friend he had?

I think one problem is that the Witcher books are super cryptic and hard to follow anyway. Sapkowski never made a map, and time jumped around in the books (much like the show) with no clear indicator. I remember in one book, there was a final scene between two characters. In the next book, the first scene with these characters happens before the scene in the last book, and you only realize this when a third character shows up and says, "Hey, let's head to that place (where you have that big scene from the last book that hasn't happened yet)." I know this is vague, I'm trying not to be spoiler-y, but Sapkowski's writing is super cryptic. In the last book of the series, I figured out that the antagonist was a fun character from earlier in the series. I had no friggin' clue. I figured it out because someone here, in the book thread, mentioned it. I was like...wut?

Gads I hate that bard.  Was it Helena who said this was Xena with a bigger budget?  She's right, especially with the retelling of all these fairy tales, myths, folk lore etc.  Except that Xena did more with less -- and it wasn't male gazed like this is.  Why in the world did Yennefer's breasts have to be exposed during the entire operation that was to make her beautiful?  That was all so weird and creepy, but the whole thing pretty much is.

I'd say Dandilion is equally difficult to like in the book, but then, one day, he just clicks and you love him.

The breast stuff seemed too reminiscent of Game of Thrones.

I do, however, very much like Cavill's Geralt. Without him anchoring the series I wouldn't continue watching.  I also really like MyAnna Buring's Tissaia -- Buring played Susan in The Ripper, another of her characters that appealed greatly to this viewer.  O, and Roach.  Want. More. Roach. 

Agreed 100 hundred percent. Cavill is shouldering this show quite well, and he's the reason I like it. (I'm only three eps in at the moment). Also, Tissaia is excellent. I love Triss, too, by the way, who is a character game fans love. I think she is well cast, and I like her actor.

The winter scenes, and the sense of gloom, doom and heaviness -- and deep, old mystery -- one gets from scenes that have castles in them I also appreciate.

But it is, again, a true mess. So much of the mess, one senses, comes from the showrunners's messes in GOT, and though less so, still they were present in The Watchmen, depending on the watchers already knowing the material.  It's not a good move to depend on that, if quality and a larger audience is what one is shooting for.

People who don't know the previous incarnations handicapped that way quickly lose interest, or their mild interest doesn't bring them back for another season.

That is why franchises are ultimately kill present and future creative work.  That ort of dependence ultimately stifles the creative, original sizzle and spark that brings us to the work and returns us to it, to watch or re-read over and over, as with LOTR. 

That's how I see it, anyway.  Not everybody does, certainly not the industry factory!  Capitalism -- present profit and let the future worry about itself, as we devour our own tail and all our young.

I do think they messed up quite badly by adding Ciri and Yenn in from the get go. Had they followed the books, we could have gotten to understand the world and its layout as Geralt adventures around.

 

Edited by Simon Steele

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10 minutes ago, Simon Steele said:

 

Thank you so much! 

Spoiler

for making clear that Renfri is a one-off character -- there was so much discussion here about her casting, I assumed she was more important than she is.

I did get a kick out of the fairy tale "Princess and the Frog"

Spoiler

with the frog being a hedgehog. I figured that one out immediately.  There was nothing in in the Renfri episode that suggested Snow White though.  Then the brooch in her stepmother's ear confused me because we see this significant brooch in Geralt's hand, and then this brooch on Ciri's cloak. Argh!

However, since the showrunners had all the content already, they should have made a much more straight forward timeline, instead of starting with the end of something, whatever that something is.  Instead they made a mess that really did not need to be. Because of how they began

Spoiler

I got more and more frustrated as in the following episodes get the recurring pin and the other women recur and the destiny references recur.

 

Edited by Zorral

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This disjointed bouncing between stories years apart isn't doing anything to help me care about any of these characters and that was hard enough with the script and seriously I know this has been done to death but how on Earth did those Nilfgaard costumes get the green light. 

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1 hour ago, Zorral said:

Gads I hate that bard.  Was it Helena who said this was Xena with a bigger budget?  She's right, especially with the retelling of all these fairy tales, myths, folk lore etc.  Except that Xena did more with less -- and it wasn't male gazed like this is.  Why in the world did Yennefer's breasts have to be exposed during the entire operation that was to make her beautiful?  That was all so weird and creepy, but the whole thing pretty much is.

 

I made the Xena comment. It completely clicked for me in the episode with  ...

Spoiler

 

... the djinn. Geralt and the bard randomly meet after doing their own separate things. The bard is seriously injured, but the answer is actually fairly simple and he was never really in danger. Yennefer had a pretty cohesive storyline til now, but this is where she felt plopped into the Geralt adventure of the week. The joke at the end was Geralt wanting sleep and that felt VERY much like the ending of a short story. The next episode is the dragon one and that cements Yennefer as a Geralt side-kick. Geralt maybe loves Yennefer now? I never bought that the traveler (dragon) died when he fell - that screamed twist. Oh, and the hedgehog knight was (although plot relevant) super cringy monster of the week quota.

And you pick the operation to complain about the male gaze? I don't mind random nudity, especially if the story tries to justify it even a little. The operation I can totally buy, especially since it involved a hysterectomy (but I would have bought it even without that). I was rolling my eyes at the illusion of naked women in the wizard's tower and the orgy at the mayor's. Those were plot relevant how?

 

Below is sort of spoilery, but not specific.

Anyway, I don't think it's a mess, but I do think it's messy. I'm not really invested in these characters. Geralt is Geralt and he does a good job of carrying the thing even with the limitations of his personality. Ciri is a damsel in distress and I can only watch her run from danger to danger so many times. What was the point of the elf boy? I'm guessing he comes back into it at some point, but right now he's pointless. Yennefer went from being interesting to a side-kick to sort of interesting again? I don't know - I wasn't completely sure of the stakes at the end or why it mattered other than people were fighting because that's what people do. I thought she was inconsistent and I don't really get her. Am I supposed to like her, cause I kind of don't. She willingly gave up what she is lamenting the loss of now so 'they took it' is willful blindness on her part. I might feel more sorry for her if she had time to show me why she regrets that decision now. Yeah, the show technically spells it out, but it was just exposition and I didn't feel it.

And how did Yennefer's first lesson of magic not show up again except for a little bit at the end with a random sorceress? Yennefer and Frangelica were doing a whole hell of a lot more with no downside.

It' was ok, and I'd probably watch the second season, but it seems pretty shallow right now. That's fine, but I didn't know what to expect and it took me a while to place the tone they were going for and it still feels inconsistent. Do they want to be Xena, or do they want it to be a more cohesive drama? I'm not sure I know and I'm not sure they know.

Edited by Gertrude

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Its a mixed bag for me. Up and down. The dialogue is all over the place in quality. Same with the CGI and fight scenes. 

Hopefully season 2, if there is one, is better. 

Henry Cavill is solid though as are the actresses the playing Ciri and Yen. 


I felt somethings were too rushed and it was jumping all over the place story wise which really made it jarring and hard to really get into everything. It still was entertaining, but I was hoping for more.
 

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1 hour ago, Gertrude said:

I made the Xena comment. It completely clicked for me in the episode with  ...

  Reveal hidden contents

 

... the djinn. Geralt and the bard randomly meet after doing their own separate things. The bard is seriously injured, but the answer is actually fairly simple and he was never really in danger. Yennefer had a pretty cohesive storyline til now, but this is where she felt plopped into the Geralt adventure of the week. The joke at the end was Geralt wanting sleep and that felt VERY much like the ending of a short story. The next episode is the dragon one and that cements Yennefer as a Geralt side-kick. Geralt maybe loves Yennefer now? I never bought that the traveler (dragon) died when he fell - that screamed twist. Oh, and the hedgehog knight was (although plot relevant) super cringy monster of the week quota.

And you pick the operation to complain about the male gaze? I don't mind random nudity, especially if the story tries to justify it even a little. The operation I can totally buy, especially since it involved a hysterectomy (but I would have bought it even without that). I was rolling my eyes at the illusion of naked women in the wizard's tower and the orgy at the mayor's. Those were plot relevant how?

 

Below is sort of spoilery, but not specific.

Anyway, I don't think it's a mess, but I do think it's messy. I'm not really invested in these characters. Geralt is Geralt and he does a good job of carrying the thing even with the limitations of his personality. Ciri is a damsel in distress and I can only watch her run from danger to danger so many times. What was the point of the elf boy? I'm guessing he comes back into it at some point, but right now he's pointless. Yennefer went from being interesting to a side-kick to sort of interesting again? I don't know - I wasn't completely sure of the stakes at the end or why it mattered other than people were fighting because that's what people do. I thought she was inconsistent and I don't really get her. Am I supposed to like her, cause I kind of don't. She willingly gave up what she is lamenting the loss of now so 'they took it' is willful blindness on her part. I might feel more sorry for her if she had time to show me why she regrets that decision now. Yeah, the show technically spells it out, but it was just exposition and I didn't feel it.

And how did Yennefer's first lesson of magic not show up again except for a little bit at the end with a random sorceress? Yennefer and Frangelica were doing a whole hell of a lot more with no downside.

It' was ok, and I'd probably watch the second season, but it seems pretty shallow right now. That's fine, but I didn't know what to expect and it took me a while to place the tone they were going for and it still feels inconsistent. Do they want to be Xena, or do they want it to be a more cohesive drama? I'm not sure I know and I'm not sure they know.

Your question about Yen and Geralt and their relationship is answered unclearly (in the books too), but becomes more clear over time. I anticipate the show will reveal why, but if you're curious...(this is based on the story in the book)

Spoiler

why Geralt loves Yen is tied to the wish Geralt made.

 

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Watched episode one.

The acting is frequently bad, the writing is frequently awkward with the quality changing scene-to-scene, the directing feels stiff and bland, and the whole thing is disjointed and, at times, hard to follow. Not really sure if the next episodes will improve it much. The battle scene was hilariously awful. 

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3 hours ago, Zorral said:

I've never read the books etc., and I have no idea what is supposed to be going on, as with the scene of sorcerous accension.  Why are they now eels, and what are they doing? Why isn't Yennefer one of them?

That's not from the books, that's the showrunner's original invention. However, to me the situation looked clear enough: the girls-turned-eels aren't doing anything, really. They weren't the successful ones, they were the failures. They will live eel life in the eel pond, with their magic powering Aretuza. Matrix-like.

1 hour ago, Gertrude said:

I was rolling my eyes at the illusion of naked women in the wizard's tower and the orgy at the mayor's. Those were plot relevant how?

The tits in Stregobor's tower have the justification of actually being there in the original material. Stregobor had locked himself in a "first-class illusion" of his liking. The orgy? No idea.

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1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

The tits in Stregobor's tower have the justification of actually being there in the original material. Stregobor had locked himself in a "first-class illusion" of his liking. The orgy? No idea.

Just because it's in the original doesn't make it a good idea. If there was any justification other than BOOBS, then I'd roll with it. It's not like it's lacking plausible opportunities to add nudity. It just gives me Boris Vallejo vibes. (to be specific, that vibe - for me - is technically beautiful, but overly gratuitous. When I was younger and cutting my teeth on fantasy, this type of art was rampant and made me question if it was for me.)

 

Random anecdote: Everytime the name Yennefer or Yen is said it takes me out of it a little. My name is Jennifer and in Polish, the J sounds like a Y, so it's basically just that. I'm sure a Celtic name sounds exotic to a Pole, but I'm not accustomed to that name being used in a fantasy setting. Guenivere, sure, but Yennefer is too close to home.

Edited by Gertrude

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2 hours ago, Simon Steele said:

Your question about Yen and Geralt and their relationship is answered unclearly (in the books too), but becomes more clear over time. I anticipate the show will reveal why, but if you're curious...(this is based on the story in the book)

  Hide contents

why Geralt loves Yen is tied to the wish Geralt made.

 

I've not even seen half the episodes yet ... but the monster of the week and then retelling fairy and folk tales, it also started feel rather "Once Upon A Time"ish or "Grimmish" -- though I think I watched parts of the first two seasons of the first one and got bored, and never looked at Grimm at all.

So I kinda wonder if there's a pay-off to continued watching?  Well, yah, to watch Cavill, I guess, and a couple of other actors.  I guess I really do like Cavill as an actor!

1 hour ago, Ferocious Veldt Roarer said:

That's not from the books, that's the showrunner's original invention. However, to me the situation looked clear enough: the girls-turned-eels aren't doing anything, really. They weren't the successful ones, they were the failures. They will live eel life in the eel pond, with their magic powering Aretuza. Matrix-like.

Huh.  I had gotten the impression these were among those who passed.  It sure wasn't clear.

As for the hysterectomy, um in a real operating theater, her chest would have been covered.  There was NO reason for this. 

I did find the books, whatever, unreadable, due to the prose and what appeared to me, at this point -- probably even when they began to be published, at least in English -- I wouldn't have finished reading them either, because so much of the 'borrowing' from the classics is so overt, as to be cliche, at best stereotype.  In the series, the actors are the ones who are saving it from that, and the actors only -- in my opinion.

Still, if people like it, that's great, because if this works, maybe it will open the way for something more along lines I like.  :)

But ... I'm still making a face at Netflix for not giving us season 3 of Polo, just like HBO not allowing a season 3 of Rome!  While that ... that ... whatever it is called Vikings gets how many gdd seasons?  Life is just wrong sometimes!

 

 

 

Edited by Zorral

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26 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Huh.  I had gotten the impression these were among those who passed.  It sure wasn't clear.

They were told they had passed and were going on to the next step, so they wouldn't cause a fuss about being turned into eels to live out their lives as conduits of magic.

I think the "reason" for her being naked was that after the turning of her uterus into a component of his magic powder, he was going to paint those elder runes or whatever they were over the various areas of her body that required magical correction.

As I understand it, in the books the sorceresses use a mix of both magical plastic surgery and glamour to make themselves look as beautiful as they desire. Geralt studies Yenn at some point and starts to see through the glamour, realizing her nose is a bit long and her chin a little receded and other minor aesthetic defects.

Edited by Ran

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31 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

Just because it's in the original doesn't make it a good idea. If there was any justification other than BOOBS, then I'd roll with it. It's not like it's lacking plausible opportunities to add nudity. It just gives me Boris Vallejo vibes. (to be specific, that vibe - for me - is technically beautiful, but overly gratuitous. When I was younger and cutting my teeth on fantasy, this type of art was rampant and made me question if it was for me.)

It should serve as part of Stregobor's characterization (dude literally locks himself in a tower painted with his idea of a perfect world), but if it didn't work, then it didn't work. Maybe it would with some additional dialogue, a wise-ass comment from Geralt perhaps? 

Just as they could have dedicated half a dozen additional lines to flesh out the conflict between Stregobor and Renfri (in the books, Geralt had a very good reason for slaughtering Renfri's men - in the show, it doesn't appear that way).

31 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

Random anecdote: Everytime the name Yennefer or Yen is said it takes me out of it a little. My name is Jennifer and in Polish, the J sounds like a Y, so it's basically just that. I'm sure a Celtic name sounds exotic to a Pole, but I'm not accustomed to that name being used in a fantasy setting. Guenivere, sure, but Yennefer is too close to home.

English isn't my first language, but I imagine Jennifer with a Y is more or less on par with Gerald with a T. :)

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17 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Huh.  I had gotten the impression these were among those who passed.  It sure wasn't clear.

The line "Sometimes the best thing a flower can do for us is die" really does sound as an epitaph for the loser.

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I've just finished episode 6, and really, what it is coming down to for me is that season is mostly a prologue. It's not as good as I was hoping for, but I am for sure enjoying it.

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