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The Witcher: Evil is Evil


AncalagonTheBlack
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Not loving it...

We finally get the Nivellon story, and he just looks so ridiculous. Hell, Meatloaf in his I'd Do Anything for Love video looks 1000x better. I'd just have preferred they played that video in place of this episode. It would've been more accurate to the original story, and, I don't know, good. Mother fuckers got me wishing for Michael Bay now.

I just hate that these "adaptations" are like, "We can't adapt everything--we only have so many episodes..." as the majority of the content is new shit created by the showrunners. And I mean shhiiiittt

Edited by Centrist Simon Steele
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Finished it.

I liked the show a lot but the second half of the season seemed way too packed. Too much stuff going on with too many different POV's and random locations. That was the feeling I got anyway.

I'm usually indifferent to this idea but it might be a good idea to do a 30 second recap at the start of each show. 

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I really enjoyed this second season; much improved from the first one which was a bit iffy in a few places but still very fun.  
 

The production value has vastly increased and many of the special effects felt more like movie quality I felt. Set pieces and general cinematography was so much better now they seem to have found their feet. 
And even though it was not true to the book I think the story they told worked well and was engaging. 
 

Looking around places like Reddit you’d think the show had pissed in people’s cheerios after stabbing their mother to death the amount of hate circlejerking round there. People who were renting about season one’s dynamic timeline are suddenly praising it having a better plot arc just so they can shit on this new season. A lot of people  who’ve clearly also only played the games whining about things not looking how they wanted it; or book readers expecting a 1:1 adaption. 
I’m glad to see a few familiar faces on here discussing it with much more balanced and thoughtful discourse. 
 

I think it stood out as a story overall and it looked and felt impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. 

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speaking of Ciri’s age it’s my big pet peeve with season 1 that they aged her up, thus making it impossible to do all the funny stuff that she does and says. 

Yennefer still acts too young.

In general I think the show got rid of much of the humour from the books, which is a shame, but season 2 was a big improvement on 1 and I really enjoyed it.

Also I wonder what they’re going to do about all the King Arthur stuff towards the end of the books.

 

Edited by Filippa Eilhart
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- I’m very sorry this is unnecessarily  long and probably full of typos. - 

Last night I thought I’d stop and finish the series today. Turns out there aren’t any more episodes at all, that’s it, that was season two. Boy I have mixed feelings. Some things they did right, other things, I just don’t understand the decision. 

worldbuilding - This was very much like in the books, completely all over the place and very difficult to follow. Fewer cgi snakes and more exposition please. Get a bloody map out and explain. 

Character building - there was a huge improvement in this department, although it sometimes gave off the vibe that the characters were starkly different people from their season 1 selves.
Triss was done justice, she was great. 
Geralt was done justice too, it was a delight to hear him utter full sentence (I don’t know what was the purpose of the fuck-hmm-fuck-hmm dialogue Henry cavill was forced to do in the first season)
Ciri is the right amount of “sassy” in the show and the actress does an absolutely brilliant job of capturing her ambivalence and delivers both sides superbly. Ciri in the show is actually likable, whereas she was an insufferable little git in the books.
Jaskier and Yennefer were… weird. 

Spoiler

With Jaskier I had a feeling that it wasn’t even the writing of the character, it sometimes came off as the actor’s hating his job. All joy and lightness and humor was gone from the character like he was some ptsd emo version of himself. Which is hardly hardly justified by the on or off screen storyline. Very very weird. 
Yennefer was a trainwreck. I really enjoyed her portrayal in the first season because she stood out. She had that authoritative sharpness, that tough love vibe and now she’s an emo mess as well. And at first I thought it was only a Sodden ptsd for a couple episodes, but no, they made her awfully soft, she’s continuously second guessing herself and her intentions which is very uncharacteristic, she comes off as a beginner at what she does, which she certainly isn’t. And I get that some of that confusion comes from losing her power, which is supposed to be her humble pie, but she’s miles away and completely detached from the I want everything baby blood magic rage mage. This shows in her relationship with Ciri and Geralt and Jaskier and it’s weird. She’s a softie emo Yennefer which is less special and less interesting than the season 1 or book portrayal. 


New characters worked more or less well on an average. I really like how they merged many characters into one, the story definitely needed that, because there are way too many new names and faces anyway. I liked most of the casting. Some choices didn’t work at all, but some worked well enough. The general issue I had with the books rang true in season 2 as well, though they did make small efforts to mend it; there are so many people with so little time we don’t explore most of them to the necessary depths. And if we don’t, they just feel like card board stand-ins with a name and a costume. 
 

Spoiler

This happened to Nenneke, who’s a great great casting choice, but she didn’t do anything. Geralt has such thick plot armor his healing took 1 second, Ciri was gone before she could open a book to learn anything , and nobody really needs their attitudes changed as the writers did that for Yennefer and Geralt already.

it also happened to Dijkstra or whatever his name is. What did that person even do? He didn’t even give exposition. He doesn’t look interesting, sinister, clandestine. He’s just there because Dijkstra was a thing in the books/games. and let’s not mention Philippa Eilhart. Or I will, I will get back to it.  

Nivellen was amazing casting and acting and  archetype was we spent too much time on him with little takeaway. 

Francesca is a great merger of several characters and a breath of fresh air because you finally get to take the elves seriously. (Let’s not even talk about Filavandrel) her storyline was a trainwreck, but the character herself is quite promising. 

I really liked that Istredd and Dara were given stuff to do which are also kinda consistent with their characters. So they weren’t just standins that go down the toilet, they are actually recurring characters, which is great. It’s cohesion, efficiency, it’s a better story, less is more. 

I liked Jarre and the Stefan Skellen persona it was a waste of breath to kill them off so soon though. 

Vesemir was the most well built new character, he was great. The casting is okay, though I didn’t particularly love Kim Bodnia in the role. The other Witchers were cardboards. They could have bonded with Ciri but they didn’t and then in the last episode it was made to seem like they did. 

Yarpen and the crew was lovable, and I don’t think they intended anything more than that at this point. Hope to see a bit more of them later because they were the most likable bunch in the books. 

Rience is great as is Lydia. 

 

And then the story. Some changes I really respect and appreciate they made the story so much better than the books. Other changes just didn’t work because the message was contradictory and not nuanced enough. I appreciate that they tried to weave character storylines together because having everybody off on their separate quest, like ten different parallel lines that’ll maybe meet in the far future by which time you forget them is not a sustainable way to tell a story, both the witcher books and asoiaf reaffirmed that conviction of mine. But to write that right would have taken way more time and work than they had put into it. So a lot of it just fell apart, especially on the individual level. 
 

Spoiler

Ciri arrived in Kaer Morhen hoping to belong and find herself. She started training which was great because she wasn’t instantly fantastic, but then this idea was dropped very quickly. Instead of an intentional decision, sheer happenstance landed her in the temple of Melitele, where she spent like two hours on comedy value and learned absolutely nothing. From there an alleged manipulation (or so the show later wants you to believe) but really just sheer happenstance landed her with Yennefer. Who told her to repeat two spells. This is later referred to as “lessons”, which Ciri never had and Yennefer never gave. Yennefer was by character a strict, a systematic, demanding, tough love kind of teacher in the books and formed in insanely strong bond of mutual respect and affection with Ciri. In the show, Ciri met Geralt’s girlfriend who helped her out with two spells an hour later, they rode together for a while without speaking. This somehow still makes for a family bond between her, Yennefer and Geralt that’s strong enough to bring her back from the fake memories of her could-have-been life and strong enough for Yennefer to sacrifice her own life. Not for Geralt, for Ciri. This girl she told two spells and rode with for a day. 

And if we are at Yennefer, she isn’t on a quest to get her power back or find new meaning. She’s thrown around by coincidence and improvising and conflicted feelings and at the end of it, you are expected to believe that this was all a conscious plot dismantled by choosing the morally right path. Somehow her relationship with the Chapter is and the accusations of being a Nilfgaardian spy are in this mix too, but that’s rather quickly abandoned. 

The elf storyline seems entirely unnecessary to me. Like if you erased it from season 2, it would impact absolutely nothing. Which ties into what’s wrong with Fringilla and Cahir’s story. Tell me why in the world Fringilla is in a worse position with Emhyr than Cahir. They both lost at Sodden, lost Ciri and Cahir was even captured so he could have been turned by the enemy. Also Fringilla can do magic. How is she a less valuable asset than Cahir? It makes no sense at all. Her alliance with Francesca and the hut witch also leads nowhere, it’s much ado and wasted screen time for what? More specific motivation for the elves to want to wreak havoc? I suppose it will play into the monsters are made and all evil is evil and self-fulfilling prophecy themes but it does stumble a lot. 

I have no damn idea what Tissaia , the kings or  Dijkstra are trying to do. I didn’t in the books, I don’t  now.

What I really really really liked and appreciated is the sci-fi and detective element. That there’s a puzzle and someone is actually trying to make sense of it. It isn’t just scattered pieces in the world and if it all comes together in your head then good, if not there are still monsters and fighting, so also good.  I don’t know if this Conjunction and monolith business was in the books, maybe, I don’t remember, but if it wasn’t it’s ingenious. If it was, it’s ingeniously told, either way, it’s ingenious because the Witcher world finally makes sense to me. Something finally ties it all into one acceptable and believable sci-fi context and I’m unspeakably grateful for that and forgive a lot in return. 

Generally my largest issue with the story    Is its pathological need for instant gratification. You are a series. You’re in the long game. You don’t have to solve every single problem and mystery right now. Whatever will I come back for next year or after? 
 

Spoiler

Yennefer got her power back.
She’s pretty much made up with Geralt. 
Ciri can do serious magic now and has an airtight support system. 
The deathless mother demon is banished. 
Ciri, Yennefer and Geralt all got back into their own world just fine.
Ciri has Elder Blood and is a prophecised descendent of Lara Dorren. 
The monsters come from the monoliths that lead to other worlds and Ciri opens them.
Ciri’s Emhyr’s daughter (you couldn’t be more subtle if you hit me on the head with a hammer) 
And Emhyr ordered the assassination of Francesca’s baby because why should you wonder about this mystery until next season and feel the frustration with the characters when we can just tell you now? 
Also Lydia doesn’t have a face.
and that spying pet owl is a person!

 

stop it. Please keep me hanging a little. Please give me some tension and mystery. Please let me worry about the characters 

As for the horse 

Spoiler

I didn’t really care and I don’t exactly see the purpose of the scene. This wasn’t a “loss” because it didn’t affect Geralt, and thank goodness it didn’t , because the book makes of point of his having not one but several horses because horses tend to die in fights, all named Roach for practicality. It’s a point in several medieval/fantasy series that people don’t have one faithful beloved horse sidekick through their lives, because that’s only as realistic as a Disney film. 

And the money. I don’t think the extra bucks were spent on the right things, between three more flashy cgi monsters and quality costumes/set design/props, the wiser choice is always the latter. The costumes still look cheap af and an two extra cgi lizards won’t compensate for it. 

Edited by RhaenysBee
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@Centrist Simon Steele

I think people here are much more gentle on the non-prestige shows, where the expectation isn't very high anyway. This and The Wheel of Time are both instances where the original narrative has been supplanted by significantly inferior writing, but I think people are fine with it because it's dumb fantasy where you turn off your mind and enjoy.

If this show actually tried to be something good, I think people would be much harsher with its flaws.

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I got through episode 5 last night.  I hadn't enjoyed watching anything this much in a long time.  But I haven't got a clue as to what is going on or what is supposed to be going on.  Not a bit.  It seems to be all moments, one after another moment, great to watch, but not having anything in particular connecting them at all. With a single exception:

Spoiler

It was quite fun watching Siri master the gantlet of bludgeons, blades and the rest, getting seriously beat up in the process.  Those moments did connect.   If it was hazing, or initiation, or whatever, I don't know, but I had feared Those Men were going to do something really awful to The Girl.  It took quite a few moments before the viewer learned what was going on here, which was sealed by Geralt at the conclusion of those moments saying she hadn't quite gotten there yet, there was more to go. They didn't even have to say it -- we figured it out -- this is something they all had gone through.

                                             --- Nonbooker

So happy I still have 3 episodes to go on this longest night of the year -- and it's damned cold too! Witcher season 2 arrived at exactly the right moment.  I like it so much more than season 1, despite not knowing what any of this is about!  :rofl:  So not like me not caring that I am clueless!  :P

Part of this season's entertainment for me is seeing how much Witcher and Discovery of Witches share, including that semi-scientific approach to creating the Specials and the Monsters.  When it comes to doing spells all three, Witcher, Discovery of Witches and Wheel of Time use gesture and even words.  Just as with The Magicians.  Whereas we never saw Gandalf do hand gestures, though he did know a lot of Words of Power.  Nevertheless LOtR seems to provide a much greater sense of magic, and magic as something of wonder, something outside the mundane world, than these three works do, despite all five of them beginning as book series. And we do see all of them borrowing great deal from LOtR -- well, maybe not The Magicians.

 

Edited by Zorral
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I finally finished it and I didn't like it, sadly. I do admit it might be a slight improvement over season one, which was really bad, as it's a bit more coherent.

My issues are mostly related to changing perfectly good storylines from the books for no reason. Not from a typical book purist point of view mind you, I completely understand TV is a different medium and requires different measures and approach. Therefore I have nothing against introducing completely new storylines, like monoliths, the hut, the possession and so on, but I do mind they ruined existing storylines from character building perspective in the process. My thoughts are mostly similar to hers in this regard.

Also, I really don't understand why they decided to reveal the biggest, jaw-dropping twist of the whole series at the end of season two.

I wonder how they manage to navigate from here to forming the witcher team, introducing some of the most beloved (Regis) and most hated (Bonhart) characters of the series.

5/10 overall, if you ask me.

Edited by 3CityApache
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4 hours ago, IFR said:

@Centrist Simon Steele

I think people here are much more gentle on the non-prestige shows, where the expectation isn't very high anyway. This and The Wheel of Time are both instances where the original narrative has been supplanted by significantly inferior writing, but I think people are fine with it because it's dumb fantasy where you turn off your mind and enjoy.

If this show actually tried to be something good, I think people would be much harsher with its flaws.

I mean, I get it. I will watch Sword of Truth and enjoy it from time to time--but the Witcher does feel like it's trying to be prestige. And it has a lot of prestige going for it, to be honest--Henry Cavill has done such a great job making me see him as Geralt, which I was worried I'd not be able to do because I loved the games Geralt so much (and when I read the books, that's how I pictured him and heard his voice). Cavill does an amazing job of paying homage to the game version, and making Geralt something of his own. 

The fight at the end of the first episode in the first season was one of the coolest choreographed fight scenes I've seen in fantasy shows (I hear that was a reshoot right at the end of shooting--Cavill brought in a stunt coordinator he knew to redo that scene and it really paid off). 

I think Triss is awesome, and the actress playing Ciri has really grown on me this season. I think my problem is exactly what you say--it is SO close to being good TV, but it constantly hobbles itself with poor writing and some questionable casting. I like the actress who plays Yenn, but she looks to be about Ciri's age (which I know sorcerers in the books look young). She looks way too young for Cavill's Geralt, and I just can't buy this core relationship.

Anyway, I might try to finish the season. I'm hoping we get the infamous letter Blood of Elves--I'll share it here as it is so illustrative of what we're missing between Yen and Geralt. I'll put it in spoilers, but, essentially, this is a letter Geralt gets from Yennifer after Triss realizes they need a stronger sorceress for Ciri at Kaer Morhen. Geralt writes Yenn about it, and this is the letter she sends back:
 

Spoiler

Dear friend, your unexpected letter – which I received not quite three years after we last saw each other – has given me much joy. My joy is all the greater as various rumours have been circulating about your sudden and violent death. It is a good thing that you have decided to disclaim them by writing to me; it is a good thing, too, that you are doing so so soon. From your letter it appears that you have lived a peaceful, wonderfully boring life, devoid of all sensation. These days such a life is a real privilege, dear friend, and I am happy that you have managed to achieve it.

I was touched by the sudden concern which you deigned to show as to my health, dear friend. I hasten with the news that, yes, I now feel well; the period of indisposition is behind me, I have dealt with the difficulties, the description of which I shall not bore you with. It worries and troubles me very much that the unexpected present you received from Fate brings you worries. Your supposition that this requires professional help is absolutely correct. Although your description of the difficulty – quite understandably – is enigmatic, I am sure I know the Source of the problem. And I agree with your opinion that the help of yet another magician is absolutely necessary. I feel honoured to be the second to whom you turn. What have I done to deserve to be so high on your list?

Rest assured, my dear friend; and if you had the intention of supplicating the help of additional magicians, abandon it because there is no need. I leave without delay, and go to the place which you indicated in an oblique yet, to me, understandable way. It goes without saying that I leave in absolute secrecy and with great caution. I will surmise the nature of the trouble on the spot and will do all that is in my power to calm the gushing source. I shall try, in so doing, not to appear any worse than other ladies to whom you have turned, are turning or usually turn with your supplications. I am, after all, your dear friend. Your valuable friendship is too important to me to disappoint you, dear friend.

Should you, in the next few years, wish to write to me, do not hesitate for a moment. Your letters invariably give me boundless pleasure.

Your friend Yennefer

The letter smelled of lilac and gooseberries.

 

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6 hours ago, RhaenysBee said:

worldbuilding - This was very much like in the books, completely all over the place and very difficult to follow. Fewer cgi snakes and more exposition please. Get a bloody map out and explain. 

Maps are cool, buuuut considering Hollywood's track record, I would rather not get a map. See Game of Thrones, The Hobbit trilogy, and The Wheel of Time for how much maps really matter.

Edited by Corvinus85
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23 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

Maps are cool, buuuut considering Hollywood's track record, I would rather not get a map. See Game of Thrones, The Hobbit trilogy, and The Wheel of Time for how much maps really matter.

That’s a fair enough concern :( But I would have still liked Dijkstra to pull something like this and just give me one shot of where the hell we are. 

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1 hour ago, Corvinus85 said:

Maps are cool, buuuut considering Hollywood's track record, I would rather not get a map. See Game of Thrones, The Hobbit trilogy, and The Wheel of Time for how much maps really matter.

I think Sapkowski never created a map--which makes the geography even more confusing. I know the show created one, and the games did too, but I think Sapkowski never has made an official map.

1 hour ago, john said:

The dear friend letter is hilarious. That was the moment I realised Sapkowski is funny, which does not come across particularly well in the English versions.

Me too--the English translations lost a lot I hear, and when I read that letter I remember thinking, "I get it now." 

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1 hour ago, 3CityApache said:

@RhaenysBee Oh, but there is a map.

Yeah, if you google one :D I wish there was a map in the show as an exposition prop. 

1 hour ago, Werthead said:

There's also a map that's specifically canon to the TV show (and simplified somewhat from the books).

Wow that’s such a pretty website! Wow, wow! 

1 hour ago, Centrist Simon Steele said:

I think Sapkowski never created a map--which makes the geography even more confusing. I know the show created one, and the games did too, but I think Sapkowski never has made an official map.

Me too--the English translations lost a lot I hear, and when I read that letter I remember thinking, "I get it now." 

Not indeed, even though I spent three books looking for one - in the middle, on the inside of the cover, at the end, but no map. 

Oh it was dreadful, just dreadful. I know I would have liked the books so much more if I had made the sensible choice to not read it English. What a stupid idea of me. Oh well.

Edited by RhaenysBee
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11 hours ago, Centrist Simon Steele said:

I think Sapkowski never created a map--which makes the geography even more confusing. I know the show created one, and the games did too, but I think Sapkowski never has made an official map.

He did not indeed, but he sort of gave his blessing to cannonise the fan-made one. The one all others are based on, including games and Netflix maps.

Edited by 3CityApache
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