Henry Cavill Exits ‘The Witcher’ With Plenty of Intrigue and Swordplay
The second half of the third season of Netflix’s “The Witcher” is both the final bow for actor Henry Cavill in the lead role and a three-episode lap overpacked with swordplay and fantasy politics. Essentially, it’s just what the fans will expect. With a show like this, jumping in at around this point in the storyline is not the wisest choice. Most of the focus though, will of course be on how Cavill exits what has been his most popular role since flying around as Superman. Rather admirably, the series opts for a graceful but not bombastic final moment for Cavill. The underlying message is that it will be a smoothed out transition to Liam Hemsworth when the show returns.
The first half of the season concluded with a big showdown looming in Aretuza, a fortress where everyone will battle it out to decide the fate of the Continent. Fittingly, episode six opens with a massive battle overseen by Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu), a shadowy figure who we can conclude has been behind much of the recent mayhem. Geralt aka the White Wolf (Cavill) has been reunited with his family but is surprised to see the battle now raging in Aretuza. Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) reveals to our witcher that the place is being held hostage by the kingdom of Redania to hold back the selfish mages (if you don’t know at this point, you don’t know). Redania’s troops have managed to use dimeritium bracelets to thwart the mages’s powers, while Philippa (Cassie Clare) has put a dome around the fortress that suppresses magic, making an invasion even easier. For now, Geralt stays neutral, but soon enough he will get pulled into all the power plays and magical intrigues.
In the three final episodes of this transitional season, “The Witcher” confirms itself as a series wholly dedicated to anyone devoted to its archaic fantasy plot. What began as an adventurous road trip featuring monsters and jesters is now turning into a “Game of Thrones” wannabe where dialogue and schemes take over the narrative. Most of the stirring action is featured in the first episode of the second half, with troops from Nilfgaard firing their dimeritium arrows or Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) killing her uncle Artorius (Terence Maynard). Other epic deaths follow, like Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen) using fire magic to kill himself while taking down many Elven soldiers. Again, if your eyes are dancing around such names and terms, you need to go back and start watching this show from the first season. Other plot threads involve schemes by Dijkstra to marry Ciri (Freya Allan) to King Vizimir (Ed Birch) so Redania can grow stronger against Nilfgaard.
By the final episode, Geralt is forced to choose sides, with the story’s circle coming back to his main task of protecting Ciri from earlier in the season. Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) gets a more prominent role, which is welcome after many other characters are killed off, leading mages against Vilgefortz, also in hopes of finding Ciri, who might be on her way to Nilfgaard. Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) gets a particularly moving exit involving her guilt over having been Vilgefortz’s lover and now sharing in the bloodshed he unleashed. Jaskier (Joey Batey) the troubadour is also confronted over his loyalty to Geralt. Does he truly care for the warrior or is he just looking for another song to add to his catalog? The former is the likeliest since he keeps following Geralt around into the most dangerous of circumstances.
Ciri has some entertainingly intense moments this season as well when she’s captured by bounty hunters who realize they can sell her to Nilfgaard. She makes friends with Kayleigh (Fabian McCallum) of the criminal group the Rats. A duel later follows where Ciri kills someone for the first time. It’s a fantasy where personal stakes are convincingly raised. Because next season will simply switch who is playing Geralt, season three ends with a low-level cliffhanger. It’s not as if the White Wolf is riding off into the sunset with Cavill. On the contrary, Cavill’s final season has Geralt and Jaskier coming across soldiers of the Emperor of Nilfgaard stealing a child’s toy, thus inspiring his rage and determination to go find Ciri. When the show returns, Liam Hemsworth will be the one breaking through the Emperor’s walls for the rescue.
Overall this season proves satisfying for fans despite venturing too much into political territory, with cryptic monologues getting more space than the adventure and action. As for the lead, maybe departing from “The Witcher” will give Henry Cavill the chance to seek different roles and also grow as an actor. Ever since “Man of Steel,” he has been the chiseled go-to for genre pieces, sometimes playing excellent supporting roles in films like in the “Mission: Impossible” entry “Fallout.” This show revealed him as a great choice for fantasy, with a hint of his days in period dramas like “The Tudors.” He wielded his sword well in this series, carrying it through into the much-coveted realm of gaining a strong following. It leaves us looking forward to his next adventure.
“The Witcher” season three part two begins streaming July 27 on Netflix.