The Witcher season three review – Henry Cavill's finale is fun but frankly confusing

Fantasy epic makes long-awaited return, but still suffers from thin plots and cheesy narratives that plagued first two seasons

Henry Cavill returns as Geralt for the last time in the Netflix series. Photos: Netflix
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Netflix’s The Witcher is complicated for more than one reason.

It is, in theory, an entertaining and compelling show. This is evident in volume one of season three, which was released on Thursday. It's binge-worthy, fast-paced, has good fight scenes and monsters (not enough, one would argue) and likeable characters audiences can get behind.

However, from the first episode of the highly anticipated third season, viewers have to grapple with one of the many nonsensical, and frankly bewildering, choices writers made about how to tell the story.

Warning: the following article may contain spoilers

They tell the already layered and complex tale of Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) the brooding beast hunter as he fights to protect his family and save the world, through unnecessary and complicated storytelling techniques, while ignoring fundamental story-crafting principles.

Season two ended with Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) betraying Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allan). This was a big deal.

Yennefer and Geralt have had a fraught, on-again, off-again relationship riddled with issues of trust and vulnerability. So when she almost sacrificed Ciri, Geralt’s adoptive daughter, as a means to reclaim her lost magic, audiences expected major emotional repercussions in season three.

That’s not what happens.

The three are on the run as they are chased by, seemingly, everyone – the elves, Nilfgaard and an unhinged wizard who can control fire. All of them are after Ciri. While Geralt is the main character, much of the story revolves around Ciri, the lost princess who has been prophesied to end and save the world.

As Geralt and Yennefer train Ciri in both physical and magical combat, their romantic and emotional complications are resolved in a matter of scenes. It all plays out in a rather cheesy way.

The Witcher - season three

Director: Various

Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra


The main drive of the five episodes of volume one centres on the political happenings around Geralt and Yennefer. They are attempting to stop an impending war. It’s such a strange, clunky shift in the focus of the story and one that changes the tone of the show.

The writers don't do a thorough enough job of clearly establishing the motivations and backstories of the power players in the warring kingdoms. They also don’t give audiences enough reasons to invest in the many characters now taking centre stage in season three.

It’s also bizarre that all the costumes, castles, accents and even the weather across the continent they inhabit are homogenous as one faux medieval world. This small but crucial detail makes it difficult to distinguish the real differences between settings, making it hard to work out why they are fighting in the first place.

The story has been building up to an epic war since season one, but the current tangents make it feel like it’s never going to happen.

The show is based on a series of six fantasy novels and 15 short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The main gripe many audiences have is that the series doesn’t do the books any justice.

In an attempt to combine the collection of action-packed short stories about monsters and the long fantasy epic narrative about Geralt, Netflix has produced a bizarre hodgepodge of a show that waxes and wanes from being highly entertaining to frustrating to follow.

The show has always been a mess, but an endearing one.

What makes The Witcher a compelling watch in season three is Cavill and Chalotra’s performances and their on-screen chemistry. This only adds another complication to a show already brimming with them.

Season three will be Cavill’s last as Geralt and he will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth.

This change came as a surprise to fans of the show. Cavill propelled the show’s creation, as he is a fan of the novels and the video game adaptation. The reasons for his departure are unclear.

Reports vary from creative differences between Cavill and writers to scheduling conflicts.

The reasons don’t matter. What matters is this is a show with many faults but one that people love anyway. One of the main reasons they do is because of Cavill.

Moving forward, Cavill’s absence might be another reason why the big build-up of The Witcher falls flat next season.

The Witcher season three, volume one, is now available on Netflix. Volume two will be available from July 27

Updated: June 30, 2023, 6:16 PM
The Witcher - season three

Director: Various

Henry Cavill, Freya Allan, Anya Chalotra