Just a few weeks ago, Netflix launched the first season of its new fantasy hit The Witcher (starring Superman‘s Henry Cavill). Though the story reached many new fans, this tale of chaos and destiny was adapted from a series of books that have been published for three decades. Despite the show’s faithful adaption of the novels’ tone, the narrative of the first season often strayed from events told in the books. Warning: there will be spoilers for season one below!
Perhaps the most significant change from Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels was Geralt and Ciri’s first meeting, which happens in the final scene of season one but occurred a fair bit earlier in the books. Addressing this matter on twitter, The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt-Hissrich explained why the decision was made to remove Geralt and Ciri’s early meeting in Brokilon Forest as depicted in the short story The Sword of Destiny, and reveals the script of the season’s original (and more book-accurate) final scene.
@JetsofSteel tweeted: “Lauren my biggest issue with the plot of the show was changing the subplot with the Brokilon forest. [In my opinion] taking out The Sword of Destiny [short story] leaves the payoff at the end of Something More a lot less meaningful and emotional. Just some constructive criticism.”
This was the showrunner’s response.
“I hear you. And we debated this intensely. Here’s our rationale: to adapt the short stories that were important to world-building, and then to sequentially adapt Geralt and Ciri’s multiple meetings in [The Sword of Destiny] meant that we wouldn’t introduce Ciri until (at the earliest) season two. Which makes sense, if you’re a fan of the original books.
“That’s how it’s done, and it’s beautiful! But for the purpose of television adaptation: if viewers are investing solely in Geralt for S1, and then get introduced to Yennefer, and several seasons later meet Ciri — it’s potentially confusing to say: forget monster-hunting. Take the last two-three years of what you’ve been watching, and tuck it away. Because that little girl you’ve only just met? SHE is the key to this whole universe, and will be the center of almost every story to come.
“We lost some magical moments, which is why I’m SO excited that people are finding the books, to appreciate Sapkowski’s stories in all their glorious detail. I also know that we’ve set the chess board in the best way for future stories to unfold, and to keep tv audiences engaged.
“As writers, we understand that — even when given rationale — fans may not agree with the changes we made. And that’s fine! We had to make hard choices, and we didn’t get them right every time. But it’s important to me that fans know those choices weren’t made lightly. Ever.”
@gravemaster7k asked: “But why introduce her in S2? Still keep a roughly similar structure of Geralt’s and Yen’s arcs, but have Ciri not as a lead, but supporting at first with a proper SoD and an adjusted arc of Cintra’s fall by the season’s end. Then Ciri could become a lead starting with S2”
To which Hissrich replied: “I feel as though Ciri’s elevation happens when she and Geralt meet outside Yurga’s farm. To organically include Brokilon meeting earlier in the season — Ep 4? — would mean that all of Geralt’s short stories (including meeting Yen) would need to be done by Ep 3. And in my personal estimation, that would condense the world-building too much, and short-shrift the stories from The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. Those were important to me to keep.”
Hissrich also published the first draft of the season’s final scene, showing that the fan favorite quotes which bookend the short story Something More were originally included. In the tweet, Hissrich explains why these quotes ultimately didn’t make the cut.
In the end, the showrunner concluded: “We made choices through the whole process. Would I change this one? Good question. It’s probably the one I contemplate the most, at night, lying in bed. But here we are. And forward we go, learning every step of the way. I’m not going anywhere.”
Indeed, forward we go! Whether you read the books or not, whether you are disappointed by this change or not, one thing is clear: with Geralt and Ciri united, season two of The Witcher is about to become very interesting. For a rundown of what we can expect from season two, take a look at the article linked below.
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