Netflix’s most popular fantasy series, The Witcher, has seen many controversies lately surrounding the recasting of its lead star Henry Cavill and some conflict in the writer’s room, but the show must go on.
The next step in the Netflix Witcher journey, The Witcher: Blood Origin, is set to drop fans into a very different version of the Continent. Set more than a thousand years before Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri are bound by destiny, the prequel starring the fantastic Michelle Yeoh will explore an age in which the elves were at their prime, before the Conjunction of the Spheres collided their world with the worlds of monsters and men. Another key element of the prequel’s plot is the story behind the first “prototype witcher”.
The four-part limited series is set to release worldwide on December 25, which means there is just over a month to go. So for once, let’s put aside the Henry-Cavill-sized elephant in the room and take another, deeper look at the show’s most recent teaser trailer. But first, let’s revisit the official Netflix synopsis for the show:
More than a thousand years before the events of “The Witcher,” seven outcasts in an Elven world join forces in a quest against an all-powerful empire.Official Synopsis
Admittedly, the teaser trailer shares very few details about Blood Origin‘s plot, and we have already seen most of it in the original teaser shared after the credits of The Witcher season two. The teaser does not clear the confusion surrounding Blood Origin‘s connection to the main Witcher show, either. Thankfully, we do have a few official character descriptions and interview snippets with showrunner Declan de Barra, and we can match them to shots from the trailer in hopes of understanding what we can expect from the prequel series.
“It is a fractious world,” the showrunner explains in an interview with Tudum. “It’s a Golden Era for Elves, but there’s still war. There are still three kingdoms, and they’ve been at war for 1000 years. The war started after the first Great Golden Era, when Solryth [the elven leader who conquered the Continent] died. as with a lot of empires, her empire split into three kingdoms. They’ve been warring ever since.”
Introducing the show’s three leads
The first thing you will notice when watching the trailer, besides Michelle Yeoh‘s mysterious and elegant elven character Scían performing some kind of ritual, is the voice of her costar Sophia Brown.
Brown portrays Éile, who is (you guessed it) another elven character, coming from a different tribe to that of Scían. Besides her skills with the dagger, Éile has a beautiful singing voice, and she will be showcasing that voice throughout Blood Origin.
To complete the trio, we have Laurence O’Fuarain‘s menacing buzz-cutted character Fjall, who hails from yet another elven tribe. Fjall is almost certainly the elf destined to become the Continent’s first prototype witcher.
Though the teaser trailer is very short, it does spend a few brief moments characterizing each of the show’s three leads, as well as briefly teasing the many supporting characters. We’ll begin with the character that opens the trailer.
Michelle Yeoh portrays Scian, the last living member of her tribe
The opening shot of the trailer shows Michelle Yeoh’s character in the middle of some form of ritual. The elven warrior has drawn a circle on the ground, extending from it twelve veins that each lead to a mound of rock.
What these mounds of rock are meant to be, and the true purpose of Scian’s ritual (besides looking cool) is likely going to remain a mystery until the show releases, but these may actually be the graves of twelve of Scian’s fallen tribe members. Scian is the last living member of a wandering tribe of sword elves called the Ghost Clan.
As the camera pans upwards, Scian locks eyes with the viewer, and we get a pretty good look at her. With her dimming tattoos, simple clothes, and cornflower blue eyes, Scian looks more like a nature-loving druid than a master of the sword, until she unsheathes it.
The ritual scene is very different from the rest of the scenes featuring Scian in the trailer, in which she is seen leading an army, bloodying her sword, and traveling through the countryside with Fjall and Eile. Here, Michelle Yeoh’s character is seen alone, calm, and possibly even happy. We would not be surprised if this scene will end up being the character’s introduction.
The character’s official description was published by Deadline when Michelle Yeoh’s casting was first announced:
Scian is the very last of her nomadic tribe of sword-elves. No one comes close to her artistry with the blade, and no one carries as much loss within their heart. When a chance presents itself to retrieve a stolen sacred sword, taken from her fallen tribe by nefarious means, she launches herself into a deadly quest that will change the outcome of the Continent.
All begins, all ends.
Not much has been shared about the circumstances that lead Scian to be the last living member of her tribe, but the Deadline description above claims that “no one carries as much loss within their heart”. Yet, despite becoming a more humble, spiritual person, Scian is going to be dragged back into the ugly infighting of the elven tribes once the story unfolds. She will be reminded of her origins, and her thirst for vengeance. And it seems that a certain sacred sword will convince her to join the other heroes on their quest.
Sophia Brown portrays Eile, a celebrated fighter who decided to retire and become a musician
We have reported in the past that Blood Origin will feature some sort of cameo appearance from the main show’s fan-favorite bard Jaskier (who we’ll discuss more in a bit), and he will not be the only musician to appear. Sophia Brown’s Eile provides the soundtrack for this teaser trailer, so expect to hear her sing some more catchy tunes like this one. Not only will she sing, but also plays a nyckelharpa-inspired instrument.
Stay with me, oh lover, my heart’s filled with worry.Eile
Stay with me, oh lover, the borders are burning.
Stay with me, oh lover, my heart is still burning.
War is yearning to take you away from me,
As the rumble of war sweeps down through the valley.
Eile’s official character description was shared when the original casting of Jodie Turner-Smith was announced, before Sophia Brown was recast in the role:
An elite warrior blessed with the voice of a goddess, has left her clan and position as Queen’s guardian to follow her heart as a nomadic musician. A grand reckoning on the continent forces her to return to the way of the blade in her quest for vengeance and redemption.
As the above character description suggests, Eile was once a mighty warrior of the Raven Clan and the guardian of her tribe’s queen, but that happens a long time before the show begins. She has since left her role at the queen’s side and followed her heart, becoming a wandering musician.
Before the first episode ends, Eile will be back in business as a warrior, but we hope that doesn’t stop her from singing in the later episodes.
The trailer includes several shots of Eile wielding her dagger in battle. In one of these, Eile is seen crouching next to another person who seems to be dead or wounded. Eile is also wearing the same vest seen in her musical scenes, suggesting it happens very early in the story. This must be the “grand reckoning” mentioned in her official description, the event that “forces her to return to the way of the blade in her quest for vengeance and redemption”.
But this is also the scene where Eile meets another of the show’s main characters: Fjall. At the beginning of their story, Fjall and Eile belong to rival tribes, and we will see them fight.
From what we heard, this “grand reckoning” involves a conflict between warring elven factions, some sort of ambush, or a surprise attack. Eile will lose some of her friends and family members in the battle. One of them is the character who lies beside Eile in the above picture.
One quick shot from the trailer shows the corpse of a dead character lying on a wooden cart filled with straw, while another character (probably Eile) stands by their side. The woman we think is Eile is holding a piece of wood marked with the symbols, possibly the remains of a shield destroyed in battle.
This scene is likely to be a funeral scene, where Eile will bid farewell to a loved one before lighting the pyre. It happens that we have a pretty good idea of who she is mourning and the nature of her relationship with Eile. If you’re interested in that particular spoiler, visit the link below.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Witcher prequel casts [SPOILER] and more
Another shot set in a similar landscape shows a cart being burned. Presumably, this is the same cart carrying the dead body which we saw in the previous picture. We can also see two figures walking away from the burning pyre, and we’re quite convinced they are Eile and Fjall, which means that they have buried the hatchet by then (pun intended). They are headed toward a boat, and we can see a ship waiting for them in the background.
This is just one of many pyres lit in the Blood Origin trailer, a fact that suggests that burning the dead will be presented as an elven tradition in the show, at least among Eile’s tribe. In one shot, we can see Eile lighting another pyre on the cliffside. We don’t get to see if there are any corpses being burned in this case, but we do see a grief-stricken Eile watching the pyre burn in another shot.
Who is being burned in this second pyre? Another character close to Eile seems to have died. This time, she seems to be alone, with neither Fjall nor Scian around. With that in mind, it’s quite possible that the pyre was made for one or both of them. Another possible hint is Eile’s scarf. See if you can find it on another Blood Origin character elsewhere in the trailer.
Laurence O’Fuarain portrays Fjall, a warrior of a rival clan to Eile’s
The most likely candidate for the show’s much-discussed “prototype witcher” is Laurence O’Fuarain’s Fjall. Way early in the production, Netflix was looking to cast Jason Momoa in Blood Origin and the role was described as the aforementioned “prototype witcher”. No doubt that the role was Fjall.
Before he can become a proto-witcher, Fjall is an elven warrior of a rival clan to Eile’s called the Dog Clan. He and Eile will fight at first, but they will soon realize for whatever reason that they are on the same side.
Joining forces, Eile and Fjall must travel through dangerous territory and it seems that they may depend on each other. We don’t know whether they actively seek out Scian, or if they come across her organically on their travels, but that seems to be the next step of their journey.
In one shot, we see two characters that could be Fjall and Eile riding past a glacier on a volcanic field. This area looks quite similar to the volcanic field where we see Scian’s ritual early in the trailer, so it may be that this is how they meet her.
Besides fighting battles and trading blows with Eile, Fjall is also seen being smacked around by Michelle Yeoh’s character in the original Blood Origin teaser. Eile is also present for that scene and standing in Fjall’s way, although it’s not quite clear if she’s fighting Fjall or simply trying to keep him away from Scian. Either way, it looks like Fjall and Eile will have a disagreement regarding Scian’s contribution to their goals.
Or perhaps Scian, being Eile’s former sword teacher, is testing Fjall and his skills for the journey ahead.
As with the other two leads, Netflix shared an official character description of when Laurence O’Fuarain’s casting was first announced:
Born into a clan of warriors sworn to protect a king, Fjall carries a deep scar within: the death of a loved one who fell in battle trying to save him. A scar that won’t let him settle or make peace with himself or the world around him. In his quest for redemption, Fjall will find himself fighting beside the most unlikely of allies as he carves a path of vengeance across a continent in turmoil.
There are two particular shots that stand out with respect to Fjall’s backstory. The character description mentions Fjall being scarred by the death of a loved one who fell in battle to protect him. In these two shots, we see an armored Fjall in a chaotic battlefield, his face dirty with blood. It’s likely we will see the moment that scars Fjall as a flashback or vision, or as part of the show’s main timeline.
Blood Origin’s main trio unites for a common cause
The main trio will spend most of this season together pursuing a common goal: vengeance. They are, however, the most unlikely of teams given previous circumstances. Showrunner Declan de Barra has addressed this matter in an interview with Tudum:
“In the writers’ room we didn’t want the audience to know these characters straight off. They’ll be peeling away layers of the onion as they go on. They’ve all got these very complex back stories, which all interweave. But the one thing you will get from the beginning is that none of these people, if they weren’t bound by the same desire for revenge and justice, would be on the same team. Because they’re like oil and water, they’ve all got beef with each other. We put together a team of disparate people to fight for what they believe in.”Showrunner Declan de Barra
Scian, Eile, and Fjall will be traveling through a war-torn continent in search of revenge and justice. In one shot, we see them overlooking a valley home to a great elven city, now burning. The attack on Eile’s village was not an isolated event, but part of a greater event that is taking the elven civilization by storm. This is no-doubt the work of the “all-powerful empire” mentioned in Blood Origin‘s synopsis.
Our three heroes will eventually fight side-by-side against a group of soldiers who probably belong to the all-powerful elven empire that has managed to unite our three heroes in a quest for vengeance. These soldiers are a recurring presence in the trailer, and we’ll discuss the faction they belong to later in the article.
In the fight, seen in Blood Origin‘s first teaser which debuted after the credits of The Witcher season two, each of our three heroes gets to show off some of their combat skills. Fjall wields his battleaxe and a shield; Scian wields her sword and a similar shield; meanwhile, Eile prefers dual daggers.
The team enlists a few more supporting characters
At some point, the main trio is joined by four additional characters, three of whom can be seen on the right side of the above screenshot. The one character missing from the picture can be seen in the below shot from the trailer, which seems to be part of the same sequence in which the group battles an unseen enemy.
Exactly how and when Scian, Eile, and Fjall are joined by these characters remains to be seen. Will all four of them join the team together, as a group? Or will they each be joining the team separately, for their own personal reasons? We hope that all of these characters will be sufficiently fleshed out, even if the focus is on the three lead characters.
The group of seven can be seen preparing for a fight, traveling the countryside, and hanging out in some sort of pit or cavern. They also have one horse with them, the same horse Scian is seen riding in many of the previous pictures.
In one other shot, we can see three of the four newcomers facing a coming attacker and repelling him backwards with some kind of magical force. This magic is likely derived from one of two “celestial twins” who will be important characters in Blood Origin and possibly even in the main Witcher series.
The first of two “celestial twins” is Syndril, portrayed by Zach Wyatt. Syndril can be seen in the above sequence, the bearded elf in the white robe. In another shot in the trailer, he is generating some sort of blue energy or electricity, which seems to take a lot of effort from him. The power, after all, isn’t unlimited.
The second of the celestial twins is Zacare, portrayed by Lizzie Annis. There is one theory right now about Zacare: some believe she will become the elven witch and member of the Wild Hunt Voleth Meir, who already appeared in The Witcher season two.
Lizzie Annis definitely could stand for a younger Ania Marson (the actress who played the character in season two). Another possibility is that Zacare is Ciri’s ancestor and that her magical abilities are related to Ciri’s Elder Blood. In any case, we’ll see.
“There’s a different type of magic in this world,” the showrunner explains. “In the timeline of The Witcher, chaos magic reigns. Blood Origin has an early elven form of magic. It’s more earthbound and has more to do with the elements. Syndril and Zacaré were born in the same village, under the same comet that had appeared in the sky. They were bound by that essentially as celestial twins, although they had different mothers.
They had the same powers and the same connection. And then there was a calamitous event that drove them apart. They’re forced back together by the circumstances of this story. They have to work together and use their magic together to survive and to save the world.”
Next is a character we know very little about, aside from the fact that he is called Callan ‘Brother Death’. This character has an odd nickname, even in context with the other fantasy names common to Blood Origin, and it seems likely that this nickname was granted after he achieves a heroic (or evil) feat in battle. Brother Death, seen in the picture above, will be portrayed by actor Huw Novelli.
Last but not least is the charming dwarven warrior Meldof the Mad, portrayed by actress Francesca Mills. This character may be the same as the one codenamed “Character G” during the casting period. Character G was described as follows: “A brilliantly, sharp-minded assassin with restricted growth. Described as a ‘true-wildcard’, who revels in carnage, violence, and chaos.”
Nathaniel Curtis portrays Brian, a merchant leader whose male lover could be a familiar character
One more recurring character who was briefly seen in the trailer is Nathaniel Curtis‘s Brian. In the casting breakdown that leaked before filming began, we learned of a character codenamed “Baalke” who is probably Brian. “Baalke” is described as follows: “A charming and strategic merchant leader, bound to a male lover. While he’s loyal, he’s also fearing for the future of their relationship.”
Brian and his lover will be the first gay male couple to appear in Netflix’s Witcher franchise. Brian’s lover is likely to be a second character mentioned in the early casting breakdowns who was codenamed “Eades”. The character was described as follows: “A high-ranking commander, hailing from a military family. Described as strong, cold and calculating and able to take on many different guises. He hides his male lovers from court, fearing that his emotional attachments may be used against him.“
Speaking of Brian, in the trailer he can be seen observing what looks like the ruins of a shattered obelisk on a beach. Witcher fans will remember that obelisks were a major plot point in season two, and have appeared in various scenes in the first season as well. Blood Origin will finally reveal some more details about them, as showrunner Declan de Barra confirmed.
“We learn the origin of the monoliths here. Who first made these monoliths? Why? And then we kind of understand how they became so important in the world of The Witcher later and the power that was bestowed upon them and how that came about. They’re the catalyst for a lot of what goes wrong in this world.”
Lenny Henry portrays the possible villain Chief Druid Balor
Actor Lenny Henry is no stranger to big fantasy productions, having just wrapped up his role as the harfoot Sadoc in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. In Blood Origin, he will assume the role of Chief Druid Balor, the closest advisor to the leader of the greatest elven empire.
We have heard that in addition to the Raven, Dog, and Ghost clans there will also be a Serpent Clan, and that would match the three-pronged serpent of their sigil which we saw in a previous screenshot behind Scian. Yet despite reaching an important role among them, Balor is considered an outsider.
“He’s a product of class in society,” showrunner Declan de Barra explains to Tudum. “A little bit of backstory that people might not know is he was found abandoned as a lowborn child, but he was taken in because flowers had grown up all around him on this patch of ground where he was abandoned. It was like, ‘The magic is strong with this lad.’ It turned out to be true, but he was never going to be more than lowborn.”
“Balor would not accept this. He has this huge chip on his shoulder about that. So, he used his talents to work his way up and eventually become the right hand of the king, the advisor, the second strongest person in there. But Balor knew that everybody still looked down on him, even though he was above them on paper. That’s his motivating factor.”
Not only is Balor the closest advisor to the king of this elven faction, he is also a very powerful mage who may set in motion the events that lead to the Conjunction of the Spheres. At one point in the trailer, we see Balor leading a woman called Fenrik (portrayed by actress Amy Murray) and two children to one of the Continent’s obelisks. He then channels his magic from the obelisk, lighting it with the symbol that is used as Blood Origin‘s logo, and opens a portal.
We see them stepping through that portal in another shot from the trailer. What we see on the other side seems a bit other-worldly, and looks eerily similar to the alternate dimension where Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri come face-to-face with the Wild Hunt.
We already know that a younger version of Wild Hunt leader Eredin was cast in the show, and The Witcher showrunner Lauren Hissrich has said that we will learn more about Wild Hunt member Voleth Meir in Blood Origin as well. Either way, it seems that Balor will be playing with some dangerous magic that could eventually backfire and cause the Conjunction of the Spheres.
“We’re going to explain how it happened and the reasons it happened,” the showrunner explains. “The [mystery of the] Conjunction Spheres led to this whole show because I was working on The Witcher Season 2, and we had a story point we couldn’t fix because we needed to know what happened.
What was the world before the Conjunction? Before the humans came? Before there were monsters, what was this world like? What was the world of the elves? So I sketched it up on the whiteboard. It was the most logical thing that made sense to me from a fantasy point of view and from Sapkowski’s books. [The results] basically became Blood Origin when I pitched it.”
Besides the king, Fenrick, and his inevitable confrontation with our seven revenge-seeking heroes, Balor will also interact with another key cast member whose role is a bit mysterious: Princess Merwyn.
Mirren Mack portrays Princess Merwyn of Xintrea
Princess Merwyn is a character we’ve heard of from the very beginning, who’s supposed to have a major role in Blood Origin. That being said, it’s not very clear what that role is. Character descriptions have been brief and don’t reveal much about the elven princess, but the showrunner has recently revealed more about her.
“Merwyn is a princess. Because of the part of the Continent she lives in, she lives in a patriarchal monarchy. She’s born into a monarchy, but all she is really is a vessel for birth and a piece to be traded in the future. It must be a horrible existence growing up, knowing from birth that you’re nothing but a broodmare and something to be sold by the people that you think love you. But she has a fire in her — she wants more in life.”
“Because she was locked away in this palace, devoid of real friends, she found solace in books. Merwyn just adored the stories of the elves arriving in the Continent with this famous conqueror, Solryth. She was a female warrior who conquered the dwarfs and took over the Continent and brought high elven art and culture to the place. Merwyn would love to do that, but she’s hamstrung.”
In the trailer, we see the princess in the same city or location as Chief Druid Balor, and that suggests that she is a princess of the Serpent Clan. Moreover, the architecture of the city looks very familiar. It seems that the Serpent Clan’s hometown will actually be the city of Cintra, which fans of the main Witcher show will remember to be Ciri’s home.
“[In Blood Origin] it’s the same Continent,” the showrunner says. “But the cities have elven names; they’re pre-colonization — apart from Xintrea, which people will recognize because that was the elven name for Cintra. Xintrea plays a central character in this world. That’s our North Star, but we travel from the far Northern islands down south to Xintrea in this story. The dwarves pretty much have been driven out to the mountains of the east as per the map. And the rest of the world is largely controlled by elves.”
Does Scian join the elven faction in Cintra or are these flashbacks?
Another character that seems to arrive at Cintra at some point in the story is Scian. We see her walking through the Cintran halls while being trailed by a pair of soldiers. It’s not clear if she has been taken hostage or is there willingly. It’s likely she is on her way to meet Chief Druid Balor, Princess Merwyn, or the king of the Serpent Clan.
Here, Scian appears to be leading an army, her men proudly carrying their kingdom’s banner as they march. These soldiers belong to the same group which she fights alongside Fjall and Eile in previous screenshots, so something must have changed. Perhaps Balor was able to sway her over to his side?
We see two more shots from this sequence in the trailer, but they are set in some sort of ravine as opposed to the previous one set in an open field. Here, Scian appears a dash more determined, perhaps because she is facing the enemy. Who is that enemy, exactly? Hopefully not Fjall and Eile. Time will tell.
As the camera zooms out, Scian draws her sword. The soldiers follow her lead, raising their shields and preparing for battle. We don’t see what happens next, but we can imagine a lot of elven blood is spilled.
Alternatively, these could be flashbacks from before Scian ceases her warrior life decides to live in isolation. Both options are quite possible.
Characters missing from the teaser trailer will connect Blood Origin to the main series
The most notable no-show from the Blood Origin teaser trailer is The Witcher‘s Jaskier, played by the fan-favorite Joey Batey. We first heard of Batey’s involvement in the prequel a year ago, and later we were able to share some more details about the plans for his character in Blood Origin, and very recently Jaskier’s inclusion was confirmed when Joey Batey joined the rest of the Blood Origin cast for a series of promotional interviews.
If you haven’t heard about Jaskier’s role in the prequel before, you must be wondering how a mortal human who is alive a thousand years after Blood Origin can be involved in this prequel series. The truth is, Jaskier’s role was going to serve as a frame story of sorts set during The Witcher‘s main timeline.
The plan was for Jaskier to tell the tale of the elven clans, as he knows it, perhaps in a new song. Jaskier being Jaskier, and history being history, he will be getting many of the details wrong. And so, a second character was going to interrupt him. Unlike Jaskier, this character knows what actually happened, and she would then begin to tell the true tale. We now know this character is Minnie Driver‘s mysterious storyteller Seanchaí.
The showrunner explains the storyteller’s role in his interview with Tudum: “[Minnie Driver] plays a Seanchaí, a shapeshifting storyteller that can travel between worlds and times. She’s essentially a collector of stories that are forgotten. She believes this story needs to be told again in the modern Witcher world for progress to be made in the future.”
Last but not least is the young Eredin, who will be a military captain in Blood Origin. Fans of the franchise know he will eventually become the king of the Wild Hunt, who we saw a glimpse of at the very end of The Witcher season two. We were the first to report that actor Jacob Collins-Levy was cast in the role about a year and a half ago. However, the actor has not appeared in any of the released footage so far.
We doubt that means he was one of the elements that was cut from the show after it was reshot and edited down from six to four episodes. It’s more likely that Netflix is trying to keep his part of the story as secretive as possible.
We also expect to see Eredin’s relationship with Voleth Meir. The Witcher showrunner has already confirmed that we are going to learn more about Voleth Meir and the Wild Hunt in Blood Origina while ago, as you can see in the above tweet. The Blood Origin showrunner also seems to hint at that.
“Blood Origin sets up certain core characters and fan favorites from the books in the later Witcher series,” the showrunner says to Tudum in his recent interview. “There are items and discoveries that are made in this world that play off in later seasons of The Witcher and have critical effects on the storyline. Witcher creator Lauren Schmidt, the producers and I spent a lot of time seeding new Easter eggs and answering older Easter eggs from other episodes and series. We’re weaving a complex spider web of delicious story that stretches over thousands of years.”
What the last bit tells us is that there is still quite a lot to be learned about Blood Origin, which is set for release in just over a month. We expect marketing to kick into gear soon, as there’s not much time left to hype up the Netflix series. While the fanbase is still recovering from the recent controversies, and while some fans have sworn not to watch the series or its spinoffs, the rest of us are still excited or at the very least curious about Netflix’s plans for the Continent. We will keep reporting everything we know as always, so stay tuned.