So, the first Witcher trailer dropped.
It’s…something. Honestly, most of all, it’s “a generic fantasy series trailer, come watch!”
We get shots of charging armies, of the hero fighting with a big sword, and weird monologues about chaos. (This one makes even less sense than the legendary “chaos is a leddah”.) What more could you ask from a generic fantasy series?
Probably nothing, but I do ask a bit more from a Witcher adaptation.
Apparently, the story is going to be about Geralt’s first contact with young Ciri and her family. Given this, the first issue that jumps at you as you watch the trailer is the youth of the main characters. It’s already been apparent from photos, but there was still some hope that it would look different in action. It doesn’t, and we get the impression of a “barely out of his teens” Geralt, and a Yennefer who is about the same age.
Now, the books never give us Geralt’s exact age, but it’s made perfectly clear he’s been at witchering for quite a while at the time of his first story. With Yennefer, we know she is supposed to be ninety. Neither of them exactly look it, because neither of them ages normally in any way. So technically, there is no reason they couldn’t have stopped ageing at twenty. The problem, though, is the impression it creates in viewers. It gives the characters an air of innocence and inexperience they are simply not supposed to have at this point. Geralt seems to be about the same age as Princess Pavetta, which changes their dynamic completely.
It is even more of an issue with Yennefer because for her, we get hints of an origin story in the trailer. Yennefer is, a few years after the events of the show, one of the ten most powerful magic users in the northern kingdoms. Putting her origin story in a trailer – particularly her specific origin story, which is geared toward extreme vulnerability – is along the lines of showing us a bullied 11-year-old Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter trailer, or Aragorn all self-conscious about being a weak human boy in a Lord of the Rings trailer. She is supposed to be an established powerful character, and by starting out with her most vulnerable moments, the show reframes this in a way that is not sending a good message at all.
Because, of course, it’s not an accident we don’t see an extremely vulnerable Geralt, but we do see an extremely vulnerable Yennefer. Yenn has always had aspects of the “shrew” stereotype, more so in the games than in the books, and a shrew, as we all know, needs to be tamed. What better way to do that than by showing her at her weakest right off the bat, am I right?
Perhaps it’s simply an adaptational choice, to make Geralt a new witcher and Yennefer a new sorceress at the time of the show’s events. Perhaps it is to make it easier for us to relate to them. If at least, it put Geralt and Yennefer on an even foot again, I could handle that. I’d not be thrilled, because I hate the tendency to make everyone on TV young. But as long as their stories are at least equal (even though she is, in reality, leagues more powerful than him), it’s tolerable. In the trailer, they weren’t. Let us hope that on the show, they will be.
And speaking of equality, there are the dryads. The voice-over implies them to be elves, which is insulting for all kinds of reasons, but story-wise they are probably dryads. They have a really cool design, they look great…and they are all black, and they are the only black people in the trailer.
Yes, you read that right. A bunch of wild-looking women living in the forest are the only clearly visible people of colour in the trailer.
Yay for progressive stories, I guess?
There is not that much else to comment on. Tissaia de Vries looks…OK. Very young, too. Not quite the most powerful sorceress alive I would expect. Ciri looks fine. The only proper scene of the Lioness of Cintra we see is her crying on a bed, so… Well, see my notes on Yennefer above.
Most of the rest is random people running around or screaming. Like I said, this looks perfectly fine for a generic fantasy show. For for a Witcher show, there is nothing. There is simply not enough particulars to attract anyone unfamiliar with the world. There are too many changes and not enough shown to really grip the hearts of fans. And the bits that are actually shown at least a bit properly never showcase the characters’ strengths, or the story’s. If I were looking for a reason to watch this show, the trailer would give me none. It did, however, give me a few to avoid it.