“The Witcher: Blood Origin” is four episodes of violent action, cardboard characters and backstabbing. There are plot strands that disappear only to reappear later with no explanation. When the scenes in your TV series that make the most sense involve a wizard talking to a floating ball of light, you know you have problems.
Set centuries before the events of “The Witcher,” “Blood Origin” plays like one of those stories where a rag-tag team of skilled individuals comes together to accomplish a mission. At the core of the group is warrior elf Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), who was disowned for disgracing his clan, and Eile (Sophia Brown), a warrior who left her clan to become a traveling bard.
Their mission: infiltrate the castle of Xin’trea and stop a trio of evil schemers, including Fjall’s ex-lover, Empress Merwyn (Mirren Mack), from using some magic monoliths to open portals to new worlds and spread their empire. One by one, new warriors join Fjall and Eile, with the fate of multiple worlds on the line.
This show wasn’t boring. I was too busy trying to figure out exactly what was going on, why characters are doing what they were doing and how all the plot events fit together to be bored. What “Blood Origin” is is frustrating. A couple of examples:
”Blood Origin” opens with a coup during which evil mage Balor (Lenny Henry), military leader Eredin (Jacobs Collins-Levy) and Merwyn assume power. But the setup is so sloppy that it’s hard to tell who is aligned with who, who is getting wiped out and why this all is happening to begin with.
The show goes out of its way to highlight a pair of comets in the Xin’trean sky but then doesn’t really explain the significance of the comets. That’s not a problem for people who are familiar with the “Witcher” universe, but it leaves those not in the know scratching their heads.
Syndril (Zach Wyatt) is shown imprisoned in a scene, with Balor forcing him to figure out how to use the monoliths. Later, he shows up in a completely different setting with no explanation beyond “I escaped.” There’s some serious “Rise of Skywalker” “Somehow Palpatine has returned” energy going on there.
There are issues like this throughout “Blood Origin” and it makes it easy to check out of the story. It doesn’t help that the characters don’t have much depth. For example, we don’t really get to know Fjall before he’s kicked to the curb, so once he embarks on his mission, there are no personal stakes or reasons to pull for him to succeed.
All that said, “Blood Origin” isn’t completely bereft of good elements. Michelle Yeoh, who plays Eile’s trainer, Scian, is graceful and awesome as always. The fight scenes are pretty cool, although the end fight involving Fjall is pretty anticlimactic. The scenes where Balor talks to a floating ball of light look like album art for a 70s prog band.
Still, “The Witcher: Blood Origin” is not much fun to sit through. If you’re someone who is looking to get into watching “The Witcher,” I wouldn’t recommend starting here. This show is only for completists who need to watch everything “Witcher”-related.
You can stream “The Witcher: Blood Origin” on Netflix. The show is rated TV-MA for language, bloody violence and sex.
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