Henry Cavill makes his triumphant return as Geralt of Rivia in the third installment of The Witcher, which just hit Netflix. Continuing the adventures of the brooding monster hunter and sometime-companions Ciri of Cintra (Freya Allan), Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and Jaskier (Joey Batey), the new run of episodes (which draw from Andrzej Sapkowski’s second “The Witcher” book, “Time of Contempt”) will find Geralt doing anything he can to protect his found family – and Ciri’s growing powers – against an onslaught of dark forces.
Joining Cavill, Allan, Chalotra, and Batey in the new season are MyAnna Buring as Tissaia; Mahesh Jadu as Vilgefortz of Roggeveen; Anna Shaffer as Triss Merigold; Royce Pierreson as Istredd; Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor; Eamon Farren as Cahir; Mimî M. Khayisa as Fringilla Vigo; Mecia Simson as Francesca Findabair; Cassie Clare as Philippa Eilhart; Graham McTavish as Sigismund Dijkstra; Robbie Amell as Gallatin; Meng’er Zhang as Milva; and Hugh Skinner as Prince Radovid.
Season 3 marks Cavill’s final run as the titular hero (Liam Hemsworth will take on the role in season 4) and is being broken up into two parts, with Volume 2 set to drop on Thursday, July 27. Needless to say, the anticipation is high for the new season, but do these new episodes deliver the goods?
Here’s what critics are saying about season 3 of The Witcher:
This latest season is far and away The Witcher’s most political outing yet, trading in gnarly monster fights for exposition-heavy negotiations, secretive plotting, and backroom dealing between a wide variety of elves, mages, and human kings, all with their own goals and agendas. —Lacy Baugher, Paste Magazine
One of the major complaints about The Witcher (at least in Season 2) was how much it deviated from the plot of Blood of Elves. Although the third season at least tries to broadly follow Time of Contempt, its past deviations from the source material really hinder the show as it wades more and more into the geopolitics of the world. —Christian Hoffer, ComicBook.com
The opening entry of the third season continues that fast-out-the-blocks trend and is, in many ways, the volume at the height of its powers – but sets a standard that is rarely reached again in the remaining episodes. —Bradley Russell, Total Film
The sprawling universe that has been established in the first two seasons feels just as expansive as ever in its third run of episodes. But where in the past the multitude of characters has felt unwieldy, this time around the various plotlines are finally beginning to converge on one another. —Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine
The first half of the season gets back to what made the show so successful in the first place. —Andrew Webster, The Verge
Really, it falls to Cavill to carry the whole thing, which he does with aplomb. The man utterly sells it: you care about Geralt, and when he is not on screen, the whole thing suffers. This series will be poorer without him. —Vicky Jessup, London Evening Standard
As far as swan songs go, Season 3 of The Witcher is an unexpectedly exceptional one for Cavill’s Geralt… —Carly Lane, Collider
Over the course of the first five episodes, viewers are reminded just how much Cavill’s brooding but compelling take on Geralt elevates the show from the standard fantasy B-show fare that is Netflix’s bread and butter to one of the platform’s top shows. —Christian Hoffer, ComicBook.com
A great showcase for the chemistry between Henry Cavill, Anya Chalortra, and Freya Allan. —Jarrod Jones, IGN Movies
Joey Batey does a fine job at bringing a sense of resigned anguish to the jovial and quippy Jaskier, but Anya Chalotra is too subdued playing the now humbled Yennefer and Freya Allan feels a bit too one-note at times when capturing Ciri’s defiance. —Christian Hoffer, ComicBook.com
Jaskier (Joey Batey) hams it up big time, and watching him and Geralt spar with each other is always a joy, even as he’s struggling with his own loyalties. —Vicky Jessup, London Evening Standard
Chalotra and Allan wholeheartedly bring the weight necessary to these scenes, as Yennefer discovers that she can still be a mother to someone even if it isn’t how she originally hoped or planned for while Ciri begins to think of the sorceress as someone to look to when she needs help — just like she already does with Geralt. Allan, especially, carries one Season 3 episode entirely on her shoulders, ensuring that the future of this series rests with her character in particular. —Carly Lane, Collider
Freya Allan continues to shine in The Witcher’s most underappreciated role, imbuing Ciri with a potent mixture of heart and grit that makes her endlessly compelling to watch. —Lacy Baugher, Paste Magazine
There’s action aplenty, a monster or two, and a solid emotional core. —Jonathan Wilson, Ready Steady Cut
The strongest bits of The Witcher is when Cavill gets to draw his sword to face weird and horrifying monsters. The monsters are definitely terrifying this season and one thing the show does well is make Cavill look believable as a professional monster hunter who is equally proficient at killing people. The fight choreography and direction during these scenes in The Witcher are still a highlight, although the show’s plot somewhat regrettably means we have fewer of those fights this season. —Christian Hoffer, ComicBook.com
That long goodbye, though, carries plenty of promise. The combat has gone up a notch, no doubt bolstered by the return of fight coordinator Wolfgang Stegemann. The fantasy series also sets up plenty of fearsome roadblocks that viewers will surely delight in seeing Geralt eagerly crash through when the second volume drops in July. —Bradley Russell, Total Film
The fight scenes are as beautiful and gruesome as they’ve ever been, but they feel particularly great when Ciri gets into the mix and holds her own. —Jen Lennon, AV Club
(Photo by Netflix)
The Witcher may desire to be the next Game of Thrones … but the kind of character writing it wants to emulate was done a hundred times better by the real successor, House of the Dragon. The Witcher can’t even hold a candle. —Akhil Arora, AkhilArora.com
even seasoned watchers might be hard-pressed to keep up with this season’s knottier twists and even more bloated character roster – to the point that they might find themselves yawning through frequent detours into clunky plot development chit-chat just to get to the fun stuff. —Jarrod Jones, IGN Movies
The Witcher Season 3 is an immense political and magical story cleverly woven through five episodes, with the actors appearing well settled in their roles by this point — a quality that could prove troublesome once Cavill leaves the series. —Shannon Connellan, Mashable
But there’s also so much going on that it feels burdensome to navigate, as we’re whipped frustratingly to and fro by the needs of a screenplay that has left loose ends dangling since the very first season. —Jonathan Wilson, Ready Steady Cut
The Witcher quickly becomes bogged down in warring kingdoms and a battle that never dares make its way on-screen. The show often struggles under the weight of juggling these plots, with the continual back-and-forth between Geralt’s protection of Ciri and the attention given to the world around them gifting the season an uneven shape. —Bradley Russell, Total Film
(Photo by Netflix)
It’s a shame that Cavill won’t be present to see the show through to its conclusion, but given what Season 3 of The Witcher establishes in terms of mounting conflict, rich character growth and relationships, and phenomenal performances, there’s still plenty worth tuning in for into a fourth season and beyond. —Carly Lane, Collider
Can the show cope without Henry Cavill? It will be painful, but The Witcher has enough going on for us to imagine life without him.
—Jack Seale, Guardian
The Witcher show made its name based on Cavill killing monsters, but its underlying source material used those fights as a way to introduce Geralt to readers, but the show has failed to pivot to match the source material and is running out of time.
—Christian Hoffer, ComicBook.com
Geralt and Ciri’s latest outing is a spectacular odyssey of family and destiny set within a world as brimming with history as it is in political schemes.
—Andrew Murray, The Upcoming
In the meantime, the first half of The Witcher Season 3 remains a frustratingly messy adventure that still can’t quite capitalize on the franchise’s obvious potential. —Jonathan Wilson, Ready Steady Cut
Season 3 retains much of what makes The Witcher so enjoyable, mixing over half a dozen major characters, complicated relationships, and blockbuster storylines together to form something that’s simultaneously smart, self-aware, and loads of fun to watch.
—Lacey Baugher, Paste Magazine
A return of form of sorts, bringing The Witcher back to the things that make it unique — it’s funny, bloody, and sexy. There’s even a bath scene, which is as Witcher as it gets. —Andrew Webster, The Verge