It has been over one year since we last saw anything emerge from the world of “The Witcher.” Yes, we got some good news and some bad news. The good news came all the way back in September 2022 when it was revealed that Season 3 had wrapped filming. The bad news was Henry Cavill’s departure from the role of Geralt of Rivia, which will be taken up by Liam Hemsworth in Season 4. Now, on Christmas, Netflix has given us the much-awaited miniseries “The Witcher: Blood Origin.” And to be honest, they’ve ruined this festive day. The concept sounded great on paper as we were promised a story about the downfall of the elves, the birth of the first witcher, and the Conjunction of the Spheres, with the one and only Michelle Yeoh in the mix. But, on Christmas eve, when the news of how “Blood Origin” was cut down from six episodes to four episodes ahead of its launch came out, the warning bells started ringing. As feared, the storytelling feels rushed. The characters feel underdeveloped. The action is passable. The production design, costume design, cinematography, hair and make-up, and VFX are good. However, it’s not enough to keep you invested for four very tedious hours.
Major Spoilers Ahead
The Doomed Romance Of Éile, Fjall, And Merwyn
Set 1200 years before the events of “The Witcher” and in the elven kingdom of Xin’trea, Fjall Stoneheart (who belongs to the Dog Clan) is Princess Merwyn’s bodyguard. In addition to that, they are secretly in love with each other. But due to the class divide between Fjall and Merwyn, they know that they can never marry and have a future. Yet they partake in carnal activities, which are discovered by other members of the clan, and Fjall is banished from Xin’trea for betraying his code. “Blood Origin” then directly cuts to Merwyn dreaming about becoming the emperor of Xin’trea and taking the elves to their next golden age. It’s so bizarre that she never even addresses Fjall’s banishing and suddenly begins her “mad queen” arc after hearing that she’s about to be married to the King of Pryshia. If you think some major plot beats are missing here, I think you’re right. Anyway, then we get Éile (popularly known as the Lark), who used to be a part of the Raven clan but has left that violent life behind and travels around as a bard.
During her stay in Inis Dubh, she encounters Fjall (who apparently took Éile’s cousin’s eye out in the Battle of Brokilon) as well as a young Ithlinne. The latter of the two predicts that Éile will be going out on a quest in the name of her clan, and it’ll conclude with the merging of the worlds and the death of a beast by Éile’s blade. Soon after that, Éile’s sister drops dead, and it’s revealed the Xin’trean, Pryshian, and Darwen kingdoms are coming together to sign a peace treaty and bring the war between them to an end. However, Merwyn, Balor, Eredin, and some other mages and warriors are against it, and they want the war to continue. So, in Xin’trea, Merwyn eradicates the monarchies and clans by unleashing a demon summoned from another realm by Balor. And in Inis Dubh, Merwyn’s team sends soldiers to eradicate the last of the clans, i.e., Fjall and Éile. Naturally, in order to get back at Merwyn for not only killing Éile’s sister but also slitting Fjall’s sister’s throat and killing his father, the duo goes out to form “The Seven.”
On the one hand, Merwyn obviously becomes too obsessed with maintaining her position as the Queen of the Golden Empire and hence forgets all about her romantic relationship with Fjall. Or maybe this character development is somewhere on the editing room floor, and we’ll never get to see it. On the other hand, while assembling Scian, Meldof, Syndril, Zacaré, and Callan and coming up with ways to enter Xin’trea and defeat Merwyn, Fjall and Éile fall in love. It feels very forced and devoid of any romance. So, when Syndril says that they are going to make their own beast to defeat Merwyn’s demon and Fjall and Éile nominate themselves for the task, the reason behind their relationship becomes clear. It’s essentially to fulfill Ithlinne’s prophecy, in which she has to slay a beast. I was expecting them to do something new by making Éile the beast, thereby forcing her to decide if she wants to kill herself or live the rest of her life as a monster. However, when Fjall becomes the monster (i.e., the first witcher), it becomes obvious that Éile is going to kill Fjall in the end.
The Rivalry Between Syndril And Balor
Balor, Chief Sage in Merwyn’s cabinet, is introduced as the druid who knows how to access the monoliths and travel between realms. He’s shown to be talking with a faceless, shapeless entity in order to gain access to chaos powers under the garb of getting endless food and treasures for the Queen and the Golden Empire. Syndril is introduced as the Chief Sage’s assistant who helped Balor work out the process for making gateways via the monoliths. But when he discovered a world that was barren and had that monster that now casually strolls in Merwyn’s castle, he advised Balor to shut it down because no food or treasures were coming out of that place. Instead of doing that, Balor imprisoned him and forced him to finish configuring the details of working with the monoliths so that he could not only access that realm but also control every monolith that exists in the known universe. However, Syndril “managed” to escape from Xin’trea and go to her sister, Zacaré, and find ways to put an end to all these gateways that he had helped create.
You see Syndril in the Xin’trean jail, and then you see him with Zacaré. If that makes you scratch your head, scratch away because that’s a major continuity error. How did the dude just “escape” from such a tightly guarded prison, especially when he’s so integral to controlling the monoliths? And if Syndril was of no use to Balor, don’t you think Balor would’ve just executed him because he’s the only other person who knows how to control those monoliths instead of just letting him get away? It’s so silly and amateurish that it really boggles the mind. Yes, “Blood Origin” does try to make Balor and Syndril compelling characters by giving them emotional anchors. For Balor, it’s her doting assistant Fenrik, and for Syndril, it’s Zacaré and their sad backstory about how they tried to bring back their dead mother and instead created a monster. Going by Syndril and Balor’s eventual meeting, “Blood Origin” did want to set up an interesting rivalry between a master and his apprentice. However, Syndril spends all his time in the forest, and Balor wastes his time in Xin’trea, getting replaced by Avallac’h as Chief Sage and then being reinstated when Avallac’h fails to operate the monolith. Hence, their eventual battle seems weak.
‘Blood Origin’ Ending Explained: What Was The Result Of The Conjunction? Did Master Avallac’h Travel Into The Future In The Post-credits?
A bunch of things happen during the end of “Blood Origin,” all of which are rushed because the character and plot development has been hacked to pieces. Still, here’s the gist. Scian strikes a deal with Merwyn where she promises to bring Fjall to her and kill Éile. In return, Merwyn has to give Scian’s sword (it’s called Soulreaver) back, as it was taken from her earlier in the day and placed in the Xin’trean throne room. Merwyn agrees. So, Scian pretends to ambush Fjall, Meldof, Éile, Callan, Syndril, and Zacaré. But then she reveals that she has struck another deal with Uthrok One-Nut, whose army shoots down the Xin’trean soldiers while Fjall, Meldof, Éile, and Scian clean up the rest. They breach Xin’trea dressed as those soldiers, and Scian takes the witcher-ed-up Fjall to Merwyn as her prisoner. However, instead of keeping up her end of the deal, Merwyn orders her guards to slaughter Scian in the streets while keeping Fjall all to herself. Fjall revolts against Merwyn because he’s angry about his father and his sister’s deaths and butchers her soldiers. As Merwyn’s guards usher her away, Balor’s or Merwyn’s beast engages Fjall.
Éile and Callan cause an uprising in the streets, which manages to make its way to the throne room later on. Éile, Callan, Meldof, and Scian proceed to fight all the Xin’trean guards into the castle, slowly making their way to Merwyn. Syndril and Zacaré head to the monolith to destroy it before it can be accessed again. But they are obviously too late because Balor has already gone into the barren realm where he usually goes to talk with the disembodied voice, slaughtered Fenrik (as his true sacrifice) to gain access to the chaos magic, and trapped Eredin in there. Still, Syndril and Zacaré manage to hold him down. Then, as per Syndril’s orders, Zacaré binds Balor and Syndril to the monolith. Syndril channels all his energy into the monolith, thereby destroying the monument, himself, and Balor. Éile stabs Merwyn, leaving her to bleed out and die. Fjall turns into a full-fledged monster to fight Balor’s beast. He succeeds, but at a deadly cost, because he is killed by Éile, thereby completing her prophecy of slaying a beast. The other part of the prophecy, which involves the Conjunction of the Spheres, also gets fulfilled as the breaking of the monolith causes every realm to collide and enter the realm where the central story takes place.
At the end of “Blood Origin,” we see humans entering the realm. Éile cremates Fjall. Scian honors her ancestors by drawing an interconnected pattern between their tombs (I am guessing they are tombs) with the Soulreaver. Callan, who was brutally attacked by Fjall, seems to be alive and missing one eye. He reunites with his lover to mourn Syndril’s death. Brían (Eredin’s lover) comes across a broken piece of a monolith as the show cuts to Eredin himself, who is trapped in the chaos realm (yes, let’s call it that for now), where he finds a skull and wears it like a helmet. In Inis Dubh, the first signs of the need for witchers come up as the villagers put up notices requesting brave elves to sign up to slay vodniks (undead, abandoned corpses). A pregnant Éile asks Ithlinne to make yet another prediction. There’s no logical reason behind it. The writers put this scene in to get you excited about the connection of “Blood Origin” with the rest of the franchise. What does she say, though? She mentions the Aen Seidhe, the category of elves that Francesca and Filavandrel from “The Witcher” Season 2 belong to. She also says that one of Lark’s blood (meaning Éile’s bloodline) is going to bring about the end of the world or an end to the oppression of the elves. It’s as vague as prophecies usually are.
In isolation, this sounds incredibly and understandably cryptic. But the post-credits scene of “Blood Origin” makes things a little clearer. We see Avallac’h, who isn’t as good as Balor or Syndril when it comes to elven magic, standing creepily in the street, looking at a bunch of kids. When one of those kids turns, we notice the familiar face of Ciri. This means that Avallac’h has either found a functioning monolith in his timeline or used one before they all broke during the Conjunction of the Spheres and time traveled 1200 years into the future. Why? Well, it’s quite possible that Ciri is Éile and Fjall’s descendant. In “The Witcher” Season 2, we saw that she had Elder blood in her, which gave her the capability to make more witchers. Éile had intercourse with Fjall right after he became the first “prototype” witcher. So, it’s quite possible that her baby was born with similar powers, which were then passed down from one generation to another, all the way to Ciri. Avallac’h probably knows about this lineage and is trying to protect it from afar so that Ciri can lead the next elven uprising. Maybe we’ll get more of Avallac’h in Season 3 of “The Witcher” and see if Ciri and Geralt believe that he’s a time traveler who’s there to help.