THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST FOUR EPISODES OF ‘THE WITCHER’. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Nilfgaardian army launched an assault on the outer walls of the Cintrian kingdom early in Netflix’s The Witcher. Responding to that, Queen Calanthe rallies her troops to defend their homelands. Following this is the key decision by showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich who asserted what the viewers are about to experience for the remainder of the season.
Calanthe’s valiant army is overcome by their brutal oppressors and the queen’s husband breathes his last breath. In her last act of antagonism carried out in haste, Calanthe sends a many Nilfgaardians as she possibly can to meet their maker, before collapsing on floor after being fatally wounded. The Lioness of Cintra went down the way a lioness does, protecting her young. In this case, to protect Ciri. Calanthe dies at the end of episode 1, then takes the stage again in episode 4.
This slaying appears a bit messy when watching it for the first time as the episode is laden with action and flits between scenes like blood-starved Bruxa. But at this moment, The Witcher manages to stand out from its competitor’s shadow. It’s obvious cultural competitor being Game of Thrones.
GoT suffered from what was almost regarded by fans and critics alike as a cataclysmic climax. But the series was once heralded as one of the greatest works of TV pop art for most of its run. In an age that only knew Lord of The Rings, GoT managed to earn reverence for its brave storytelling and sheer indifference to established troops. It becomes the stalwart defender of fantasy which stands resolute.
However, Thrones’ oil ran out slowly. Its main strength was the drama is heavily relied on tension scraped thin across the series’ arcs but not enough butter to let the knife glide over the bread. This was the case for the first few seasons at least. Shows that aim to capture the similar magic of Thrones and the attention of the audience may try a similar tactic, maintaining suspense which treks onward at a snail’s pace. The Witcher does not follow that! With Calanthe’s battle, death and reappearance against a key Thrones scenario.
The Witcher earned itself comparisons to the dragon show. Even before people got a glimpse of the trailer. But if the comparisons were to be made now, when the inaugural season is open for viewing for fans, one would easily recognize the bravery and fearlessness of ‘The Witcher’ which body takes a step further. By killing Calanthe in the first episode, then reviving her in the fourth one. Using the magic of storytelling, Hissrich and her writing team find a more fulfilling reveal than a shocking death. By unfolding in three primary narrative threads in three different timelines,
The result acquired is clarity and exhilaration in retrospect, with Calanthe showing up the second time, swords are drawn in the Ballroom and yet another battle breaks out. Although, her untimely demise rivals the brave writing that saw Ned Stark lose his head, far greater significance is attached to hers. While Ned’s character looms, influencing the decisions of his children, Calanthe’s backstop provides clever and necessary exposition for The Witcher’s overarching narrative.
When one approaches The Witcher, they will inevitably draw some similarities from GoT such as the dimly-lit corridors, muddy battlefields, lush forests, and intimidatingly regal castles. But this Netflix series learned the lesson and built upon it.
Ned Stark changed the television but The Witcher recognized that and reworked it on its terms.