The Witcher: Blood Origin is a prologue to Netflix’s fantasy series and tells the story of some of its universe’s most important events, or at least it’s supposed to. The Conjunction of the Spheres is among the plotlines that crops up in this miniseries, but the most important and perhaps most disappointing is the origin of the series’ most important order: the witchers.
Blood Origin shows us the first witcher transformation (or at least we think it does?) but it also changes Witcher lore in a big way that throws into question the whole universe of the Netflix show — and it’s not even clear what the point of the retcon is.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for The Witcher: Blood Origin.]
Blood Origin follows the story of Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), an elf warrior who lived just before the Conjunction of the Spheres. Along with Éile (Sophia Brown) and some other elves, including the sorceress and general magic-user Zacaré (Lizzie Annis), attempts to prevent the evil mage Balor (Lenny Henry) from harnessing Chaos Magic to conquer other worlds. But when Balor unleashes a monster from one of these other worlds, Fjall has to undergo the first ever witcher transformation to defeat the creature and save his friends.
This is a rather large departure from the series’ history. Despite Blood Origin dealing with a mostly (but not entirely) unexplored period of the Witcher universe and taking place inside the Netflix universe rather than that of the books or games, the prequel series still manages to pull a confusing lore change that seems to totally rewrite who the witchers are.
Based on what we knew of the witchers’ creation and origins, they were a distinctly, and exclusively, human order. The mutated hunters provided a way for the expanding world of humans to protect themselves and their small villages and settlements in the newly conjoined worlds. Just as importantly, their creation was a long and arduous process of the desperate humans to find some way to protect themselves from the monsters that loomed in the dark. These early human witchers were tragic figures, partially monsters themselves, who were hated by humans and often lacked the control of their own fury necessary to safely live among them. But their enhanced abilities still made them vital protectors of the people who hated them.
This makes the circumstances of the first witcher’s creation in Blood Origin disappointing, to say the least. Sure, there’s a somewhat imminent monster threat, and sure, our band of merry elves was certainly going to need more than their regular combat prowess to take it down, but the details and risks of the transformation, or where it even comes from, are vague at best.
Rather than an arduous new process, or the dangerous combination of several different magics in a desperate attempt to protect people living in fear of monsters, it simply feels like Zacaré throws together a well-known series of herbs and roots to make her special superhero monster-killer serum. And if we’re to believe that this is just the first seed of the witcher idea that humans would later pick up, then Blood Origin never makes the differences clear.
The first witcher being an elf and the whole thing being an elvish creation certainly feels like it should say something new and important about the world of Netflix’s Witcher universe. But after two seasons of the show it’s not clear that it means much at all, considering how thoroughly human the organization is by the time of Geralt and Ciri. Which raises the question: If none of this matters to the larger story, and if Fjall’s transformation isn’t important to the witchers more generally, then why does Blood Origin exist at all?