Even without the Baby Yoda memes, The Witcher out shined it’s Disney counterpart.
Three episodes into Netflix’s new original series The Witcher I felt a sense of déjà vu.
The feeling lingered, challenging me to solve it’s puzzle only to be disappointed when I disregarded the pieces in favor of streaming another episode.
But for once capitalism saved the day in the form of an ad from Disney… The Mandalorian.
A broody, emotionless, last of his kind, hired gun, paired with quick-witted side kicks that’s tasked with fighting against new monsters every episode.
Is it Mando or Geralt of Rivia?
Disney took a departure from their Jedi centric stories to focus on a new bounty hunting galactic gunslinger. But from the beginning, The Witcher slaying different monsters in medieval fashion seemed…familiar.
Possibly because from Supernatural to Grimm, recent history is littered with examples of serial monster hunters working in a television format. The Witcher appeared to be another entry into the syllabus until the series mutated into a new kind of monster.
After it’s first act, The Witcher defiantly stepped out of the shadow of it’s predecessors.
The fog of déjà vu lifted and I found myself white-knuckling my remote, pointing it at the television for the first moment I could skip the credits to continue my adventure with Geralt.
Meanwhile the Baby Yoda Memes racked up unread notifications on my phone…
Instead of leaning on the format like a crutch, Geralt’s episodic monster slaying helped define his evolving world view. On the other hand while Mando’s mid-season meanderings were fun, they also were aimless.
The real turn, however, in The Witcher happened when the ancillary character plots came into focus, bringing with them a larger narrative and purpose for the monster killer. Meanwhile Mando’s crew never got enough screen time to warrant fully flushed out character arcs.
To be fair to The Mandalorian, The Witcher has volumes of canon to pull from while Disney is creating something entirely new.
The most telling example of this divide comes in each show’s dialogue. At times The Mandalorian comes across as forced while The Witcher falls right off the page.
Even without a book series to adapt, it seems inexcusable for The Mandalorian to not stick their landing.
At the last moment a new villain appeared, sacrifices were made, and our heroes escaped.
But what’s next?
The biggest mystery during the course of the first season wasn’t a mystery.
Baby Yoda can use the force. Mystery solved.
No matter how many times the characters in The Mandalorian are perplexed by seeing the force in action, viewers at home, who have three trilogies worth of force experience under their belt, are not. The upcoming reveal, whenever it happens in future seasons, will have no punch behind it.
Now for the record – I would love for The Mandalorian to surprise me. I would love for the show to veer off into something more but right now after one season of Disney’s marquee streaming show, I don’t know why I’m supposed to care about upcoming seasons other than to get updated Baby Yoda memes.
Meanwhile The Witcher season two seems rife with questions in need of answers.
Why is Circi so important? Is Yennefer really gone? What is Geralt’s plan to protect Circi from Nilfgaard?
The Witcher drew up season one knowing full well they wanted to lead fans straight into season two while Disney seems content to have a modest resolution to their inaugural season.
Neither approach is better than the other but Disney’s seems more naive in the current streaming age.
Even though Geralt and Mando are nearly the same character, they exist in two different worlds. So maybe it isn’t fair to compare a space bounty hunter with a medieval monster killer. Maybe Disney has left their best stuff in the tank while Netflix is running out of cannon quick. Maybe it’s okay to love a show just for their memes.
Regardless of where you personally fall on the spectrum between a fantasy kingdom and a galaxy far far away, maybe the real question is when can we expect to see more from our emotionless killers?