Slate Spoiler Specials: The Witcher

Listen to this episode

S1: Right now.

S2: Charlotte, great paper.

S3: What’s in the box?

S2: Yo, yo, yo, yo.

S4: Hello and welcome to today’s Spoiler special. I’m Sam Adams, the senior editor at Slate and the editor Slate culture blog Browbeat. And today, I’m in Philadelphia, but I’m joined by a studio full of The Witcher enthusiasts in New York. We have Benjamin Frisch, producer of Decoder Ring I, editorial assistant Rachel Hempton and Daniel Schrader, who produces the gist.

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S5: Hey, welcome, everyone. Today, we’re doing the Netflix series, The Whicher. Ordinarily, this is the part where I give a summary of what the thing is about. Basically, in this case, Henry Cavill has a sword and kills things to two swords.

S6: Excuse me? He has two swords. Yeah. He has two swords. He has some sort of magic of spell casting abilities. He has one sword for monsters and he has one sword for humans. That’s very important. The silver sword is from monsters because, you know, like monsters are very weak to silver. That’s very important.

S7: Every single monster and every single law is allergic to silver.

S4: All right. Well, I’ve already embarrassed myself, so I’m just gonna go and let you guys talk.

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S5: Let’s start with our sort of traditional thumbs up, thumbs down, whether or thumbs even apply in this case. What did you guys think?

S8: I really loved it for the first four episodes. I was like, I don’t know what the fuck is happening, but I love everything that’s happening. I was with my roommate who was so much more of a skeptic than I was. And he just kept looking at me and I was like, I. Please don’t judge me. But I love everything that’s happening on the television.

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S9: Like, it’s absolutely wild.

S8: And it was just so entertaining and so funny. And I loved it. That’s what I got to think hard.

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S10: Same like this is the most mething to exist. I love this kind of stuff forever and always. I grew up on Xena and Hercules. And so this just scratches all of those itches and is so much prettier and more expensive.

S11: So all the thumbs, all my fingers or thumbs and they’re all up. Daniel, who convince you to watch the show? I don’t know. Huh.

S12: So I love The Witcher Three, which is the video game based on the same property. This is based on a series of books by a Polish author. And I’m a huge fan of that game. And so I came into this sort of knowing the world a little bit more. And so I’m definitely a thumbs up as well, but kind of a conditional thumbs up. I think when I was watching this, I was so into it, like I I watched it, I think almost entirely. And one day, like, I could not same put it down. And then when it was over was like that kind of had some problems. But it didn’t stop me from loving it in the moment, I guess. And I hope we get to talk about some of those problems, of course.

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S11: What problems?

S5: My introduction to this world came sadak regularly get emails from Netflix like telling me what new press screens that are available on their site and they come with what are called dinars, which are lists of things that you are supposed to do not reveal about the series.

S13: So I knew that The Witcher existed and it was a game and that was it. But the list of dinars for the show was so insane that I was like, I have to see what the hell this thing is about. So this is a spoiler special. I’m going to spoil a good chunk of the series, I think. But this. This list is like beautiful poetry all by itself. And I feel the need to share it with you. So Netflix is list of things not to reveal about The Witcher. Do not reveal slash discuss full monsters other than kicking Moora and strigoi. This includes Sirica Talk Golden Dragon Roach Hound Jin Doppler do not reveal the cost of Jennifers transformation. That enchantment is in fact torture or that she loses her womb. Do not show. Discuss how Geraldton’s Siri meet Heida urchins transformation into duni and his importance going forward. series’ powers parentheses, scream and model falls karma killing people close. Perens they are operating in three timelines. Gerald, having been in Sintra during the attack slash the pilot. All deaths parentheses.

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S5: Renfree calamity. mousex is’t ike da da. Being an elf, young girl, his mother and of course desire turning girls into eels.

S7: Of course. Wow. Wait, wait. What?

S14: That she just lost her womb. Like it just she can’t find it. Yeah.

S7: She’s playing hide and go seek with her womb.

S15: Maybe the Netflix algorithm actually wrote this list and I have been brilliantly manipulated by this. But just she loses her womb like what does that mean? So of course I had to watch to find out. And now I know. And my life is infinitely richer for it. I mean, the whole history of this thing is really kind of amazing. There’s a series of, as you mentioned, stories and novels by this Polish author and arrests of calfskin going back to like the mid eighties. There’s a movie called The Hexa that was made about 20 years ago there, the video games, of course, there’s this whole enormous kind of expanded cosmos with what seems like way more story than any of these things would require. But it’s an incredibly tangled and sort of fascinating to attempt town.. Ravell as a tertiary gamer.

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S14: I am just aware of The Witcher and how good Witcher 3 is and everything like that, but hadn’t really encountered this before the show though. Then as the show aired, I became a Wicky Aficionados, where I read many, many wiki pages about the different aspects of the Witcher law, so I could definitely go into detail about them, such as the love surprise, but we can get into that in a bit. So basically I just am great at reading Wikipedia.

S16: I had absolutely no background with the whichare besides the fact that I watched The Tudors and therefore I’m familiar with Henry Campbell’s abs and Netflix just served it to me.

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S8: And I was like, you know what? The Netflix algorithm knows me very well. I did not even bother with repeating anything. As I watch Civ because I saw the first three pages of Wikipedia and I was like, you know what? I’m not gonna read a novel while I’m also watching the show. I’m just not gonna understand what’s happening. And that’s how I went through this, the first like six episode. It’s beautiful.

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S5: The interesting thing about rereading that list to me is that after having watched the show for eight hours, I still don’t know what like half of those things mean 100 percent like Dhara being an elf.

S17: I don’t remember Tara. Oh, that was the black kid that saved her and then got murdered.

S18: The magical negro of the show, Sam.

S19: Every show has won the world of the race goating.

S5: And this thing is very weird. Well, like talk about that. Just going through this. Imagine that this takes place in three timelines on which is not something the show tells you right away. And I think it might be like the third or fourth episode where you finally kind of start to figure that out of the fact that there are these if you’ve seen Westworld recently, the fact that there are these three storylines going on, one centered on Geralt, one sets it on Jennifer Vanderberg, one centered on Siri, the line cup of Sintra, the fact that there’s no interaction between these things for several episodes like meh clue you in that there’s some time frame shenanigans going on. But when did you all sort of start to figure that out?

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S12: For me, it was the banquet episode, which is I think the fourth episode when we Geralt, by the way, Samak’s Garralda, not Geralt people.

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S15: Oh my God, I’m Bergenheim for that.

S19: Well, I hope.

S12: Garralda accompanies. Yes, you’re right. That’s his name in the game as he’s known as Dandelion, which has been.

S8: I should have kept that name.

S6: Yes. Here is a sort of foppish bard who meets Garralda by chance and goes on a couple of adventures with him and sort of takes on a project of sort of rehabilitating the witchers name. I guess he’s sort of the comic relief companion. Your secondary party member, as it were, to get Alte in a few of the episodes.

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S11: He runs into him all the time. Yeah, it’s like a very random.

S12: This world probably only has like 10 square miles, but he accompanies him to the banquet, which you find out as the banquet for one of the characters who you already know is like dead in the first episode.

S14: So then you’re like she’s series grandmother and she is having a banquet that that is basically testing out suitors for her daughter and they run through all of the suitors. And then this one guy comes in and he’s like, I claim her by the love surprise. Everybody is watching worlds like, what the fuck is the law of surprise? And so then as it unfolds, he pulls up his mask and turns out he’s a monster. But really, he’d been like transformed into one through magic. And the love surprise is this thing where you can do something for someone like if I saved Rachel’s life and she was like, oh, my gosh, how could I repay you? I say, I claim the love surprise, which means that I get the thing that she has but doesn’t know she has yet, which they say in the show is like, oh, you know, like an extra crop of wheat or a baby. And so then the only laws of surprise that we encounter are babies where this soldier had claimed this woman. And then at the end of the episode, Garralda ends up jokingly claiming the law’s surprise that then the baby that is involved in that is Siri, who we get to know disappointingly.

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S7: Okay. But can we also talk about the fact that this soldier was like old enough to claim the last surprise when this other woman was a baby? And we’re just SLSA believe that they fall in love like no one’s gonna talk about the fact that he was.

S12: I don’t think it has. They have to be a baby. I think it’s just like your first born child.

S7: No, that he she was a baby. Oh, gosh, yes. He saved her father from his life. And he didn’t know that his wife was pregnant at the time. And.

S9: That’s why she became his through the loves, the prive, love that part knows like well. So you’re telling me this man married someone, that he was alive enough to save someone else’s life while she was in the womb?

S14: And like, isn’t this just like Jacob from the end of that Twilight series imprinting on a baby?

S9: You’re not going to talk about. That’s why it would be too much. But that was fucking crazy.

S5: Very confusing right from the beginning that Jody Mae, who plays Quinn Galanti and is 44 years old, looks to be, you know, the mother of this teenage girl. And then that she’s like her grandmother. And there’s no explanation for that whatsoever. And I guess if you’re thinking this is like some kind of quasi medieval timeline and people are like having babies when they’re like 13 or something, you can make the math work out. But it’s like very weird and not something that the show like even addresses ever. We find out later that some of the characters named with her magically enabled ones basically don’t age. This is the benefit of losing your room.

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S14: And as you get to look hot forever, that part’s just needlessly confusing and means that like that we are running through these three different time streams of Jennifer and Garralda and Siri that we can’t actually really place ourselves very well in any of their timelines without understanding the way any of them have aged. And if they don’t age, then where are we like when we get the Jennifer plotline of her having to save that woman and the baby? It seems like she’s been working for these people for maybe like 30 years or something. And yet she still looks like she just finished at the Magic Academy. And so that was like a really bad part in terms of the storytelling for me.

S12: I didn’t have a problem with the time stuff at all. And I think it might come from the fact that I’m already familiar with the characters in the world. And so I knew that like sorcerous is don’t age and that guaraldi’s is like super old. And I first noticed that the plotlines were coming together. I was like actually very pleasantly surprised because it was like, oh, it’s like I was finally clued into this thing that I thought the show was doing in a really interesting way. But that all comes with the caveat of like having a pretty well-developed sense of what the world already was.

S16: I mean, I think that’s a general problem with the show, that it’s very obvious that there’s a huge amount of world development. Like all the elements are there. It’s that the show runners don’t seem to have known which storylines to actually do a lot of exposition on, which seems the problem of adapting to books or short stories like five novels and three video games into eight episodes in a way that is cohesive. But it just felt like they kept mentioning like people and things and places and war isn’t battles that had happened. And then that was it. They would just mention them and then it would never be talked about again until like six episodes later. And you’d be like, why didn’t I hear that? They know there’s Jennifer’s boobs again. I don’t know what’s happening anymore. And they’ll be at my entire expense at the show.

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S4: Like literally every five minutes there’s Jennifer’s boobs.

S9: Someone who’s like someone should call Jennifer’s body, which was a great scene, right?

S5: Yeah. You get the feeling that this is being adapted from a world that has all this complexity and their lines, like I wrote this one down. The north has been at war since MNLF guard took ebbing. If legend is true, the wild hunts years behind the curve. And then you’ve no idea like that.

S19: That’s actually very significant.

S9: Or do they ever explain that?

S19: No. The whale hunt is like a very important thing. One of the games is called.

S5: Right. It just makes you wanna feel like one of those like Game of Thrones maps where like, I just like where he is being and like, where’s the sudden pass? And like, I mean, just even saying this stuff makes me want to, like, give myself a wedgie. But like such a nerd. But I don’t even understand. I’m talking about. I think there’s a balance that’s trying to be struck here between, you know, obviously, like there’s a core built-In audience for these things, you know, all this stuff. And you don’t want to over explain it. But just also like, where is that from here and how do you get there? And can’t they call these people something other than NOFX Guardians?

S10: I think that part of the overcomplicated world building and the long running storyline of the series is where I really lost it. Personally, I think my favorite parts. And for me, the strongest parts are when we get the sort of one off stories that from my research on Wikipedia seems to be the basis of a lot of the short stories that this was pulled from. So you have the story about Jennifer and yasgur and Garralda going to kill and or save. Spoiler alert the Gold Dragon. You have the doujin story and things like that where there were kind of standalone pieces and I would love to watch more of those where you get just like a drop in to guaraldi’s adventures. And a drop into Jennifer’s adventures, as opposed to having to figure out this overarching story about the politics of this world that doesn’t really have any coherent substance yet from my perspective.

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S7: Yeah, I feel like it was battling between being a Monster of the Week show and being like a Game of Thrones type show. And it didn’t necessarily strike that balance well into perhaps the last episode. Like there are so many questions that were never answered like that every Lee answered. How do which is become lynchers besides the fact that most people die when it happens? My least important question is whether roach the horse was cityand because the way that girl talked to it was like this is horse.

S9: Understand what’s happening? Is he a monster like Gatorade or is just a horse? Well, well, we don’t know.

S19: Roads rule is Roache a magic horse that lives forever? Like, oh, I think he’s just a horse. Okay.

S17: It like how would they know about any of those and then replace it with another road? Yeah, no, I actually think that.

S19: That’s right. But I think that in the law there’s like multiple horses in there. Okay. But that might be wrong. Is this like.

S14: Oh, who is it? Is it Barbra Streisand who got her dog cloned so she can keep having the same dog? Is that the scenario?

S17: Do you remember everything that the previous roach went through getting very dark and we’re obligated. Where’s the show about Roach?

S20: None of it made sense.

S5: I think Roach is like equally ascension as Henry Cavill, basically. Maybe we should go through sort of like character by character rather than trying to recount his whole plot. You know, Henry Cavill hasn’t done a lot outside of the sort of franchise movies. So we really in a way, I haven’t seen him act all that much, but he’s got this very weird job here. People have a lot of attachment to the way that this character looks and sounds. And, you know, he’s coming into it as sort of a movie star, I guess. I mean, he’s Superman. And although he hasn’t really been in much kind of other than the DC movies, but he’s got to basically kind of copy this performance that people are going to expect. I mean, how good a garralda is he?

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S8: I really liked him in this show. I think that he has a face made for period pieces. He was decent in the tutor’s. I think he did a really good balance of the character seems to be perpetually taking his jobs seriously, but also thinking like everyone around him is an idiot and he’s just half caught between like disdain and amusement for everyone around him. But also this. There’s like a humanity to him that you don’t really expect from a monster catcher who’s just taking people’s money is where he’s like, oh, I care about like this one harmless monster. Like we shouldn’t kill him just to kill. Like he has this, like, wildness to him. But also he does a lot of stupid things. I just I liked him in this role. I was fine with him, even though Henry Cabot is a person and the fuck out of me because he doesn’t dump things in the past.

S12: I also I also liked him in this. He’s apparently a fan of the game and based his performance in large part on the character performance in the games which read for me. And I thought he did a really good job.

S14: Also, just that body ordinary like that’s what I was here for and it was great. But the tub scene. Oh yes.

S7: Those are so gratuitous and I loved it. Um, yeah. I also loved his Christian Bale as Batman voice. Like, why was he doing this like deep grass the entire time?

S4: Yeah, I definitely like not really knowing the games and just sort of being plopped into the first episode. It’s like, oh, he’s really just gonna he’s gonna do this like the whole time.

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S7: It was hilarious. It was like you. You committed and I hope your throat is okay after this entire thing.

S5: A lot of like t involved a lot of therp code.

S8: Yeah. Really? I take care of that voice.

S5: You talk about Jennifer of Vanderberg. Yes, it is. Hopefully I’m pronouncing that correctly. Finger, bourg, finger back. Fingers effect.

S21: It’s okay. None of the namethe entirely make sense.

S12: He’s from Vanderberg. That’s why she’s Jennifer.

S8: Yeah, but the name Jennifer of venga Berg just defies logic to me.

S19: And I can’t explain why Jennifer venga boss.

S5: I mean, I like that they just call her like that. They just call her universe.. That’s like taking the sort of George R.R. Martin thing of like what if I named somebody Jeff, but through in like 18 extra vowels and that would make it like a fantasy name. Just like what if it’s just Jennifer with a Y?

S14: When I did think it was cute when Garralda called her yen at times that was that was adorable. I liked her before she got pretty. I really enjoyed her struggles as a childhood hunchback who gets purchased for four marks, which is probably like, I don’t know, a dollar less than yeah. Less than a pig and has to go live at this Magic Castle place and. Learn magic, and I really enjoyed watching her struggle as she tried to figure out how to do this and access this deep well of emotions, that she needs to be able to perform such amazing magic feats. But then she goes and gets pretty. And I just found her boring after that. I don’t know. I don’t think personally the actress really did much for me. So maybe that’s it.

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S12: I think the greatest weakness of the show is probably the treatment of her in the middle section of the show. Her whole baby arc. Yeah, that is was extremely bad and kind of came out of nowhere. And to me just seemed to play into this trope of like women, the only kind of plotlines they’re allowed to have around children. And like it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me why she was so interested in having a baby when she had all this hot, groovy power as it just didn’t understand why she would just adopt a child.

S7: It’s a magical fantasy world. There are surely orphans like you can just find a child on the street, like the way they steal one, steal the child. You’re a witch. Like the way the motherhood plotline came out of it. It was very much like, of course, Jennifer wants a baby. She’s a woman now, just like Blye. I feel like she would have given a greater thought to giving her womb away if she had any lifelong desire to be a mother. But also, you could easily get around not having a womb to have a child. It just felt like it was there for its sake. Unifor needs a plotline in the middle before she admits. Gerald. We got a game with them.

S14: Well, in the way that she got angry at Garralda for having a surprise child. And she was just jealous of that allium. That was dumb. Yeah. The whole baby plotline for me was just get rid of this, guys. Shut it down.

S12: Well, it did seem like they moved past it, so I was happy that hopefully they never returned to that. Do you think she’s still alive, Jennifer? Yes. Spoiler alert. She’s definitely still alive.

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S14: She’s definitely the last time we saw her. She does the fire blast like we don’t see her again.

S5: And I’m not saying that she’s dead, but like, yes, she disappears at the end of the season. But I mean, I think it’s not. I don’t think you’re even really supposed to worry about whether or not she’s coming back.

S14: Yeah. I mean, that’s every TV show, especially fantasy show. Unless you see their actual corpse with like blood pouring from it, then they’re probably still alive.

S15: Right. So basically just to kind of give people like a vague sense of her plotline, she has this, as you mentioned, this kind of hunchbacked daughter. You know, it’s this kind of, I don’t know, Dickensian fantasy childhood where she’s basically just living in the pig pen and like doing chores and he just gets sick of her and like cells or desire this sort of, you know, Hogwarts headmistress for like fifty cents one day because she has some kind of connection to chaos, which is the thing that sort of causes magic in this universe. Like it’s just a force that some people can channel and some people can’t. And she’s got this nascent power. She goes and studies at this place for a while and doesn’t really seem like she’s getting anywhere, but then kind of suddenly learns to do this thing and then and then is basically told that if she wants to kind of send her her full maged him, she has to you have to give something. You get something. And in this case, that something is her womb, which they remove from her body, and then kind of like crisp up on a little hibachi and then we grind it into paste and paint her with it and do some sort of spell and whatever. And then her body straightens up and her jaw, which he’s been kind of like jetting out to one side for three episodes kind of centers. And, you know, she figures out how to do a smoky eye and B, to dress for her body type and just walks in and is like superhot. She gives up her womb to be hot, basically is her character.

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S12: I don’t hate that idea on principle, like the fact that you have to give something up to be like super beautiful. And there are interesting, I think law reasons why sorcerer verses or sorcerers shouldn’t be sterile in this universe, but I think that that creates interesting complications.

S22: But just the way that it’s used in the story just feels kind of obvious and sort of black.

S5: Right now I was thinking while I was watching it, like, I mean, there is a way where that works, you know, and it is like obviously that’s like a huge thing for a person to give up is like literally giving up like a part of their body. This whole, you know, foreclosing this whole like, you know, potential part of their life in order to get power. It’s just like that. That seems to be like the only aspect of her character. It’s just reducing her like just to that aspect that makes it so kind of seem so retrograde.

S18: Yeah. And not to be the adoption thing like overhead. But the first baby that she seems to really enjoy is not her. Oh, she was gonna raise somebody else’s child. And I’m like, why is this option suddenly foreclosed to the point where you gonna kill a dragon for? I just find a baby on the street.

S9: It’s not that hard. There’s one running around. This entire show, just like doing her own show. You can find a child pretty easily. It just made no sense, like why she suddenly wanted like a biological child of her own, didn’t understand it.

S5: Right. It seems like in this world they’re probably just babies like sitting in the mud, like everyone just pick one up.

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S18: In every single fantasy world, there’s always some orphan who grows up to be like a powerful person. And I’m like, go find that orphan. Take care of that orphan raised that orphan.

S7: The orphan will love you. It just didn’t make any like the priding of biological children. And this was so. I think that’s what made that storyline more. Sex is unheard of. Been wanting a child. It was just like hard being like I only want one who was of my own flesh like seams on important in this world.

S21: Not going to lie, but that’s just my opinion.

S8: So there’s the and then there’s Siri, who is perhaps the least interesting person in this entire show.

S10: Siri, my favorite characters, you can tell, is the granddaughter of Queen karl-anthony, who we met in the first episode and who died. And she is the child of surprise that Garralda won by accident at the end of the banquet episode when the couple finds out that they are pregnant and he tries to run away from that and deny that this child is his or is associate with him in any way. So he like gets out of Dodge, but then she has to spend her entire time of the season searching for him, trying to find him after her kingdom has been overthrown by MNLF guard and all of her family has been killed. And so we follow her as she runs through the forest, encountering beasts and villains who are trying to stop her from getting there and trying to use her for their own nefarious means that we don’t really understand. She is magical.

S16: Yeah, there’s a lot of hints dropped about how important she is to the world and whatever apocalyptic event is about to happen, but it’s never explained.

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S19: So and is of no consequence to the season. You have to see it. Did you have any? I didn’t. I didn’t think she was a bad performer.

S23: Oh, no, no, no. I just want her story. Actress is fine. I just think it was a lot of running. Yeah. And a lot of like exasperated huffing. And she’s kind of like an aimless Frodo. Yeah. Yeah. I mean she didn’t have a lot of like she did have a lot of agency in herself.

S22: So there was just not a lot of thrust to her storyline because it’s like, what does she want you just like. I don’t know. I always like sort of I guess trying to find Garreau court has no now and no, it has no idea who he is or how to do it.

S16: Also, I just hated that the elf kid Dhara just was so willing to sacrifice myself for her multiple times. And I’m like, this kid doesn’t know you.

S18: Why he’s. Why is he still here? Go home. Also, who is the tribe of Amazonian women? They me in the forest.

S23: Excuse me. They are dry adds. I was upset about this.

S14: There was some magic water that’s had to be drunk guys at magic water that that like Devine’s people’s intentions.

S6: And yet they didn’t force the doppelganger to drink it, which would have resolved a lot of things, a whole lot of power lines.

S8: But also, can we talk about the fact that that was his name was mouth that mouth fat mouth buff?

S19: Yeah, mass sect.

S15: Just sounds like that must be some weird like translation thing, but it’s actually completely different in the book. It’s not like his name is Polish for a mouse bag or something and they just will translate it weirdly.

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S4: Yeah, I wrote that.

S8: Oh, great. That was a great choice.

S14: Yeah.

S10: I mean I’d be curious about translation, things like that, because I know that originally when it was published in English, the Polish author preferred the term Hexa instead of Whicher for the translation of guaraldi’s character. And that’s actually what the first, I think, movie and TV show that they made about this were called. And Hexa is such a bad name in comparison to Whicher like Whicher. For some reason adds this like interesting mystery in a way. The weird. Yeah, it’s weird and way that hexa is like, oh, what do you do? Hexes.

S19: So I’ll give you that print translation wise.

S14: That’s probably the mouse sacc versus other name issue.

S22: One of the things that is really interesting about the show is that the cast is pretty diverse racially, which is not the case in the Games and is actually one of the main criticisms that’s been leveled against the games is that they are very, very white, to which there is a huge Cobb Dré of fans who say, look, this is excuse me, this is Slavic fantasy. You can’t possibly have, you know, multiracial people in this Slavic fantasy because people in Poland can’t possibly imagine other people of other races. And so to me, a lot of the the multiracial casting in the show seems to be a direct response to that, which I actually think is really admirable. Rachel, I would love for you to explain. I think that it maybe falters in some ways for a fantasy show.

S8: I was very impressed by the diversity. I was directly comparing the Game of Thrones and I was just like, oh, my God, there are black people in speaking roles and they’re not all light-skinned. I would have said that the three main characters are alway passing and I’m the diversity only goes so far as to be like, okay, you can be like a side character. You can be like the witch who goes bad, you can be like the elf kid who gets shot with an arrow, or some point you can be like the Dryad Queen. But God forbid you have a fully fleshed out storyline again in terms of fantasy shows. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of diversity, but I do think that a lot of it was. Surface level in a way where it’s like, okay, we’ll let a few of you appear per episode, but we’re not going to give you like a storyline that is actually like integral to this show, like Yassky or could have not been a white man like any of the other characters who appear more than once and are not just like rote kind of non develop. Could have been non-white. I would say one of the magic mentors could have been, yeah, it not just like the lead evil witch Frangela.

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S14: Right, though. I loved her personally. Oh yeah. Yeah. She was great. I loved her story. How she went from like she was kind of the lesser person in the school they’re in. And then turns out spoiler she fucks everything up like she’s making majors under her. Kill themselves and turn themselves into fireballs like she is a badass. I want to star about her sister.

S9: I just wish they had explained how that happened.

S18: They just went from being like this kind of quiet girl who’s like, assignment’s the kingdom that she wants doesn’t go the way she wants. And then it’s like and now she’s in a girl and now she’s burning down everything.

S8: Yeah, I will say that the person who plays Jennifer. Yes, he is half Indian. Yeah. Yeah. She’s half Indian. Like you’re not lotro. Yeah, she’s not white. They are all white passing.

S5: However, one thing that seems weird to me with an intro outro, as you mentioned, is Indian. British. Is that it feels like we’re at the beginning when Jennifer is like kind of like impoverished, hunchbacked before she gets her like womb glow up. She she looks more sort of like visibly Indian to me, like I’m 100 percent about her. Yeah. And then once she gets hot. Yeah. A light like her and make her up to see much more white.

S14: Yeah, I mean, her womb was definitely a whitening cream.

S8: It was. I yeah. You know, that’s what happens when you take your womb out as you get whiter, apparently. Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like the showrunners were kind of thinking about it in a very superficial way. And I appreciate the efforts that they made. But like I’m not going to point to this show as some kind of like triumph in fantasy, like it could have been a lot better. Someone said this on Twitter thing, things like Mikki Kendall or something, but like The Witcher is inherently a very cruel universe. And so a part of me was glad not to see a bunch of black characters get like killed off in some terrible way. Miner blessing thing is like I’m just glad it wasn’t like a Game of Thrones scenario where all the poor brown people start worshipping this white lady, you know, so.

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S9: Right. Could have been worse. Could have been worse in a statement on most things and diversity. Could it be?

S5: And it does point to me to like one of the benefits of like algorithmic entertainment, which obviously has a lot of like downsides. You know, they’re like diverse audience is out there for the stuff. And like Netflix has the data that shows them that. And then they just put that data back into the show. The like, if you cast the show without white people, like you’re gonna lose like whatever, 28, 70 percent of our viewers.

S4: And that’s like Heuser of all you watch is like pay attention to these people there rather than, you know, movie studios or TV networks just going with their biases about like what people will and won’t watch. Like the dad actually works in to the good. You’re.

S14: I just wanted some gay stuff to pop up, too, and that was nowhere to be found. I don’t know. I think of fantasy as inherently queer genre for me. Like that’s that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. And it was disappointing that there was no like. Like it would’ve been nice. Maybe like he ask you was in demand or something. Yes.

S22: There is coded as gay in both the show and the games. He’s like he’s definitely gay coded. But he. But so far as I know, he’s pretty straight.

S14: Well, yeah. And they even talk about like in the in some of the episodes like the when they go to the banquet and when they find the gin they talk about Yasgur’s exploits with women and stuff and like that’s fine whatever. But like I don’t know just. He’s definitely also with dudes. Yeah. Yeah. But I would have just like a bit more of like I don’t know, gay stuff.

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S5: There’s even like a big emergency there, which I think like you see two women kissing for a minute or something, but it’s like it’s a pretty girl in the pretty like hetero sexless orgy for you.

S17: No, it’s not. Yeah.

S14: A little while there, nobody seems to have any agency in that. At that point, they’re all just kind of like under a thunderous bell. And then she says that one word. That’s I don’t know. It was like spam or something.

S17: And they all just kind of are like that comes along. Right.

S20: Did you say yes. Bam. Like me, you know. Yeah.

S23: Well it does seem also pretty chaste. Well, I would not say that. Yeah. Like there’s a lot of sex in this show. Okay. Maybe there’s some. I mean there’s a lot of boobs. Yeah.

S7: A lot of boobies. Basil’s like come on. Can you I mean you’re like a hundred kabal but like what is that? Is that what you like? Come on, guys. That’s just not fair.

S5: I mean, I’m pretty sure the algorithm would tell them that they need more Henry Cavill just generally.

S6: So there’s always hope for a second season.

S7: True. I am thrilled there’s gonna be a second season. They’ve renewed it before it even premiere.

S14: Yeah. Yeah. I’m just so glad they were willing to spend so much money on this. Yeah. As someone who is very upset at Netflix for canceling the. Okay. Yes, I’ll bring it up whenever I can. I do appreciate that they were willing to put so much money behind this and make it like an expensive looking well-made fantasy series as opposed to a lot of fantasy series which the reason that I cannot watch them is because they are so cheap and the magic looks so bad and is just it looks like they’re on sets from the original Star Trek sometimes.

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S10: And so like for this show to really just put all the money into it. I was very happy.

S12: I thought the sets were shining in this. I thought the monsters looked a little wonky sometimes that dragon. And some of the other, like the Cedar Ranger, didn’t totally work. But I agree, there’s clearly some money in the show, especially. I thought the costumes were all really well done. Mm hmm. It was easy to sort of fall into the world in that way, but you want in a really good fantasy show as opposed to, say, a BBC sci fi show from the early 90s where it looks like it’s made in a tin can or a doctor who today.

S7: Daniel, what do you think about the comparatives, the Game of Thrones?

S22: Clearly, there is some Game of Thrones thought put behind this, but it also seems to want to be its own thing. I didn’t mind the Monster of the Week stuff. I thought that it was interesting how they were able to kind of weave the monster of the week stuff in to the larger political world. But again, that comes from somebody who has a larger understanding of what’s going on in this universe. So it didn’t bother me.

S12: And I’m all for something that’s a little lighter than Game of Thrones or something that’s a little kampia that still has some of the same political intrigue that isn’t as boring and slow and lacking in magic.

S8: I mean, I think that is what I like about this show more than Game of Thrones is that whenever Game of Thrones tried to be funny, it always fell flat. For me a little bit, it was just like, OK, I’m sure Terrians fine. But this show seems to not want to be super serious, which I really enjoy. Like, it feels like there’s an embarrassment with the pretension, wasn’t there? Yeah, exactly. Like it feels like some of them are like we’re going to try and make fantasy serious and important and political. And this shows like yeah, it exists. But also like this shit’s dumb.

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S14: Yeah. Like Game of Thrones tried to trick us into thinking that people like Kit Harington could act. This show is not trying to do any sort of thing like that. Yeah, the best part of the show is no Emma Clark and no Kit Harrington.

S5: Right. I mean, I think it is not afraid to be like not only silly, but like like that Rachel, like actively kind of dumb. And it’s like not kind of trying to be stuffy in period. P.S. I think there’s an it took me a little while to sort of adapt to this, but there’s a moment in like I don’t think I’m the first or second episode where I can’t remember what they say to them, but someone says something to Garralda and Henry Cavill responds. That’s not a thing.

S15: Just like other not even trying to make it sound like this. You know, they’re not doing like sort of fakes like 13th century dialogue or whatever. Like people say shit all the time and they ask your character, I mean, is it’s completely just like a little convention fanboy just tagging along. And, you know, it’s incredibly like modern character that feels like nothing. You know, faux mediæval about. And so there’s that real. This is maybe a little bit grandiose, but it sort of reminds me of like Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars movies where she just like is not trying to do like the genre thing at all. Just some of the characters feel like really kind of modern and contemporary. And that’s sort of a fun element. I don’t know that there’s any risk of taking it too seriously to begin with, that the show certainly does not take itself seriously.

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S10: Yeah. yasgur also writes a fantastic song.

S15: We have to talk about. Yeah.

S14: Toss a coin to your whicher is best song. 20-20. Give it all the awards. It needs a Grammy. I’m into it. I’m ready to start like learned on guitar and start singing with my friends. It’s just one of those songs like It Sticks In Your Head, but it’s on annoyingly sticking in your head, at least for me. I don’t know how everybody else feels Benzedrine. It’s it’s definitely stuck in my head. It’s got quite a hook.

S11: The thing is, it’s not the range of cast me. I do not even know that if it’s a Game of Thrones, see Game of Thrones, bad guys performed by the National Hot T.

S5: Yeah, I feel like I’m in there. Must be, you know, a billion like, you know, bedroom acoustic guitar like YouTube covers that there already. I know. Like so there’s like a Ukraine, there’s a lot of metal has done a version of it. Yeah. I mean this is a show that is gonna like built to be Mehmed in some ways. I don’t know if they anticipated that was the thing that would take off necessarily. But that song has been called, you know, like a jam and a bop and like everything else. People have really latched onto it.

S8: The Bangor slaps at some of the kids say it. Yeah, I do appreciate. At one point they ask you is writing a song.

S9: And he’s literally at one point says that’s a lot of exposition to just put in a song like Wow, The Met and the Levels.

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S14: Yeah, he was he was he was fun. He really enjoyed Yasuhiro a lot and wished I kind of wish there was more of him, honestly.

S7: I think there will be the way they left it out where girl was just like, fuck off. I hate you is like, oh, they’re gonna they’re gonna be fine. They’re gonna get back. They’re gonna be best friends. Yeah. They gonna be entirely fine.

S14: Yeah. I mean, honestly, if Season 2 were just Garralda and Jennifer and Yakir roaming the lands solving monster problems, I’m here for it. Throw in a mystery machine. Get him a monster that talks and make them all go do Scooby Doo adventures.

S6: It’s funny, we spent most of this time just talking about all the things we disliked about the show, but it really does function as like more than the sum of its parts. Right. And like that’s sort of the magic of all of this. It’s like just being in the world and going on in these mysteries.

S12: Like I thought the the episode where they are trying to figure out the. It’s the king whose kingdom is being terrorized. Oh yeah. By Riga. You. Yeah. The street go who’s like the Kirst unborn child of his sister who he was having an affair with. It’s gonna have incest and. Yeah. Yeah. It’s part of the bingo. Yeah. That felt very much like a side quest in The Witcher 3 which I really enjoyed.

S22: And also shown a light on like sort of how the world operates. It was cool.

S7: Yeah, I enjoyed it. I really love the Monster of the Week. It reminded me of like all the best parts was supernatural used to be before it got bogged down in political potluck. Calm down, supernatural still great and will be even after it’s off the air at the end of this year anyway.

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S8: And I think again, when you step back from this show, it’s very easy to kind of nit pick it apart just to be like, oh, this didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense. But I think Ben’s right in that when you’re in the world, it’s just really enjoyable and you kind of don’t want to leave. I didn’t binge at all one time. I was over a few days and I would kind of always be like, I can’t late to go home and like begin to watch the which again is to figure out what’s happening. It’s a really enjoyable and fun show. And I do think the second season is going to be better because they this season felt very much like the chess board placing you’re just putting all the characters in the right places. If I liked the first episode of every season of Game of Thrones, basically where you just like KACL, we know everyone’s everyone’s cool. And then the second season feels like they’re actually going to get the best parts of the universe.

S4: Well, that’ll be along in 2021. Until then, we’ll just have to sing. Does it go into your whicher? As many times as it takes until we got there?

S24: That is our show. Please subscribe to the Slate Spoiler special podcast feed. And if you like the show, please write and review it in the Apple podcast store or get your podcasts if you have suggestions for movies or TV shows. We should spoil or you then. Other feedback you’d like to share. Please send it to spoilers. Slate.com. Our audio engineer is Mary Jacob. Our producer is Rosemary Bellson for Benjamín Fresh. Rachel Hampton and Daniel Shrader. I’m Sam Adams. Thanks for listening. Consequent to your winter.