Henry Cavill leaving Netflix’s The Witcher after the show’s third season remains the biggest bombshell of the week, and while we have yet to embrace this uncertain future for what it is, it might be prudent to consider if the live-action adaptation can even survive such a continuity-shattering shift.
The upcoming third season will deal with the second book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s saga, and the fourth book overall in the larger Witcher series. In it, Geralt and Ciri continue to travel the world with Yennefer as their enemies close in around them. Their wanderings ultimately take them to Aretuza, the magical academy that connects to the island of Thanedd and houses some of the most powerful characters in the entire Northern Kingdoms.
What happens on Thanedd takes up the bulk of the story based on Time of Contempt, but the Netflix series will no doubt opt to slowly build toward that climactic sequence. The good news is that we still have eight more episodes of Henry Cavill as the titular Witcher, but will they prove enough to cement his run in our minds? More importantly, how will the show explain the switch between the two actors? Are they simply going to gloss over it, or will Lauren S. Hissrich and her writers manage to find a workaround?
As strange as it might sound, there actually is a solution that would solve all of the story’s problems, but to break it down, we’re going to have to get into spoiler territory for Time of Contempt and even the next book in the series, Baptism of Fire. So, read ahead at your own discretion.
Warning: The following paragraphs contain spoilers for future seasons of The Witcher on Netflix.
A devastating duel and fantasy jargon as a scapegoat
At the end of Time of Contempt, the events of which will comprise the third Witcher season, there’s a coup at Aretuza where Vilgefortz’s faction tries to seize power and capture Ciri. Geralt escapes his guards and makes for Thanedd Island, where he meets Vilgefortz, and the two engage in a bloody duel.
Now, we all know how handy Geralt is with a sword, but Vilgefortz cheats and uses magic to block most of the Witcher’s attacks. He then starts to hammer into the monster-hunter with his staff and Geralt, spent and almost broken, ends up suffering his most devastating defeat to date. Vilgefortz is quite thorough with his destruction of the Witcher, breaking almost every bone in his body and sending him hurtling down into the abyss.
Time of Contempt actually ends on this tragic note, with the fate of Geralt left up in the air. When Baptism of Fire picks up the story, Geralt is slowly recovering from his wounds in Brokilon Forest under the care of the dryads. The man is determined to find Ciri, but the fight with Vilgefortz has left him severely injured. He can still walk and fight, mind you, but the monster-hunter never recovers his old strength after the Thanedd skirmish.
While it might be a stretch, The Witcher could use this breaking point in the narrative as a means to explain away the change in Geralt’s appearance. Perhaps the duel with Vilgefortz leaves Geralt scarred in such an unrecoverable way that it is only through the dryads’ magic he clings to life, though at a cost to his physical features.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a fantasy character has shifted their appearance thanks to magic, and the plot is certainly giving Netflix a much-needed out. The only question that remains is this: Will they take it, or are they simply going to gloss over the fact that Geralt will now look completely different and sport a very subtle Aussie accent?