Netflix overhauling The Witcher prequel: fewer episodes, more Jaskier

Between Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, HBO’s House of the Dragon, and the slew of other fantasy and science fiction series coming out in 2022, it’s been a wild year for genre TV. One that we’ve heard surprisingly little about is The Witcher: Blood Origin.

Set 1,200 years before the Netflix series starring Henry Cavill, Blood Origin is a limited series that will tell the story of the Conjunction of the Spheres, when an alignment of different worlds resulted in monsters, Elves, and other beings getting stranded together on the Continent. Netflix first teased Blood Origin back in 2021, when the studio attached a trailer for the series to the end credits of the season 2 finale of The Witcher. Since then, mum’s pretty much been the word on the prequel show, despite the fact that it’s slated to come out sometime this year.

Now we’re hearing a bit more, and it doesn’t sound good. According to reliable Witcher news site Redanian IntelligenceBlood Origin is getting a large overhaul. The show is being cut down from its original run of six episodes to only four. This is reportedly due to some of the material in the episodes being deemed weak. Netflix also wants to bring the series more in line with the mothership Witcher show.

The Witcher

The Witcher Season 2 – Courtesy of Netflix / Susie Allnutt

Jaskier will play a bigger role in The Witcher: Blood Origin

In addition, RI reports that Joey Batey’s Jaskier will now have a bigger role. While it was known that Batey would be appearing in Blood Origin, likely in some kind of present-day framing device where he tells the story of the Conjunction of the Spheres, his role may be getting expanded. Exactly how much remains a mystery, but it’s still best not to expect too much Jaskier in the prequel. No matter what extra footage is added, the main story that Blood Origin is telling is still set thousands of years before Jaskier was around; he’ll probably just be adding more bardic flair to his interludes.

This is fascinating news. Blood Origin entered production in July 2021 and wrapped filming later that same year, but the cast was brought back for reshoots in April 2022. While reshoots are a relatively normal part of the filmmaking process, it sounds like these were more extensive than normal.

As for cutting the show down from six episodes to four, Redanian Intelligence has some interesting ideas about how that’s being done. Their sources reveal that the writers being credited for the series premiere (showrunner Declan de Barra) and finale (de Barra and Tasha Huo) remain unchanged. Most of the changes will be happening with episodes 2 and 3, as those episodes also credit writers who worked on 4 and 5. So basically it looks like the editors are smushing the middle four episodes into two. Expect a lot of stuff from those middle sections to be cut out.

Here’s hoping that whatever’s going on with Blood Origin, it all works out for the best. It was kind of a weird move for Netflix to start making this prequel series before we’d even gotten a second season of the mother show. Netflix has made no secret of their desire to take The Witcher and create a cinematic universe to compete with stuff like Marvel and Star Wars. But apparently it hasn’t been a smooth journey.

The Witcher: Blood Origin stars MIchelle Yeoh, Sophia Brown, and Laurence O’Fuarain.  The show is still expected to premiere sometime in 2022. Given that there are only a few months left in the year, I wouldn’t bet on seeing it before December.

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h/t ColliderVariety