The Witcher: Blood Origin is a cautionary tale of corporate greed (but at least it’s fun)

The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1. (L to R) Laurence O'Fuarain as Fjall, Sophia Brown as Éile, Michelle Yeoh as Scian in The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1. Cr. Susie Allnutt/Netflix © 2022
The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1. (L to R) Laurence O'Fuarain as Fjall, Sophia Brown as Éile, Michelle Yeoh as Scian in The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1. Cr. Susie Allnutt/Netflix © 2022 /

I’ve had a chance to sit down and watch The Witcher: Blood Origin a couple of times now, and I’m here to fill you in about what exactly to expect out of Netflix’s first live-action spinoff of The Witcher.

As Blood Origin isn’t out yet, this will be a totally SPOILER-FREE review. We’ll only be talking about the limited series in the broadest of terms. But fret not, there’s still plenty to discuss.

The Witcher: Blood Origin
The Witcher: Blood Origin /

The Witcher: Blood Origin review

If you’re among the many Witcher fans who’s felt like you’ve generally had no idea what Blood Origin is about, you’re not alone. Up until Netflix started revealing a few more details this month, very little was known about the actual plot of this prequel series, beyond that it took place during the time period of the Conjunction of the Spheres, a celestial event where the worlds of elves, humans and monsters merged, forcing many different races to live together in the same space. It totally destabilized the Continent and led to a vast shift in power. That seems like a fascinating idea for a spinoff, and it would have been…but that’s not what Blood Origin is about.

Rather, Blood Origin is the story of an uprising led by a scrappy band of disparate warriors which  just happens to take place during the lead-up to the Conjunction of the Spheres. Yes, there are some ties to the mothership Witcher show, but they mostly feel like set dressing. Blood Origin feels more like a love letter to Dungeons & Dragons. The show stays as far away from the actual things laid out in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels as it possibly can, instead opting to tell a cookie cutter fantasy tale which only nominally ties into the Conjunction.

One comment I’ve seen quite a lot since the show’s latest trailer dropped is that it looks like “generic fantasy” that has nothing in common with Sapkowski’s Witcher novels or the video games. And having seen it, I can say that that is absolutely on point. But that’s both a weakness and a strength.

The Witcher: Blood Origin
The Witcher: Blood Origin /

The Witcher: Blood Origin is a warning against corporate greed…but it’s also kind of fun

The real question is, is The Witcher: Blood Origin any good? And honestly, that’s a little harder to answer than I expected. Up front, I will say no. In this age of prestige fantasy shows, Blood Origin feels like a chaotic aside that came about because Netflix wanted to cash in on The Witcher name. That might sound harsh, but that is genuinely the feeling I came away with. When the streamer first announced they were doing a live-action spinoff set during the Conjunction of the Spheres (which again, was a mislead), my first thought was, “Why? Who asked for this?”

The answer is simply that Netflix wants more Witcher, and is using spinoffs to tide over viewers during the two-year wait between new seasons. There is very little in The Witcher: Blood Origin that will be recognizable to fans of the books or games. You might think that’s because it’s set so long ago, but really it’s because the source material was treated more as a hindrance than something to be explored. There are fascinating elements to the elven civilization that predates the Conjunction outlined in Sapkowski’s books, but the spinoff ignores them in favor of telling a standard fantasy adventure story, with some Seven Samurai mixed in. The Witcher lore is not engaged with much at all.

I’ve been pretty outspoken with my opinions about how Netflix is (mis)interpreting Sapkowski’s work since The Witcher first premiered. But as much as Blood Origin is a mess that Netflix clearly made as a cash grab…it’s also kind of fun, and not afraid to make jokes at its own expense. I’ve seen Blood Origin in its entirety three times now, and if I’m being honest I had more fun with it than I ever did with the mainline Witcher show.

A big part of that is the format. As a four-episode limited series, Blood Origin basically watches like a three-and-a-half hour movie, and in my opinion is best viewed that way. This is a series that is meant to be watched all at once, or as close to all at once as you can manage. This means that for as painfully bad as Blood Origin can be, it also pulls you through it so quickly that you never really have time to dwell too much on the particulars.

The other part of why Blood Origin is so fun is just how unhinged it is. When I say Blood Origin is bad, I mean comedically bad. If 2022 has been a year filled with high budget fantasy and science fiction shows, The Witcher: Blood Origin is the Morbius of the crop.

The inclusion of Minnie Driver drives that point home, because as wonderful a performer as she is, her narration feels like something that was inserted at the last minute to make the series slightly more comprehensible (which is basically what happened). Driver explains everything from major plot points to how the air feels around certain characters during pivotal scenes. Despite the actor’s best efforts with the material, it’s often very goofy.

Éile (Sophia Brown) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Susie Allnutt/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc.
Éile (Sophia Brown) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Susie Allnutt/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc. /

The Witcher: Blood Origin is bad, but enjoyably bad

That’s not to say that The Witcher: Blood Origin has no redeeming factors. On a pure production level, there are some cool things here. The choreography in the action scenes is often quite good, some of the actors do a really fantastic job (Francesca Mills’ Meldof will be a fan favorite), and the music by Bear McCreary doesn’t disappoint. Music and stories generally play a large part in Blood Origin, and that element is pretty enjoyable. Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain do wonderful jobs playing Éile and Fjall, respectively. In particular, Brown has one scene deep into the third episode which might be the most moving of the entire miniseries.

However, the sets and costuming are inconsistent at best. Some settings are beautiful; others look kind of ridiculous. The show features some incredibly intricate elven outfits and then one scene where a character is wearing a literal white tanktop that looks like it came from Target. It’s elements like these that make Blood Origin feel so outrageous, and which push it over the edge from infuriatingly bad to enjoyably bad.

The Witcher: Blood Origin
The Witcher: Blood Origin /

You might notice I haven’t mentioned Michelle Yeoh’s character ScÍan at all. That is because she feels underutilized. It feels more like Yeoh was attached as a way to drum up hype for the spinoff; her character is important, but looking at the marketing, you’d think she was the lead. However the central characters are Éile and Fjall, full stop.

When Yeoh is doing her thing, it’s always enjoyable to watch. She’s Michelle freaking Yeoh, you don’t need me to tell you how great she is. But it would have helped Blood Origin to give her a lot more to do.

Scian (Michelle Yeoh) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Lilja Jonsdottir/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc.
Scian (Michelle Yeoh) in The Witcher: Blood Origin. Image courtesy Lilja Jonsdottir/Netflix. © 2022 Netflix, Inc. /

There are some other issues, bigger and much more glaring, which we’ll need to discuss once The Witcher: Blood Origin comes out on December 25. I don’t want to spoil anything, so the way I will put it here is that Netflix made a very obvious effort to make Blood Origin’s cast as diverse as possible. While this is something I would normally commend, in Blood Origin it is so awkwardly done that it jarred me out of the experience multiple times.

It’s uncomfortable to even write those words — I never want to call out a studio for putting their best foot forward when it comes to diversity. The problem with Blood Origin is that it doesn’t feel like Netflix’s best foot, but a blatant attempt to garner points with as many different groups as possible; it’s transparent and distracting, if commendable in theory. I’m very curious to see how viewers react.


The Witcher: Blood Origin is a chaotic, messy limited series that feels like a total cash grab. It treats Andrzej Sapkowski’s source material like a hindrance and is so unhinged that it often becomes hilariously bad.

For all that, it’s also fun at times, and best watched with friends and as many strong drinks as you can muster. It’s clear that there was genuine passion behind this show, despite the fact that it also feels like a cautionary tale of putting the proverbial cart before the horse and making spinoffs while the main series is still finding its footing.

If you come to Blood Origin hoping for a compelling story that expands on The Witcher in any sort of meaningful way, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you are willing to disassociate Blood Origin from the books, games, and mainline series, then it can also be a pretty raucous watch.

Series Grade: D+

dark. Next. Showrunner tells us about all the changes made to The Witcher: Blood Origin

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels