‘The Witcher’ premiered a week ago on Netflix to enormous success. Audiences loved it, die-hard fans are pleased, and the show is receiving good reviews, albeit with some criticisms on the character development side.
However, many people are getting a bit lost with the show’s timeline. You start believing the whole show is going in one timeline, but, then, you discover different things are happening at different times. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Henry Cavill, showrunner and star of the show, respectively, explained on The Wrap how the series’ timeline goes.
However before that, we want to share a visual designed by a Reddit user, that explains the timeline:
And here is another one from a Twitter user
Now let’s continue with what Henry Cavill tells us about the timeline.
First of all, the series has three different timelines that concur at the end of Season 1. That’s a departure from the books and it’s also a bit confusing (not necessarily in a bad way) because initially, it’s not clear that there are different timelines.
So, why did Schmidt Hissrich chose to do it that way?
Mainly, because she wanted viewers to get to know who the three main characters (Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer) were. “What was important to me is starting off and making sure that we understood who Geralt was and who Ciri was, and then, in Episode 2, who Yennefer was. And one of our early decisions we made was actually just to introduce Geralt and Ciri in Episode 1 and to hold Yennefer for Episode 2 for that exact reason. There’s only so much you can take in.” The decision to go with different timelines was made because she “wanted viewers who weren’t familiar with ‘The Witcher’ to be able to watch the first episode and believe they could be happening on the same timeline.”
“I didn’t want to force a viewer, especially a new fan, to be working that hard, I just want them to enjoy the first episode. It’s sort of as if you’re thrown into the deep end already with all the characters and all the places, I didn’t want to have to enforce that they were working on different timelines, too.”
“To me, it becomes really evident, obviously, by Episode 4,” she continued. “This is the place where I think all audiences will go, ‘Oh my god. OK, now this is making a little bit more sense,’ where Queen Calanthe — who we see kill herself in Episode 1 — is younger and back to life in Episode 4. And hopefully, god, if I was watching this, I would want to go back to the beginning and see how they’ve been telling me this from the beginning,” she added.
The show also had a hugely episodic feel. Many episodes are separate adventures of Gerald with some events of Ciri and Yennefer’s storylines. That was due to the first book of the original saga. Cavill said that “In the first book, it’s all a collection of Geralt’s short stories, which originally were written as separate short stories, and have been collected in the first book and a narrative string is between each story which travels all the way through and you actually meet Yennefer at the end of this book“.
So, as the first book is pretty much a collection of stories based on Geralt, producers didn’t want to wait to introduce Ciri until Season 2 or 3, considering the major role she has on the whole story. That means that even as the show respects the source material original story, it goes it’s own way in storytelling. That causes the different timelines that finally concur at the end of Season 1.