If you were in Los Angeles on Tuesday, you could “enter the Continent”... which I did! The Witcher Fan Experience was pretty awesome, followed by the even more amazing screening of the first episode. If you’re worried about spoilers, don’t be - this is a spoiler-free post. But at the end, I will be giving my impressions of the episode, so jump there if that’s what you want, or be sure to stop scrolling when you get there, depending on how you roll with those things.
Overall, I drank Witcher potion and Witcher water, ate Witcher pretzels and Witcher popcorn, listened to Witcher music, took Witcher photos, and enjoyed the first episode of… what’s the show called again? It was definitely an immersive experience!
Entering the Continent / The Fan Experience!
I got there an hour early and was a bit nervous because the line was so long! The event was really popular, and oh boy did fans turn up for it. Met up with Nic from the Content Team and a few others, which was really awesome because it's my first time meeting other people from the company and from wikis. And when the doors opened, we were inside in no time!
The inside of the event had a bunch of fun event booths and some entertainment in the spirit of The Witcher. Several of the booths were for picture taking, and you could pose with prop swords and stuff like that.
The best booth was the potions! If you drank a small vial of the potion (pickle juice, which was charmingly disgusting) you were rewarded with Geralt’s necklace. The necklace is really nice, and I immediately put mine on and didn’t take it off for the rest of the evening. This is my favorite souvenir of the event.
Live music! They had a band singing some fun songs, like a drinking song. I got a bit of video.
Geralt’s horse Roach was out for pictures and small chats. They had an actual horse, and he was pretty chill. He let me give him a gentle pet as he snacked on some hay.
There was a board where anyone could fill out a page and post a request for a witcher to deal with a problem. Lots of people put up notices for a witcher to kill a monster like a dragon or a kikimore. Others put up notices for a witcher to kill something else... like "my ex" and "people who talk during the movies."
They had an immersive fan experience. You walk through three rooms, and each room has a different setup and an actor who amazingly didn’t break character despite being completely surrounded by an excited and giggly audience. The first room featured an actress who portrayed a teacher, and she lectured on chaos a bit and then got the audience to chant with her, so we could levitate a stone. She was a lot of fun, I’d gladly take a class from her at Hogwarts. Got some video of her too, and the angle is perfect to see the stone lift.
The second room was an elegant dining hall covered in blood, where a meal had apparently been interrupted by a massacre. The actor was a man lamenting on what happened there. He walked around and through the audience more, making intense eye contact as he spoke to us.
The third room was of a beautiful forest setting in soft blue light. I don’t quite remember the storyline of that one (something about monsters in the world?), I was a bit too distracted by the pretty atmosphere. Unfortunately, the dark blue light made it difficult to take pictures (mine all look like fuzzy blue fog).
They had another room with the bathtub! No actor for this one, just a guy there to take your picture. So you could climb in the tub and pretend Geralt was in there with you. You know, if that’s your thing.
The experience was a blast. Immersive special events like this are so unique and it was awesome to get to go and enjoy this one!
Before the screening!
Upon letting us into the theater, they offered free snacks, popcorn, and soda. The popcorn had The Witcher logo on it. Mmm, Witcher popcorn. Apparently if your popcorn had something on the bottom, you could win something.
I’m starting to get addicted to special event screening’s custom pre-show content. In this case, trivia questions! It was a lot of fun general questions. (This also happened when I saw Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary in November, and it just makes things fun leading up to the feature!) And also: Henry Cavill’s head bouncing around the screen for some reason?! It’s so ridiculous I love it.
Once we were all seated in the Egyptian Theatre and the time came, the lights went down and the spotlights went up and showrunner herself Lauren Schmidt Hissrich walked on stage (in the most dazzling silver shoes) and talked a bit about creating the series. She introduced the cast present for the event: Adam Levy (Mousesack), Freya Allan (Ciri), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer), and the man himself Henry Cavill (Geralt). Cavill said a few words. I recorded starting with the cast introductions, and I’m sorry I missed what Hissrich said before that:
… and then… it began. *___*
Overall, I liked it! The lowest point of the episode was actually the beginning, which I found a little hmmm, but I'm always a little skeptical and the episode hooked me soon after. By the end, I was completely invested.
Henry Cavill brings his absolute best as Geralt, and the character is perfect. Cavill has talked a few times in interviews about how much he wanted to play the character, and I’m so glad he did. Can’t really get into specifics because spoilers, but he embodies Geralt fully. Additionally, Geralt’s humanity (or lack thereof) is quickly in focus (and in question) in the episode, and it handles it very nicely by layering elements of that question into Geralt’s character and into the worldbuilding with others. I look forward to the development as the show continues!
There’s been a lot of talk about how The Witcher will or won’t be “the next Game of Thrones.” I don’t care, and I don’t need it to be; I just want it to be a solid show in its own right. But based on what I saw in the first episode... it actually might be? It has the talent and the setup and the production value, so if the storytelling holds up, I can see it being just as big of a hit. It has a great first episode that’s definitely on par with other fantasy epics, and if it’s handled right, it could be a huge mainstream series for multiple seasons. If we’re lucky!