Writing a TV review can be a tricky kind of tightrope act. It’s a critic’s job to find and write about the most interesting elements of a new series. At the same time, the people who make these TV shows understandably want to preserve the surprises for the audience — and in these very spoiler-phobic times, the list of things they would rather you not talk about in a review can be awfully long.
But even by those elevated standards, the list of things Netflix asked critics not to reveal for the first season of the fantasy series The Witcher was something special. It was long, it was draconian, and it was extremely baffling to read before you had actually seen the show.
But now that The Witcher’s first season has been out for a few days, every single one of those “un-revealable” spoilers can finally, at last, be revealed. With the whole first season out there, we thought it would be fun to look back at the list of things you weren’t supposed to know about The Witcher in advance and evaluate whether all that strict secrecy was actually warranted.
(And yes, it bears repeating: Per Netflix’s own internal appraisal, this article contains extensive spoilers for the first season of The Witcher — so go ahead and finish your binge-watch before you read any further):
1. Do not reveal/discuss full monsters other than kikimora and striga: this includes hirikka, Torque, golden dragon, roach hound, djinn, doppler.
I guess it makes sense to keep the gold dragon a secret, since that’s the big twist in episode six, “Rare Species.” But if your show is about a monster hunter, it would be cool to be able to talk about some of the monsters he hunts, even when those monsters have names like “hirikka” and “Torque” and the vast majority of people will have no idea what you’re talking about. (Having recapped the entire first season, I’m still not sure what a roach hound is.)
2. Do not reveal the cost of Yennefer’s transformation, how the enchantment is in fact torture, or that she loses her womb.
Yeah, these are all legitimate spoilers, but I’d love to see someone even attempt to explain any of this to someone who doesn’t know anything about The Witcher.
3. Do not show/discuss how Geralt and Ciri meet.
This didn’t even happen in the set of screeners Netflix sent with the spoiler list!
4. Hide Urcheon’s transformation into Duny (and his importance going forward).
This one really bummed me out because all I wanted to do was scream, “THIS SHOW HAS A KNIGHT WITH A HEDGEHOG HEAD!!!,” to the rafters. As for Duny’s importance going forward, the sum total seems to be “dying on a boat.”
5. Ciri’s powers (scream and monolith falls, killing people)
I guess this technically constitutes a spoiler, but it comes up in the very first episode. And come on, why keep this under wraps? Are viewers going to get more hype when they hear about a lost princess or a lost princess who occasionally screams really loudly and then everybody dies?
6. That we are operating in three timelines
I can’t figure out a single good reason not to reveal that there are three timelines, which is literally just the structure of the show. If anything, it would have helped to prime audiences for what The Witcher is actually doing, because it’s kind of confusing to figure out how all of this stuff fits together on your own.
7. Geralt having been in Cintra during the attack/the pilot
This plays like it’s supposed to be a big twist. And it isn’t revealed until “Before the Fall,” the penultimate episode, which revisits the fall of Cintra from Geralt’s perspective. But also … learning this doesn’t actually change anything?
8. All deaths (Renfri, Calanthe, Mousesack, Eist, Eyck)
All right, character deaths are definitely spoiler territory. That said, I don’t think anyone would have been less likely to watch The Witcher if they’d heard about the gallant knight with the upset tummy who gets his throat slit while loudly spewing diarrhea all over the woods.
9. Dara being an elf
I’m trying to imagine a context in which this would possibly come up in a review. “In conclusion, the Continent is a land of contrasts. Oh, also, Dara is an elf, but that’s never really important to the story at any point so who cares. Thank you.”
10. Young Geralt/his mother
This is vague enough that I’m not even sure what I’m not supposed to spoil here. That Geralt was … not grown in a lab? That flashbacks exist?
11. Tissaia turning girls into eels
Okay, this is definitely crazy enough that everyone deserves to experience it for themselves. You win this round, Netflix.