Monday, February 3, 2020

"The Witcher's convoluted timeline is about what living through history really feels like"

Robert Zacny for Vice:

The event that brings it into sharp focus is, of course, a moment that I think is meant to be pointedly resonant at this moment in political history. Geralt is attending the wedding of Queen Calanthe’s daughter, at a moment when the warrior-queen is at her political apogee. She is in full drunk-asshole mode, like Henry II in The Lion in Winter: swaggering and self-satisfied. There is a point where a young prince from Nilfgaard presents himself to her assembly and she decides to sport with him in front of all her assembled vassals and allies. It’s vicious and out-of-the-blue attack, a public humiliation stemming from a sense of impunity and contempt.

And of course it’s doubly shocking because we’ve seen her, years later, utterly defeated and powerless to stop Nilfgaard from laying waste to her capital in the wake of a very swift invasion. Suddenly the entire sequence is recast: we not only have a vague idea of when this long-ago banquet took place, but we also realize that this might be a pivotal incident, and nobody in the room knows it. In the moment, it’s a meaningless interaction for Calanthe and her court, and likely a searing one for the Nilgaardian official, but it’s just not important to anyone. And then a few other wild events occur at the banquet that make us get distracted from the portents of a few moments before.

I suspect the moment is intentionally evoking some of the mythmaking around Trump’s humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, when Obama and comedian Seth Meyers took turns mocking his work as a reality TV star, and his embrace of birtherism.