The Witcher universe is vast. First, there was the epic novel saga by Andrzej Sapkowski, followed by a video game series that is one of the most popular in the field, and then, the Netflix Orignal series The Witcher featuring Henry Cavill.
Lovers of the book saga will know that season 2 of The Witcher revolves around Blood of Elves. But, it began with a short story- A Grain of Truth. Henry Cavill calls it “a story of perspectives” and the man couldn’t have put it better. The story of Nivellen is that of guilt, redemption, and unforgivable sins.
The Legend of Nivellen
Season 2 of The Witcher received even more critical acclaim than the first one. While season 1 was basically setting the stage for the further seasons and The Witcher universe, season 2 was much more intense and compelling. And episode 1 was inarguably the best episode of the season.
We see Nivellen, Geralt’s friend at the very beginning of season 2 of the Netflix Original. Though cursed to have the form of a monster and live in solidarity, Nivellen didn’t fail to woo any viewer. The character was full of charm and radiated comfort. Cirilla, who had been running and dealing with things too grim for her age, seemed to calm down with him. In Nivellen’s presence, she was just Ciri- a child caught up in things larger than herself.
Monsters are more than just horrid looks and claws and teeth. Monsters are borne of deeds done- unforgivable ones.
-Nivellen, in a conversation with Cirilla
Although fans wished for and expected Nivellen to stay a good human who was cursed wrongfully, he turned to have committed the worst deed imaginable. Nivellen was a culprit of rape. The priestess he raped turned out to be a member of a cult and her curse was not an idle one.
The complexity of the subverted Beauty and the Beast
Through the course of the episode, fans watch their sympathy for Nivellen gradually keep increasing until it completely dwindles. As Cavill mentioned in the interview, Nivellen’s story was “a subverted version of Beauty and the Beast.”
Nivellen’s character certainly was a complex one. He committed sins, unforgivable ones, but he was aware of his mistakes and was guilty. But again, the deed in question isn’t something that can be forgiven, and hence, he will carry the burden for the rest of his life. Another deed that cannot be redeemed was that of the death of the villagers.
Vereena, the powerful Bruxa living with Nivellen, feasted on the innocent villagers living nearby. Though aware of her actions, the man continued to let her do what she willed, just because he was afraid of being left alone again.
Henry Cavill also praises Kristofer Hivju for his portrayal of Nivellen in The Witcher on Netflix.