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The Witcher: Nightmare Of The Wolf Scene Fans Agree Went Too Far

No matter how many coins get tossed your way, the life of a witcher is never an easy one.

Fans of the franchise in its many forms –– novels, video games, and the live-action Netflix series –– have known this for a long time. The Trials that transform novices into full-fledged witchers are legendarily difficult, the types of tests where failure is often synonymous with death.

But that still didn't stop some viewers from being shocked by the high body count during witcher training on the new animated series from Studio Mir, "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf," which tells the story of Geralt's mentor Vesemir's (voiced by Theo James) early career. The most shocking test according to audiences pitted a series of untrained trialists against a horde of blood-thirsty monsters. As Reddit user u/InvitingBurk put it, "I gasped watching all those kids get torn to shreds in the swamp."

Plenty of fans found the logic of the massacre in the Red Swamp to be lacking, which led to a classic Reddit debate over exactly when the culling of candidates is meant to begin.

Why kill off so many young potential witchers?

The first official Trial on the path to becoming a witcher is the Trial of the Grasses, which sees candidates strapped down and injected with or exposed to a wide variety of elixirs, viruses, and alchemical ingredients. Though the process leaves candidates with heightened senses and lightning reflexes, it's also incredibly painful, with a casualty rate as high as six- or seven-in-ten.

But the scene in the swamp seems even harsher than this. "What purpose does sending children with little training and no preparation into a deadly swamp serve, especially given that the trial of the grasses will kill most of them anyway?" wrote u/OlomertIV. "Throwing them into a meat grinder before they are theoretically ready for such a threat seems... just wantonly cruel and even wasteful."

To these viewers, the test relies little on whatever training they might have had up to that point. Though Vesemir does manage to stab one monster with an improvised spear, the sheer numbers, as well as their speed and ferocity in decimating the ranks of the unprepared boys, seems to imply that all they're meant to do is run away and hope they aren't targeted. 

"More like testing how lucky they are to not die on the spot," wrote u/hotcocoa96. "Vesemir didnt show his strengths other than running away and falling off a cliff."

Does it take a certain type to survive the Trial of the Grasses?

As some redditors framed it, if it's already unlikely that anyone is going to pass the Trial of the Grasses, why first cull the potential pool by throwing them into a monster den? "It would make sense to keep the most of them alive to get more of them having a chance to mutate and throw them in there," wrote u/ColdCrom, who said they "loved the movie but not this particular part."

Some disagreed, arguing that potential candidates are not a limited resource. "It does make a kind of sense to me if you think about it. The boys aren't valuable until they become witchers," wrote u/dissides. "Undoubtedly the ingredients/alchemy to turn them into witchers is costly or rare. They probably don't want to waste it on the boys who can't even survive the initial "trial" pre-Grasses of running away, and so send them into the swamp to see who is the strongest who can actually make it out and possibly have a better chance at surviving the Trial itself."

Of course, there's likely another reason "Nightmare of the Wolf" included the sequence: It sets the tone and looks cool in the process. "Really liked seeing how brutal the Witcher trials are," wrote u/heartsongaming, and that's probably what Netflix and Studio Mir were going for.