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Real Lawyer Reacts to The Witcher (Law of Surprise?!) // LegalEagle

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Summary from Vulture:
Forget monsters and curses, the most confusing thing in Netflix’s The Witcher is the Law of Surprise. It’s a tricky concept that’s introduced early on, but the show doesn’t do much to explain it in season one. Hardcore fans of The Witcher books or video games will immediately understand what it means, but for everyone else, we’re here to help.

The fourth episode of The Witcher, titled “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials,” tells a largely self-contained story about Princess Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori), the daughter of Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May). The timeline of The Witcher can be tricky to follow, so it’s worth noting that Pavetta’s daughter Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) isn’t alive at this point and Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) is a smidge less embittered by a world that considers him a mutant and doesn’t even pay him even when he gets the job done. Anyway, Calanthe has big plans for her daughter’s hand in marriage, until a knight named Duny (Bart Edwards) — a charming gentleman with the head of a hedgehog — arrives to claim Pavetta as his bride, and he invokes something called the Law of Surprise to do so.

But what the heck is the Law of Surprise? It’s an ancient concept within the world of The Witcher, loosely tied to actual mythology of Slavic and Polish origin — two folk histories to which Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels and the show return to regularly. The law is relatively simple: As payment for a great deed like saving someone’s life, one can lay claim to something which the indebted does not yet possess. It turns out that Duny, the hedgehog gentleman, saved King Roegner’s life years earlier. “By tradition, I chose the Law of Surprise as payment,” he explains in the episode. “Whatever windfall he came home to find would be mine.” The “windfall” in this case is Roegner’s daughter, Pavetta.

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I get asked a lot about whether being a practicing attorney is like being a lawyer on TV. I love watching legal movies and courtroom dramas. It's one of the reasons I decided to become a lawyer. But sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out because they are ridiculous. Today I'm taking a break from representing clients and teaching law students how to kick ass in law school to take on lawyers in the movies and on TV. While all legal movies and shows take dramatic license to make things more interesting (nobody wants to see hundreds of hours of brief writing), many of them have a grain of truth. This is part of a continuing series of "Lawyer Reaction" videos. Got a legal movie or TV show you'd like me to critique? Let me know in the comments!

Typical legal disclaimer from a lawyer (occupational hazard): This is not legal advice, nor can I give you legal advice. Sorry! Everything here is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Nothing here should be construed to form an attorney client relationship. Also, some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. But if you click, it really helps me make more of these videos! All clips used for fair use commentary, criticism, and educational purposes. See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).


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