Let me begin this by saying that I enjoyed the first season of The Witcher. Some were put off by the multiple timelines and Geralt’s absence from some of the stories, but I was not one of them. If you were, you will be happy to know that the entire second season takes place in a single timeframe and that Geralt’s story is the main plot of every episode. On the other hand, if you were like me, well, you already like the show, and you’ll continue enjoying it because it’s good.
In hindsight, it feels like the entirety of season one was prologue for season two. At the beginning of this season, Geralt has taken custody of Ciri; his sort-of adopted daughter. After the climactic battle that concluded the first season, he also believes Yennifer is dead, and to protect Ciri takes her to the castle that the witchers call home. There, alongside Geralt’s fellow witchers, they dig into her relationship to the world (she has some magic that she can’t control), and he sets about training her the same way he was when he was a boy. Yennifer, meanwhile, is not dead and is on a quest of her own that will take her across the continent alongside a stranded soldier.
It isn’t easy to get into specifics without spoiling something vital. Each episode reveals something new and interesting about what is going on and the history and nature of the world that Geralt lives in. Where the multiple timelines in season one were clever and well-executed, there’s no denying that the single time frame here allows for a more focused plotline over the more character-focused first season. This, I believe, is both on purpose and practical: that the plot is so engaging is due to already knowing each of the primary characters.
Freya Allen has a lot more to do this season as Ciri. As a character who feels both trapped and helpless, her performance is one of the season’s highlights. She has the clearest arc as someone desperately trying to regain some agency in her own story, and she shines both in the scenes that require her to train for action and in those where she and Cavill build their bond as father and daughter.
Anya Chalotra, one of the breakouts from season one, remains a fun presence in season two. Yennifer has her own complicated arc, and while it’s mostly separate from Geralt’s when they are finally reunited, there’s no denying the chemistry between them.
Kim Bodnia, best-known for this performance in Killing Eve joins the story this season as Vesemir, trainer, mentor, and father figure to Geralt and all the other witchers. His distinct impish presence works for the character, especially while surrounded by his adoptive sons. He is older and wiser and gets some of the best scenes with Cavill.
The one character that I wish there could be more of is Jaskier. Joey Batey has an infectious charisma, especially when played opposite the stoic Geralt or the angry Yennifer, and he is the most fun character. While he doesn’t appear as much as I might want him to, he’s also in no danger of being overused or getting old as some comic relief characters can, and more importantly, he drops another absolute banger of a song.
The real star of the show is, of course, Henry Cavill. It’s heartening to me that a man so handsome is also such a huge nerd, and he commits to both his performance and the world the story takes place in. This season doesn’t have him engaged in quite as much action, but this gives him a chance to flex his acting muscles instead, and his scenes with Allen are great, as well as those with Bodnia. Geralt is a character who would be easy to dismiss as not caring, but it’s more that he cares deeply about the few things he does care about (like Ciri, his brothers, and Yennifer) and shrugs off those he doesn’t (like the politics of the realm). Though his eyes are unnaturally coloured, you can see that throughout the story.
The Witcher is already renewed for a third season, and I am glad they will get the chance to continue telling this story. The cast and crew obviously deeply care about the material, and Netflix has allowed them enough of a budget to make the world feel real and lived in. Depending on your perspective on season one, season two of The Witcher is either a great continuation of or a significant improvement on the story, the characters, and the world, and you should be excited to toss another coin to this show.
The Witcher Season 2 premieres with all eight episodes on Friday, December 17th. I have seen episodes one through six.
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