After the first season dropped back in 2019 to fairly decent reviews, season 2 of The Witcher has now been released on Netflix. As a fantasy drama spanning decades, races and wars, it looked like it could be a suitable successor to Game of Thrones. While it doesn’t quite hit the heights that GoT did, The Witcher is still an entertaining, darkly funny romp that fills a fantasy shaped hole, and the second series continues to be more of the same.
Season 2 follows directly on from the events of season 1, with Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) having been united with Princess Ciri (Freya Allen) after the battle of Sodden Hill. Geralt searches for Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), the saviour of the battle who is missing and presumed dead. Unable to find her, Geralt decides to take Ciri to the witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen in the mountains. On route, they stay the night with an old friend of Geralt’s, who has been cursed to remain in beast form and hides a dark secret in his home.
Meanwhile, Yennefer is not dead and has instead been taken captive by Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni), who intends on taking her to Cintra when they are ambushed and taken hostage by a race of elves, led by Francesca (Mecia Simson). The three women are having similar visions which lead them to join forces and visit a mysterious figure who promises them their greatest desires in return for following a set path. Francesca and Fringilla travel to Cintra to form an elven-Nilfgaardian alliance, while Yenn returns to Aretuza.
At Kaer Morhen, Geralt and Ciri are taken in by the remaining witchers including Geralt’s mentor Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). Ciri is trained in combat while trying to discover the truth behind her heritage and her powers, all the while being hunted by monsters and humans alike. In the meantime, the Brotherhood, including head mage Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), are torturing kidnapped Nilfgaardian commander Cahir (Eamon Farren) for information and the rest of the realms in the kingdom attempt to gain this information and power in any way possible.
What I loved the most about the first season of The Witcher was the episodic missions and monsters, and the confusing yet intriguing timeline that wasn’t quite what it appeared. Sadly there’s little of that here, although that doesn’t mean it’s not a good season. The first episode follows in very much the same episodic monster hunt style that suits this show incredibly well, with a rather fun Beast (from Beauty and the Beast) style appearance from Kristofer Hivju as Geralt’s friend Nivellan. It’s this sort of episode that makes The Witcher such an enjoyable show and it’s a shame that this doesn’t continue throughout this season. After the first few episodes, it seems to get bogged down in the politics and lineage stories and loses its way a little but fortunately does pick up towards the end with a cracking finale. It’s also helped by the return of Jaskier (Joey Batey) who injects such much-needed humour during this mid-season dip.
It’s helped by some very good CGI, at least as far as the monsters are concerned, and while Geralt isn’t quite monster hunting as he used to, we are still treated to a new monster every episode, even if they don’t last long. Kim Bodnia as Geralt’s mentor Vesemir is a welcome addition although I think he and his character had much more potential – Vesemir was virtually side-lined throughout and it would’ve been great to see him shine and fight properly. Cavill as in the first season shines as Geralt in a role that suits him to the ground. He embodies a perfect mix of threat, power and emotion in a character that is meant to be emotionless, and I really couldn’t picture anyone doing a better job as Geralt. I did wonder if Geralt took a little too easily to fatherhood – the writers may have missed an opportunity to inject a lot more dark humour here.
Ciri, however, doesn’t fare quite as well. On the one hand, she’s a smart young woman who isn’t afraid of monsters or men, and it’s this side that is great to watch. Unfortunately, the petulant child disobeying Geralt’s orders comes out far too often and does become a bit irritating. I also question what the point is in Yennefer for most of this season, as she spends a lot of time running around without her powers. As a character who probably had the most interesting storyline and arc during the first season, she’s wasted here.
I also found the way this season was wrapped up, or rather the lack of resolution, to be rather frustrating. Yes, the final episode was great, but it just felt like a build-up for a third season that looks like it could be more of the same, and that is not necessarily a good thing. This series was good, but for season 3 they need to find a way to bring it back to the monster hunt per episode style, while still contributing and wrapping up this overarching main storyline. Otherwise, season 3 might be the last I’d watch.
Overall, season 2 of The Witcher is a good follow up to the first, although in my eyes it just doesn’t quite match up. There are some great things here and it’s still a fun and entertaining fantasy show, but the storyline has let it down.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!