The Witcher Season 2 Review: One Timeline, No Problems

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Season 1 of The Witcher was an enormous hit for Netflix, rapidly changing into one of many most-watched authentic collection on the streaming service and introducing a brand new viewers to Andrzej Sapkowski’s ebook collection set in a medieval world full of terrifying monsters and magically enhanced hunters. Regardless of all of that acclaim, nevertheless, the primary season of The Witcher pissed off some followers with its use of a number of timelines to inform its sophisticated preliminary story arc — one thing collection creator and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich assured followers would now not be a problem when protagonist Geralt of Rivia returns for season 2.

Not solely do the primary six episodes of The Witcher season 2’s eight-episode arc affirm Schmidt Hissrich made good on her promise of extra simple storytelling, however the second season additionally permits for a extra rewarding sophomore arc because the collection shifts focus to its characters as a substitute of its continuity.

New beginnings

Following the timeline-twisting occasions of the primary season, the second story arc of The Witcher picks up after the climactic battle of Sodden Hill, with Henry Cavill returning because the monster-hunting witcher Geralt of Rivia and Freya Allan as Ciri, an exiled princess in Geralt’s safety whose future is inextricably linked to his personal. Anya Chalotra additionally returns because the highly effective sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg, whose actions turned the tide of struggle at Sodden Hill, and who additionally finds herself linked to Geralt in each love and destiny.

Season 2 of The Witcher follows Geralt and Ciri as they discover the latter’s mysterious, magical roots, and the backstory of the witchers themselves when the pair discover themselves in Kaer Morhen, the witcher’s winter sanctuary and coaching grounds. In the meantime, Yennefer finds herself as soon as once more navigating the tough politics of struggle and the altering established order among the many nations besieged by the empire of Nilfgaard.

Amid all of that political drama and historic deep dives, nevertheless, season 2 of The Witcher additionally manages to seek out time to pit Geralt in opposition to all method of monstrous creatures. It additionally introduces a protracted checklist of characters acquainted to followers of the books and video games, together with Anna Shaffer because the sorceress Triss Merigold and Kim Bodnia as Geralt’s mentor, the veteran witcher Vesemir.

Freya Allan and Henry Cavill in a scene from season 2 of The Witcher.

Bringing all of it collectively

Season 2 of The Witcher doesn’t waste any time selecting up the place the primary season left off, and though its long-awaited return to the present’s world of monsters, magic, and political intrigue is welcome after practically two years, the present’s speedy dive again into its personal mythology is more likely to really feel a bit overwhelming for anybody who’s misplaced monitor of the place issues left off in season 1. Thankfully, Schmidt Hissrich and the remainder of the present’s artistic workforce do a pleasant job of doling out breadcrumbs of exposition as they sweep you alongside within the subsequent chapter of Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer’s adventures.

The collection’ extra linear storytelling in season 2 additionally serves it nicely, because the occasions occurring across the aforementioned trio cowl a variety of floor — each geographically and narratively. By having the characters’ arcs unfold roughly in parallel (as a substitute of in several timelines), the season’s extra sophisticated plot factors change into extra manageable and the varied narrative threads really feel like a shared saga as a substitute of discrete tales with little in widespread past their setting.

This unified imaginative and prescient for The Witcher finally ends up having a optimistic impact on different points of the season, too, providing you with extra time to give attention to its richly developed characters and the fascinating world they inhabit as a substitute of making an attempt to make sense of the timeline.

Attending to know you

Returning as Geralt, Cavill appears considerably extra comfy because the present’s titular, gruff monster-hunter. As an alternative of spending most of his display screen time grunting and sighing, Geralt eases right into a extra fleshed-out character within the second season as his relationships with Ciri, Yennefer, and his fellow witchers give him a depth that was solely hinted at in season 1.

Ciri additionally begins down a brand new path within the collection’ second season, pivoting from the primary arc’s damsel in misery to a extra standout, assertive character because the story progresses. Taking part in a central determine within the saga who finds herself protected, pursued, and investigated by numerous factions, Allan adapts nicely to Ciri’s new place within the story, which has her wanting to observe in Geralt’s footsteps — regardless of the witcher’s reservations.

Sadly, Yennefer’s arc isn’t practically as compelling over the second season’s first six episodes, because the sorceress spends a lot of the season coping with the aftermath of her actions at Sodden Hill, and sometimes serves as a supporting character in her personal parts of the story. It’s a disappointing flip for Chalotra’s character, who was launched with a captivating, highly effective, and (actually) transformative arc in season 1, solely to meander considerably aimlessly by way of a lot of the second season.

The let-down of sidelining Yennefer is eased a bit, although, by the brand new characters launched throughout the season.

Freya Allan and Anna Shaffer in a scene from season 2 of The Witcher.

Shaffer provides a pleasant dynamic to the story as Yennefer’s kindhearted sister in sorcery, Triss, even when her live-action character lacks the assertiveness of her counterpart within the books and video games. There’s a heat to Shaffer’s portrayal of the character that by some means makes the world of The Witcher really feel concurrently harsher and extra relatable as we see it by way of her eyes.

Considered one of followers’ most-anticipated new additions to the forged additionally will get a satisfying introduction, with Bodnia bringing a real sense of paternal delight and emotion to Vesemir that provides extra depth to each the character and the character of the witchers’ relationship to one another. Bodnia’s Vesemir may not be fairly the character followers anticipated, however he’s the character the present wants to ensure that the viewers to grasp Geralt higher.

Definitely worth the wait

Though the primary six episodes of season 2 of The Witcher don’t take the story in any surprising new instructions, the present’s choice to soak a bit within the wealthy world the characters inhabit appears like the precise transfer — notably after a debut season that usually felt prefer it was shifting too rapidly or was too disconnected.

Kim Bodnia in season 2 of The Witcher.

The additional time with Geralt and Ciri is nicely spent, and every of the brand new characters launched throughout the season find yourself feeling essential sufficient to care about as their paths cross with the collection’ leads. That’s no small achievement in a present as crowded as The Witcher, and it speaks volumes to the collection’ willingness to take its time with the story and make its world really feel inhabited by characters with actual feelings and motivations.

To its credit score, season 2 of The Witcher doesn’t attempt to copy the system of its wildly profitable first season, and as a substitute, appears to genuinely perceive which parts made it successful, and the place it has the liberty to vary up its method to the story. There’s a way of consolation and confidence with the story within the present’s second season that appears to have led the present’s artistic workforce to be extra affected person with the story unfolding round Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer, and The Witcher is healthier for it.

If the primary season of the collection provides any indication of what to anticipate from the ultimate two episodes of season 2, there are nonetheless loads of massive issues to come back for all three of the lead characters and their supporting forged. Thankfully, the calm, targeted method to their saga The Witcher takes this time round has made on a regular basis between these massive moments simply as rewarding.

Season 2 of The Witcher premieres on December 17.

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