TV Review: The Witcher (Season 2, 2021)

A Netflix original series based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, season two of The Witcher was released in 2021. Following the events of season one, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a powerful monster hunter and the titular Witcher, is now united with Princess Cirilla, aka “Ciri” (Freya Allan), and the two begin to train Ciri in the arts of monster hunting and magic. Meanwhile, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), a powerful mage presumed dead following a destructive battle, has her own journey home interrupted. Also returning are Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer), a sorceress and alchemist known to Yennefer and Geralt; Fringilla Vigo (Mimî M. Khayisa), a powerful mage and friend-turned-enemy and rival of Yennefer; and, The Nilfgaardian “Black Knight” Cahir (Eamon Farren), who is currently held captive in the home of the mages by the mage Tissia (MyAnna Buring).

+ Geralt again is a man of a few words, but very compelling. Cavill’s now memetic “Mmm.” response to almost any situation continues, and is never not funny. Geralt’s interplay with Ciri (Allen) is a season-long story that plays out really well, and it feels like the two are genuinely close at times. Arguably, it is Yennefer who really comes into her own the most across the season, considering how she ended up in the final moments of the first season’s ultimate battle
+ across the eight episodes, there are a lot of interesting and exciting plot points, which (in very broad and spoiler-free terms) include Geralt introducing Ciri to the Witchers at his home in Kaer Morhen, just what the deal was with Ciri knocking over that huge obelisk in the first season, Yennifer and Triss getting a lot more screen time and a lot more different point of view stories from “the bad guys”. It was different to the much more limited view of the first season’s characters
+ there feels to be a much more expanded supporting cast, including a scheming mage (personal favourite Graham McTavish), a chaos mage resembling a Dark Souls pyromancer, and some old school fantasy creatures, all of whom are giving numerous moments to shine. For my money, it is Kristofer Hivju (aka Game of Thrones‘ Tormund Giantsbane) that steals the show in the season’s opening episode
+ I couldn’t quantify if there was more or less action than the first season, but what action there was here was really fun. Geralt’s flashy swordsmanship is on full display, and there are numerous monstrous creatures and human enemies to keep things fresh. Off the top of my head there was not as much intense violence between humans as there was the first time around
+ generally, the costumes are fine, though I can’t help but wonder about a mage going on the run and choosing to stand out in her bright purple robe when everyone else is in some drab grey or brown. If that entire sentence reads like deja vu, it’s because I wrote nearly the exact same thing about Ciri in season one. I suppose we need to be able to quickly pick who our main characters are

– there are only eight episodes, which makes for simultaneously a very short amount of time for stuff to happen, resulting in some crammed storytelling, and seemingly some stretches of very little happening. If you were to list off the eight biggest moments of the eight episode season, I’d wager they would all come in three or four of those episodes
– it took me a few episodes of the first season to get my head around the timelines (a fact amusingly hinted at in an in-universe review of one of Jaskier’s songs about his season one quests) but with no similar gimmick here, this felt far more “episodic”; rather than the first season being a century-spanning tale of war, love and destiny, this almost devolved into too standard a TV format. This is a bit hard to explain, but I’d say this season was more Game of Thrones than the first, with the back-and-forth between various parties

> tell me if I’m crazy, did something about Triss change a few episodes in? I don’t know if it was new hair, different make-up, the actress lost or gained weight – she looked completely different somehow, but I couldn’t figure out how or why
> since season one, I have learned of the band “The Amazing Devil”, fronted in part by Joey Batey. Yes, his voice is just as incredible as the series’ meme songs might have you think

Should you watch this show: I enjoyed this a lot, in a very different way to the first season. I don’t want to be making Game of Thrones comparisons for every medieval-esque book-to-TV adaptation, but the way the viewpoint swapped between factions made that hard to ignore. Cavill and Allen are both great, and it’s very easy to get stuck into their world to the point where I was staying up until late into the night with the promise of “just one more episode” two or three times.

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