I didn’t know what to expect when queuing up the first episode of The Witcher brings a much anticipated second season. Would we get answers to the numerous questions from season one? Who or what exactly is Ciri? Where is Yennefer? Will we be able to see Geralt of Rivia without his shirt again?
It was impossible to imagine what could happen next with the first season full of action and adventure, romance and heartbreak. But not even twenty minutes into the season, I knew that we would be in for a story that would live in the back of my head for weeks to come.
For those of you who may need a quick recap from the end of season one, here’s a shortlist of things to keep in mind as you hit play this Friday. The mysterious army from the equally cryptic Nilfgaard was pushed back after a fiery display from Yennefer of Vengerberg, Ciri and Geralt were united at last after searching tirelessly for one another, and the presence of magic and whispers of destiny have the Continent teetering precariously on its axis. And these aren’t even all of the highlights!
It’s safe to say that season one left us all wanting more. The premier on Netflix reignited the passion felt by long-time fans of The Witcher and easily summoned countless new ones. With its daring fight scenes, frightening monsters (and sometimes people), and unique and engaging story, viewers were seduced right away, and the series made itself stand out from the numerous fantasy shows and films that have come and gone over the past few years.
And with the next installment just on the horizon, season two plans to make the saga take center stage yet again.
Outstanding performances and the promise of gunpowder, treason, and plot are but a few elements of what makes this next installment a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. Yet, somehow, there are even more surprises to witness, more mysteries to unravel, and more soul-searching to be done than viewers could have imagined.
Unlike the nonlinear narrative style of the first season, this upcoming release follows a more traditional type of storytelling. Chronological order is occasionally interrupted by an errant thought or memory, allowing viewers to dedicate all of their attention to what is unfolding before them. The story picks up almost exactly where we left off and wastes no time catching us up on what happens immediately following the Battle of Sodden Hill. Since most of the first season was focused on Geralt (Henry Cavill) honouring the Law of Surprise that tied him to Ciri (Freya Allan), it would make sense that a large part of the story puts their developing bond center stage. So far, we have seen Geralt as a witcher, warrior, curse-breaker, friend, lover, and even simply a man desperately in need of a nap. But now, we see him entering into uncharted territory: that of a guardian.
It is easy to understand and empathize that amidst all that has happened to Geralt and Ciri, through time and effort and the occasional misstep, some of the strongest bonds we can even find in our lives can be forged between people. Their unique father-daughter relationship reigns over the narrative and undoubtedly provides some of the highlights of the entire season. Cavill’s artful characterization of Geralt reminds us of his ability to subtly portray even the most intense favourite emotions while keeping the audience focused and searching for the slightest of tells. He is, no doubt, possibly the best person to play the role. And Allan’s portrayal of Princess Ciri has set up a dynamic between the two characters that makes them the two most compelling to watch this season.
Our other cast members have made themselves exceedingly memorable in season two as well, particularly with the performance of Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). Our favourite mage returns in all her clever and charming glory, though her situation this season is not nearly as glamorous or ideal as before. Chalotra does a phenomenal job of showcasing the personality and essence of what makes Yennefer so very much her while at the same time grappling with a new challenge that weighs almost as much as the heavens. This challenge threatens the identity and fate of one of the series most integral characters and changes the stakes in a way that gives “chaos” a whole new meaning.
Season two, to its core, is a more serious follow-up to season one. While the first season had a healthy dosage of jokes, lightheartedness, and branching story arcs to keep the story moving while showing us different sides to the characters, the mood has taken another direction this time around. This season is not afraid to delve deeper into the more complicated parts of ourselves or ask some big questions that would put a “We need to talk.” text to shame.
There are no more stories and themes that simply give our characters some interesting dinner anecdotes. Instead, this Friday, The Witcher, will have us wondering what it is that makes us and the lengths we will go to to protect what is more valuable to you or me than any jewel or treasure. Be it a person, a thing, or even an idea.
It has long been hinted in The Witcher that the Continent will soon be seeing change, unlike anything that has been witnessed before. The same could easily be said about our characters and the lives they lead. Geralt, who has sought a life of solitude and had unstable relationships with those he cares for, now takes on the responsibility of raising and mentoring his Child Surprise. Ciri, a princess of a fallen kingdom, must now discover who she truly is and what her destiny will be. Yennefer, a mage who has sought power and control over her fate, is reckoning with an unexpected and volatile new reality that could undo everything from who she is to what she will become.
Everyone and everything is changing. Nothing is what it seems. And viewers should take heart; keep your eyes on your screen and soak up every second of it.
Through a narrative that has been painstakingly crafted with gripping intent and so much intrigue that would put even the longest-running shows on television to shame, The Witcher season two continues to keep the series as one of Netflix’s crown jewels. While we have only seen six episodes of the upcoming installment so far, we eagerly await the show’s return. What kind of epic finale to this grand fantasy series’ second season will be, we can only guess. But if it will be anything like the explosive end to season one, we know it will be one for the books.