It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two years since The Witcher Season 1 graced Netflix and became its biggest hit of the time (who knew that a Victorian soap opera and a Korean “game show” would top it?). Part of the reason for the delay was the global pandemic, then it was injuries and beyond. But now, at last, the second season has arrived. But the question was, would it fix the mistakes of the first season? Well, as this The Witcher Season 2 Review will tell you, most certainly…but at a cost at times.
My thoughts on the first season of The Witcher (I wrote a review for a different site, sorry!) was that it was nice, but confusing. They did multiple timelines at once and by the end I was very confused as to how it all came together. But with Season 2, they promised and then delivered on a more streamlined story that may have played out a bit more basic, but it worked far more than it missed. Especially with the three main characters.
The season picks up honestly right where we left off. Geralt and Ciri have finally found each other after a literal season-long “Law of Surprise”storyline. And now the question is…what does Geralt do with her?
That in and of itself is the important question, and it is a season-long tale. But this time, it makes sense (more or less) what Geralt does, and how he tries to both protect her, honor her, be there for her, and guide her. Let’s not forget that Season 1 Geralt was not the most eloquent and forthcoming fellow. Henry Cavill was noted for having wanted to do more with Geralt in Season 2, and he gets his wish.
Here we see a more paternal man. He struggles like any father figure, but he does his best with what he knows. And when he doesn’t know something? He seeks answers so that he can better help the young woman in his care.
But he also leans on his experiences growing up as a young Witcher boy. So him taking her back to his own home and in the care of his brothers and own father figure really works.
As for Ciri, she’s someone who is lost, and doesn’t know what to do or believe or understand at times. You could very well argue that she has the biggest arc of the season as she goes from just clinging to Geralt, to wanting to be a Witcher herself (and comes dang close to being one by her own choice), to not wanting to be “weak” anymore because of all she’s lost, and then eventually gaining a new family at the “cost” of losing an old one. All the while, coming to terms with the fact that there is a great power within her that no one really seems to understand.
The interactions between Ciri and Geralt are honestly a true highlight of the season. Especially since we didn’t get it until the literal last scene last season. Geralt trying to get her to listen, and Ciri not listening until she understands WHY she needs to listen is hilarious and touching. Especially when said “old friend/father figure” reminds Geralt that he was that way when he was young.
At one key point in the season, Ciri is a needle-point away from becoming a Witcher herself and Geralt stops her and she protests because she wants to be “more than enough” to handle what comes. And instead of chastising her, he notes that she is enough, that “you are extraordinary” and that she didn’t need to be him to survive. Geralt wouldn’t have been so kind last season, and that was great. As was him having faith in her in the final confrontation with the demon because he knew that she was stronger than Ciri gave herself credit for.
Best line for me though? Was when Geralt truly takes full ownership of Ciri when asked, “She’s mine.” Again, something he wouldn’t do last season…literally in fact.
Ah, but what of our lady Yennifer of Vengerberg? Oh, she’s alive, obviously. But she’s not exactly “no worse for wear”. As the fire magic she used to save the day at the end of Season 2 literally cost her the chaos magic she treasured. So what is a woman of magic…without magic?
A good question indeed, and one that Yennifer wanted to find out, even if that meant almost selling her soul (and Ciri) to get what she lost. While her motives and actions weren’t always altrusitic, you do sympathize with her. She’s a woman who has literally had everything taken from her time and time again, and then when she literally does something truly noble…she gets taken from once more. So why not break the natural rules in order to get it back? Even if it means betraying the “dear friend” that you love?
Obviously, that didn’t stick, thank goodness, and Ciri now has a ‘mother’ to look after her. And Geralt has his old flame back…even if he doesn’t trust her fully just yet after all she did.
But it wasn’t just our main trio that had a lot of story to tell. New and old characters arrived to mix everything up. Including Vesemir, whom we saw in a much older state compared to Nightmare of the Wolf (read my review!) Here is a Witcher who has seen his fair share of death, especially amongst his own kind. And so when his prized “wolf” returns with a new child, and that child can potentially rebirth their race? Interesting things take place.
I especially liked the chemistry between Vesemir and Geralt. The latter often asks the former for faith and advice, and only rarely is it not given. Further building on what was shown in Nightmare of the Wolf.
Add to that, there’s the new alliance between Fringilla and elf leader Francesca, two women who are aiming to save their people and their homes, but are often questioned because of who they are, and their goals. There’s a lot of brutality and desires shown in their storyline, and how it ends is…well…it’s a lot.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s a lot of world-building in this season just as there was last season. Such as with the Wild Hunt, ancient demons sealed away, the legends and prophecies of elves, and so on. That also doesn’t talk about all the politics and machinations of things like the Brotherhood, the White Flame, and various other people who are all trying to cease power as the world is seemingly losing its mind.
Oh, what’s that? You want me to talk about the monsters? Well, this is The Witcher Season 2 Review, so why not?
Yes, there are a LOT of monsters in this season, and they are all both menacing and terrifying. And the deaths we see are at times very gory. But what else would you expect from this series? Furthermore, we learn more about how the monsters come to be in the realm, and thus why The Witchers like Geralt are still needed.
So, what doesn’t work in Season 2? Well, a few things.
The biggest one being that while there is a more straightforward story this go around, certain parts do bounce around and leave you wondering what’s going on. Especially with all the political players. There were some conversations I well and truly couldn’t understand because of sound quality or them throwing out so many various terms and lore that I couldn’t keep up.
Also, as a friend of mine noted, there were some bloated elements and questionable moments that didn’t make sense given what was going on. Such as one of the Brotherhood being called out for treason and then him getting out of the jam with laughable ease. Twice in fact.
Furthermore, a key storyline was done with Fringilla, and then right at the end she’s whisked away along with her co-hort (who also had somewhat of an arc) and I have no idea if they’ll come back. So why focus so much on them if they were going to be just swatted away? Do you think you are Game of Thrones?
It also seemed like much of the story was building up to Season 3, which isn’t bad per se, but it was clearly noticeable at points.
Still, even with those flaws, The Witcher Season 2 honestly was very good, and while Season 1 was tricky to get through, this season very much finds its footing and I’m looking forward to Season 3 whenever it arrives.
Hopefully not in another two years.
The Witcher Season 2 Review
The Witcher Season 2 Review fixed many mistakes of the first season, while also building up on the characters we know and love, and showcasing why this world is so enriching.