The Witcher no doubt swept the globe when it premiered back in 2019, and now, three years later, after a pandemic and many streams of “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” Season Two is about to premiere. The strength of Lauren Schmidt Hissrich’s Netflix series has always been in both the casting of its leading characters and its willingness to lean into the crazy and fantastical world of the books of The Witcher. Based more on Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series like the video game series, the second season feels like it’s merely scratching the surface of the universe.
What remains from the brilliance of the first season is its tone; The Witcher has always been able to balance camp and humor with the darker side of humanity and people’s misdeeds. What is gone, thankfully, is the origin stories. Or rather, we are finally past them. The finale of the first season of the show felt like the ending of the exposition rather than the first arc of a tale. Eight episodes later and finally Ciri (Freya Allan) and Geralt (Henry Cavill) have met.
The wonky timeline, in hindsight, was an intriguing aspect of the first season, but often felt jarring on the first watch. The second season relies heavier on the bond between characters rather than solely on their destiny to be tied to each other. You now have your favorites and you can’t wait to see them on screen again. Some reunions take longer than others, which for an eight-episode series feels brief. But the key relationship this season is clearly between Ciri and Geralt, and the show benefits from this.
The other plots of the season are a bit more disjointed. Because Allan and Cavill have so much chemistry together and meeting the other witchers is so exciting, especially Kim Bodnia’s Vesemir, sometimes the other storylines drag as a result. The found family dynamic between Ciri and the other witchers at their home in Kaer Morhen is both addicting and well-developed. Watching a princess slowly find her way around a group of gruff men who have no emotions is surprisingly entertaining. Is the game of court politics and sociopolitical strife still intriguing? Yes, but I’m not sure it holds a candle to the main story.
Although, the second season does lean into the lore of the books far more, exploring the elves in more detail, as well as investigating the conjunction and the world in general. These are all much-needed aspects that feel more comfortable in a world where we have already met the main characters. Season One struggled with its jumble of country names that for a casual viewer was easily overwhelming. While this season doesn’t do much to bandage those mistakes, preferring to speak to its dedicated audience instead, it at least explains some things about The Continent as a whole.
Overall, the season presents a strong sophomore entry for the existing fans of the show. For those who were casual viewers, the world is no easier to step back into and a Season One rewatch is essential, not optional. There were several times while I was watching the show when I realized toward the end of an episode that a character was a returning character simply because we kept returning back to them. At the very least, at the end of the season, I’m humming a new earworm by Jaskier, and I’m totally fine with that.
The Witcher Season Two streams on Netflix on December 17th, 2021.