The Witcher Season Two Finally Gets the Ball Rolling
It’s been two years since The Witcher first dropped, leaving fans of the books and show in limbo throughout the entire pandemic. Now, after a long break, The Witcher returns—bigger and better than ever. The first season caught the world by storm with its introduction to the fascinating monster-filled Continent and the mighty Witchers that patrolled it, but season two will truly entrench fans in the rich world-building and complicated story arcs delivered by Netflix and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. Two years haven’t changed a thing: The Witcher is still the best fantasy show right now.
Where season one acted as an eight-episode long prequel, season two is where the ball really starts rolling, unfolding the epic fantasy world of Andrzej Sapkowski. In the series premiere, we were introduced to the characters, kingdoms, monsters, and timelines of the Witcher world as Hissrich laid out all the players on a chessboard. In season two, the pieces finally start moving and storylines converge. The second season is nothing if not self-aware, with one clever line poking fun at its own convoluted timeline issue in season one. Instead of multiple storylines existing separately, bound by only a flimsy, time-jumping arc, this season brings it all together in a way that finally has us seeing the big picture—and beyond.
The first and last episodes are certainly the season’s strongest, with episode one, “A Grain of Truth” reminiscent of the first season’s monster-per-episode format. A dark and tragic take on Beauty and the Beast, The Witcher’s Slavic inspirations truly come out in this strong first episode. Fast forward to the epic season finale—we can’t say much, but be prepared for tragedies, battles, and prophecies.
With the characters firmly established in season one, the cast were finally able to develop their characters beyond the tropes season one almost caged them in. As Geralt of Rivia, Henry Cavill breaks from the toxic masculinity trope to develop Geralt into a devoted, if stoic, father figure. As Ciri, Freya Allen parts with the princess of the tower trope to unleash her potential as a vengeful warrior. And as Yennefer, Anya Chalotra expertly evolves the sorceress into someone who is defined by more than power.
But as steadfast as ever, Jaskier (Joey Batey) returns and is still charmingly irreverent and entertaining. While he packs a few tunes, there is, unfortunately, no ballad from this bard that matches the likes of “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.” We’re also introduced to new characters along the way, with the most fascinating being the world’s last Witchers and the world’s last elves. Kim Bodnia plays Vesemir, the oldest living Witcher, who steals every scene with a disapproving grunt and disappointed sigh. Meanwhile, Mecia Simson plays Francesca Findabair, the elven leader of a dying race whose radical desperation is captivating.
While the two-year break was long enough to make fans miss the series, it certainly gave the showrunners and actors time to work on improving the Witcherverse. Of course, the season didn’t go without a few hitches—there’s still plenty of unnecessary exposition and the arcs of secondary characters could be improved, but Netflix has still managed to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable second season that stays true to Sapkowski’s atypical take on the fantasy genre.
Book fans might not be pleased with the events of season two, which take creative liberties to new limits. There are certainly some new characters and plot lines that will leave readers commenting, “That wasn’t in the books.” But while the series is no longer strictly loyal to the source material, it is loyal to the themes and grand plan of Sapkowski. Perhaps influenced by Polish culture and Slavic mythology, The Witcher series has never been the kind of fantasy series that’s wrapped in a neat little bow. The Witcher goes against the typical "save the world" scenario that you see in fantasy shows like The Wheel of Time and movies like Lord of the Rings. After all, The Witcher’s chosen one is a harbinger of doom, not a savior.
The series stays true to this, even if it diverts from the plot of the books. But to the showrunner’s defense, her additions to the series only enrich the show’s mythology, with the best one being Voleth Meir, the Deathless Mother, who is inspired by the most Slavic supernatural monster of all—Baba Yaga.
If the next season of The Witcher is just as good as the second, then this Netflix original series won’t disappoint. Tighten your reigns, Witcher fans. We’re in for a wild ride—with the Wild Hunt.
The Witcher season two is now streaming on Netflix.