Netflix’s The Witcher is now back after a whopping two years since the debut of its first season in 2019. Season 1 was divisive due to its inconsistent and confusing non-linear narrative. Despite that, it was pretty decent for a first effort, and things can only go uphill from there, right? I’m happy to report that yes, The Witcher Season 2 is definitely a huge improvement over the first season.
Lion Cub Of Cintra
The Witcher Season 2 picks up almost immediately from the events at the end of Season 1. If you’re worried about getting disoriented all over again, don’t be. It’s easy to pick up even if you’ve forgotten some details. The Witcher Season 2 fixes the biggest problem from Season 1; the non-linear narrative, and replaces it with a more conventional straightforward and linear plot.
Similar to other shows, you’ll be following Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Ciri (Freya Allan) and the others in real-time, instead of jumping around from the past to the future and vice versa as we did in Season 1. Another criticism about Season 1 is that it was mostly all build-up with not much payoff. For example, Geralt and Ciri never even meet until the very end of Season 1. In Season 2, we finally get to explore the relationship and dynamic between those two characters.
Back in my Season 1 review, I criticised Freya Allan’s Ciri as bland and disappointing. To my pleasant surprise, she’s probably the best thing in The Witcher Season 2. Her performance is much more captivating this time around as she’s actually given the time and material to showcase her resourcefulness and stubbornness. You can’t help but root for her and want to see more of her, especially her interactions with Geralt and the other Witchers. This is a good thing, as it’s now less likely for Henry Cavill to break his back carrying the show.
The narrative in The Witcher Season 2 essentially switches between two main storylines; one featuring Geralt and Ciri, and the other focusing on Yennefer’s (Anya Chalotra) journey. Fans of the books or games will be happy to see other Witchers appearing for the first time in live-action, including the long-awaited debut of Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). Speaking of Vesemir, The Witcher Season 2 does, in fact, reference the Netflix animated movie The Witcher Nightmare Of The Wolf. It’s definitely recommended viewing if you want to fully understand Vesemir’s past with Geralt and what drives the character.
Of Elfs And Monsters
The plot is more engaging this time around because there’s an actual overarching and serialized storyline to follow, instead of the individual monster-of-the-week episodes we had in Season 1. There are different subplots for Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer, as well as exploring themes like humanity’s xenophobia against elves and delving deeper into the lore of the Continent. Each episode also features at least one fight or action sequence, so viewers won’t lack thrills or excitement. This results in pacing that’s faster and less plodding than in Season 1, which makes this season much more binge-friendly.
Another positive impact of all these new characters and Ciri finally being with Geralt is that it further refines and develops Geralt as a character, adding more dimensions and layers we’ve never seen before. He may have seemed gruff and reserved in Season 1, but in Season 2, he’s starting to become more open to working with others and even acting as a mentor to Ciri, following in the footsteps of Vesemir in that regard. Also, if you miss Joey Batey’s Jaskier, he’s still in The Witcher Season 2, though not as much as in Season 1. Does he have another ‘Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” hit? You’ll have to wait and see for yourselves.
Besides the characters, it’s clear that Netflix has provided a much larger budget for The Witcher Season 2. The effect of that can be seen in the higher production value, better sets, and better visual effects all around. The first season had some iffy special effects, which tarnished the immersion a little bit. The Witcher Season 2 turns that around with great special effects, especially for its monsters. if you’re looking forward to the monsters, trust me, you won’t be disappointed. The iconic Leshen is one of them (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in all the trailers and promotional material), but there are others that you won’t expect.
The Witcher 2.0
The Witcher Season 2 finally feels like it’s fulfilling the full potential of its source material. There’s more of a sense of urgency in the story that wasn’t present in Season 1, and it’s made all the better for it. If you were thinking of dropping The Witcher after watching Season 1, you should definitely give Season 2 a try first.
Final Score: 80/100
We attended an early screener of the first five episodes of The Witcher Season 2 courtesy of Netflix Malaysia. The Witcher Season 2 is slated to premiere on 17 December 2021.