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The Witcher Season 2 Review- Netflix Doubles Down And I’m All In

Fantasy series are tricky. There are so many things to juggle. Monsters, medieval costuming and weapons, political storylines can be tough to balance. Too much of one or another, and the entire thing feels like a ridiculous hodgepodge of absurd themes, childish scares, and bad effects. Nevertheless, Netflix’s The Witcher managed to create something satisfying and true to the source material in Season 1. It was fun and funny, even if the multiple timelines were tough to keep up with, and it felt a little like the kitchen sink approach to storytelling. However, the Witcher Season 2 manages to up the ante on everything we loved while wading in trenches of trauma, grief, and newly found families.

The long-awaited Season 2 of Netflix’s The Witcher comes out December 17th, and for fans of the shield and sword fantasy series, you may be left scratching your head. If you have read the books, however, you will be thrilled. Just like the novels have wildly different spirits, it looks like the live-action series will follow suit. Don’t let that stop you from watching, however. Both seasons are entertaining. It’s just that I care more about everyone after Season 2. That’s a good thing.

There is a marked difference in tone from the first season. Where Season 1 was as comical as it was grim, The Witcher Season 2 is darker, more self-serious. While I missed the humor of Jaskier, who shows up several episodes into the new season looking much worse for the wear after Geralt of Rivia(Henry Cavill) broke from him at the end of Season 1, there was an urgency to Season 2 that made the six episodes available for review compelling. Despite the darkness that pervaded each storyline, I raced through them, desperate to know what would happen next.

Season 1 was full of chaotic intensity and lusty hookups, including a wild orgy. Season 2 is made up of tougher, more concrete stuff. Everyone has lost something important and has even more to lose. The monsters are still an exciting mix of horrific and weirdly sympathetic, and Geralt is still stoic, sometimes cranky, and icy hot, but Jaskier is no longer there to crack a joke. His levity is missed but replaced by mostly straightforward plots beats and emotional connections.

The second season picks up right after the Battle of Sodden Hill. Everyone is reeling from the utter devastation. Geralt has been told that his hot and cold love, Yennefer of Vengerberg(Anya Chalotra), is dead after sacrificing herself to summon the greatest fire magic ever wielded to defeat the Nilfgaardian army. With Princess Cirilla(Freya Allen) now permanently entrusted to him and shouldering massive grief, he takes Ciri to his childhood home Kaer Morhen, to heal. It’s not by coincidence that this is also the place that first trained him to be a witcher. It doesn’t take long before Ciri begins training as well. She is tired of being a pawn and is ready to learn to defend herself. Some of the best moments come from these scenes.

This move is essential to further explore the central and most endearing of the storylines. Geralt is initially reluctant to have much to do with Ciri beyond protection. He is afraid to become invested in her future and overly protective of his paternal instincts. Yet, somehow this strange, wooden relationship that is just beginning to thaw works. After waiting an entire first season for these two to finally come together, the payoff is excellent. Despite all the bigger plot beats and powers at play, this central relationship is vital. They are easily the most captivating part of Season 2.

Cavill can breathe new, more affectionate life into Geralt by coming home. In part, Cavill gets to explain himself more with expanded dialogue, but also, his relationships in Kaer Morhen make him more real. In addition, Cavill seems more at ease with his outlandish styling this time around. Whether that be because of the familiarity of the costume and makeup itself or the White Wolf’s softening to Ciri and his father figure Vesemir(an effective if expected Kim Bodnia), he is more than a ridiculous wig this season.

The Witcher Season 2
Courtesy of Netflix Photo Credit Jay Maidment

Fan-favorite Yennefer does not have the pillar of family to lean on. After the events of the Season 1 finale, Yennefer is a hero, but she paid a tremendous price and everything she does in The Witcher Season 2 is in the agency of a singular purpose. The complex character bounces from enemies to unexpected allies, but she always has a specific agenda that guides her. As always, Chalotra handles it all with cat-like agility and inscrutable charm. Her pain is palpable, and she ties the politically heavy side plot together.

We catch up with Joey Batey’s Jaskier, who was once Geralt’s goofy sidekick. In a hilarious scene that pokes fun at the confusion of timeline mixing, Jaskier performs a new song clearly meant for his former partner in crime. An emo-rock ballad that Alanis Morrisette or Taylor Swift would be proud of reveals how Jaskier feels about his breakup. He has not handled the separation well. Despite his fame, he is a shell of the lighthearted bard who accompanied Geralt.

The first season of The Witcher was a complicated mess of competing timelines, characters, and threats. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was interesting. By comparison, The Witcher Season 2 has a more lived-in comfortability that feels like a well-worn epic story. In addition, there is a focus this time around that allows the characters and the plot to gel. That is primarily due to the developing family bond Geralt and Ciri are forming. Cavill and Allan’s chemistry is the kind franchises can be built, and I would gladly watch Geralt’s cleft chin and Ciri’s bravely thrust chin any day.