‘The Witcher’ Season 2 Review: Netflix Proves Television’s Next Big Fantasy Was Already Here
The Witcher premiered on Netflix back in 2019, one of many fantasy series that sprung up in the wake of Game of Thrones‘ final season. Based on the video games by CD Projekt Red and the novels from Andrzej Sapkowski, the show brought the adventures of the iconic Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) to life, introducing Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) and Princess Cirilla (Freya Allen) in the process. And although the first outing proved a bit confusing for many viewers, it set the stage for big things in The Witcher Season 2.
Netflix’s second outing delivers on the promises of its first, bringing fans a batch of episodes that greatly improve upon the story’s beginnings. Of season 2’s eight installments, the first six were provided to reviewers. They offer a narrative that’s easier to follow, easier to get invested in, and far more difficult to put down.
With shows like The Wheel of Time, House of the Dragon, and The Lord of the Rings rightfully sparking conversations about television’s next big fantasy, The Witcher Season 2 leaves viewers to wonder: was it already here?
‘The Witcher’ Season 2 gives its characters more to do
The characters remain one of the most compelling aspects of Netflix’s The Witcher, and season 2 gives all of them something more important to do. In the show’s first outing, Yennefer’s storyline overshadows Geralt’s and Ciri’s, chronicling her journey to becoming a mage — along with her attempt to find meaning afterward. By comparison, Geralt’s monster-hunting and Ciri’s flight from Nilfgaard seem like setup. On the bright side, it’s the kind that pays off down the road.
Geralt and Ciri’s arcs are greatly improved by finding one another. Not only does Allen’s character bring out a more talkative, compassionate side of Cavill’s lead, but the two push one another to grow.
Cavill excels at bringing Geralt’s fatherly tendencies to life, even if he seemingly develops them off-screen before the season even begins. His and Ciri’s relationship is a highlight of season 2. It will leave viewers fully invested in their intertwined destinies. It would have been interesting to see their early days traveling together. However, the pair’s chemistry makes their instantaneous affection work regardless.
Yennefer’s journey following the Battle of Sodden Hill is equally stunning, if a bit more difficult to watch. One could say the new episodes continue her search for purpose. They certainly offer a new perspective of her character, the kind that’s flawed and vulnerable in ways women in fantasy don’t always get to be.
The main cast members of The Witcher aren’t the only ones who shine in season 2. Although Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) always made a fascinating antagonist, she’s truly in her element during this batch of episodes. Fans may even find themselves wondering whether she’s really the enemy by the time this season is through.
Jaskier (Joey Batey) and Vesemir (Kim Bodnia) are also standouts, both bringing main character energy to their supporting roles.
Character dynamics are at their best
Not only do The Witcher‘s characters get more fanfare individually in season 2, but viewers finally get to see them connect in more meaningful ways. Clearly, Geralt and Ciri take center stage when it comes to character dynamics. But it feels like viewers get to see just about everyone interact in the new episodes.
Geralt and Vesemir’s longtime bond mirrors the one Geralt has formed with Ciri. If Henry Cavill and Kim Bodnia were going for vulnerability in their roles, they absolutely nailed it. The two capture the longtime relationship between the Witchers with little effort. It will certainly make fans of the source material happy to see them properly adapted.
Tissaia’s (MyAnna Buring) protective feelings toward Yennefer, especially following the Battle of Sodden Hill, speak to a similar dynamic. Found family is a big theme of The Witcher franchise, and it remains prominent in the Netflix series.
Of course, there are plenty of comical and antagonistic dynamics that prove equally as entertaining throughout The Witcher Season 2. If the characters are the show’s biggest accomplishment, their relationships no doubt highlight that. Every conversation underscores the chemistry the cast members have with one another. Placed against a well-crafted backdrop, all of them are able to shine.
Netflix’s world-building is greatly improved in season 2
The Continent looks like the sprawling, epic world it’s meant to be in both seasons of Netflix’s The Witcher, but season 2 relays a lot of information about the power dynamics present where Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer reside.
The story was always political, but that piece of it feels more prominent in the latest outing. It also feels more true to life. There really are no “good guys” when it comes to The Witcher. Season 2 drives that message home, especially in regard to those in power.
Tensions are higher than ever, and human atrocities crop up in their wake. It’s a harsh but realistic view of the world, and it draws parallels to the problems within our own. The series could even stand to dive a bit deeper into those themes, something it will hopefully do in future seasons.
In addition to further exploring the politics of this world, The Witcher gives viewers a thorough education on it without overdoing the exposition. Those coming to the Netflix series with no knowledge of the source material will leave these episodes with a better understanding of monsters, magic, and the home and history of the Witchers themselves.
It’s impressive how much the show manages to convey in just six episodes — and all while keeping viewers engaged.
‘The Witcher’ raises the stakes during its second outing
With its characters set firmly on their paths and the political tensions of the Continent outlined, The Witcher Season 2 sets the show up for a long and bright future. If Henry Cavill meant it when he said he’d play Geralt of Rivia for seven seasons, that’s probably for the best.
Season 2’s first six installments will leave fans wanting more, and that’s likely true of the final episodes as well. Fortunately, Netflix renewed The Witcher for season 3 back in September. That gives the series plenty of time to raise the stakes even further — and bring Ciri, Geralt, and Yennefer’s stories to a satisfying conclusion.
In the meantime, fans can expect action, suspense, and plenty of heartfelt moments from The Witcher‘s coming outing. The Witcher Season 2 debuts on Netflix on Dec. 17, 2021.