The Witcher Season 2 Review: More Than Worth the Wait
It's been a long journey to The Witcher Season 2, but the much-anticipated season is finally here, and it is without a doubt more than worth the wait. It improves upon the foundation set by the first season in almost every conceivable way, moving away from less effective elements and leaning into others that enrich the experience ten-fold. The cast feels settled into their roles but, thankfully, expands upon their characters throughout the season, especially in the case of Geralt, Ciri, and Triss. While there are some changes from the books that will draw some attention, there are other moments that feel as if they stepped directly out of them to balance it out, and it all leads to an amazing season of television that no Witcher fan should miss.
Two of the common criticisms of Season 1 revolved around the season's slow start and the various jumps in time and story, and both have been addressed by showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich and the talented team of directors and writers in Season 2. The season kicks off with two stellar episodes back to back, including the pitch-perfect introduction of Nivellen and a battle as brutal as it is heartbreaking. If you thought Season 1 didn't pack enough punch up front, Season 2 suffers from that issue in no way.
As for the time jumps, they are just about completely gone, as any jump to the past is clearly displayed as a flashback and any dip into the future is illustrated to be a vision or a dream. It's a more linear story but it doesn't feel constrained to just one path, as the various journeys of the different sets of characters make the adventure feel grand and epic in scope, and fans will appreciate how smoothly moments flow from one to the next.
Characters from Season 1 that felt underutilized also feel more fully developed this time around, especially Triss (Anna Shaffer), who isn't just a side character and feels like the character of importance fans know from the books and games. Once she gets to Kaer Morhen, fans of the books are going to be right at home, and I couldn't help but smile at just about every interaction she had with characters like Geralt, Vesemir, and Lambert. The same goes for Fringilla, whose arc is one of the most surprising aspects of the season so far.
As for the other Witchers, a few of them make a mark on the season instantly, with Vesemir bringing a welcome warmth to every scene he's in, while Lambert's snark and prodding set up some delightful sequences between Geralt and Ciri. Newcomers like Nenneke, Rience, Dijkstra, Coen, and Francesca all add their own spice to an already compelling mixture, and the casting across the board is phenomenal.
While Season 2 brings back the core four of Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, and Jaskier, it also finds fresh avenues to explore with each member. All four retain what made them so compelling in Season 1, but they also evolve by leaps and bounds. Geralt and Ciri's story is the heart of this series, and it shows in every scene they share. Henry Cavill's Geralt is still gruff as one would expect, but when he's with Ciri (and even Yennefer), the gruff facade drops, and in its place appears compassion and a need to protect, and there's a fatherly love present throughout their time in Kaer Morhen.
Freya Allan's Ciri is as important a part of this dynamic though. The fearful Princess of Cintra is long gone, replaced by a warrior-in-training who threatens to steal just about any scene she's in. Ciri is one of the best parts of the season, and if you're not a fan going in, you surely will be when you leave.
The growth and evolution of these two make the scenes where everyone is together even better, though if you are looking for Geralt to just be a badass, Season 2's got you covered there, too. Whether it's powerful sorcerers or massive beasts, the fights are thrilling to watch, especially that battle with a Bruxa that has so often been teased, though there are others that will surely impress as well.
Now, we only had a chance to see the first six of eight episodes, so it will be interesting to see how this season resolves and what it sets up, especially after the events of Episodes 5 and 6. In these first four episodes, we also don't get the reunion of Geralt and Jaskier just yet, which is disappointing, but I will say that Jaskier's storyline so far in the season is compelling, as is the dynamic with his ally for most of his screentime. I wouldn't have traded this for less Geralt and Ciri either, so I'm okay with it.
There really aren't many flaws so far in Season 2, but as of right now, I would say most of the new Witchers haven't really added much. It's awesome to see so many of them, but so far only Lambert and Vesemir feel fully fleshed out. Other than that, maybe a few more creatures would be welcome, but, honestly, that's a nitpick, as the ones featured felt genuinely like threats with improved effects from Season 1, so I'm not complaining.
The Witcher season 2 improves upon the original in almost every way. Many of the new additions manage to flesh out the world and its mythology even more, and as for the core four, they embrace their characters in new ways by delving into their humanity, their vulnerabilities, and their fear. The result is a season of can't-miss television, and it's a season that should delight any fan of the franchise.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Witcher Season 2 lands on Netflix on December 17th.