The Witcher: Season 2 Review

By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This review is spoiler-free.

To put it simply, The Witcher Season Two is an incredible journey packed full of great characters, magical storytelling and full of swords, monsters and magic!

I was a big fan for the first season, so naturally I was eagerly awaiting with great anticipation for Season Two to arrive, and I am happy to announce that I am not disappointed! Somehow, they have managed to make something even better and the scale of the world, stories and characters has just grown exponentially! This show has turned into an epic fantasy adventure and with such great pacing, the season will be over in the blink of an eye!

While they continue to pull from the books, which is what the show is an adaption of, the influence that the video game series remains a constant influence on a variety of elements within the show’s DNA. The fact that they continue to combine the books and games with their own new and unique aspects enables the show to service a wide range of audiences. Know the books off by heart? They change some things to throw up some surprises! Only know the video games? Get ready to have your Witcher lore expanded and those gaming ‘namedrops’ brought to life! If you only know The Witcher live-action show, you are going to be in for such a fantastic adventure! To satisfy all these different audiences and successfully service them all is not an easy thing to do, but I think this show proves that it is more than capable.

So, on to the cast!

Charlie Cox was born to play Daredevil. Matt Ryan for John Constantine and most definitely Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia. Cavill’s portrayal is a perfect triple combo of the books, the games and his own take on the character and in Season Two he is allowed to push his performance even further, as we see Geralt pushed to the limits of his abilities, both physically and emotionally. Freya Allan (Ciri) has a stronger outing as well and we get to see her undertake some Witcher training and Allan really sells the brutality of it all. Completing the trio is Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) who has a different type of journey than she had in the first season. What they chose to do was a brave decision, but once you arrive at the finale, you get the benefit of a huge payoff! My personal favourite Joey Batey (Jaskier) is also back and we find him in a very difficult and darker place – but he still has plenty to sing about! Speaking of which, Jaskier’s new songs are incredible toe-tappers and I have been listening to them on repeat on Spotify since they were released at the weekend! Watch the season, then go hunt them down!

When it comes to the new characters, Kim Bodnia (Vesemir) is the obvious addition to talk about given how important he is to Geralt and Ciri in the Witcher franchise. I like Bodnia, and I think he did a great job in the role, even if he didn’t carry over most of the personality traits from his younger self as seen in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf – which is supposed to be canon to the live-action show. Mecia Simson (Francesca) more than leaves her mark on Season Two and going forwards is going to have a huge role to play in the wider story. She has to deal with something incredibly tragic and her performance is so brutally convincing that it was difficult to watch at times. She deserves a lot of praise for such an accomplished display. While not technically a new character, after his brief appearance in the first season, I still want to mention Tom Canton (Filavandrel) in this section as he becomes a key part in the Elven storyline, which I’m pleased about as he is a character I very much enjoy. There are also numerous Witchers and mages making their live-action debut, and if you are familiar with the books or games you’ll know who they are immediately. We also have a few guest stars, with Kristofer Hivju (Nivellen) the pick of the bunch who was delivered an incredible performance. The cast as a whole is really solid throughout, it is a very strong ensemble!

While I had no issue with it personally, the main complaint thrown at Season One of The Witcher was the two different timelines in regards to the story. For Season Two, they ditch this storytelling method and stick to a more standard format. That is not to say that this switch limits the scale of the storytelling though, as the show follows multiple threads throughout the season and it does this VERY well! Given the amount of different characters and sub-plots the show exposes you to, its an impressive feat that they manage to successfully pull it off – which is helped further thanks to the excellent pacing of the writing. There were also complaints about the lack of monsters and creatures in the first season, which instead chose to focus more on the main saga story. This has also been adjusted this time around and the monsters are now much more interconnected with the other elements of the show. These few tweaks have further enhanced an already great show, so when I say that The Witcher Season Two is ten times better than the first season, that’s not a disservice to the first season, as it was fantastic, but the quality and changes made have just taken something brilliant and made it into something EPIC!

In terms of the negatives, other than a few personal preferences, in regards to how characters should be (in my own head-canon), there is very little to complain about! I think if you go through the list of complaints that people had, they have addressed them and made the show even better! I think some die-hard book fans will take issue with some of the character and story changes, Eskel for example – who is introduced in live-action and is lightyears apart from what has been established in previous mediums. Again, this is not something that bothers me too much, but I can see some creative choices rubbing people the wrong way. What I will say to these people is… that’s fine! If you like something that is already established and another medium changes what you like, you still have a version that works for you. It doesn’t overwrite what you love. Not everything has to be a carbon copy of what you know and love. The show needs to be able to do its own thing and I am very pleased that they do have the courage to mix things up.

The Witcher Season Two is everything that you could ask for! Great storytelling, perfectly crafted characters with outstanding performances and monsters and terror galore, The Witcher Season Two deserves all your coins and so much more!

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