The Witcher is a show based on a wildly popular video game series which follows the story of a ‘witcher’ named Geralt of Rivia. Witchers are humans who have (normally voluntarily) been transformed and mutated when young via dangerous infusions of various alchemic concoctions to become more powerful both strength and dexterity-wise to carry out their new life purpose of slaying monsters. Assuming they survive the process, witchers are said to lose their emotions and feelings and hence are generally misunderstood and regarded by other humans as mutants and outcasts. Despite this, witchers stay true to their purpose of protecting humankind from monsters which roam the land and ply their trade by accepting bounties and selling monster remnants for coin to finance their monster hunts. In the show, there was an inability to create new witchers due to the extinction of a rare key alchemic component called Elder blood.
The Witcher Season 2 follows from Season 1 where Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) helped the allied forces of the North win the Battle of Sodden against Nilfgaard by unleashing an inferno across the battlefield. The show initially follows two story arcs, one of Geralt and one of Yennefer. In Geralt’s story arc, after the Battle of Sodden, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) is reunited with Priness Cirilla of Cintra a.k.a. Ciri (Freya Allan). Ciri is Geralt’s godchild and to protect her from the Nilfgaardians he brings her to the witcher stronghold Kaer Morhen. There Ciri undergoes combat training under the tutelage of Geralt, Vesemir (Kim Bodnia) and the other witchers and magical arts training under the sorceress Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer). Geralt soon leaves to investigate the truth behind Ciri’s mystical powers and ancestral mysteries and with the help of another sorcerer, discovers that she comes from a long bloodline of rare elves called Elders who were thought to be extinct. Geralt also discovers that monsters are innately drawn to Ciri due to her powers and mystical nature.
In Yennefer’s story arc, after the Battle of Sodden, Yennefer who seemingly lost her magical abilities is captured by the Nilfgaardian sorceress, Fringilla in the aftermath of the battle and was to be brought back to Nilfgaardian territory as a prisoner. During their travels they were captured by a group of elves who hated humans. The elf leader, Francesca, who is pregnant with a rare pureborn elf intended to reclaim the ancestral home of Cintra which is currently being occupied by Nilfgaard. During the subsequent days, Yennefer, Fringilla and Francesca have strange visions of hooded figures who they seem to know. They follow the beckoning of the strange visions into a nearby strange catacomb and meet a strange witch in a hut. Following the encounter with the strange witch, Francesca and Fringilla form an alliance to unite the elves and Nilfgaard whereas Yennefer parts ways with them. Yennefer then returns to the Brotherhood of Sorcerors, a council of mages, where she is forced to prove her allegiance due to the circumstances behind her disappearance after the Battle of Sodden. She refuses to bow to the wishes of the council and escapes. Shortly after the escape, Yennefer runs into her old ‘friend’ Jaskier (Joey Batey) the bard and together they encounter a fire mage assassin and manages to escape him.
Both story arcs combine when Geralt and Ciri unknowingly meet Yennefer at a sanctuary where they exchanged their stories and experiences. Shortly after, the three were ambushed by the fire assassin and his crew. Geralt manages to kill most of the crew and fend off the fire mage while Ciri teleports Yennefer and herself to safety. Yennefer then tries to bring Ciri back to Cintra, which was under Nilfgaard control, at the behest of the strange witch’s instructions. Geralt finds them and confronts Yennefer for her apparent betrayal and discovers that the strange witch instructing Yennefer was actually an ancient demon named Voleth Meir which was locked away in a hut by the first witchers. Voleth Meir feeds on despair and planned to escape by getting Francesca, Fringilla and Yennefer to trigger a series of dire events for her to feed on and escape the hut. Before Geralt could attempt to reach the hut and confront Voleth Meir, Francesca’s baby is assassinated and sends the elves into a frenzy, killing human babies and people in nearby human villages. From the killings, Voleth Meir became powerful enough to escape and possessed Ciri who was back in Kaer Morhen.
After an epic battle between the witchers and Voleth Meir at Kaer Morhen, they finally defeat her and saves Ciri. Voleth Meir was last seen joining a group of black undead horsemen called the Wild Hunt in another dimension
Having watched Season 1 of The Witcher and not enjoying it very much, I had very low expectations for Season 2. However, I was pleasantly surprised when almost all of the problems with Season 1 were improved upon in comparison.
The storyline of Season 2 was very interesting to me as I was keen to find out about the mystery surrounding Ciri and the true extent of her powers. This overarching intriguing storyline kept me watching to find out more and is why I feel the show was successful. The show also focused more on Ciri as the main character as opposed to Geralt which was a breath of fresh air as Geralt continued to do what he does best – stay true to his moody and brooding self. The overall character developments were well explored and the storyline was well-paced, not too fast as to overwhelm viewers and not too slow as to bore them. Freya Allan did an excellent job portraying Ciri’s character throughout – brave but stubborn and naïve. The acting of the rest of the cast, Henry Cavill as Geralt in particular was great overall and true to the original video game characters.
The action and fight scenes overall were good but could have been polished further. The best scene in my opinion involved Geralt brawling with no weapons to begin with, it was so well choreographed that I had to rewind and watch the whole scene again immediately. The rest of the scenes lacked that level of polish and may have been due to the overuse of CGI for monsters and the like. The music and score which took inspiration from the video game was again wonderfully made – the soundtrack resembled one where Game of Throne meets Gladiator.
Overall, I did enjoy the show and have a feeling that I would understand and enjoy Season 1 even better having just watched Season 2. If so, I would recommend for everyone to watch the series in reverse – stay tuned for my double review on Season 1!