This review has no major spoilers for The Witcher season 2.
Byzantine’s non-chronologically structured concoction of season 1, The Witcher returns with two simultaneous storylines: the famous witch Geralt (Henry Cavill) bonded with her new nanny Cirilla (Freya Allan), and the maverick witch Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) grappling with the loss of her strength. his strong. Across the continent, a geopolitical conflict is raging between various human kingdoms, the Council of Mages, and a refugee community of oppressed elves.
The Witcher season 2
December 17, 2021
Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
Netflix’s hit fantasy series finds its feet in season 2, which centers on the wizard Geralt (Henry Cavill) training teenage boy Cirilla (Freya Allan). Consisting of familiar fantasy archetypes, the show thrives on simple adventure settings… but struggles with serious big-picture storytelling.
The Geralt/Ciri arc was the clear winner at first, because The Witcher basically better in simple adventure storytelling. We did not go to this exhibition because of its attractive international diplomacy. Fortunately, the political elements get more interesting, with the rise of Nilfgaard as well as a catchy tease for future episodes.
Back in 2019, I was in a rare and unpopular position don’t like this show. In addition to being overly complicated and shallowly written, season 1 was plagued by a sexist origin story against the female lead (Yennefer sacrificed her fertility in a nude torture scene, to “cure” her disability) and a wooden leader. Except Jaskier, Geralt’s side friend, I see The Witcher largely unfunny and lacking in personality.
With that in mind: Season 2 is a big step forward! Higher production value, especially in terms of set designs and realistic effects for monsters. We also benefit from a simpler narrative structure, adapted Witcher novel Goblin’s Blood and Time of contempt. Geralt and Ciri spend a few episodes in Kaer Morhen’s wizarding fortress, introducing us to Geralt’s brothers and giving Ciri a chance to grow up.
Cavill still delivers a pretty one-note performance, but that obviously doesn’t hurt his former popularity. He was widely regarded as the “perfect” mint for Geralt, a concept I could understand on paper, if not in practice. Along with being an action star who can convincingly stab a sword through someone’s skull, Cavill also famously obsessed with Witcher legend, which overlaps with his widely publicized celebrity character an unexpected nerd. However, his dramatic talent leaves something to be desired.
Geralt is a classic taciturn hero much like Wolverine or Mandalorian — complete with a fatherly arc. His relationship with Ciri is a glaring highlight, but elsewhere, Cavill doesn’t fulfill Geralt’s full potential. It was an unpredictable role. Witches are loners, dangerous outcasts, and their emotions are said to be overshadowed by the very process that gave them superpowers. Of course, we know that the water is still flowing deep. Geralt is just repressed, highlighted by his difficult relationship with power guard Jaskier (Joey Batey) last season. But Cavill offers nothing but what he gives in the script. Always speaking the same raspy growl, his expression was limited to anger, exasperation, and a vague approximation of repressed anguish. Viewers have to do the emotional work on their own, extrapolating what he is probably feeling below the surface.
Two years on from season 1, you may need to refresh your memory of The WitcherExtensive supporting cast. Along with recurring characters like Triss, Fringilla, Istredd, and the fearsome Nilfgaardian commander Cahir, season 2 introduces a host of new characters rooted in settings like Kaer Morhen and Redania. Longtime fans will recognize Geralt’s fellow wizards as Lambert and Eskel, and their mentor Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). Meanwhile, Jaskier, a huge hit in season 1, has a surprisingly small role in the six episodes that are up for consideration. He has one more piece of a song, but the song overall is surprisingly short.
Netflix’s biggest hits often thrive on ease of watching. This includes The Witcher, has an easily digestible protagonist arc, fueled by magical quests and related desires. You can hardly pause because the show is too intellectual or emotionally challenging. And when everything do gets heavy, writers always swing to another side plot, where someone is drinking in a pub, or hanging their head out of a pub. Simple pleasures.
As I move on to part 2, I appreciate it even more The Witcherby Ren Faire. Moments like a witch doing lab tests (!) with a fake medieval centrifuge, or Ciri doing a training video on an obstacle course. This is what the program should focus on. The text isn’t sophisticated enough to support dozens of dissidents, collusion magicians, and traveling warriors. I suspect that even hard to die Witcher Fans will agree. And if you’re one of those fans, you’ll definitely enjoy season 2. Balancing grit with a sincere love for the fantasy genre, the show has been a hit.
* First published: December 15, 2021, 6 a.m. CST
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer for the Daily Dot, about wacky culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi and superhero films, she has also appeared as a film and television critic on the BBC. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor
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