The Witcher’s second season is told in a more straight forward manor (not that I was one of the people who had an issue with the fractured storytelling of the first season) and has a much more central focus, giving us not just a central story arc to follow in this season but some hints as to what’s to come in the future. Plus a high budget and great action, so let’s take a look!
The Northern Kingdoms prevail at Sodden. Geralt and Ciri encounter Tissaia on the battlefield and she tells them of Yenn’s sacrifice, implying she didn’t survive. Geralt decides to take Ciri to the Witcher stronghold, Kaer Morhen.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
And so it begins…
All the focus on this season is on Ciri (Freya Allan), who after a fun opening episode that saw her and Geralt (Henry Cavill) survive a vampire-like being at an old manor, is taken to Kaer Morhen, the partially destroyed Witcher stronghold that is still home to several Witchers including Geralt’s old mentor Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). After a fellow Witcher is turned into a tree-like being known as a Leshy Geralt gives the okay to start straining Ciri to defend herself, and even some fellow Witchers pitch in despite some lingering anger towards her for the death of Eskel (Basil Eidenbenz), the aforementioned tree-man. This is where we start getting more information about Ciri as Geralt follows some leads about the odd monsters attacking Ciri and finds out she destroyed a monolith during her escape last season, something that should for all intents and purposes be impossible, where as Vesemir finds out she has “Elder Blood”, something thought extinct and a key ingredient in the mutagen that creates Witchers, meaning the powerful sub-species may not die out with his students. The mage Triss (MyAnna Buring) tries to help Ciri trace her ancestry via a vision but is shown a powerful image of death that frightens her to her very core to top things off. Plenty of mystery around our central character.
As for a central antagonist, well as usual they’re spread about a bit, but one of the main ones is a fire mage named Rience (Chris Fulton) who is sent after Ciri and encounters both always-amusing bard Jaskier (Joey Batey) and powerful mage / Geralt love interest Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), then a trip to Kaer Morhen where he steals the new mutagen before finally being stopped by our titular Witcher when he tries to capture Ciri in a temple called Melitele. He’s a fun, if simple character who is very much alive still and working for a mysterious other person by the end of the season. In reality the real antagonist is an ancient witch-like being called Voleth Meir (Ania Marson) who was locked away in another realm unable to escape her hut (which has a pair of legs, for some no doubt old fabled reason!) but gains strength through the pain and suffering of others. She takes Yennefer, fellow mage Fringilla (Mimi M. Khayisa) and Elven sorceress Francesca (Mecia Simson) into her hut and convinces all three separately that she is something more divine and that she can give them what they want. Yennefer lost her powers when she went overboard with the fire magic at the end of the previous season so wants them back, Fringilla wants her side of Nilfgaard to win the war and Francesca wants peace for her people, especially as she’s now pregnant with the first Elven baby in many years.
Witchers be Witchin’. …. That’s a thing, isn’t it?
Through a manipulation of events several people suffer terrible tragedy, the main one being Francesca having to see her new born elf baby killed in its sleep, giving Voleth Meir enough power to escape her hut and possess Ciri. She then kills several Witchers in their sleep before Geralt and Yennefer arrive, the latter of whom nearly willingly gave Ciri to Meir to restore her magic but decided not to at the last moment. As Voleth Meir unleashes a bunch of monsters into Kaer Morhen to keep all the Witchers busy Ciri is locked in an old pleasant memory but with the help of Geralt and Yennefer she breaks free and the three of them are sent into another dimension where they see the Wild Hunt (basically the Polish version of the four horsemen of the apocalypse), which allows Voleth Meir to rejoin her follow Hunters, her true goal after all. Our lead trio return, with Yennefer now able to create magic again. We then get a few cut-aways showing that everyone in the world of the series now wants Ciri for one reason or another, including the head of Nilfgaard Emperor Emhyr (Bart Edwards), who is revealed to be Ciri’s father, Darth Vader style…
It was a fun season overall, with great special effects. There were a few other side stories, obviously, including top Nilfgaard general Cahir (Eamon Farren) escaping the Northern Kingdoms with Yennefer and eventually finding his way back to Nilfgaard, where he and Fringilla take credit for the Elven baby’s death after it causes Francesca to go around the Northern Kingdoms killing babies in a rather horrible sequence only to find out that it was actually Emhyr’s plan and for trying to take credit for it he locks the two of them up. There was also some fun scenes with Jaskier, who was helping smuggler Elves out of the Northern Kingdoms where a burst of racism happened thanks to the Elves joining up with the defeated Nilfgaard army. Throw in a few more fun magical creatures and it was a fun eight episodes!
Just a few seconds away from many, many babies being killed. …. … Fictional ones, for the record. Just thought I’d clarify that.
Not a lot really. I could’ve done with less baby killing, not that we saw any infants die or anything but we come closer to it than I’d ever like more frequently than I’d ever want! Can’t say it wasn’t an effective scene though…
I’m still not sure on Henry Cavill’s acting either. Love the man in person by all the interviews I’ve seen/read but he’s always come across as rather wooden to me and although it worked in Season 1 given Geralt rarely said anything other than “fuck” in this season he’s given a lot more lines and I’m not sure that was the best idea. Thankfully the role is still very stoic and therefore he pulls it off well for the most part, but I sadly still can’t really rate Cavill highly overall.
Okay, I’ll give Henry Cavill that one. That’s a perfect “What the hell?” look…
The Witcher’s second season kicks the core storyline into high gear, with plenty of mystery and focus around young Ciri and not only her combat training but her heritage and power making her a target for just about everyone. High budget, great action and a really enjoyable, if occasionally overly bleak, story made these eight episodes fly by and I’m already looking forward to more.