The Witcher (Season 2)... this season feels more confident than ever before
While there are some hiccups on its journey throughout this 8-episode fantasy, it does however make up for the infamous timeline jump in Season 1 by rectifying all the criticisms with a tightly focussed linear narrative which is admittedly binge-worthy in one sitting.
Despite its initial mixed reception, (some of them were unnecessarily harsh), The Witcher was a huge global hit thanks to its fanbase from both the novels and the acclaimed games on which the show is based on. People were waiting for the second season until COVID-19 hit, delaying further production due to the production requiring exterior locations to film, and also Henry Cavill, who plays the lead titular character, Geralt of Rivia, faced a near career-ending injury. But, thankfully, not only the wait is over for the new season to arrive but this time, it feels more like a confident beast of its own. While there are some hiccups on its journey throughout this 8-episode fantasy, it does however make up for the infamous timeline jump in Season 1 by rectifying all the criticisms with a tightly focussed linear narrative with all the characters we loved from Season 1 which is admittedly binge-worthy in one sitting.
The season, this time picks up from the end of Season 1 where Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allan) meet for the first time and ride together for an adventure with frequent stops at his winter home, Kaer Morhen, where all existing Witchers stay and replenish all of their supplies. Ciri, wanting to know the source of her mysterious power (inherited maybe from her mother, or from her ancestors?) tags along with Geralt, with him playing as both father figure and also her trainer to help herself in combat. Along the way, Yennefer (played by a superb Anya Chalotra) finds herself losing her magical powers after her heroics in the Battle of Sodden Hill in the finale of Season 1. What ensues is an intriguing display of world-building aided by some solid set pieces (Episode 2 has a mutated tree monster resembling that of Davy Jones-Swamp Thing's lovechild), a dark sense of humor, improved writing all around, and some emotional moments displayed here by the gruffest lead himself.
..."Less than perfect means death" shows her drive to continuously train herself much to Geralt's chagrin...
Yes, Geralt here has to endure some pretty heartbreaking moments in this season, and although he does not cry or show sadness, Henry Cavill's stoic demeanor as Geralt, this time lets his guard down, by becoming someone who looks emotionally distant but with Ciri as his responsibility, we get to see him more vulnerable than ever before. The same goes for Yennefer, she becomes a desperate woman to find ways to get her powers back leading to her acting on rash decisions which land her in trouble with some of them straining her relationship with the people she cared for. That's not to say she doesn't lose her sarcastic humor on the way, with a scene in a bar where she saves someone from torture by acting drunk. On the flipside, Ciri, while at times is still the damsel in distress, becomes more hardened with the violence and rigorous training provided by Geralt and his fellow Witchers, she herself becomes stronger as the story goes along (Her quoting her late protector, "Less than perfect means death" shows her drive to continuously train herself much to Geralt's chagrin). Oh, I also should mention a bard named Jaskier (the standout of the show, Joey Batey), whom you find yourself missing in the first few episodes but when he does appear, all seems right again. His being the source of humor and a killer song he belts out (It's not catchy as the famous Toss A Coin to Your Witcher, but still his performance is potent nonetheless) provides the element of levity the show needs.
Other supporting characters are fleshed out as well, like the Nilfgaardian commander, Cahir (played by Eamon Farren), the mages Fringilla, Tissaia, and Triss Merigold (played by Mimî M. Khayisa, MyAnna Buring, and Anna Shaffer respectively) as well as some new characters are introduced: Vesemir (played by Killing Eve/Pusher fame Kim Bodnia) who also plays a father figure to Geralt, and like Geralt, he also displays a paternal quality towards his fellow Witchers, especially Geralt; and the elves mainly Francesca, the matriarch who's keeping to protect her pregnancy as her last hope of progress for her kind. Weirdly enough, this show portrays them as a minority race with indifferent treatment from humans, unlike other depictions.
...with several plot points teasing the next season, it does make up all the flaws with an unexpected twist ending...
While the narrative has improved a lot since the first season, there are some areas that needed to be desired more than what we got. As the climactic battle at the finale goes on, the setup and tension are palpable but one feels the staging of those scenes feel a bit awkward. Also, the combat sequences don't have the highs from the pilot episode of Season 1. While the soundtrack is pretty good in its own right, it does feel a bit of a step down compared to the first one. Nonetheless, this season while it ends like The Return of The King with several plot points teasing the next season, it does makeup all the flaws with an unexpected twist ending. I haven't read the books yet and I've only played the first game, so I'm curious about how fans of the franchise would react to this ending. For me, honestly, I kinda did not see it coming and the way it sets up the upcoming season makes it more fruitful to wait for another one.