The first season of The Witcher caused controversy in the fandom and left the critics with mixed feelings. How does season two compare?
The second season continues the story of everyone’s destiny: Geralt (Henry Cavill) has a Child Surprise who he needs to take care of, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) is trying to find herself after learning she was Geralt’s wish to a genie, and we discover more about Ciri’s (Freya Allen) mysterious powers and fate.
I have to admit, I personally liked the first season, despite all its flaws. It was a dark fantasy with many horror elements and, surprisingly, some humour as well. Jaskier’s (Joey Batey) Toss A Coin To Your Witcher had been so catchy everyone was singing it for the next month.
Fear not Jaskier stans, for season two comes with another banger – maybe not as catchy, but way more heartfelt.
And that’s also an adjective I can use to describe the entirety of the second season – heartfelt. What used to be a fantasy/horror about killing monsters and constant grunting became an emotional family show about paternal love and constant grunting.
Henry Cavill truly carries the series, which is only fitting seeing as he plays the main character. His performance as Geralt of Rivia proves what we’ve known since Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel came out in 2013, Cavill is not only a good actor, but suits the role of a heroic character.
Cavill is a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books and has played the games. Co-star Freya Allen, called him a ‘Witcher bible’ in an interview with GAMINGbible. He understands his character well and portrays him flawlessly, bringing forth his grumpy attitude and good heart.
Season two has way less action than season one; it’s less bloody and gory. It has eight hour-long episodes that, unfortunately, I had to occasionally pause to do something more exciting. The season focuses more on the lore and political intrigue, which normally is not a bad thing, but it’s not what the fans expected after the last instalment. Star Wars prequels had less action and more lore and political intrigue than the Original Trilogy, which doesn’t mean they were bad, but a lot of fans still hate them. But maybe that’s just the toxic Star Wars fandom.
Ironically, critics disagree with the fans (how surprising). Let’s take a look at my favourite website, Rotten Tomatoes, the very reliable source telling you if a picture is worth seeing. The first season of The Witcher is rated 68 per cent by Tomatometer and has a 91 per cent audience score. Meanwhile the second is ‘Certified Fresh’ with 94 per cent and a 63 per cent audience score. What was that line from The Office, again? “How the turn tables…”
The real plot and action in The Witcher season two don’t start until episode four – or hour four, depending on whether or not you’re a binge-watching masochist. That’s exactly where things get interesting. And that’s exactly when I was awake enough to stop yawning.
Don’t get me wrong – season two isn’t bad. It’s actually pretty good. As a film student trying to keep at least an ounce of professionalism I can say The Witcher season two is superior to season one in almost every way. It explains what the first season failed to explain, introduces many interesting characters and focuses on significant familial matters while delivering a top-notch cinematic experience.
However, as a total nerd and pop culture addict I’m not satisfied. Give me more monster-slaying, more blood and horror. The plot was heavier and I have a love-hate relationship with it.
Still, the further it gets, the better it gets. Jaskier and Yennefer sharing the screen together is exactly what the season needed. Their constant banter and clashing personalities add a necessary spark into the show. They can create scenes that are both comedic, and emotional.
To clarify, I am an adult and will not make a Vin Diesel joke based on the season being about parental love and the finale being titled Family. Nope.
The Witcher seasons one and two are now streaming on Netflix.
Featured Image Credit: Netflix