Review: The Witcher Season 2 Is A Lot More Satisfying With A Linear Narrative
The Witcher has fast become 1 of Netflix’s hugest successes. So much so, that the streamer is building an entire franchise around the series with TV shows, movies, anime and so much more coming up. And it’s pretty easy to see why; The Witcher is amazing. The world, its story, the fantasy concepts and incredibly authentic action are all reasons why this show is so damn successful. Season 1 featured a very unique storytelling style, which definitely engaged audiences with how utterly confusing the whole thing was. But despite that, I’ll discuss in The Witcher season 2 review how abandoning that gimmick actually works better for the show.
Please note: my review of The Witcher season 2 will involve some season 1 spoilers. So, make sure you’re caught up, or don’t care, before you continue. No spoilers for season 2 of The Witcher though.
The Witcher Season 1’s Multi Timeline Story
The chosen 1? | Image via Netflix.
For a quick recap on season 1 of The Witcher check out my non-spoiler review of the premiere episode of The Witcher season 2. As I mention there, 1 of the most unique aspects of season 1 was its approach to storytelling. The season tells the story of the three main leads. But instead of a linear way, their storylines are occurring in three separate timelines, anywhere from 1 month to 30 years apart from 1 another. This works because of many reasons. The titular Witcher, a monster hunter named Geralt (Henry Cavill) is a mutant and therefore ages different from humans. Then there’s Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) who is a mage, Geralt’s love interest and an incredible character in her own right, and she also ages differently. Lastly, we’ve got Cirilla, or Ciri for short, (Freya Allan) whose story is the most recent and happens over the least amount of time.
What made season 1 kind of awesome, was how the three different time periods were never made explicitly clear in the show. Audiences had to work for the reveal, pay attention to story clues, the timeline, the characters, and be very dialled in to pick up on any of it. And while that was a great way to get audiences to interact with a new show, they might know nothing about, it was also very confusing. It took me, almost 3 full rewatches of the season to notice all the clues and foreshadowing and nuances of this formula. So, it was a great decision to not continue with that formula for season 2 of The Witcher.
Spoiler-Free Season 2 of The Witcher Review
Daddy-daughter quality time. | Image via Netflix.
The Witcher season 2 finally gives us answers. Which is another great thing about this season. While the initial instinct for Netflix trying to build a franchise might be to milk this story out over as many seasons as possible, I’m glad they don’t do that here. The answers and explanations we get in season 2 are satisfying for this story. While still giving audiences something to look forward to in the upcoming, and now confirmed season three of The Witcher. Namely, it’s Ciri’s origin that season 2 needed to explore, and they do so wonderfully.
While initially resistant, Geralt trains Ciri so she can defend herself against a myriad of threats coming at her. There are some threats, like Nilfgaard, that we knew of from before. But there are more fantastical threats coming after her for reasons unknown. Things move at a somewhat better pace in season 2 than season 1, as all the separate stories tie into 1 another a lot more cohesively. Ciri’s origin and how it impacts the world begins to make sense. Whereas, the Elves have a much bigger role in this season, further fleshing out the politics.
So Much of The Witcher Season 2 Is Back Story
Beware the coming of the Elves! | Image via Netflix.
One of the reasons that I love The Witcher series so much, without having read the books or played the games, is its immense preexisting world. Given all the source material there is on the story, it makes sense that the makers of the Netflix series, namely showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, has a lot of material to draw from. And this is so apparent in all of the world-building and storytelling of the show. Season 2 sees a lot more backstory of the Elves of this world and how their previous war with the humans ravaged their entire existence.
To this end, we meet new characters like Francesa (Mecia Simson) the new Elven leader rising and attempting to find a place for themselves in this new world. This starts with an uneasy alliance with Nilfgaard. More specifically, with Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) who was the right hand of the mysterious Nilfgaardian Emperor who’s been a looming threat since season 1. This new dynamic works to better expand the world of The Witcher and gives audiences a much better understanding of this universe. And speaking of the universe—
The Conjunction and All Its Long-Lasting Implications
Fantasy gynmastics? | Image via Netflix.
While speaking of world-building in this The Witcher season 2 review, we have to discuss the literal universe-building concepts they reveal. Without spoiling anything, a lot of season 2 deals with how the world came to be. Not the politics or socio-economic statuses of its inhabitants, but literally, how the world was made; how these different species came to co-exist with one another and all the monsters too. There’s a lot of references to something called ‘The Conjunction’, which feels like this franchise’s version of the Big Bang.
It’s incredibly amazing to get this much exposition and reveals about the universe in only season 2. The show also uses this concept and ties it into Ciri’s origin and the much more abstract concepts of Destiny, powers and foresight. It’s this amazing blend of the metaphysical and fantasy and is very difficult to work within the fantasy genre, that makes The Witcher such a great show.
The Witcher Never Dumbs Down Its Story
Grandaddy-granddaughter family time! | Image via Netflix.
This will be a strange thing to say in a review of a TV show, but The Witcher respects its audience. By that, I mean that the writers and Hissrich herself trust the audience to follow the story on their own. The rely on us to make the connections without going out of their way to explain it. Both seasons 1 and 2 have everything in every episode that connects and explains events of the subsequent episodes. It’s al there, we just have to pay attention to it. The makers don’t provide flashbacks or repeat dialogues or have to recap those events for the audience to follow along.
Countless shows and movies are created with the intention of being cash grabs. Or 1s that feature gratuitous scenes or concepts meant to superficially excite an audience. N1 of those things ever actually contribute to the betterment of the actual thing itself though. And it’s almost always transparent. So, in that regard, it’s refreshing to have a show like The Witcher which respects its audience enough to let the story tell itself, without restricting itself for the sake how it might be received.
The Witcher Season 2 Review Is All Positive
Power comes in many ways. | Image via Netflix.
Overall, The Witcher season 2 is a worthy continuation to season 1, and a great bridge for so much more Witcher to come on Netflix. Season 2 already has many connections to the Nightmare Of The Wolf anime movie. And we already know there’s a season three coming to continue the story of Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer. Not to mention the prequel live-action series, The Witcher: Blood Origin coming next year. It’s a great time to be a Witcher fan!
The Witcher season 2 is now streaming on Netflix, along with season 1.
What did you think of The Witcher season 2? Are you excited for all The Witcher coming out soon? Let me know your thoughts below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.