There was a time when almost every Netflix series would get at least three seasons. As the content library for the popular streaming service has grown, so too has its ability to quickly cancel shows that underperform. With shows like Cowboy Bebop getting canceled less than a month after its debut, the fact that The Witcher was greenlit for season three before the release of season two shows how much confidence the streamer has in the title. Let’s take a look at why this is in our spoiler-free review of The Witcher season two.
The first season of The Witcher focused heavily on building up the main characters. We learned about Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) and the Witchers, saw Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Triss (Anna Shaffer) turn into the fabled mages fans have known for years in the books and video games, and even experienced a young Ciri (Freya Allan) lose her family and home. Season two no longer has to deal with introducing so many main characters, which frees up valuable screen time to explore and evolve these characters.
One of the biggest changes from the first season of The Witcher to season two, is that in many ways the series has transitioned from an action-comedy to a straight drama. In season one, Jaskier (Joey Batey) provided much of the comedy relief, alongside Geralt’s grunts and foul language, but he has a reduced role in the six episodes (out of eight) that Netflix showed to the press for season two. When Jaskier was on screen, while he did have a few jokes to toss out, even his role has taken a more serious turn.
Henry Cavill is a self-proclaimed huge fan of The Witcher books and games, and one thing he wanted for Geralt in season two was to be more than just a few grunts. He got his wish as Geralt has become a real character. While some diehard fans may be slightly turned off that the famously stoic monster hunter suddenly seems to be a fully fleshed out and emotional character, it very much works within the confines of the show.
Much of the second season focuses on Geralt in his newfound parenting role with Ciri. The relationship between the two is thoroughly explored, as we see Geralt grow into a proper father, and Ciri comes into her own as well. Aside from his time with Jaskier, Geralt was a loner for most of season one. Now, between Ciri and the other Witchers at Kaer Morhen, he essentially has a family.
Speaking of the other Witchers, that may also be a point of contention for hardcore fans. Any time popular source material is adapted into a film or series, there’s a question about how faithful the adaptation needs to be. Season one took a few liberties, but for the most part it found a happy median between the books and games. Season two takes far more liberties, especially with the other Witchers.
While most of the other Witchers are close enough to the source material, there are some differences in appearance and in their actions throughout season two. All of the changes fit in well within the confines of the show, but some of the more diehard fans may still take issue. In addition, Geralt fights monsters in almost every episode of season two, but isn’t actually hired to kill any monsters through the first six episodes. The lack of “side quests” may impact fans of the games more so than the books, but it’s a clear departure from the many side quests in the first season.
For the most part, season two of The Witcher tells a compelling story, but loses much of the humor from the first season. The second season feels like a much more complete show compared to the first season, but if you mainly enjoyed the humor from season one, you may not like season two as much. The series has turned into much more of a drama, but still maintains high quality scripts and acting across the board. Now to wait another year or more for season three.
- Talented cast with a clear dedication to the material
- Great characters arcs that show real growth for many of the main characters
- Expands the roles of some characters beyond what they were in the books and games
- Monsters have more variety compared to season one
- Visual effects can be less than stellar at times
- Doesn’t stick as close to the source material as it could
- Abandons the side quest structure of the first season
- Most of the humor is gone in favor of a more serious dramatic turn