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“Netflix” The Witcher: Season 2 [First 6 Episodes] – Review

Blondes, just want to have fun, and Geralt is back for some more monster-mashing madness. Delayed due to the global pandemic, Netflix’s second season of “The Witcher” is finally here with less than a week away from dropping, and fans are more than excited.

Based on the titular book series, season one left us wondering about the outcomes of the “Battle of Sodden” and the whereabouts of Ciri and Geralt as they reunite. Thanks to Netflix we can give you our thoughts on the first six episodes.

Characters and casting

Starring ‘Superman’s Henry Cavill in our lead, he portrays the broody Witcher Geralt perfectly, almost embodying everything that made him popular in the books, and even the games. Looks aside, he has the voice, mannerisms, and charm of Geralt down pat without the overall camp or cheese that could have potentially come with the role. Yennefer played by Anya Chalotra, is still a sultry, powerful, and headlining character, but does come off at times as a bit too petulant and sulky instead of the commanding presence of the book counterpart. In saying this, the few scenes they are in together are thick with an unseen tension of what-ifs.

Supporting characters such as Fringilla (played by Mimi Ndiweni) portrays the bleak, cold personality that is a perfect representation of the Nilfgaard she councils. Actor, Kim Bodnia’s takes on the famous father figure of Vesemir with total respect for the material. It feels as though he is almost under utilised as the rare few scenes he is in, he steals with his passion for his career. Charmingly, it was good to see Roach is treated like the star he is in his own right, in episode 1 particularly, with Geralt often referring to his steed and talking absentmindedly to him.

Impressions and critiques

This season there is a stronger narrative drive than season one which was based on a lot of short stories branching towards one goal towards the end. This time around, based more on the particular book “Blood of Elves”, there seems to be a stronger more cohesive direction in the storytelling.

The bonding between Geralt and Ciri (played by Freya Allan) moved to the forefront of this season and the monster-slaying while still there, serving as a nice side dish. It is probably the most dynamic acting between two characters as Ciri fights to be considered an equal in Geralt’s world. She stands strong and fights when Geralt says run and his pep talks to her about the evils of the world are some of the more touching moments.

Contrasting these scenes are the scenes between Yennefer and her many escape sidekicks. These are supposed to be more impactful in the opposite way with big action scenes with some hitting hard and others falling flat due to conflicting chemistry of characters. Alternatively, the chemistry between characters using humour or comical quips don’t really hit either, maybe because it just contrasts too much with the seriousness Geralt and these harsh environments exude.

One minor change glossed over in a fleeting sentence is the change to Anna Shaffer’s Triss Merigold’s appearance. Now finally, sporting her famous red locks. While a fan servicing cosmetic choice, it is better in a sense as in season she did blend in with many of the other dark-haired cast to the point I forgot who this famous character was at one stage. Refreshing in itself is the abundance of strong female support and leads. Each with struggles that they tend to share with men but are not overshadowed as playing a damsel in distress.

Cinematics

The cinematics, lighting, and videography of season 2 of The Witcher will blow you away from the first episode. Frosty blue hues are a theme across many episodes and gorgeous cinematic transitions change scenes from light and whimsical to dark and sinister in an instant. Filming a lot of scenes in the real forests of the aptly named location of Deepcut in London, has painted the perfect picture of the lands filled with monsters that Roach and Geralt roam.

Panning shots of beautiful landscapes especially of Kaer Morhen as they zoom out from a snowy mountainside, make this world so desperate to be lived in. The folk music matches this mythical world so well with strums of strings, horns, and flutes setting the pace of any battle scene or bard’s tale.

Special effects too are neither gawdy or overworked with the ‘Aard’ magic Geralt casting a great nod to the stylings of the games. Fire ignites from his sword or a temporary shield bubble will protect against unique and blended CGI monsters but neither will steal the scene from the actors. A very hard thing to balance. Actions scenes also play out with just the right amount of blood, slicing, and choreographed moves you’d expect from a dual sword-wielding hunter.

Episode Breakdown

For a spoiler-free synopsis of the first six episodes read below:

  • Episode 1: A Grain of Truth
    Opening on a gritty and dark scene of a butchered caravan, you are quickly whisked off to the remanence of the Nilfgaardian battlefield as Tissaia searches for our beloved but troubled Yennefer. Meanwhile with Ciri in toe, Geralt and our little princess bond while travelling. When monsters should be hibernating, they are roaming free, Geralt must free his friend of a very Beauty and the Beast-like curse.
  • Episode 2: Kaer Morhen
    Stuck with the enemy’s mage, Fringilla, Yennefer is captured by the Elves who are none the happier of their presence as they take back their lands. Mixed up in Elven Gods and visions, they must decipher what they truly desire, what direction to take and what they will sacrifice. Ciri and Geralt’s journeys bring them back to the den of the infamous ‘Witchers’, Kaer Morhen. There we finally meet Vesemir, the oldest and most renowned of them all who explains their lore while trying to question the secrets Ciri still holds as she begins her training in the ways of ‘The Witcher’.
  • Episode 3: What Is Lost
    Ciri continues her training at Kaer Morhen but is haunted by visions, Geralt as he watches on is haunted by memories of his own. Yennefer makes her way back to her old mentor however, seems very lost despite being home. She is tormented by the council about her fire magic abilities and whether she can be trusted, pushing members further away from her camp. The Elves oddly align themselves with the Nilfgaardian under the guidance of Fringilla.
  • Episode 4: Redanian Intelligence
    While honing her senses, Ciri runs into Triss, her newest mentor, and the Northern Kingdoms make plans to make a move on Cintera. Meanwhile, Yennefer is on the run with a Nilfgaardian captive and on route to ‘The Sandpiper’ who can escort refugee Elves to safety in the most unlikely places.
  • Episode 5: Turn Your Back
    Opening up on a dreary, damp prison cell, we meet a desolate and desperate fire mage, Rience, tasked with finding our princess using all means possible. When a powerful Monolith begins to crack and shatter, terrible repercussions crawl out of the darkness. Ciri must make the ultimate decision of whether the path of a Witcher is her true calling or masking her own torments. Yennefer also must face the harsh reality of what she is willing to do for power.
  • Episode 6: Dear Friend
    While Ciri and Geralt round up rogue monsters, Istredd does some research into how a princess of Cintra, these violent creatures and a powerful monolith are connected. Seeking refuge in an ancient monastery, Ciri, Geralt and Yennefer reunite, with Rience, hot on their heels to claim his bounty. As the birth of the first Elven baby in a long time solidifies the Nilfgaardian and Elven alliance. Here we are left on a cliff hanger with Yennefer putting her own needs first for the sake of the others she cares about.

Final Thoughts

The first 6 episodes of The Witcher: Season 2 are a much slower paced experience however it builds a far more cohesive story and in-depth look into the characters motivations than season one. The absolute biased fan of me would say this series is a home run for any fantasy, adventurer lover. The critic in me would suggest that there is some chemistry awkwardness that the series just can’t nail exactly yet compared to the books in only just two seasons.

Regardless, Netflix have done a damn good adaptation of this dearly loved series. I can not wait to binge the last two episodes and they would be silly to not renew ‘The Witcher’ for many seasons to come.

The Witcher: Season 2 is coming to Netflix on December 17th, 2021.

The Good

  • Overall more cohesive story
  • A more in depth look in the characters personalities
  • Henry Cavill is perfect as Geralt
  • Relationship between Ciri and Geralt
  • Superb casting of leads and supporting actors/actresses
  • Strong female characters that hold there own
  • Beautiful cinematics
  • While there are monsters too, special effects are not too over powering
  • Environment locations; forests to mountains
  • Folk music fitting to the fantasy tale
  • Triss redesign
  • Roach
  • Great choreographed action

The Bad

  • Chemistry between some characters lacking
  • Humour attempts contrast to much with the world they live in
  • We want more Vesemir
9
___
10

Written by: MKAU Gaming

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