Directed by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, The Witcher Season 2 follows Geralt after he claims Ciri through the Law of Surprise. Yeneffer and The Continent deal with the aftermath of the battle between kingdoms and other dark forces revealing themselves.
I haven’t read the books the show is based on, but I have played the video game. So, I do know this world more than someone who’s completely new to all of it. However, this show has put itself in a position where fresh viewers might just benefit more. I’m sure that was intended for good but in this case, it has massively backfired. Season 2 of The Witcher is so dishearteningly disappointing that I had to actively force myself to finish it. Henry Cavill and a few other cast members continue to be the highlights. That’s probably all the praise I can give it. Fans of the franchise can give it a shot, but I don’t expect you will like what you see.
The Geralt we deserve
Let me get the good stuff out of the way. The cast remains the sole reason why the show felt watchable, and Henry Cavill is carrying the show much more than before. He’s still phenomenal as personifying Geralt, not just with his voice but through his stoic but captivating eyes and unwaveringly strong presence. Nearly everyone else in the cast in major roles is held back by sub-par writing. Which is a shame because I can fully visualize them doing their roles well but unfortunately that’s the show’s job, not mine. In a similar place are the CGI and the production, both of which are a significant improvement from the last season. Unfortunately, none of it really matters in the end.
Just for the coin
Season 1 got a lot of flack for being all over the place, especially with the timelines. Looking back now, I’d take that any day over Season 2’s exposition-heavy attempt at worldbuilding and characters. There is just so much that the show tries to convey in such little time that I lost track of where I was by episode 4. I think it kind of came together in the end, but in a way that made me realize the entire series could have easily been two episodes shorter. Every classic mistake you can make adapting a book into a series, The Witcher does.
So many characters don’t have any motivations of their own. They are supporting in the worst way possible. They either give out exposition or only exist to progress storylines of the 3 lead characters. Triss Merigold and Vesemir have been handled so terribly that I couldn’t even recognize them by the end. These are certainly not the characters I am familiar with. It’s one thing to try and give them a different spin but another to make them uninteresting and inconsequential to the story. Above all else, characters make stupid decisions, the dialogue doesn’t feel period-specific or natural and there is a huge reliance on plot conveniences.
The Witcher: Season 2 is a huge letdown filled with painful exposition, bad character writing, and an overall lack of focus. Henry Cavill continues to be the standout along with some other cast members that do the best they can given the circumstances.