The multiple timelines that weave together to form The Witcher’s first season were a clever way to bring viewers into pivotal moments in the past and present lives of the show’s characters, but there were more than a few people who were confused by the storytelling conceit. In its second season, The Witcher’s set to become much simpler in terms of timelines, but there’s an even more important change coming to the series.
In a recent interview with Vulture, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich described how she’s taken the time to process the public feedback (both positive and negative) about The Witcher’s first season, and how she and her team of writers tackled season two with a new set of priorities in mind. Hissrich explained how, in the case of season one’s timelines, she understood where people’s confusion came from, but also felt that having to figure out what was going on was part of the story’s appeal.
“It was interesting talking to fans who said, ‘I didn’t have any idea what was happening in the timelines until episode four,’” Hissrich said. “And I’m like, ‘Yes! Exactly. That’s when it should have hit home.’ And to me, that was like a huge success. And yet, that viewer felt like they wanted to understand what was going on from episode one.”
But beyond issues with timelines, Hissrich also heard that some people felt as if The Witcher sacrificed deeper character development in favour of putting all of the major players on the table as quickly as possible, while also establishing various places throughout the show’s world. That’s to be expected in a show’s first season, but Hissrich understood why the sheer amount of plot being introduced might have made it difficult for people to really connect with any characters beyond Geralt and Yennefer (and Jaskier, apparently). Going forward, though, Hissrich has plans to keep The Witcher’s story tighter and more focused to as to give many of its characters a new level of depth and interiority.
“We already know the stories we’re telling [for season two], but I want to make sure that we have the time to tell them appropriately. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is to make sure that the scripts aren’t too long,” she said. “Viewers are going to find that because we’re not trying to push as much story, and we’re not trying to constantly introduce new characters all the time, and new worlds, and new kingdoms, and increase the politics, sometimes we just get to sit with characters and learn about them a little bit more. And that’s probably the thing I’m most excited for people to see.”
Given what a gargantuan task adapting The Witcher into an episodic series is, the show’s first season was far from a misfire, and it definitely got the job done in terms of getting viewers interested in what’s going to happen next. From the sounds of it, though, when the series returns to Netflix in the future, it’s going to be that much more effective at making its characters people you actually care about.