Despite the number of coins we’ve all tossed, it’s been almost two years since we’ve seen The Witcher on Netflix. Thankfully Season 2 is finally here and it looks like it was worth the wait.
For Season 2, The Witcher is doubling down on its core characters and expanding its world as the series takes on the events of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel Blood of Elves. To find out more about what’s to come in the new season, Gizmodo Australia chatted with the showrunner of Netflix’s The Witcher, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich.
What to expect from The Witcher Season 2
New season, new Geralt
For those unfamiliar with The Witcher books or video games, Season 1 was, no doubt, a lot to take in. There were twisting timelines, armies of new characters to meet and a whole world of magic, monsters and mages to establish.
“I sometimes felt that there was so much lore to lay down [in Season 1] that we didn’t get to focus on story and character as much as we normally would, and I think we more than make up for that in Season 2,” Hissrich said.
Season 1 culminated with Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) finally locating his child of surprise, Ciri (Freya Allan). Now the duo is united, things change for Geralt and he begins to shed his lone wolf status.
“I really cannot wait for audiences to get to know Geralt in a different way,” Hissrich said. “In Season 1, it’s all about establishing what he is as a witcher, what his job is, what he does, and really the fact that he thinks that’s all he’ll ever want to do until he dies.”
A long-time fan of the franchise, Henry Cavill gave a stunning performance as Geralt in the first season of The Witcher on Netflix, despite uttering very few words. Hissrich admitted this was a challenge presented by the source material and that Geralt would be grunting less and talking more in Season 2.
“Henry and I had this issue to tackle, which is that in the books Geralt has quite a verbose inner dialogue. We’re constantly in his head, in his thoughts, understanding his next motivations, and we really struggled with how to portray that on the show,” Hissrich explained.
“[In Season 2] we introduce him to Ciri … and over the course of the series, we watch him go from taking care of her to actually caring for her. It allows us this great new insight into who Geralt is, not just as a witcher but as a mentor and as a father figure.”
A family reunion
While the core trio of characters spent most of their time apart in Season 1, The Witcher’s second season will bring them all together.
“I think it is so lovely we finally get to see Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri all in the same place again. It’s the promise of the series that we’ve been talking about from the beginning, which is really this family,” Hissrich told Gizmodo Australia.
One small issue that needs to be resolved first is the fate of Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). As Hissrich explained, Yennefer’s parts in The Witcher novels are fairly small until she reunites with Ciri and Geralt.
“Blood of Elves was a very difficult book to adapt because so much of it is just about character interaction. There’s not a tonne of forward-moving action… so we did have to add in some new things, especially for Yennefer, who doesn’t have much of a storyline.”
“When [Yennefer] finds Geralt and Ciri, she’s on her own journey and that reunion means something completely different to her,” Hissrich said.
Following the Season 1 finale, Yennefer is presumed dead at the Battle of Sodden. Trailers and promos for the show quickly revealed that she did not in fact perish, but our characters don’t know that yet.
For Geralt in particular, losing the potential love of his life is a tough pill to swallow, but Hissrich did tease that their reunion in Season 2 is a moment that “takes [Geralt’s] breath away”.
Toss a coin to your Witcher(s)
Season 2 of Netflix’s The Witcher will no doubt be an exciting one for fans as it brings many popular characters and locations from both the novels and video games to life.
One location we’ll be seeing a lot of is Kaer Morhen, the fortress home of the witchers.
“The most important thing for me to hang on to [from the book] was Geralt taking Ciri to his childhood home of Kaer Morhen,” Hissrich told Gizmodo Australia.
“I have to say Kaer Morhen is one of the most spectacular sets that we have this season. It’s this epic scale and yet it’s quite empty.”
Hissrich explained that when Geralt and Ciri arrive at Kaer Morhen, there are only 12 witchers left, which sets the tone as a “time of desperation” for the group.
However, the witchers that are left at Kaer Morhen are not ones to be dismissed, with quite a few new favourites poised to emerge.
“Vesmir will probably be the ultimate fan favourite this season. A lot because of how Kim Bodnia portrays him,” Hissrich said. “There’s sort of a cool, calculating way that Vesemir approaches the world. He’s very methodical about survival, about what he needs to do as a witcher, but at the same time he has such empathy and warmth, and you can tell he loves these boys as his own.”
Ciri’s arrival at Kaer Morhen sets off alarm bells for Vesemir, whose worldview very much changed after the events seen in The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. But Hissrish said eventually he becomes a pseudo grandfather figure for Ciri.
Vesemir isn’t the only new arrival in The Witcher’s second season. Hissrich also teased the appearance of two popular characters, Codringher and Fenn (played by Simon Callow and Liz Carr respectively).
“They have a slightly bigger role in The Time of Contempt but we wanted to introduce them here and start to get fans excited about the banter and the fun that these two characters have.”
Another character fans may or may not look forward to seeing in Season 2 is Rience (Chris Fulton), a powerful mage who goes to extreme lengths to hunt down Ciri in the books.
“Rience is sort of stone-cold evil. I think that will be an interesting shift for our audience to look for redeeming characteristics in him and realise that he’s really a gun for hire and he’s been hired to do a really terrible job.” Hissrich said.
With the arrival of Rience, it seems Season 2 of The Witcher won’t all be happy families.
Why The Witcher isn’t your typical fantasy show
The Witcher did what many thought was impossible. The series stepped out of the shadow left by Game of Thrones and even became a top performer for Netflix. The streamer has put a lot of faith into The Witcher world with a third season already on the way, along with a separate prequel series.
Hissrich said it was everyone’s dream to create something that would “capture a global audience” but The Witcher’s success may lie in the fact that it’s “a different kind of fantasy show”.
“It’s a lot more tongue-in-cheek, it has a lot more humour, not every moment is life and death, nor do we lay into the stakes in every single scene,” Hissrich explained to Gizmodo Australia. “The Witcher world can be really dark, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you also have the light and the joy, and we’re constantly trying to find moments to highlight that in the show.”
Speaking of moments of joy, an unexpected hit from The Witcher’s first season was its song ‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’, which promptly went viral and even made its way onto national music charts.
When asked whether we can expect more earworms from The Witcher’s new season, Hissrich confirmed that Jaskier is definitely back in Season 2 and is “singing his way through the Continent”. He’s also matured a fair bit since viewers last saw him, which has resulted in a new maturity in his songs.
“They’re a lot more emotional,” Hissrich said. “My favourite song of the season is one called ‘Burn’. It to me is just heart-wrenching and heartbreaking, and I think audiences are going to like that turn for him.”
Fans certainly have a lot to look forward to when Season 2 of The Witcher hits Netflix on December 17.