The good, the bad, and the Leshy.
(Image credit: The Witcher/Netflix)
The world of The Witcher is about many things—found family, great fights against monsters (both the human and non-human kind), political intrigue, and a somewhat confusing timeline. At least, the first season had the confusing timeline bit.
Having a convoluted timeline in the first season made it possible for the show to introduce the main characters and how their lives would eventually interweave. This second season’s timeline was much more streamlined, and it started off strong with an episode adapted from the Witcher short story, ‘A Grain of Truth‘. With her wide-eyed stare, Agnes Bjorn, the actress portraying the vampiric Bruxa, Vereena, was brilliant in bringing a sense of otherworldliness to the character. Game of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju as Nivellan, the aristocrat-turned-beast, brought an affable charm to the table. Here’s the thing I loved most about the first episode (TRIGGER WARNING for content ahead!):
Nivellan mentions he was cursed because he robbed a priestess’s temple. We soon find out that he glossed over a huge fact—he was cursed because he raped the priestess. After losing Vereena (which breaks his curse), he wants Geralt to give him a swift death because hey, he has nothing left to live for. Instead of doing as requested, Geralt leads Ciri away, advising Nivellan that if he wants to end things, he should find a way to do it himself. It’s different from the book, where Nivellan doesn’t pay for the consequences of his actions. The show, thankfully, has updated this.
Later episodes introduced us to other players in the universe—we get to see more elves, meet Geralt’s Witcher brethren and even get a glimpse of The Wraiths of Mörhogg, or The Wild Hunt. However, in addition to the change mentioned previously, there are two changes/additions made that I’d like to highlight.
In the books and games, the Witcher Eskel is Geralt’s close friend who possesses a calm demeanour. In the show, Eskel (Basil Eidenbenz) clashes with Geralt and even brings in sex workers from the village to the Witcher stronghold, Kaer Morhen. How they managed to trek to a supposed hidden fortress, we’ll never know. We soon find out that he’s not exactly himself and is instead turning into a Leshen—a monster that he had gone hunting and got infected by. Ultimately, Geralt has to kill him. This, of course, doesn’t happen in the source material. Why I think this happened was so that there’s an emotional response from Geralt—we see from a flashback that Geralt indeed had a good relationship with Eskel.
[Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explains why this had to happen in The Witcher: Unlocked—WATCH HERE.]
Appearing as an old hag locked away in a cottage with legs (think Baba Yaga!), Voleth Meir, or The Deathless Mother, meets Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) and Francesca (Mecia Simson) and promises to fulfil whatever they need—in exchange for something, of course. Voleth Meir is a character that has been created specifically for the show as a means to quickly bring Ciri’s significance to light.
Ultimately, the relationships in The Witcher were the strongest parts of the show. This is a story about found family after all! The ones that stood out were:
- The father/daughter dynamics of Geralt and Ciri.
- Jaskier and Yennefer’s cautious friendship (Absolutely loved the way Yennefer rescued him from being tortured.)
- The waxing and waning of Yennefer and Geralt’s relationship (Life’s complicated but honestly, Yenn… it does help to communicate!)
Freya Allan’s acting has also vastly improved from the first season. To be fair, she wasn’t given enough then, but this season, she gave Ciri the fire, the vulnerability and the maturity befitting the Lion Cub of Cintra. And while the first season was used to set up the characters, season two felt like it was a launching pad into season three where the bigger plotline would be that everyone is going after Ciri and her precious Elder Blood. Of course, Geralt and Yennefer (hopefully!) would be there to help and protect her.
‘The Witcher’ Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.