‘The Witcher’ season 2 review: Henry Cavill returns, with more mages, monsters and marvels

The superior sophomore season hits its stride and sweeps us along with its thrilling battles, political intrigue, doomed loves, disgusting beasties and young hearts

In a review of season one of The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy book series, this reviewer had wished for a revisionist look at fairy tales like in the book The Last Wish, the inspiration for the show. And lo and behold! Season 2, based on ‘A Grain of Truth’ from The Last Wish, Blood of Elves, the 1994 sequel, and the beginning of Time of Contempt (1995), does just that. There is a version of the Beauty-and-the-Beast story in the first episode and the hut of the Deathless Mother reminds one of Baba Yaga from Slavic fairy tales (no, not John Wick).

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The superior sophomore season hits its stride and sweeps us along with its thrilling battles, political intrigue, doomed loves, disgusting beasties and young hearts. Henry Cavill is spot on as the world-weary, morally riven monster hunter, Geralt of Rivia. While he does not soak in many hot tubs (more is the pity) alongside willing beauties, with his white hair and animal pupils, he looks like he can take on any awful creature; from the bruxa and leshy to the myriapod.

And then he has these broad shoulders that you know could comfortably carry the weight of the world and then some on it, and a mouth that could smile gently, sadly, nastily or kiss your troubles away, depending on the situation.

Season two begins with the victory of the northern kingdoms in the battle of Sodden. Geralt decides to take his Child Surprise, Princess Ciri (Freya Allan) of Cintra, to Kaer Morhen, a fortress where witchers train and rest, in a bid to keep her safe. Vesemir, (Kim Bodnia), Geralt’s mentor, welcomes the two as do the other witchers wintering at Kaer Morhen.

The Witcher

  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 8
  • Run time: 47 to 67 minutes
  • Creator: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich
  • Starring: Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan, Joey Batey, Eamon Farren, MyAnna Buring, Mimî M. Khayisa, Anna Shaffer, Royce Pierreson, Wilson Mbomio, Mahesh Jadu, Tom Canton, Mecia Simson, Kim Bodnia
  • Storyline: The Witcher, Princess Ciri, and Yennefer follow their intertwined destinies

The Child Surprise comes from the age-old tradition of the Law of Surprise where a person who has saved another’s life can claim something the other does not know they possess. When Geralt saved Duny’s (Bart Edwards) life, neither knew that Princess Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori) was carrying Duny’s child. By claiming the Law of Surprise, Geralt and his Child Surprise, Ciri, are bound to each other.

Uneasy alliances are formed even as power shifts between elves, mages and humans. Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), a powerful sorceress, who paid a terrible price for her power; Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa), a mage aligned with the Nilfgaardians who invaded Cintra; and the elven sorceress Francesca (Mecia Simson), realise they have similar visions of the Deathless Mother.

Other mages include Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Yennefer’s mentor; Triss (Anna Shaffer), who Geralt invites to Kaer Morhen to help with Ciri’s training; and Yennefer’s friend, historian Istredd (Royce Pierreson). Jaskier (Joey Batey), the travelling bard who sings of the witcher’s adventures, has chosen a Rock sound for season 2, and is as welcome as ever.

Cahir (Eamon Farren), who led the attack on Cintra, is spearheading the hunt for Ciri, while Dara (Wilson Mbomio), an elven refugee boy who initially helped Ciri, might be having second thoughts of his alliances. There are different factions looking for Ciri, who might be the One—to save or destroy the world.

The hunting and persecution of elves brings about uncomfortable memories of the oppression of anyone who is perceived to be the Other in terms of race, religion or sexuality.

The eight episodes storm by in an elegantly-put together parade of top-notch action, sets, CGI and costume. The last episode ends in the obligatory almighty twist and while waiting for the next season and more of the witcher’s world, one can also wait for Blood Origin, a prequel set 1200 years before the events of The Witcher. The post-credit sequence dropped a teaser starring Michelle Yeoh; it is truly the season to be jolly!

Season two of The Witcher is currently streaming on Netflix

 

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