We’re past the drop date of Netflix’s most recent foray into the fantastical, The Witcher, and there’s already a set of minds on the production and just how it handled itself. Some of the biggest complaints I’ve seen for The Witcher spin out from its, admittedly, glacial pacing and the utter disparate tones that it brings with it.
While I did find myself loving the trip to The Continent, I can come to terms with some much needed tweaks to this formula. Nothing that takes away from the identity set forth here, but just some worthwhile improvements that could win back some of those that found themselves less than impressed. And so, here are the Top 3 Improvements for The Witcher: Season 2.
Possibly one of the most prevalent complaints with Netflix’s The Witcher is its inability to really captivate based on its presentation. While some locales do more than their fair share of telling a story and framing the narrative, others kind of suffer from what we here at HN like to call “CW Syndrome.” What this boils down to is a lack of extras to make thriving areas feel, well, lived in, as well as having sets and locations that feel far too small and a little more than slightly generic to feel otherworldly. The Continent is supposed to be a new world to explore, one that’s brimming not just with magic but also the turmoil of an impending war. It’s unfortunate when that war kind of boils down to maybe a hundred people on both sides of a battlefield in what looks like a slightly more expensive LARPing session, I’m gonna be using that comparison again, because prove me otherwise.
This is remedied in a few instances, one that happens early in the story when Geralt visits a wizard named Stregobor, and when Ciri finds herself in the magical kingdom of Dryads known as Brokilon. Both feel positively massive in scope and lay credence to the wonders of magic in this world, which makes their fleeting appearances all the more missed and the more limited locales of the series slightly more dated. Never mind the creature CGI effects, because the show even proves itself it can find a work around for some of these, but the biggest improvement the show can make going forward is investing some time in making their sets feel much bigger and much more grandiose in scale. Add some color, add some people and for the Gods sakes, stop making us trek through woods that are more at home in my own backyard. Put in the work to make this feel like an interconnected and broader world to explore, and try to heal the CW Syndrome that plagues it.
2Build on Geralt and His Relationships
I think this one is a given, but it’s still worth bringing up. The majority of Season 1 sees the three deuteragonists mostly working on their own terms and going about their own motivations. Geralt has a number of adventures, several of which take place over a number of years, while Yennefer deals with her quest for power and Ciri actually searches for, well, Geralt. Each character wants something (or at least thinks they do) and by the conclusion, these storylines merge into a final climax and resolution that’s sure to enter into Season 2. While it seems obvious that Season 2 is mostly going to be taking after the novel Blood of Elves, in which Geralt must take Ciri to Kaer Morhen to receive training, I think the season would do well to focus on that budding relationship between the two.
What does it mean to be destined to one another and how does that change Geralt, for good or for worse? Both Geralt and Ciri have a lot to learn from each other, and I honestly think part of Season 1 suffered mostly from that lack of interaction between The Witcher himself and the main cast. While it’s nice to see Geralt do his thing, we eventually want to get to a point where we can see him develop into something new, and that should be the central focus of Season 2. Especially in the case of Ciri, who doesn’t really serve to impress much on her own. Hopefully her story can be just as engaging now that she gets to pay witness to some of Geralt’s exploits and perhaps we can get the payoff of Ciri deciding what she wants to from her destiny. Which brings us to our final point…
3Speed Things Up
If there’s anything I appreciate, it’s Geralt’s methodical approach to interacting with the story and coming to his own conclusions about destiny. In that same breath, I also have to find myself a little burned out by how long it takes us to see Geralt play catch up to the plot. The Witcher plays on a very non-linear approach to its storytelling. The events of one character’s journey may not be happening at the same time as someone else’s, and as a result, it takes a while for the main plot itself to really be well-known. Basically, the invading army of Nilfgaard is taking over The Continent and they want to capture princess Cirilla for their own ends.
Its obvious it’s at the behest of their emperor, who’s likely being kept under wraps for new viewers so I won’t say who it is, but Ciri’s whole plot is escaping their clutches. And in that same episode, Geralt may be looking for a genie because he can’t sleep. There’s a distraction of agency when we move from one very world-developing plot to one of more personal stakes, and it really just leaves you disinterested in one or the other. It gets to the point that when the plots converge, you’re likely not to care about Geralt or Ciri or Niflgaard as a whole just for how long it took us to get to this moment.
That’s why I’m gonna say this right here and now; for Season 2, it cannot take them the whole season to get to Kaer Morhen. It’s unnecessary and quite frankly, a waste of time to make the crux of a season just to get from one place to another, especially when you want to develop character motivations and agencies along the way. That’s not to say the episodic content needs to go away; we just need to intertwine it a little more clearly with the central plot to make it matter and, also, have us get from one point to another faster. With 8 episode seasons, maybe there’s a necessity to drag things out, but if that’s the case, that just makes it all the more important to make each episode matter and contribute to the narrative. As much as I enjoyed this past season, there’s definitely some episodes that do more of a heavy lifting than others.
Of course, that’s just what we think. What do you think The Witcher needs to consider for Season 2? Do you think it needs to change anything at all? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to follow me at @LukeAdaVA on Twitter!