'The Witcher' review: Fantasy series loses the plot in second season
What worked in the Netflix series' first season is largely absent in the second go-round.
Something’s wrong with “The Witcher.”
The show that is, not the character. Its second season comes a full two years after the series’ successful debut in December of 2019 and the fantasy has somehow become both more confusing and more pedestrian. This is not the goal.
Yes, it’s a series stuffed with warring kingdoms and elves and magicians and monsters by the boatload, but in the first season our hero, Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), a Witcher (monster-killer) by trade, marched straight and tall through all manner of gobbledygook, hacking away at evil.
His story moved forward alongside that of a princess, Ciri (Freya Allen), on the run and the evolution of a powerful magician, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). Essentially Ciri was the innocence, Yennefer was the spice and Geralt was the muscle.
Geralt is still the muscle and Ciri remains fairly innocent but Yennefer, the most interesting character, has been rendered bland, at least in the first six episodes offered up for review. The erotic charge of the first season is nowhere to be found.
Instead Geralt takes Ciri to a secret fortress of sorts for witchers, their own little clubhouse. Geralt still whomps on a monster or two each episode, but mostly he frets about what to do with Ciri. Turns out watching a Witcher fret is not all that entertaining.
Meanwhile there’s still warring kingdoms and secret powers and something something something about elve’s blood and magic potions leading to something something else, all of which may make eventual sense but it drags down the action at hand.
Cavill remains fine as Geralt, with his absurd physique and long white hair. He has mastered the art of the humorous grunt and it’s still fun to watch him handily slaughter dozens of men at a time or take on some comic-book looking creature. But there was an audacity to this show’s first season that now seems buried beneath plot complications. Two words: Free Yennefer.
Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.