The Witcher franchise is rich in lore, creating a compelling story about a world where monsters are exterminated by mutants called Witchers. I first discovered the tales through "Witcher 3", the popular CD Projekt game that deservedly earned top honors from virtually every game critic in 2015.
When news about a live-action Witcher series came out, I was elated. It was especially encouraging that Henry Cavill landed the lead role as Geralt of Rivia.
The first season was slow, but necessarily so. It introduced us to the characters much like the source material (the books written by Andrzej Sapkowski), covering short stories that show Geralt doing what he does best: hunting monsters.
We were introduced to Yennefer, a sorceress that finds her power despite spending much of her life being ostracized by her community for her deformities and mixed blood.
Perhaps most importantly, we witnessed the moment Geralt used the Law of Surprise resulting in him being forever bound to Cirilla, a princess with a power she has yet to fully understand.
Season two gives us a great level of depth into these characters, including Triss (a personal favorite of mine from the video game series). Every character has their own challenges to overcome, and at one point or another, depends on others to help them avoid crashing and burning in their quests.
Yennefer struggles with her place in the world, having lost something that had so clearly defined her life to this point. Geralt navigates his new role as caretaker and mentor to a young Cirilla.
Cirilla herself struggles to discover her place in the world, seeking guidance and purpose in the most unusual places.
There is plenty of action in season two. While it isn't quite as novel as the first season, the action drives the plot forward. Terrifying monsters abound, and Kaer Morhen (a winter home to the Witchers) is center stage for much of the most critical events of the season.
The special effects, costume design, and cinematography of the series are breathtaking. Virtually every shot tells a story, and there are no apparent cut corners common with television series. It feels like a long movie rather than an episodic show.
Is the show perfect? No. The show washes over much of the detailed lore in favor of additional action in order to keep the audience engaged. Some of the details about the world feel cut for time, not given the proper amount of screen time due to the show's relatively short seasons.
It also feels as though minor characters are receiving quite a bit more attention than they were in the source material. This hints at additional deviation from the source material as the story continues into future seasons.
Season two sets the stage for an incredible season three. If the showrunners execute on the next bit of lore correctly, The Witcher is set to get even better as the story unfolds.
The die-hard lore faithful may scoff at the liberties taken on the television series, though for me, enjoying The Witcher is easy. It's more of the stories I love, featuring the characters that made one of the most compelling trilogies in gaming history. To me, this is more than enough.