Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Witcher Season 2 Gets the Band Back Together For the First Time

Season 2 of The Witcher dropped on Netflix and maintained the high level of quality that the original season promised.  I was a little late to it because I had to finish He-man.

There are random, probably vague, spoilers, because …  I stopped caring.

One thing is absolutely certain. I will be watching this season ay least a second time. I'd guess it will be shortly after I finish watching the bonus features for the superhero films I'm late reviewing. It turns out there were a fair amount of "minor" characters last season that were not so minor after all.  After multiple points where I said, "OH ITS THEM!" now I have to see it again with this information.

However, not immediately remembering all the characters did not affect my enjoyment of the series. This comes from the way the stories are presented. Just like last season, while HUGE events are unfolding across the continent, the focus is on the main characters and their interactions on a personal level. The world shaping fantasy going on in the background is more like highly advanced bonus material.

Its nice to know the details behind massive political upheaval, but as long as one understands, "Everyone is after Ciri," the rest is gravy.

Last season we got introduced to Ciri and the destruction of her family, had Geralt as the point in clever twists on standard sword and sorcery tales, and followed Yennifer's origins and transition from one "family" to another, showing the definition of what true family means.

This season it was clear that Ciri is the one going on the Hero's Journey.  However, Yen still went through character development, and we got to learn Geralt's history. He was the only one we didn't get to "meet the family" in the last go around.  Hanging out at Witcher HQ with the gang on what passes for down time for a spell built his back story nicely.

This was all while keeping most of the focus on character stories. Even the large world building parts were focused on individuals, Fringilla, Franchesca, the firef... nevermind...and others.

And Jasker came back!  to be the heart of the gang, and always hilarious once again. Woo!

Each episode told a full story, but the pieces all came together, setting up the world, and uniting our three main characters as a family of choice. They reach a point where they will choose each other over any of their previous goals. (Including "Goofy Uncle" Jaskier.)

There continue to be standard fantasy tropes, but twisted.

Some of the stories are classic fairy tales turned on their head.  The opener is a wild take on Beauty and the Beast. 

Other deviations from expected norms came from the use of many Slavic myths and legends, which are underrepresented in general exposure to people. 

Turning "Chernabog" into a race name rather than a proper noun means we can see more varieties.  If the squadron of basilisk types is any indication, that will be amazing.

I give them extra bonus points for eventually  going the full "Giant Chicken Legs" on Baba Yaga's hut, in a manner that was not ridiculous looking.

The key draw, (he said repeatedly) though was the character growth and interaction. 

Seeing each of the main three through each other's eyes was a high point.  Ciri watching Geralt and Yennifer become surrogate parents as protector and teacher defined them all. 

Geralt's moral code further developed into him becoming a father figure and having much more to his existence that payment for monster slaying.

Yennifer switched from defining herself by her own power to how she can help Ciri harness hers.  (Special shout out, now for no reason, to the scene of Yen running through the rain, screaming while ineffectively trying to create a portal. It was so powerful, I half expected magical gouts of flame to shoot out of my television.)

Ciri herself looks to be on the road to be a dual classed Witcher-Mage.

Jaskier fortunately has not changed, acting as a musical conscience/ practical advice source for the other characters, and basically the heart of the team. With his actor contributing to the bard's songs this time out, they've gotten even funnier. 

The one problem I have with the series is:
I know there is much more content out there in the forms of the books and the games.
However, I have become very attached and invested in the show versions of the characters as developed by these writers and actors, and am not interested in meeting other versions.

Honestly, it's a lot of fun being on this side of the fence on that opinion of a franchise for a change.

That means, I suppose I'll have to spend time in one of the many other fictional universes in my head while I wait for them to release the prequel mini-series and finish season 3.

Luckily, I am currently spending time with a certain Mr. Fett.

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