I just finished watching The Witcher season 2 on Netflix and unlike many from the reviews i saw i didn’t think it was the second coming.
I liked the season and thought it was marginally better than the first season, which I thought itself would be a decent first attempt at adaptation, but I think the show still suffers from fundamental issues that have not been addressed to date.
As such, here are the 5 things I personally think The Witcher creators need to do for Season 3 of the series to really take off.
1. Show me a map and place names from time to time
Alright, it’s so easy fixing it actually amazes me that Netflix didn’t sort this out between season one and season two. Just let your audience know where we are in the world when we hop to a new location.
Guys I am enough familiar with the world The Witcher takes place in as I played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to death, so while I wouldn’t consider myself a super fan or expert, I have a decent level of understanding. And, seriously, I have no idea where we are most of the time when watching the TV series.
The show has a bad habit of showing us a CGI city or place with a glamorous intro, but without telling where it is and, more importantly, where it is in relation to anything else.
Seriously, Game of Thrones nailed down that years ago. Each episode not only started with a swoop over the whole map/world where the show was set, but in the episodes we get mini-map intro shots zooming into, say, Winterfell, before we have a scene there.
The Witcher is even harder to follow than that, as the characters open up and jump through portals like crazy, and while I recognize a place I’ve seen before, it still doesn’t help me understand where it is in the world, or how it is in relation to something else. Am I in Cintra? Nilfgaard? Where is Aretuza? Where did this portal go?
Seriously, sort it out, like I don’t know where we are half the time, a complete Witcher newbie definitely won’t.
2. Hire better writers and focus on clearer presentation
Which brings me to what I think is probably the most let down thing about The Witcher TV series – the script and specifically the exposition of the script.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some really great lines in the first two seasons of the show, and I got a few laughs and bought in too. But every time the show goes into exposition mode, it gets so clunky and confusing that my immersion is shattered.
For example, I had no idea what was happening in season two with Voleth Meir, and he was a terrific character (with some interesting lore) who could have a lot of potential to hold my interest and invest me. Instead of being invested, I was just confused as to what was going on and why I should care, so I broke away.
And don’t get me started on the show doing political exposition between the different factions. Seriously, I don’t think Game of Thrones was a godsend or anything, but seriously, this show did better. Now old TV shows like HBO’s Rome series have done it better.
If I don’t know where I am (see last point), who the people are and why they do what they do, I am not emotionally or intellectually invested. Was Nilfgaard’s take on Cintra a good thing? Is Emperor Emhyr var Emreis right to wage war in the North? Why is Nilfgaard expanding his kingdom? What is the problem with the Great Sun and how is it related to the elves? What is the role of Tissaia de Vries in relation to the leaders of Temeria?
I get that communicating these things isn’t easy, but season three really needs to focus on this stuff in a more natural way, as the characters either get super clumsy and awkward in their speech as they move the plot forward , or do so in a confusing way. It’s not like the show doesn’t try, it does it too much, it just doesn’t do it well at all.
3. We need more Monster of the Week episodes
And bizarrely, while the show desperately tries to communicate its plot and lore, it spends too much time doing so to support the show’s overall plot and doesn’t tell enough real-life stories in each episode.
Simply put, that’s being fixed with more episodes of Monster of the Week, which show how Buffy the Vampire Slayer nailed it. decades since. One of the best episodes of The Witcher season two was its first, titled A Grain of Truth. In this episode, the overarching plot is carried over (albeit awkwardly) but, crucially, we also get a juicy one-episode micro-story to sink into.
This story is well told, well acted and really on brand for The Witcher, Geralt having to investigate and deal with a monster and its relationship with humans. It has action, comedy, and genuine emotion, as well as a well-visualized fantasy setting and clear character designs. I also understood the developing mini-story from start to finish.
It was The Witcher bottled up, both short stories in the books or missions in the video games and the TV series seriously needs more episodes like this in season three in my opinion. And in these stories, we have to see my next improvement for the show, which is detailed in the next point.
4. Show me more Geralt doing Witcher stuff
Geralt is a Witcher and I want to see him do more Witcher-y things, not just talk to people. Sorcerers track and sniff out beasts and monsters, before figuring out the best way to dispatch or neutralize them, prepare for it, and then execute it.
Much like in a spy movie, you actually want to see the spy process and not just the climatic outcome. The witcher got better at climactic season two final battles in season one, but he still relegated the craft of being a witcher to just, neck potion, getting stronger, swinging the sword on the monster.
And, look, I like this stuff as much as the next person. Watching Geralt take down the series of beasts and men in season two was really fun, but it felt more like he was just some superhero fighting dude who instantly activates superhero mode to fight, when in reality a witcher is much more than just a powerful fighter.
You can literally weave this into the show in conjunction with my last point on Monster of the Week. The two work hand-in-hand, so just build more tracking/research/prep into the episode structure. A few more minutes each episode would be enough to show off the craft more and make the show more immersive as a result.
5. Stop saying “destiny”! Seriously!
Seriously, my partner and I were so tired of hearing “fate” say every episode (mostly various times per episode) that we started a drinking game based on it.
Seriously, we get it, you want to cultivate an epic fantasy narrative. But just repeating fate over and over again is super lazy. Sort it out!