Tuesday we ran an article from Theo recapping the production of Season 2 and the potential directions the final product might go in. Today I want to dive into speculation in a little more detail. On Friday, Theo will be doing a piece recapping the Witcher novel Blood of Elves as a primer on the source material for this next season, so I’ll be foreshadowing that in brief with some discussion of what’s been adapted so far, what’s been changed, and what all that might indicate for the future of the show.
To begin, Season 1 saw significant adaptation of the anthologies The Last Wish and Sword Of Destiny, which form the foundation of the Witcher universe and serve as a propaedeutic to the main five novel “saga”. Expanding the books from Geralt’s singular perspective to an ensemble cast which gave equal billing to Yennefer and Ciri, season 1 also included a massive amount of material involving Yennefer that was either stitched together from references to offpage events throughout the book series or invented whole cloth for the sake of deepening her character. A similar thing happened in Ciri’s case, where her childhood in Cintra was greatly expanded on from the source material, Eist and Calanthe were increased in importance, and her refugee escape from Cintra was shown rather than told. In both cases, barring Brokilon Forest, these changes largely worked, and in a few cases actually improved upon aspects of the books, especially Cintra.
But there were other, less fortuitous changes. For one, instead of trimming Sapkowski’s compelling but sometimes bloated dialogue down to its essentials, the show relied heavily on invented material which was in most cases inferior. It also suffered from inconsistencies in the quality of its writing staff, with episodes 1 and 8 (written by showrunner Lauren Hissrich) and episodes 3 and 4 (written by Beau De Mayo and Declan De Barra) making for pretty enjoyable fare, while the rest was basically a dumpster fire in this writer’s opinion. Fortunately the latter two are writing Nightmare of the Wolf (the Vesemir animated prequel) and Blood Origins (the 1200 years earlier live-action prequel), so those have the potential to be as good as or better than season 1 as a whole.
With all this in mind, let’s consider a few plot points to be expected or speculated upon in Season 2.
I. We’re Not Done With The Short Stories
The presence of Kristofer Hivju as Nivellen and leaked scripts showing the season beginning with an adaptation of “A Grain of Truth” confirms this, but even more enticing is the scheduled return of Royce Pierreson as Istredd in season 2. Why? Well, besides the fact that I love the show’s particular take on Istredd, this makes it extremely likely that we will see a modified version of the Sword Of Destiny short story “A Shard of Ice” in season 2. This was one of Sapkowski’s best stories and revolves around a tragic and unresolved love triangle between Geralt, Yennefer, and Istredd, complete with the two literally preparing to duel to the death over Yennefer. It also as some features some of those magic kestrels seen in the opening of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
II. Triss will actually be a character
Triss wasn’t used well in season 1. This was partially, one presumes, due to the death of the young actress who was meant to play Triss as a teenager and introduce her friendship with Yennefer in more detail (Triss is canonically several decades younger than Yen in the books, which the show hasn’t touched on yet, though it seems it had intended to). Expect Triss to be much more important this time around, and for her affair with Geralt to prefigure.
III. Vilgefortz v. Yen
In the books, Vilgefortz, not Yen, was the Hero of Sodden. I see a potential plot unfolding where Vilgefortz takes credit for the victory anyway and achieves great power in the Brotherhood, causing Yennefer’s resentment and building up their rivalry. As with Frignilla, major animosity between Yennefer and Vilgefortz only comes into play in the second half of the saga in the books, after the Coup on Thanedd. This would fit nicely with the show’s hamfisted gender politics, wherein Yennefer is always right and somehow more competent than Vilgefortz despite zero military experience because, as a strong woman, she said so, obliging the script to immediately conform to that despite zero preparation.
IV. More Pointless Geralt Flashbacks
Tristan Ruggieri is not essential to this show. I mean, sorry, I know he’s a kid, but those “young Geralt being abandoned” flashbacks from season 1 were extremely irritating and utterly useless. The phrase “show, don’t tell” is bullshit. Why? Because what it really means is exactly what we got in that instance: “Instead of writing quality dialogue, let’s spend more money filming an unnecessary flashback sequence. Because words are scary.” Everything we needed to know about Geralt’s youth was conveyed in conversations between him and Iola or him and Calanthe in The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, and they were better than that nonsense of an 11 year old whining. I guess too many words on screen at once puts people to sleep, or else sends them back to scrolling through Twitter to yell at people for validation.