Geralt’s Story: Season 1 vs. Season 2

By Tanya Malik

Geralt of Rivia, or the “White Wolf”, is the main character of the Witcher books, games, and the Netflix series. The son of the sorceress Visenna, he was abandoned with the School of the Wolf at the stronghold of Kaer Morhen, where he was trained to become a Witcher by Vesemir. During the Trial of the Grasses, he developed an unusual tolerance to the many mutagens which granted him greater strength, speed, endurance, resilience, healing, senses, complete immunity to diseases and conventional poisons, and extreme resistance to pain. After additional mutagens, his hair also turned white, giving him his current nickname. Compared to the books and the games, the show portrays Geralt in a similar way, with major growth in between both seasons. Season 1 just shows his adventures, his innate instinct to protect, and his relationships with other characters, but Season 2 focuses on his relationship and bond with Ciri, his Child Surprise (along with Season 1’s themes).

In Season 1, many years have passed since he arrived at Kaer Morhen, and Geralt has become well-known among the Continent while making some enemies along the way. Each episode covers Geralt’s adventures, starting from him meeting Renfri and becoming the “Butcher of Blavikan” to reuniting with his Child Surprise, Ciri, in the forest. Full of jumping timelines serving as exposition to the universe of The Witcher, it pulls from the books The Last Wish for episodes 1-5, Sword of Destiny for episodes 6-8,  and some parts from Blood of Elves when Ciri is introduced and referred to throughout the season. Geralt also fights monsters such as kikimoras, strigas, djinns, and nekkers throughout the season, showing the progression of the story and his corresponding timeline. Geralt’s arc starts in the past and Ciri’s in the future, and the last episode not only represents their reunion, but also the reunion of past and future. The show does a wonderful job of blending these timelines together, leading to the present, but it can be difficult for someone who is not used to this particular style of storytelling, the source material, or the games.

Season 2 starts where Season 1 left off, with Geralt and Ciri travelling together. Their chemistry continues for the rest of the season, an antithesis to him saying to Jaskier, “I need no one. And the last thing I want is someone needing me”, previously in “Of Banquets, Bastards, and Burials”. We also learn more about his family and friends and are introduced to many new characters, including Nivellen, all of the other Witchers, and Triss and see his growth from a “grumpy snowman” to a father. Ciri may be an important character this season, but Geralt’s importance increases as well. After he finds Ciri, he gives fatherly advice, protects her from harm, trains her in combat, and worries if he loses her. Compared to Season 1, Season 2 shows Geralt’s character development, and grows the universe of The Witcher.

Played by Henry Cavill in the show, a fan of the Witcher books, Geralt is portrayed as someone with strong bonds and relationships while showing determination and strength (and his voice tone is similar to the games). For the second season, he pushed for a “book-accurate” Geralt where he spoke more intellectually while keeping his serious tone. This major difference is one aspect that allowed for his increased character development, other than his entry into fatherhood. Season 1 introduces his character, while Season 2 fleshes it out. After viewing Season 1 and Season 2, I’m really looking forward to Season 3, where we learn more about old aspects and get introduced to new aspects of the Witcher universe.

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