“I’ve lived through three ends of days”, says lone monster-hunter Geralt of Rivia (new Bond candidate Henry Cavill). “It’s all horseshit.” With this kind of reassuring, dragon-chewing fearlessness, it’s little wonder The Witcher became Netflix’s second most-watched series when the first season dropped in 2019. As Must went to press, it was trending #1. Trading in the same territory as the all-conquering Game of Thrones, but having to make up for a fraction of the effects budget with double the humour, the show is an entertaining Brothers Grimm meets MCU sword-and-sorcery saga, and if this is your bag, this will be your bag.
Now concentrate, because in this series, the mythology gets ramped up and the stage is being set for a whole epic. We find Geralt having temporarily downed daggers as a slayer-for-hire, working as a teaching assistant, well, ok, a bodyguard and mentor to the enigmatic Ciri (a hardball Freya Allen), a princess on the run who hasn’t yet got the measure of her superpowers. They’re joined hunkering in a Witcher fortress by Geralt’s crush Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), who is trying to recover the fertility she swapped for tricks in magic school. And snooping about are a pair of paranormal investigators (Liz Carr and Simon Callow, equally charming and bananas) with plenty to keep them occupied round here.
“In a world where high fantasy needs to take itself seriously in order to be taken seriously, The Witcher just about manages to be something quite rare: fun”, writes Nick Hilton in the Independent. The Guardian’s Jack Seale is glad to be back in “a faux-medieval land full of awful creatures, scheming rulers and forests that spend half their time on fire.” While Boyd Hilton in Empire finds some of the banter “frankly excruciating, thankfully Geralt rises above it… the new season is generally more streamlined and focused, although no less sweeping and visually sumptuous”.First shown December 2021.