I really enjoyed Season 2 far more than Season 1. Season 1 was decent and I understand it was following the short stories, but the arcs got a bit confusing with the timeline differences. Season 2 was definitely much better suited for a show format with the arcs following logically and making sense. I never really got the appeal of The Witcher from the video games, because Geralt just seemed kinda dull. Season 1 seemed pretty dull and directionless too. It wasn’t until Season 2 where we get to see Yennefer and Ciri actually work out challenges and chase after their personal struggles that we clearly see something more resembling an arc. Geralt finally gets character by becoming Ciri’s adoptive parent and it feels like the story finally has a point to it. Season 1 definitely felt like a bunch of random escapades, whereas Season 2 feels like it finally connected well together. Every time Yennefer, Ciri, or Geralt are on-screen (especially together), it’s riveting and serves a purpose. I think I liked Ciri and Yennefer’s arcs the most throughout this second season. I can definitely see the appeal of The Witcher now and it’s when Geralt plays off either Ciri or Yennefer that he’s at his best.
I really liked the story arcs of this season all throughout eight episodes. Fringilla was kind of disappointing at the end though, since as soon as the pressure of her workload got to her . . . she just ran off back to her uncle for a bit. It was kind of sad to see and pretty pathetic on her part. She drank the faith kool-aid so much that she decided to murder the generals of the army just because the Deathless Sorceress spoke to her and tried to play it off as political cunning. I’m not sure if it was a failing on her part or part of the writing, but I just found it kind of dumb that she immediately went for the most violent solution instead of trying to rally the elves to fight. I mean, . . . at least try a pep-talk? The Generals were making it difficult on her though. Also, I was lied to by a commentator here when I gave a review for Season 1, I was told that the Emperor was the guy who had sex with his sister to produce their daughter from Season 1, but it is clearly Ciri’s father that is the Emperor that Fringilla was working for . . . so, uh . . . oh well.
I think Yennefer was definitely my favorite part throughout this arc. The way she fought and then got betrayed by the Northern Alliance, just for being half-elf. Being forced to do an execution with all the stress that was piling-up on her. I think she made the right call to just run for it. Also, I like how the arcs parallel each other: Yennefer is faced with an ultimatum of committing an execution to continue to prove her loyalty for a Mage society and Northern Alliance that she sacrificed her magic for in order to protect, and chooses instead to refrain from violence, escape, and work out her problems by herself. Rejecting the society that discriminates against her to go off into freedom. When she hurts her loved ones by lying, she takes responsibility for causing Ciri and the Witchers to suffer, and tries to sacrifice herself on Ciri’s behalf. A lot of the arc seems like Yennefer was going through post-traumatic stress from the war effort, to bowing her head to the Mage Tower, and then to needing to execute someone that she finally just had enough. If winning a decisive victory doesn’t prove her loyalty to these people in a massive war campaign, then the whole effort is wasted; I really couldn’t interpret Yennefer running away as anything but the Mage Tower’s fault and she didn’t seek revenge for how they continued to abuse her emotionally, she just left (which is something Geralt would probably be proud of her for doing). By contradistinction, Fringilla immediately tries to run home when the going gets tough to toss her responsibilities aside, decides to commit violence as an easy answer to her solution when facing the pressures of the society that she chose to work for, and tries to lie her way to the top and gets imprisoned by people who had put their trust and confidence in her. I’m honestly more confused by Fringilla’s behavior — I’m not saying it is unrealistic — but it seems like she never really understood her responsibilities outside of being a fanatic with an unclear understanding of what she was fighting for. Right when responsibility is foisted on her, she wants to act like a child and run away so her Uncle can resolve her problems for her. And she immediately chooses to kill her own Generals instead of . . . having a rational discussion and working out a compromise or trying to at least rally the elves to fight for them. And to be honest, I wonder if she inculcated that behavior from Ciri’s father, since he . . . has an elf baby killed to make the Elves in a rush to fight . . . instead of having a rational discussion on the needs and expectations of his kingdom.
I mean, contrast this with Triss and Geralt’s dad having a rational discussion on how to proceed with the revelation of what Ciri’s blood can accomplish, or Geralt talking with his father on why they need to save Ciri, or Geralt apologizing to his musician friend, or Yennefer making amends to Ciri and Geralt at the end. Like, even seemingly innocuous things like the bald mage dude randomly slaughtering two servants for suspicion of being spies based on . . . no evidence whatsoever. It seems kind of random, but it appears to fit a theme in the series about choosing dialogue and non-violence even in a crapshack world vs going for the most violent option first. I know Geralt kills a monster of his friend’s early in Season 2, but even that was after a debate between Ciri and Geralt and after Geralt found evidence the monster had killed an entire town of innocents and 3 travelers.
So anyway, amazing Season 2. Definitely looking forward to Season 3. Ciri and Yennefer have become my favorite characters in the show and I definitely like Geralt more in Season 2 when he plays off of them both via interactions.