SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched all eight episodes of Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Witcher.”
The ending of “The Witcher” Season 2 introduces a legion of new antagonists who are all hunting down Ciri (Freya Allan), as she becomes the No. 1 target in the Continent, thanks to her mysterious, reality-jumping powers. Luckily, she’ll be protected by Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), who reunited and seemed to bury the hatchet, and their simmering romance, after Yennefer’s betrayal — at least for now.
The final shot revealed the identity of Emhyr var Emreis (Bart Edwards), the emperor of Nilfgaard, also called the White Flame, who turns out to be Ciri’s own father, previously known as Duny. He’ll have some competition chasing down his daughter in Season 3, because Redanian spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) has teamed up with the shape-shifting sorceress Philippa Eilhart (Cassie Clare). Ciri, Geralt and Yennefer also came face to face with the Wild Hunt, a mythical team of horsemen of the apocalypse, and the ancient witch Voleth Meir, a.k.a. the Deathless Mother, who possessed Ciri and corrupted the minds of Yennefer and Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni).
The wait for Season 3 will hopefully not be quite as long as the COVID-delayed Season 2, and the prequel series “The Witcher: Blood Origin” and an upcoming kid-friendly spinoff should keep viewers satisfied in the meantime.
Here, “The Witcher” showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich explains the new villains, the spinoffs and the future of Geralt and Yennefer’s relationship.
Out of all the new antagonists, who is the biggest threat going forward?
I would definitely say Emhyr. He needed to be the most permanent threat to all of our characters. We made a big choice at the end of this season, which is to announce that Emhyr is Ciri’s father, which is not done in the books until much later. He is the big, overarching threat in the entire book series, and who he is is kept secret for a very long time in the books because you don’t have to visually see him. We thought about holding it off longer, but we knew that if we didn’t start introducing him as a real character, the depth of his threat would go away. We made that choice, and that’s our way of saying to the audience, “This guy isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to get bigger and more dangerous as we go.”
Other major characters from Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series are introduced throughout the season. How did you decide who to save for the finale and who to bring in sooner?
We wanted to make sure we we weren’t doing the same reveal over and over again, so Episode 8 didn’t become a big melting pot of all new characters. Philippa Eilhart is interesting because we went back and forth about whether or not to show her human form this season. When we cast Cassie Clare, we thought it was a perfect way, especially for viewers who aren’t as familiar with the books and lore, to show that this owl that’s been flying around actually is going to become a much bigger character. Another interesting one this season is Codringher [Simon Callow] and Fenn [Liz Carr], these two detectives who are solving mysterious across the Continent. I’m so madly in love with these characters. They bring in a completely different tone to the show. They remind me of [Statler and Waldorf] in the balcony in “The Muppets.” They’re crotchety with each other and everyone who comes in and a little bit sneaky. I thought it was great to introduce them with Istredd [Royce Pierreson] this season in a smaller story, so by the time we get to see them with Geralt in Season 3, we know just how important they are.
Is Jaskier the bard that Dijkstra is talking about in his final scene? Has his and Geralt’s relationship been broken so much that Jaskier would betray him?
Yes, absolutely, Jaskier [Joey Batey] is the bard that Dijkstra is talking about. We hear early on in Jaskier’s story that he’s helping elves and has a mysterious benefactor and doesn’t know who’s pulling the strings that allows him to be able to do this. Now Jaskier is going to owe Dijkstra a favor. We definitely wanted Geralt to learn from this season. He experiences this ultimate betrayal at the hands of Yennefer. In Season 3, his head is going to be on a swivel a tiny bit more, making sure that the family around him are the people he wants it to be.
What can we expect to see from Yennefer and Geralt’s new relationship going forward?
I’ve always said the premise of the show is family. What I love is that Geralt and Yennefer at the end of the season agree that they are the balance that Ciri needs. They both need to be part of her life going forward. Yennefer brings the magical side and Geralt brings the physical training. Only together are they going to be able to protect her and make sure she’s safe and teach her to protect herself. People are going to love that there are real truths that need to come out between them. There’s been a huge breach of trust, but much like we saw Geralt and Ciri bond at the beginning of Season 2 and learn to trust each other, we’re going to be part of that journey for Yen and Geralt.
Witchers tend to stay out of the politics brewing in the world. Will we see Geralt get pushed further into that in Season 3?
Absolutely. One of the main things of the books that we love, and we’re starting to see unfold in the series, is that Geralt is a witcher and doesn’t want to be involved in anything else. He doesn’t want to be involved with other people because they open him up to vulnerability and different emotional levels that he’s not willing to contend with. We start to see that outer shell crumble a little bit in Season 2. That’s going to keep continuing to happen. In Season 3, Geralt will start to battle with this idea of neutrality. What happens when the people he cares about most are on the line and how does he start to shift?
How did you decide to create Voleth Meir as a powerful, Baba Yaga-like character?
In the books, Sapkowski pulls from mythology and fairytales from all over the world. One of the things we thought was interesting was to find a mythological monster that exists in almost every culture, and Baba Yaga is it. It was not our goal originally to have her be an overarching monster for the season. She was introduced in Episode 2 and that was going to be it — she was going to be the monster for Yennefer to deal with. We started to wonder if we could take this character and start not just having her interact with Yennefer, but also have her be a part of Ciri’s powers and the mystery that Geralt is unfolding. Suddenly we realized she could be the vehicle through which all of these characters start to intersect.
Since the prequel is set thousands of years in the past, will we see Voleth Meir appear in “The Witcher: Blood Origin”?
We have thought about carrying Voleth Meir on, but not exactly in that way. One of the things we thought would be cool in the end was to connect her to the idea of the Wild Hunt, with the Wild Hunt being elves that have been trapped between spheres. In some ways, the lore will start connecting from “Blood Origin” into this, so we’ll understand how people came to be trapped between spheres and how Eredin and the Wild Hunt came to be. We’ve talked about bringing her back in the future, because the Wild Hunt becomes an increasingly bigger character throughout. So I think we’ll see her again.
How much of “Blood Origin” will be must-watch material to understand the main “Witcher” series?
We always try to set out with our spinoffs that you don’t have to watch them to understand what’s going on. But we also wanted to reward viewers who do tune in. For instance, there’s so many things in Season 2 that begin to set up “Blood Origin” — you won’t know it when you watch it because you don’t know how those things will play out. There are little Easter eggs — and not just in dialogue but visual Easter eggs — you’ll see again in “Blood Origin.”
What can fans expect from the upcoming kid-friendly “Witcher” spinoff? Will there be any blood or violence?
It won’t be a no-blood, no-violence show, because that would be completely untrue to the “Witcher” world. “The Witcher” is not meant for kids — I totally get that — and “The Witcher” mothership will never be right for kids. We don’t ever want to break that down into something that’s more family friendly; that will remain what it is. What I kept yearning for and when I would talk to my kids about the show and why they couldn’t watch it, is something that opens up the same morality tales that “The Witcher” has. Sapkowski writes about fairytales. There are so many allusions in his stories — “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”; literally “Beauty and the Beast” is the first episode of Season 2. My kids love fairytales, so how do we take the world of “The Witcher” and these morality tales and make it okay for kids? Kids are much savvier — probably than we want them to be — they’re ready to start to look at some of the harder decisions that characters have to make in the “Witcher” world. Absolutely there will be things that will be a little bit edgy, but I also think we will continue to do what Sapkowski did and try to tilt in a direction of optimism. It’s something I’m wildly excited about, if only that I can finally share this crazy world with my family.
Season 2 of “The Witcher” is now streaming on Netflix.