Season 2 of Netflix’s “The Witcher,” after being long delayed by COVID, thrusts Geralt (Henry Cavill), Ciri (Freya Allan), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the rest of the cast of witchers, elves and mages into a darker world full of deadly monsters and even deadlier politics.
Picking up after the Battle of Sodden Hill in the Season 1 finale, Geralt initially believes Yennefer to be dead and spends much of the season training young Ciri in the dangerous arts of witchers at Kaer Morhen. At his childhood home and witcher proving grounds, he reunites with Vesemir (Kim Bodnia), his own former mentor and father figure, and catches up with his witcher brethren, who are untrusting of Geralt’s new ward. While Ciri pushes herself to become the first female witcher, it’s revealed that she holds a mysterious, world-threatening power that’s related to a new breed of monsters popping up in the Continent. On top of that, her blood could also be the key to creating more witchers down the road.
Geralt and Ciri’s relationship has the warm care of a father and daughter, but also the stern discipline of a teacher and student, something both actors say they enjoyed exploring.
“Those are some of my favorite aspects of Geralt,” Cavill tells Variety. “It builds a love for the character because he’s not always accessible. I wanted to show an understanding with him — that he recognizes she’s been through trauma. He also has been through trauma, so he’s going to tread carefully around her. He’s going to allow her to come to him with her thoughts and experiences she wants to share. It’s a softly-softly approach. Freya trod that fine line between not wanting to share, being withdrawn and withheld and slightly antagonistic, and at the same time she was slowly finding this space of trust she has for Geralt and these other strange individuals living in the mountains.”
Allan calls Geralt “an inspiration to [Ciri], a mentor, a father.” For the 20-year-old star, the wait between Seasons 1 and 2 allowed her to grow as a person and an actor, and she picked up some experience from filming Netflix’s “Gunpowder Milkshake” after Season 1. In the new episodes, she holds her own in monster battles and manages to eventually earn the respect of the witchers at Kaer Morhen.
“I reevaluated the way I approached this job because I was so thrown into Season 1 and so new to it all,” she tells Variety. “I came into Season 2 with a whole different energy. Then having the COVID lockdown, even within that time, I felt it was different when I went back. I think I’ve established more in my head not worrying about the fact that I haven’t done the drama school route or anything like that and actually having trust in my instincts and things I’ve experienced and using that in my character.”
In a season full of character reunions, the most heartfelt moment comes in Episode 6 when Geralt and Yennefer finally come face to face at the Temple of Melitele. Stunned at seeing Yennefer alive, Geralt warmly embraces her, while an awkward Ciri excuses herself to make room for the star-crossed lovers.
“It lent into the emotional, more so than the sexual,” Cavill says of Geralt and Yennefer’s reunion. “It was important to us to represent the characters’ connection in that way, rather than it turning into a steamy scene. Certainly with Geralt, he felt like he had lost her forever, and then there she is again, much to his surprise.”
For Chalotra, the scenes with Geralt were some of the most challenging of the season. Shortly after reuniting with her old witcher flame, Yennefer betrays him and abducts Ciri in order to regain her magical powers, which she lost after the Battle of Sodden Hill.
“I really struggled working with Geralt — loved working with Henry, but meeting Geralt this season, as a really changed Yennefer, was quite difficult. She’s meeting the person who makes her most vulnerable,” she tells Variety. “She’s already in a very vulnerable position. I really struggled to navigate that. There’s a lot of work to do in her and Geralt’s relationship this season.”
But could a family still be in the cards for Yennefer and Geralt one day? As their lives and the fate of the Continent become even more entangled, Chalotra thinks fate still has something in store for them.
“Certain characters are destined for each other, especially the three orphans at the center of the story. Their paths are made for each other,” she says.
Cavill, however, isn’t so sure: “Unfortunately, Geralt can’t be a father. He is sterile, so that’s a hard no. [Laughs] I think he has father-like tendencies, certainly, as we see with Cirilla, but he cannot make babies.”
Season 2 of “The Witcher” is now streaming on Netflix.