Spoilers ahead for The Witcher.
Netflix’s fantasy series The Witcher has given us a fantastic adaptation of the Andrzej Sapkowski novels (and the CD Projekt Red video games). Henry Cavill brings the stoic and heroic Geralt of Rivia to life, as do Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan enliven the manipulative magic-wielding sorceress Yennefer and the Child Surprise, Ciri, respectively. (Oh and toss a coin to your bard, Jaskier, a.k.a. Dandelion, as played to acoustic effect by Joey Batey.) The only real downside to Witcher-mania is that the 8-episode first season is all we have at the moment, and we’ll probably be waiting a year before Season 2 arrives. (Plenty of time to read the books and play through the Witcher games, again.)
In a recent reddit AMA (h/t to GamesRadar), showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich fielded a ton of questions from fans of The Witcher, fans who were well-versed in the lore, the changes from the books, and the characters we’ve yet to meet. A tough task for Hissrich, who not only had to oversee the adaptation of the sprawling fantasy saga but then had to mold it into the streaming series form, which is as different a beast as a kikimora is from a striga. There are some deep character questions to be found throughout, but a sampling of Hissrich’s responses (and reveals for Season 2) follow below:
First up, the release date:
We don’t yet have a target launch date for S2, past 2021. We don’t want to rush the product. That doesn’t benefit anyone.
Season 1 featured three separate storylines (following Yennefer, Geralt, and Ciri, chronologically), all of which united by the season’s end, even if Geralt and Ciri were the only two who were physically together. Here’s what Hissrich had to say about the storytelling format of Season 2:
[T]he story will be much more linear, now that the three characters’ stories have started to intersect.
Hissrich also mentioned some behind-the-scenes efficiency gains for Season 2 based on what they learned in Season 1. For the premiere, the team did some reshoots to better refine the nuances of Renfri’s character and to add more emotional weight to the final fight sequence. Here’s how that affects Season 2:
For instance, learning from that in S2, the scripts are now MUCH shorter — so we’re not having to cut down the product in editing as much.
Another lesson learned was how difficult it was to show the aging of characters (especially the human characters who don’t have the benefit of magical regeneration and healing):
It’s hard to show the passage of time when everyone looks the same, so we’ll be approaching that differently in S2.
As for characters, Hissrich stressed that it was important to establish Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer in the first season, but more are soon to come:
Yes, you can always introduce more characters as you go along in a show. We’ll be doing that as well — there’s a whole new set of fun characters coming in S2.
Which will include queer representation:
One of my favorite things about the books is that they are full of subversion. Yes, we’re gonna represent.
Yes, we’ll continue to meet and see other non-humans in future seasons.
Note the mention of feature seasons, plural. That all depends on the audience and Netflix, of course, but it’s a nice tease just the same.
Here’s how the production team is looking ahead to Season 2 now that it’s not only been officially ordered but is being buzzed about in the zeitgeist:
We’re approaching S2 in a similar way we did with S1: what are the stories Sapkowski was telling, and why? What building blocks do we need to set up future stories? Is there anything we missed from S1 that we want to include? And what will work on television? For instance — no one wants to see Triss have diarrhea for three episodes. So what are we trying to glean from that in the books, and how do we present that onscreen?
While “Triss having diarrhea” may feel like a throwaway statement, it’s also a nod to a plotline in “Blood of Elves”, the first Witcher novel from Sapkowski, though its story follows “The Last Wish” and “Sword of Destiny” in story-order. Will we be seeing Geralt and Ciri on the road in Season 2? (Including more Yarpen Zigrin?!) Probably! But no stomach troubles for Triss, thankfully. We will, however, get to explore more of what makes Nilfgaard tick:
Yes, we felt like we needed to set up a “bad guy” in S1 — but it’s our hope that we’ve added enough layers to Cahir and Fringilla that the audience thinks “Wait, but THEY don’t seem insane. So what do they see in Nilfgaard? Maybe there’s more there than meets the eye?” Perhaps we didn’t go far enough in S1, to see more behind Nilfgaard’s curtain — but it will definitely be explored more thoroughly in S2.
There’s a lot more in Hissrich’s AMA, and she’ll be checking back in to answer more questions over the week. So be sure to check it out to discover more about Geralt’s verbosity and how it changed for his on-screen counterpart, how the creatures in the series are created, and when we’ll actually get a bit of lore … lore that will include more Witchers (and likely a trip to Kaer Morhen):
And we decided to save some tidbits of witcher lore until… you actually meet more witchers. :)