Review: The Witcher Season 1 Episode 2

After giving us an introduction to Geralt and Ciri in the first episode, ‘The Witcher’ uses its second episode to add more characters in the fray. Yennefer is one of the central characters in the story of Geralt. She is a very complicated personality, having gone through a lot of ups and downs in her story. For the readers and the gamers, she is also a mysterious character, whose layers are shed off as we move further into the story. The show has taken a different approach with her. Instead of introducing her as an enigmatic sorceress with a secretive past and a complicated relationship with Geralt, we start from the beginning, with a victim of bullying, who has been scarred her whole life.

The Witcher Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

Yennefer of Vengerberg makes an entrance in ‘Four Marks’ and we get to witness her story, beginning from the time when she was still a hunchback. Due to her disfigured physique, she has been at the receiving end of violence and bullying, and it is in one of those moments that she accidentally teleports herself to an unknown place. It comes to her attention that she possesses magical abilities, and soon, a woman comes to take her to the place where sorcerers are trained in the art of magic. Unwilling to go, Yennefer discovers that her father, or rather, step-father, has traded her for just four crowns.

Meanwhile, Geralt continues his search for a monster to slay and get paid for it. Jaskier, the bard, finds him in a tavern and decides to make him the muse for his next song. They are told that a devil has been stirring trouble in the village. When Geralt comes face to face with the monster, he discovers that the creature is a part of a much bigger scheme. In the meantime, Ciri continues to escape the clutches of the Nilfgaardian soldiers and finds refuge with the citizens of Citra who are not so amicable towards Queen Calanthe and her wars.

The Witcher Season 1 Episode 2 Review

Yennefer’s character is laid bare for the audience in the second episode of ‘The Witcher’. You get to know the things that make her tick. Why is she so ruthlessly ambitious? Why is she so thirsty for power? What makes her so dangerous? One by one, all of these layers are added to her character, as opposed to the peeling off of them that takes place in the books. While this takes the mystery out, it allows the audience the connect better with her. She is one of those characters that have our sympathy, no matter how strongly they incline towards the bad side. If she does something wrong in the future or something wrong happens to her, you’ll have a soft spot for her, no matter what.

As compared to the first episode, Geralt’s arc becomes uninteresting in this one. Yes, he meets Jaskier (whom you might also know as Dandelion) and has an interesting encounter with the sylvan, but it lacks the action that we had witnessed last time. This could also be because ‘Four Marks’ is more Yennefer-oriented. For this episode, Geralt becomes the side character, while her story takes the centre stage. No complaints on that front.

Apart from laying the foundation for her future, Yennefer’s arc also sets a timeline for the events of ‘The Witcher’. Although we are witnessing the journeys of the three leads simultaneously, the show makes it clear that it is not happening chronologically. We expect them to build further on this in the upcoming episodes. For now, it is enough for us to be aware of this little detail.

The world of ‘The Witcher’ is dark and heavy, and from the first episode, it seemed that the show would focus greatly on that. However, just so it doesn’t get too dark and heavy for the audience, the writers allow Jaskier to take the responsibility of bringing some lightness to the story. The encounter with the sylvan is amusing to watch and one could say that with the graver nature of Ciri and Yennefer’s story, a bit of humour does some good to the show. It is a good approach, but again, the show repeats its mistakes.

I had previously expressed my concern that in its haste, the show might leave out some elements of the story. Such things might seem unnecessary, but skipping them might also take the soul out of it. In the case of the sylvan arc, once again, an important part has been completely left out. It is understandable that the writers didn’t want to overstuff the episode and had to cut things off to allow a balance on every front. But I can’t help but be concerned that this tactic will continue to haunt the future episodes, and we might miss out on some great things.

Moving forward with the series, my only hope is that they don’t twist the story too much. Once again, I can’t help but use ‘Game of Thrones’ as an example. GRRM’s story was also overloaded with characters and arcs, and quite logically, the writers merged and changed and even removed the characters when it came to the TV adaptation. However, in the later seasons, they lost track of their own creation, losing touch with the characters that they themselves had moulded over the course of the decade. They fell in the habit of straying and then strayed too far to recover from the consequences. ‘The Witcher’ should not make this mistake.

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