REVIEW: ‘The Witcher’ 2.01, ‘A Grain of Truth’

The Witcher Season 2 is off to a slow start, however, it remains full of promise thanks to the core cast of characters.

After an incredibly popular first season, The Witcher Season 2 has finally hit Netflix, continuing the story of Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer. When we last left the continent, we witnessed Yennefer join the fight against the Nilfgardians in the battle of sodden, using every ounce of chaos to conjure a blaze so strong it sends Nilfgard into retreat. The biggest moment comes when Geralt is stumbling through the woods, injured by a beast, and finally meets the one he’s been sworn to protect, Princess Ciri.

This season picks up right as the battle of Sodden concludes, and the battlefield lays riddled with corpses, Yennefer is nowhere to be seen. Ciri and Geralt are continuing onward but get caught up in a storm, and decide to detour an old friend of Geralt’s, and head to Nivellens Manor.

A dynamic many were looking forward to being introduced is brought to life here, with Ciri and Geralt finally united. It’s a promising and much-needed addition to the series. Ciri offers a great opposite to Geralt’s steely and stone-cold demeanor, but she’s also able to relate to him, with her proving that Geralt’s got a bit of soft-side, even if he’s bound by an oath to protect her.

Henry Cavill’s dedication to the role of Geralt is another shining gold star for the series, with absolutely stellar casting. While he may seem a bit one-note, this season looks to explore the layers of the character, with Freya Allan’s Ciri playing a pivotal role in that.

Nivellen is quite the eccentric and welcoming host, with Kristofer Hivju delivering a magical, Tormund-Esque, performance under all those prosthetics. However the entire thing just feels off, it feels like Nivellen is hiding something, no matter how many magical tricks he can pull to distract Ciri, you feel as if Geralt never really trusts him, as Nivellen’s cursed appearance really put him on edge, this wasn’t the same Nivellen he’d met all those years ago.

The series is very obvious in its mistrust of Nivellen, with the cursed man harboring a Bruxxa named Vereena, responsible for countless deaths. For his crimes, he was cursed to never be able to love, presumably turning him into that beast once he’d fallen for Vereena, but he didn’t care cause she’d loved him either way. This felt like an obvious play on Beauty and the Beast, except the roles are swapped and this time around both of them were the beast. It’s not until the curtain is pulled back and Nivellen’s curse is broken that it really works, when it’s revealed that Nivellen was cured due to raping a priestess, it’s hard to sympathize with a man who’d just lost the one thing that loved him, and it feels like a callback to earlier in the episode when Nivellen had asked Geralt how he was not heartbroken following Yennefer’s presumed death, with Geralt responding, “Who says I’m not?” It feels like Geralt is beginning to scratch the surface of showing emotion, having lost the good person he’d once seen in Nivellen and considered a close friend.

Perhaps the weakest part of this episode is whatever they’re trying to do with Yennefer. All we see is her locked up in chains under the watch of Fringilla and a few surviving Nilfgardians. Where episode 1 leaves Yennefer promises something surely more interesting than her just pacing around the woods for an hour.

While this was a bit of a slower start to what will, hopefully, be an eventful season, it was a good starting point for our characters. I look forward to seeing the relationship between Geralt and Ciri progress, and how Ciri learns to hone her abilities. I hope to see storylines come together by the end of the season, with Yennefer and Geralt finally reuniting.

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