REVIEW: ‘The Witcher’ 2×2, ‘Kaer Morhen’

The second episode of The Witcher’s second season, Kaer Morhen, seems to fail Yennefer.

The first episode of The Witcher Season 2 set the story off to a bit of a slower start, picking up right where Season 1 ended. Before making their way to Kaer Morhen, Geralt and Ciri head towards an old friend of Geralt’s to wait out a violent blizzard. The two meet a now cursed Nivellen, who appears as a hybrid of a bear and a pig, Geralt is instantly on edge at what stands before him. The episode ends with Geralt freeing Nivellen of his curse, but learning about what bound him to it in the first place.

The episode begins with Geralt and Ciri arriving at Kaer Morhen, something that’s been built up since Season 1. This is where Ciri can finally begin her training, learn to hone her abilities, the ones that would randomly pop up throughout the first season. This episode, while it’s a bit fast, feels a whole lot like the first episode, which is really just a lot of sitting around until the end when the monster reveals itself and Geralt springs into action and leaves Ciri behind to “protect her.”

Arriving at Kaer Morhen, the series introduces many characters that should be familiar to fans of both The Witcher games and books like Vesemir, Eskel, Lambert, and Coën. and while the series gets most of these characters right or at least pretty accurate, Eskel is only the character in the name, an absolutely massive departure from who the character truly is.

First of all, these are people Geralt grew up with and trained alongside on the path to becoming Witchers. While, for the most part, you can feel those years together in Geralt’s interactions with them, Eskel is the weakest link. Eskel is supposed to be like Geralt, calm and collected, as well as one of Geralt’s closest friends and basically a brother. Eskel is stripped of all that and made to be the black sheep of the family who acts as the rebellious teen, a complete douche essentially. This is furthered by him hiding his Leshy infection that’s slowly turning him into a tree monster, quickly succumbing to it and attacking the castle.

Perhaps the best part of the episode is when we’re able to see Geralt and Vesemir work together as protege and master, father and son. The fight scene that ensues is quite well done, but the series tries to make you feel sympathy for Geralt in this situation in which he’s pitted against Eskel. This is someone whose supposed to be quite close with Geralt, and when he’s eventually forced to kill Eskel, there’s just no emotional weight attached to that moment.

The absolute weakest part of this episode, and so far this season, is whatever path they’ve set Yennefer on because it honestly feels like they’ve got no idea what to do with her. This is probably because, in the story they are attempting to adapt, Yennefer really does not play a part. She is still presumed dead by Geralt, who moved on to watch over and train Ciri, but her entire arc feels like it has no end goal right now, she spends a majority of this episode caught in a dream-like state with a forest witch. It again feels like it has sent her nowhere, especially as she finishes out this episode screaming in the woods.

The Witcher Season 2 seems to have finally found a bit of its footing with Geralt and Ciri arriving at Kar Morhen and I hope to see some solid development for the two of them. The season still teeters on the edge with it not knowing what to do with Yennefer, though. After a fantastic first season arc for the character, she deserves more than what she’s being given.

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