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'The Witcher' cast says change is the unofficial theme of Season 2
The Witcher cast talks about the major changes they tackled in helping redefine their characters for Season 2.
If there’s an unofficial theme running through the story arcs of many characters in Season 2 of The Witcher, it’s that of reinvention. Characters who were seemingly fixed in their talents or world-views in Season 1 have been challenged in Season 2 to rethink everything in their lives. That especially applies to Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), Yennifer (Anya Chalotra), Fringilla Vigo (Mimî M. Khayisa), Jaskier (Joey Batey) and Princess Ciri (Freya Allen).
With all eight episodes of The Witcher Season 2 now available on Netflix, SYFY WIRE engaged in a spoilery exploration of reinvention in the new season with some of the cast. First off, arguably one of the most anticipated mysteries to discover this season was the fate of plucky bard, Jaskier. In Season 1, Episode 6, Geralt unceremoniously ditched the musician, and since then, audiences have wondered where he went and what he’s been up to?
In Season 2, Episode 4, Jaskier returns and it turns out he’s still singing, but his songs aren’t so aspirational anymore. Let’s just say he’s reinvented himself into the Continent’s answer to Alanis Morrisette, singing thinly veiled screeds like, “Burn, Butcher, Burn,” to his adoring audiences.
Actor Joey Batey tells SYFY WIRE that ditty was a collaboration between himself, series composer Joe Trapanese, and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who wrote the words for it.
“We really wanted to step away from the poppier side of the music and the catchy hooks that got him famous,” the actor says of Jaskier’s more aggressive song stylings. “Quite a lot of time with artists, when they do rocket to a certain amount of fame, they start making the music that they've always wanted to make rather than the music that people want to hear. And so that meant that we got a huge amount of freedom within the side of the music. We got to use some of these more Celtic influences and more folky influences to explore the character and explore what he's going through.”
In the two episodes Jaskier appears, he’s still working out a lot in regards to Geralt, and he admits as much to Yennifer, whom the singer blames for some of Geralt’s mercurial issues. “The loss of a best friend is more than enough material to write a song about,” Batey assures. “And this is the first time we've seen [Jaskier] sing about himself. I think it mattered to us that we got to use these songs to see the character more rather than see the world more.”
A character who spends a lot of the season on a seemingly inspiring track of reinvention is sorceress Fringilla Vigo, who starts the season having imprisoned Yennifer, and then transforms into a rather sympathetic leader, wearing finery and acting with more compassion.
Khayisa, who plays Fringilla, says the start of Season 2 makes the sorceress realize that she actually has choices.
“Even in that initial time that she spends with Yennifer, she starts questioning the direction that she wants to take and how she's going to do it,” Khayisa explains. “And in order to do it, she kind of has to negotiate other relationships that have been solidified before. And she struggles with that. She really struggles with that. But what's beautiful is you get to see that struggle, and I don't think she truly makes it. But I'm enjoying watching her process and learning from her.”
Princess Ciri arguably has the most proactive reinvention this season, going from reactive victim who spent most of her time running away in Season 1 to a far more trained, curious, and thoughtful young woman in Season 2. Allen thinks Ciri and Geralt are in the process of making one another their better selves, even if it starts off rocky in the series premiere.
“At the start, there was a lot of coldness between the characters. But I personally liked them having that because it gave him somewhere to go,” Allen says. “It felt real within the circumstances of everything.”
She continues, “At the start, they have different aims, and they're not quite tying in with one another. Geralt's aim is to protect her because he's got this duty to uphold, and Ciri wants to make something of herself.”
They travel to Kaer Morhen together to find safety, counsel, and training for Ciri amongst Geralt’s witcher brethren, and it’s there that one of Allen’s favorite scenes in her character’s growth plays out. She asks Geralt to take the potion to become a witcher so she can also be indifferent to her past, and those around her.
“She actually wants to use the idea of becoming a witcher as a sort of escape from all these other things going on, whether that be her powers or the lies from her past,” Allen says. Geralt talks her out of it, which becomes a unifying moment for the pair, as they puzzle through this confusing journey together going forward.
“It's one of those things where it's either gonna tear you apart or bring you closer, and for them a trust is built and a real care,” she says. “You definitely see that towards the end of the season, that Ciri has this real care and trust for him. And I think to be honest, he's the only person he trusts in the whole continent.”
Last but not least, Yennifer literally travels the land with many companions as she tries to access her magic once more. Hers is perhaps the most existential reinvention as she asks herself who am I if I’m not a sorceress anymore?
“She just meets so many challenges wherever she goes this season,” Chalotra says with a sigh. “But I think the turning point for Yenn is the choices she makes after confronting these fears and challenges. They're a lot more thought through this season. And she definitely comes to a place where she finds a new purpose at the end of this season. Or rather her real true purpose.”
Where they go next, we'll have to wait and see...
Season 2 of The Witcher is now streaming on Netflix.