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‘The Witcher’ season 3, volume 2 review: War is here

By July 30, 2023No Comments4 min read
Geralt stands on a beach with rocky terrain behind him. His sword is lowered.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.

War has come to The Continent. The Witcher returned for Volume 2 of its third season, comprising of episodes 6-8. With it comes a true clash of the titans. Episode 6 picks up right where Volume 1 left off as Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) realize they’ve been tricked, and the mage Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu) has been the snake in the garden all along.

The entire episode is the aftermath, and the different forces at play will have any viewer’s head spinning as Redania, Nilfgaard, the elves, and the mages go head to head in an epic battle right in Aretuza. And our favorite unlikely family gets caught right in the middle of it as Geralt, Yennefer, Ciri (Freya Allan), and Jaskier (Joey Batey) fight to protect those they love.

Messy world building

The episode encompasses all that is great and all that is wrong with The Witcher. It is a big, dramatic, action-packed episode, but also one that’s kind of hard to follow. (I also spoke about this in my Volume 1 review.) Who’s with Redania vs. Nilfgaard? Why do the elves care about Aretuza? What is that spell Ciri does? How can Emhyr (Bart Edwards) be both Ciri’s dad and the emperor of Nilfgaard? (Okay, this last question is one that’s been plaguing me all season and I had to read an explainer article for it.) There’s a lot happening, and it’s not always clearly explained.

This was a large problem in The Witcher Season 1, and while Season 2 was a much tighter, more focused season, now that political drama has taken over the series, Season 3 is falling prey to it once again. It’s not enough to have great mythology and world building, you also have to bother to make sure the audience understands it. On the plus side, we get some pretty awesome showdowns between the series’ most powerful characters, and the sorceress Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) gets to display the coolest spell of all.

Momentum deferred

With Episode 6 busting wide open tons of storylines with this huge battle, you may be wondering how they manage to wrap everything up enough for the season finale. The answer? They don’t, really. The final three episodes of the season are plagued with biting off more than they can chew. Episode 7 is, disappointingly, mostly consumed with a side-plot of Ciri wandering lost, in a desert, battling the elements and her own subconscious.

Episode 8 leaves off basically right in the middle of the action as all of the various factions of The Continent are against each other, and our main characters set off on their own quests. Meanwhile, we spend all of Volume 1 talking about how Ciri needs to be properly trained to use her magic yet that never happens. So much for Tissaia teaching her like she taught Yen. It’s frustrating when the series spends so much time setting up certain storylines only to abandon them.

Henry’s last bow

It’s kind of a messy season, with no big resolutions, which might not be so bad if it weren’t for a major caveat, which is Cavill’s exit from the series. For anyone who hoped the Season 3 finale would be a soft ending for the series so that anyone who didn’t want to continue watching without Cavill could, think again. To stop watching here would be entirely unsatisfying, leaving fans two options: to stop here and leave the series on a massive open-ending forever, or continue on when Liam Hemsworth picks up the sword as Geralt in Season 4. With the Season 3 finale imparting once again how driven Geralt is to love and protect Ciri, and Cavill being the one that really sells that performance, it will be hard to get my head around anyone else embodying this character. 

The Witcher is a fun show, and I hope that one day I’m able to watch it without needing to open recaps, explainer articles, and wiki fan pages to keep up with who everyone is and why they’re important. The political drama is entertaining when I understand it, although it unfortunately comes at the cost of not nearly as much monster fighting this season. Mostly, I wouldn’t mind if we just kept Cavill as Geralt, where he belongs. As it is, I, as many fans, have a choice to make. To continue or to not continue. We shall see. Good luck Hemsworth, you’ve got some massive boots to fill.

Feature image courtesy of Susie Allnutt/Netflix

  • 'The Witcher' Season 3, Volume 2 - 7/10
Linda Maleh

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