The Witcher season 2 has finally finished filming – and that means we’re hoping to see a release date in late 2021, after a long wait.
The fantasy drama, starring Henry Cavill, is based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Season 1 of The Witcher was a huge hit back when it released on Netflix in December 2019, and season 2 is one of many Netflix shows that was hit by the pandemic – now, those roadblocks are finally out of the way, as the series enters post-production.
In this piece, we’ll explain everything we know so far, from The Witcher season 2 cast to what we expect from the story based on the source material and interviews with the series’ creators. Let’s get started.
- How to read The Witcher books in order
- What we know about The Witcher: Blood Origin
- The best Netflix shows, including The Witcher
The Witcher season 2 release date: 2021, hopefully
That’s a wrap on Season 2! The White Wolf awaits you back on The Continent. pic.twitter.com/SqrAbeelobApril 2, 2021
The Witcher 2 season release date is expected for 2021, but an official date hasn’t been revealed by Netflix yet – that said, filming finished on season 2 as of April 2021. We expect a release to come later this year, though not for a while, based on how much effects work the series requires.
On the subject of release dates, Lauren S. Hissrich said in a Reddit AMA that “We don’t yet have a target launch date for season 2, past 2021.” These were in the heady pre-coronavirus days, however, and it’s likely plans have changed a lot since then.
A report from special effects company Platige Image makes some believe we’ll see The Witcher season 2 release on Netflix in August 2021, and that’s because the report from April 27, 2020 said its work on all eight episodes of The Witcher season 2 was due in July 2021. Their work for season 1 was due November 2019, and the show launched a month later.
All of this is harder to predict in a pandemic, of course – but seeing the show return this year feels likely to us.
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The Witcher season 2 first photos
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In October 2020, Netflix released first look photos of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri in season 2 of The Witcher as shooting is ongoing.
Clearly, Ciri is holding some sort of weapon in these promotional stills, which does indicate this season will focus on how she is trained up as something of an honorary Witcher at Kaer Morhen.
In December 2020, Netflix released yet more photos of the show, which you can see below.
We’ve got a little #Witchmas present for you. Here’s some sneak peeks from the set of Witcher Season 2. pic.twitter.com/CtGS354FU6December 16, 2020
Then, right at the end of the year, Netflix released the first page of the script for The Witcher season 2, episode 1. It doesn’t give a lot away, but it’s the best we’re going to get until a trailer finally rolls out.
The Witcher season 2 cast: new and returning cast members, including Vesemir
Henry Cavill (Geralt), Anya Chalotra (Yennefer) and Freya Allan (Ciri) are all set to return for The Witcher season 2. The full cast for the show has been revealed by Netflix, too, including key new characters.
Three new witchers are apparently joining the cast: Lambert, played by Paul Bullion, and Coën, played by Yasen Atour (Netflix only announced that both had joined the cast, while Redanian Intelligence reported they’re witchers). This has created the expectation that The Witcher season 2 will take us to Kaer Morhen, where witchers are trained. And, indeed, fans of the book and games will already be familiar with Lambert and Eskel, both of whom belong to the Wolf Witcher school just like Geralt and Vesemir.
In September, reports circulated that the show had recast the upcoming role of Eskel, who will be played by Swiss actor Basil Eidenbenz. He has joined the show after casting changes had to be made because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It seems interesting that the producers would throw in any extra witchers in the second season, simply because these monster-slaying professionals are typically considered to be a dying breed (at least, in the books and video games). You won’t find too many, but there are of course references to other Witcher Schools like the Cat and Bear.
The School of the Wolf, which is the Witcher faction Geralt belongs to, seems to be one of the few Witcher schools actively doing anything against the monster threat facing the continent.
In May 2020, Redanian Intelligence rumoured the third new witcher coming in The Witcher season 2: Hemrik, played by Joel Adrian.
Killing Eve’s Kim Bodnia plays witcher trainer, Vesemir, and Kristofer Hivju – best known as Game of Thrones’ Tormund Giantsbane – will play Nivellen. Other castings include Mecia Simson as Francesca, Aisha Fabienne Ross as Lydia and Agnes Bjorn as Vereena. Deadline reports that Carmel Laniado has joined the cast as a young character called Violet for at least three episodes.
It also looks like Cassie Clark will be joining the cast of The Witcher season 2 as the incredibly powerful Philippa Eilhart. Philippa is another sorceress and one of a handful who is capable of changing her own shape, with her preferred form being that of an owl. She’s a lot older than she looks, and she’s also not a big fan of men, which will be good for a bit more LGBTQIA representation in the show. This little bit of info comes via Redanian Intelligence.
Returning characters from season one include – thank the heavens – Jaskier (Joey Batey) and Triss (Anna Shaffer). Eamon Farren will be back as Cahir, too. Other familiar faces from season one will include Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Filavandrel (Tom Canton), Stregobor (Lars Mikkelson), Artorius (Terence Maynard), Sabrina (Therica Wilson Read), Murta (Lilly Cooper), Yarpen Zigrin (Jeremy Crawford) and Istredd (Royce Pierreson).
Thue Ersted Rasmussen was set to play fellow witcher, Eskel, but a coronavirus-related rescheduling clash means he’s had to be recast. “It’s heartbreaking, of course,” Rasmussen said on Instagram, “but I mostly feel happy and grateful for the days I got to spend on set earlier this year.” Netflix is yet to reveal his replacement.
Characters from The Witcher games are destined for The Witcher season 2, too. According to Redanian Intelligence, the witty, powerful Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia, introduced in the game Thronebreaker: The Witcher tales, is to be played by Rebecca Hanssen (Enola Holmes). Then there’s Alastair Parker, who played Cleaver in The Witcher 3 video game (also via Redanian Intelligence), who appears in an unknown role.
In March 2021, Netflix revealed seven more characters who had been added to the cast. They were: Adjoa Andoh as Nenneke, a priestess of Melitele in the books, Liz Carr as Fenn, Simon Callow as Fenn’s partner Codringher, Graham McTavish as Redanian armed forces head Dijkstra, Chris Fulton as the mage Rience, Cassie Clare as Redanian royal advisor Philippa Eilhart and Downton Abbey’s Kevin Doyle as Ba’Lian, a new character.
The Witcher season 2 will have entirely different directors to season one, and Netflix has confirmed who they are:
- Ed Bazalgette (The Last Kingdom, Doctor Who)
- Sarah O’Gorman (Jamestown, Cursed)
- Geeta Patel (Santa Clarita Diet, Meet the Patels)
- Stephen Surjik (Daredevil, The Umbrella Academy)
When it comes to the writing team, Hissrich explained on Twitter her hiring process in terms of diversity and knowledge of the world of the Witcher. Responding to whether the best writers tend to be the most knowledgeable she wrote “Yes. And equally importantly, no.” Instead, Hissrich looks for a spectrum of life, writing, and genre experience who “love the world, but aren’t afraid to question it. Who are fans, but are willing to step back and open their minds, in order to bring their beloved world to our real (big) one.”
I believe I’ve covered in detail why diverse voices are important in tv. But there’s another part of this tweet that is worth discussing: when writing an adaptation, are the best writers always the ones most familiar with the world? https://t.co/Q95XTBsrTSJune 8, 2020
The Witcher season 2 trailer: is there one yet?
Sadly not. Since filming is still relatively early, don’t expect Netflix to release a trailer until 2021.
However, while we remain hopeful we will hear something soon, Netflix did treat us to a special set of clips in time for Halloween 2020. In the ‘Monster Mash’ up we only get a couple of extremely brief shots of season 2, but the set of skeleton heads and weird blue eyes and claws hint at the fights Geralt faces in his future.
The Witcher season 2 prequel announced: what is The Witcher: Blood Origin?
In July 2020, Netflix announced The Witcher: Blood Origin, a six-part live-action prequel series about the first witcher. The synopsis is as follows: “1200 years before Geralt of Rivia, the worlds of monsters, men and elves merged into one, and the first Witcher came to be.”
Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and series writer Declan de Barra are behind this new show, which we expect to have a whole new cast.
The Witcher season 2 story: what we know, and what happens in the books
Now that we have the official synopsis for The Witcher season 2, it’s confirmed that, as expected, Ciri will take centre stage. With Geralt thinking that Yennefer died at the Battle of Sodden at the end of the first season, the White Wolf takes his young magical charge to his childhood haunt of Kaer Morhen. Expect some astonishing, sweeping vistas of Geralt’s home, if it’s anything like the games.
It’s not a surprise that Cirilla is the central character. In the books, Ciri’s story makes up the central plot of ‘the saga’. The saga covers five books, starting with Blood of Elves, and centres on Ciri, her importance as a magical royal with Elven heritage, her relationship with Geralt, her ongoing efforts to survive, and how all this shapes events on The Continent.
The setup for this has already begun, as the very start of Blood of Elves is covered in season 1 by the siege, the downfall of Cintra, and Ciri’s subsequent escape. Elsewhere, expect to see more of life under Nilfgaardian rule in season 2, as tensions between humans and non-humans rise.
A big talking point of The Witcher season 1 was how it told stories in multiple places and across a non-linear timeline (though the now-released official Witcher map and Witcher timeline really help) resulting in a multi-tale anthology of sorts.
In an interview with Vulture, Hissrich said that while she believes she didn’t give the audience too much credit – “the audience is incredibly smart” – she had “misunderstood what everyone was looking for in their entertainment”. She said “I love to be challenged when I’m watching TV,” but conceded that that wasn’t the case for everyone.
However, season one’s climax brought all the separate threads together nicely, priming The Witcher season 2 for a simpler plot. Hissrich has confirmed that Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer exist in the same timeline now, so their stories will be told simultaneously.
“That’s where we ended season one. That’s absolutely where we will pick up in season two. The stories will be told in a much more linear fashion. They won’t all be one story. It’s not like all three are together and happy all the time. But, I do want to employ some different ways to look at time series-wide.”
That doesn’t mean we won’t see any of the episodic Geralt monster-hunting adventures that we loved in season 1. Hissrich will be mining “different short stories” for The Witcher season 2, and suggests the chance of flashback scenes.
Hissrich teased that this’ll be an interesting season for Geralt, one in which is “internal conflict” will come to a head (via TV Guide). On the one hand, Hissrich explained, the Butcher of Blaviken has a “desire to not get involved” but “it’s all protecting the sort of internal desire to be a hero […] it’s all going to explode in season 2”. This challenge Henry Cavill nailed expertly in the first season, and there’s no reason why he won’t all over again next time.
That said, while we were a fan of Cavill’s performance, praise wasn’t universal. Addressing criticism of him, Cavill told Vanity Fair (via GamesRadar) “I’m on all the Reddit forums. I’m reading all the reviews. I’m literally trying to get everyone’s information. Some of it is not useful, and other criticisms are incredibly useful. I take it all in, and I look forward to bringing it even closer and closer to Sapkowski’s writing.”
“So for me, it’s about seeing that, understanding it, and working out how I can do my job better within the framework provided, appease and make those people feel comfortable that I do actually understand this character – and love this character just as much as they do.”
It also looks like the initial bonding between Ciri and Geralt, something largely skipped over in the books, will be explored more in season 2. “We found in writing the show that we didn’t actually want to skip over those first months of them getting to know each other,” Hissrich told TV Guide, “that’s part of the fun.”
In terms of story specifics, Redanian Intelligence claims that another short story from The Last Wish will appear. This short story, A Grain of Truth, features Geralt meeting the cursed man, Nivellen (who we now know is played by Hivju), who has been turned into a beast.
Asked by Pure Fandom for a teaser on season 2, Hissrich had this to say: “Without spoilers, I will say that there’s a crop of new monsters, a new cost to magic, and new and unexpected pairings of our favorite characters.”
Expect to see more from magical villainess Fringilla, too. When asked by Vulture, Hissrich confirmed that “you will absolutely get more Fringillla […] we’re digging deeper into her past and how she ended up at Nilfgaard, who she is as a person, and how she and Yennefer ended up on such different paths.” In other words, expect more metal mind-control earworms. Ugh.
#tbt one month ago on the set of @witchernetflix. The sun will rise again. Until then, stay home and stay safe. pic.twitter.com/1PbeUa9YaOApril 10, 2020
Check out an image from The Witcher season 2 set above. Other changes are coming next year, too. The wrinkly Nilfgaardian armor, which some fans on the internet didn’t like, will be changed in season 2 as well. Hissrich told Flickering Myth’s Writer Experience podcast that, “the Nilfgaard armor will be totally different. You have that opportunity [in season two] to go back and course correct if you want to.”
More sneak peeks from the set suggest what we’re going to see in the fallout of the Battle of Sodden. Courtesy of Redanian Intelligence, set photos from Fountains Abbey in northern England imply that there will be a meeting between the forces of Nilfgaard and the elves, including King Foltest, Stregobor, and Vilgefortz. Other photos show filming taking place in the nearby Studley Royal Water Garden showing off a Nilfgaardian armor variant and a suspiciously-pregnant Francesca Findabair.
The ruins themselves, according to RI, could well be the ruined elven palace of Shaerrawedd, a spot that Geralt and Ciri stumble upon in the novel, Blood of Elves. Further set photos show a seemingly-imprisoned Cahir, as well as Tissaia, and Yennefer.
The Witcher season 2 will be accompanied by a Witcher animated movie
In addition to The Witcher season 2, an anime-style Witcher movie has been announced for Netflix called The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. No release date has been set for that one yet, but we expect it before season 2 arrives.
It’ll be written by Beau DeMayo (who scripted episode 3 of The Witcher season one), and it focuses on Vesemir, Geralt’s mentor. He’ll be familiar to anyone who knows the games and the books. It’ll be animated by Studio Mir, which was behind the acclaimed Legend of Korra series. The story will take us “back to a new threat facing the Continent.”
Now we know Kim Bodnia is playing Vesemir in The Witcher season 2, our prediction is he’ll voice him here too. An official synopsis was added to Netflix for Nightmare of the Wolf, which was later pulled. “Long before mentoring Geralt, Vesemir begins his own journey as a witcher after the mysterious Delgan claims him through the Law of Surprise.”
The Witcher season 3 looks likely, too
The Witcher could run on Netflix for a long time. Hissrich claims to have thought out ideas for a massive seven seasons. And we’re pretty certain there’s enough source material left for that to be viable.
We’ve got the entirety of Geralt, Ciri and Yennefer’s stories to play out. It takes them across The Continent to a rich variety of locations and introduces us to some of the best fantasy characters around. Ciri’s development is a great basis for future tales in The Witcher universe that combine themes of family and love, and mystery and magic.
There’s plenty of books and external material for the creators to draw on, so it stands to reason we can expect to see more of them adapted into animated shorts or multiple seasons.
Hopefully, the series doesn’t overstay its welcome…
The Witcher feels like it’s here to stay on Netflix
The first season of The Witcher shrugged off the idea that it was just here to replace Game of Thrones. It confidently told stories in its own way and presented a fantasy world that has already captures people’s imaginations. And, while we are unlikely to see much spillover from the games – they are not really canon according to Sapkowski but rather a “free adaptation containing elements of [his] work” – we know fans will enjoy various subtle references to the series, as they did in season 1.
If it’ll help pass the time until season 2, you can listen to the official version of ‘Toss a Coin to your Witcher’ on Spotify.
If you want more Witchery goodness in your life, then you can, of course, read the books cover to cover. Another excellent way to get your fix is to play the games. Generally, the first one isn’t all the impressive but still good if you’re a die-hard fan – Witcher II did things a lot better and gives you one heck of a political intrigue story alongside all your monsters.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, however, is by far the greatest Witcher game out there. Nothing is more satisfying than the feeling it cultivates as you travel around the world and help imperilled villagers, for a price of course.