“The Witcher” Season 2 – First Look At Ciri Training At Kaer Morhen!

No, Geralt of Rivia’s fresh new look and upgraded suit of armor wasn’t a fluke: the entire cast of The Witcher has been absolutely thriving, as evidenced by our first look at Geralt’s apprentice/child of surprise, Ciri, in the new outfit she’ll be wearing in season two of the hit Netflix fantasy series. The Witcher‘s season one finale left off with Ciri and Geralt finally reunited after being linked to each other by a mysterious bond of destiny long before Ciri’s birth, and now we can see where Ciri’s destiny has led her: to the isolated castle of Kaer Morhen, domain of Vesemir and his small brotherhood of monster-hunting Witchers. Here, as in the books and video games, Ciri will train to become the first female Witcher in history while learning about her own magical powers.

The Witcher
Ciri | forbes.com

And that’s, of course, why the new images of Ciri revealed today on Netflix’s social media accounts show the usurped Princess of Cintra looking particularly stoic and grim while donning a practical suit of lightweight leather armor, wielding a small wooden practice sword, and tying her hair back into a braid because long hair whipping in your face and obstructing your vision probably isn’t a great idea in the heat of battle (*glances meaningfully at Geralt*). Unfortunately, since only a side-view of her costume is available to us, it’s impossible to see if any cool detailing or ornamentation has been worked into the front of Ciri’s new armor. My first thought was that this is unlikely, considering that the Witchers of Kaer Morhen seem like a relatively simplistic lot, but then again, Geralt did come out of there with a whole set of abs sculpted into his armor, so anything’s possible, I guess?

What’s immediately clear is that this particular outfit, at least, is only loosely inspired by the video game version of Ciri, and even that’s a stretch. In The Witcher games, Ciri’s look has become iconic: the choppy silver hair, the loose, long-sleeved white shirt and assortment of extremely large belts…many fans of the games have been hoping to see some version of this adapted to live-action, but it looks like they’ll have to wait a while longer. The Netflix version of Ciri’s Witcher outfit appears to be more armor than travel wear, and it would be rather bizarre for her to be wearing thin shirts in the middle of winter while snow is falling. The behind-the-scenes photos revealed recently did show Ciri wearing what could have been an outfit more directly inspired by the games, but this seems to be that same outfit (the long, gray-green sleeves are identical), and these high-quality images confirm that this is not going to be much like The Witcher video game version of the character.

The Witcher
Video game Ciri (right) | pcgamer.com

Instead we can be certain that this season, like the first, will draw most heavily from the original books by Andrzej Sapkowski. With the books as our guide, we can predict that Ciri will be trained by Vesemir, despite suffering from recurring nightmares, hallucinations, and visions of impending death. She’ll encounter the Mage Triss Merigold (who had a small role in season one), and the kind-hearted sorceress will also aid in her training, teaching her the Elder Speech (the language of most magic users in The Witcher universe). Throughout season one of The Witcher, Ciri would randomly cause outbursts of chaotic and destructive magic whenever she felt threatened, usually triggered by her screams, and I thoroughly believe that the show will delve into the explanation for that a little bit more in season two: in the books, Ciri’s incredible power derives from her being a “Source”, a person born with untapped resources of magic due to their Elven heritage. The first official synopsis for season two, released yesterday, mentioned that it’s Geralt’s responsibility to protect Ciri from her own power, and it also intriguingly referenced wars between elves and humans in the world outside Kaer Morhen’s walls. In season one, there were a couple of Elven characters and a handful of times that we actually got to observe their ways, but season two might do a better job of exploring the Elven societies that exist within this universe, and how Ciri fits into their delicate political situation.

Another important event in Ciri’s character arc is her first meeting with the Mage Yennefer of Vengerburg. In the show, Ciri hasn’t met Yennefer yet (although she has had some sort of vision of her: her last line in season one was literally “Who’s Yennefer?”), and Geralt currently believes the Mage to be dead following her disappearance at the Battle of Sodden Hill, which suggests to me that bringing Ciri and Yennefer together will be a main plot-point in season two. Personally, I’m hoping that they meet sometime before the season two finale, but it’s probable that, no matter when or how it happens, it will be a life-changing event for both characters: Yennefer has always wanted a child, and in the books she becomes like a mother figure to Ciri, while also acting as her mentor and traveling with her across the Continent. Ciri, for her part, never really had a chance to know her own mother, and so Yennefer will begin to fill a void in Ciri’s life. As much as I’m excited to see how Geralt and Ciri interact, I’m even more curious to see what kind of dynamic will exist between the two women. The Witcher has done a great job fleshing out its female characters and making them complex and interesting, and I expect that to continue as more women join the mix and begin to form more compelling relationships.

The Witcher
Ciri’s sword | Twitter @witchernetflix

Thankfully, we won’t have long to wait before we see what Yennefer herself has been doing ever since she vanished in a burst of fire and smoke at Sodden Hill, because more first look images are coming tomorrow, and will probably reveal the Mage in all her glory. The question of what exactly happened to her has weighed heavily on the minds of all The Witcher‘s fans ever since the season one finale: but the likelihood, in my opinion, is that Yennefer was able to weakly manifest a portal and make her escape while everyone was distracted by the flames she summoned to obliterate the Nilfgaardian army. But why? And where did she go? These are the questions I hope to have answered sooner rather than later.

So what do you think? How do you feel about Ciri’s new look? And which character from The Witcher are you most excited to see return in season two? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“The Witcher” Season 2 First Look – Geralt Gets An Upgrade!

The Witcher is back – and apparently, a couple of months in quarantine and self-isolation have done him wonders, as he’s emerged with a fabulous new look and a costume upgrade. I can’t say the same for the rest of us, but I’m excited to see some small signs of normalcy returning: it’s been months since The Witcher and virtually every other film and TV production around the world got delayed due to the sudden advent of the coronavirus crisis, and only just recently has filming been able to resume, with new safety protocols in place on set. Thankfully, the team at work on The Witcher‘s upcoming second season have been unusually generous, and have already gifted us two first look images of our fan-favorite protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher himself.

The Witcher
Geralt of Rivia | geektyrant.com

Henry Cavill is returning as expected to the popular role, but The Witcher costuming department has received a bit of a shake-up, with Lucinda Wright replacing Tim Aslam as lead costume designer. Wright, known best for her work on Doctor Who and a multitude of fashionable period pieces, has already brought a fresh, eye-catching new style to the fantasy series’ clothes, putting Geralt into a practical suit of armor. For much of season one, Geralt traveled around the Continent wearing loose-fitting or comfortable clothing: such as the now-iconic baggy shirt/tight leather pants combo (the subject of many a meme), and the padded leather pauldrons and breastplate, but season two appears to be heading into darker, grittier territory – Wright’s new design for Geralt’s outfit features almost Greco-Roman sensibilities, with armor sculpted around Henry Cavill’s muscles (a wise decision, since in season one, his muscles actually wore down his leather armor), and covered all around in studs and straps. He strikes an imposing figure, with his distinctive new silhouette.

My only complaint is with his new set of plated pauldrons: the armoring which covers his shoulders and upper arms. Even in season one, they didn’t look great, but these ones are slightly more unattractive, if I’m being honest. Then again, I’ve never been a big fan of pauldrons in any form: it’s an aesthetic thing. They’re usually too big and too bulky. Unfortunately, they’re also usually the first thing that I notice when I look at any suit of armor, as is the case here. Thankfully, a closer observation turns up many interesting little details on Geralt’s new costume that I do find genuinely exciting: for instance, his new thigh belts come with a whole bunch of sheathes, which I suppose are meant for knives and daggers. The sculpted detailing has already gone over very well with the fandom, which never misses an opportunity to lavish praises on Henry Cavill’s physique. As a side-note, Cavill’s silver wig also looks a lot better this time around: the long, tousled mane can be hit-or-miss depending on circumstances, but these photos caught it in a perfect state of realistic disarray.

The Witcher
Geralt of Rivia | ign.com

Along with the new look, Netflix has also given us a brief synopsis for season two, which confirms a little bit of what we already knew: in their words, “Convinced Yennefer’s life was lost at the Battle of Sodden, Geralt of Rivia brings Princess Cirilla to the safest place he knows, his childhood home of Kaer Morhen. While the Continent’s kings, elves, humans and demons strive for supremacy outside its walls, he must protect the girl from something far more dangerous: the mysterious power she possesses inside.” In the books, Cirilla (or Ciri, the name most people know her by at this point) is raised at Kaer Morhen to become the first female Witcher, and behind-the-scenes photos have already shown the Cintran princess sporting what looks to be an almost video-game-accurate outfit while training in the forest. This short synopsis also indicates that we won’t see Yennefer and Geralt reunite until later in the season, although we’re all pretty certain Yennefer isn’t dead despite expending all her chaos magic in defense of Sodden during the season one finale. Hopefully this just means Yennefer will have her own independent subplot happening simultaneously with the Geralt and Ciri arc: I would hate to have to wait throughout most of the season to see her again, after she was the best character in season one.

The Witcher
Geralt of Rivia | gameinformer.com

Netflix’s social media accounts have already hinted that we’ll get further material in the coming days: probably first look images for both Ciri’s armor and Yennefer’s new look (unless they’re keeping her resurrection more of a surprise, which I hope is not the case). There’s also a chance we might see Jaskier the bard again – in-universe, it’s been years since he was last seen, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s aged at all, or if The Witcher really is just going to ignore that entirely. And with new spinoffs being considered and greenlit (a new one, focusing on The Continent’s order of Mages, was unofficially revealed just a few days ago), it looks like we’ll have much more Witcher content coming our way in no time. This first look is just the beginning.

What do you think of Geralt’s new suit of armor, and how do you feel it compares to his season one look? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“The Letter For The King” Review!

Considering that I went into The Letter For The King expecting to be bored out of my mind, I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with what I got: which, indeed, is mostly a blend of various tired fantasy tropes and scenes or even entire characters plucked straight from other, better, works of art, but also has just enough new – or mostly new – content to distance itself from the pack.

Based on an obscure Dutch fantasy novel from the 1960’s, The Letter For The King simply doesn’t have the name recognition that would enable it to jump into the midst of Netflix’s crowded schedule with a built-in fanbase. In English-speaking countries, there wasn’t even a proper translation of the novel until a few years ago. So it’s unsurprising that the six-part series has to look for inspiration elsewhere: almost the entire plot is comprised of original content, and almost all of that original content is…shall we say, lifted, from fantasy books, films and TV series as wide-ranging as The Lord Of The Rings, Game Of Thrones, The Witcher, The Chronicles Of Prydain and Starlight. The latter two, with their largely simplistic worlds, basic magic systems, and archetypal characters, are by far the most obvious source material – even with Lord Of The Rings trilogy production designer Ra Vincent working behind the scenes, The Letter For The King still looks and feels like a small-scale children’s fable (and that’s not a criticism of Prydain or Starlight, by the way: both are fabulous) that might have attracted more attention if it had been released fifteen years ago, when studios were trying desperately to replicate the success of The Lord Of The Rings by using as little money and effort as possible. These days, as the hunt for the next Game Of Thrones heats up, The Letter For The King, with its antiquated fairytale style and low stakes, has little chance of being an underdog champion like its protagonist, Tiuri (alternately pronounced “Tiuri” or “Churri” – I doubt it was intentional, but the constantly changing pronunciations of his name often reminded me of a similar problem in Ralph Bakshi’s cult classic The Lord Of The Rings, where the villain Saruman’s name was changed halfway through production to “Aruman”, leading to a perplexing continuity error).

The Letter For The King
flipboard.com

Oftentimes, adaptations of fantasy and sci-fi literature fail because they try to excessively build their worlds rather than doing the same with their characters or plot: cramming detail and deep lore into every inch of your expansive world is certainly much more fun than patching up plot-holes or charting character arcs, but if done incorrectly, it can bog down a film or TV series within minutes, as the audience struggles to catch up with a constant flow of place names, history lessons and nonsensical exposition dumps. The Letter For The King somehow does the exact opposite and still runs into a problem: because it does the bare minimum to flesh out its world (for example, the world actually has no name: its simply referred to as “three kingdoms”), it ends up looking like any of a thousand generic fantasy worlds – a sprinkling of vague magic, Medieval European societies dotting a map, and an obligatory Chosen One prophecy.

But once it becomes apparent that this is a problem (about five minutes in, I think?), the show starts hurling things at you that give the impression of depth: specifically, actors from other fantasy franchises. David Wenham, who portrayed Faramir, the young, idealistic son of a stern and demanding father, in The Lord Of The Rings, has here been upgraded to playing the stern and demanding father of a young, idealistic son (and make no mistake: he does a fantastic job of it). Andy Serkis, whose revolutionary motion-capture performance as the creature Gollum earned him worldwide renown, here delights in a brief cameo as an actual human being: something of a mix between the Master of Lake-town from The Hobbit and Capricorn, the villain of Inkheart (who, coincidentally, was also portrayed by Serkis in the film adaptation of that novel). Serkis’ daughter Ruby Ashbourne Serkis also shares the screen with him, playing his character’s daughter Lavinia, and then goes on to become the female lead of the series – her acting career is off to a good start, judging by the strength of her performance here. And in a very smart move, Kim Bodnia plays the sword-fighting abbot of the monastery at the edge of the world: Bodnia will portray the Witcher Vesemir in The Witcher‘s second season, and this is a tantalizing first look at what he could do in that role – Witcher fans would be smart to check out his fighting and acting skills here, and simultaneously give The Letter To The King some much-needed views.

The Letter For The King
ign.com

Because despite being derivative, the series actually does have quite a lot of strong elements: especially if you’re into the more romanticized, outdated style of fantasy that was popular throughout the middle of the 20th Century. It has charm, for one thing – the series is TV-PG and family-friendly: a welcome break from The Witcher‘s gothic horror and Game Of Thrones‘ vicious brutality. And the core cast of characters are all fairly well developed: Tiuri, played by Amir Wilson, isn’t exactly a memorable hero, but he’s also not quite as dull as Starlight‘s Tristan or Prydain‘s Taran (what’s with all the T names, may I ask?). His character also has interesting things to say regarding the racial dynamics in his world – none of which ever actually get said, but still exist in subtext. Thaddea Graham’s hardened rogue Iona evolves into an Arya Stark prodigy (her final scene in the series actually seems to direct imitate one of Arya’s memorable scenes with The Hound from Game Of Thrones, season 8). Jussipo, initially one of the most annoying characters in the series, quickly shows his true colors as a delightfully smarmy, wickedly sarcastic bard. And along with gender and racial diversity, there’s even some surprising LGBTQ+ representation among the main cast – which, after all the recent queer-baiting from other studios, deserves a round of applause for how direct and straightforward it is.

The Letter For The King
decider.com

Any good fantasy needs a good villain – a Cersei Lannister, a Smaug, a wicked old witch. The Letter For The King has an up-and-down relationship with its villain, Gijs Blom’s raven-haired goth necromancer Viridian: first it depicts him as a cartoonishly callous sadist without any moral complexity; then it tries to turn the tables on our heroes and reveal Viridian’s noble purpose, which actually works until said noble purpose turns out to be thinly-veiled racism; then it underutilizes him in its own finale before turning him into an overpowered Morgoth knock-off.

Speaking of which, we have to talk about the series’ poor use of action. Action, in a fantasy series, is something of a given: even if its special effects wizardry, you need some sort of action. The Letter For The King, being almost exclusively the story of Tiuri intercepting an incriminating letter from Viridian and trying to deliver it to a neighboring nation’s king, relies heavily on horseback fight and chase scenes. Now, these are easy to do right, with the help of a good cinematographer: in The Lord Of The Rings, Arwen and Frodo’s flight to the fords of Bruinen is a thrilling, suspenseful sequence where horses interlace between trees in a graceful, dangerous dance while Howard Shore’s score wails hauntingly in the background. Unfortunately, the thousands of horse chases in this series never once come close to paralleling that one epic scene, no matter how many times they pan over beautiful landscapes: the music accompanying these scenes is unmemorable, while the cinematography is questionable – mounting a camera on a horse’s head probably seemed like a good idea to make one chase scene more realistic, but did no one stop to consider that it takes the viewer out of the world completely?

It’s the same situation with the special effects budget. Most of the CGI seems to have been used up on Viridian’s finale transformation, meaning that throughout the rest of the series there’s just a bunch of patchy fire and smoke effects and one truly horrific CGI castle wall in the city of Unauwen – which was made doubly inexcusable because of how many times the city was made out to look like Game Of Thrones‘ Winterfell from afar, despite the fact that the one is a mess of bad special effects and the other was an almost entirely practical set.

So is The Letter For The King a must-see? Not by any means. But while we’re all self-quarantining, I don’t know if we’ve got any better options right now. And it’s actually not that bad. Pretty bad? Yeah, just a little. Game Of Thrones season 8 bad? No. Not even close.

Series Rating: 6/10

“The Witcher” Season 2 Full Cast Revealed!

Yes, we’ve been receiving a steady influx of casting updates from both The Witcher‘s official social media accounts and outside sources for a couple weeks now, and Netflix themselves recently revealed a long list of new faces joining Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and Freya Allen in the fantasy phenomenon‘s hotly-anticipated second season, but there was something missing: all these cast lists and leaks were incomplete without an actor locked in for the critical role of Vesemir, which was why I refrained from covering any of those castings – until today, now that Vesemir too has been cast.

The Witcher‘s second season has already begun production, and filming is currently underway. Most of the characters we now know and love (or hate, in certain cases) from the first season will be returning, including Joey Batey as the bard Jaskier, who became a viral sensation; MyAnna Buring as the steely sorceress Tissaia; Mahesh Jadu, Lars Mikkelson, Mimi Ndiweni, Anna Shaffer and Therica Wilson Read as the mages Vilgefortz, Stregobor, Fringilla, Triss and Sabrina, respectively; Eamon Farren as the villainous Cahir; and Tom Canton as the Elf-King Filavandrel. But The Witcher‘s second season will feature the debut of characters both new and well-known, and a number of fan-favorites from both the source material (the Polish fantasy novels), and the thing that everybody thinks is the source material but isn’t (the incredibly popular video game trilogy).

The Witcher
netflix.com

Kristofer Hivju, best known for portraying the lovable barbarian Tormund Giantsbane on Game Of Thrones, is set to play Nivellen, a character best described as a much more terrifying version of Disney’s The Beast. Transformed into a ghastly were-bear by a priestess’ curse, Nivellen hides in his mansion in the woods, until the day he catches a man stealing a rose from his garden which leads to…you get the idea, right? Basically, only true love can lift Nivellen’s curse, and true love is in short supply in The Witcher‘s dark and monster-infested world. Hivju, with his large, bearish build and bushy facial hair, will be the perfect fit for this role.

Agnes Born plays Vereena, who will appear only in the season’s first episode. Without giving away too many spoilers, Vereena is one of several women who come to lift the curse laid upon Nivellen: but she has her own secrets, and she’s not quite the Belle to Nivellen’s Beast.

Mecia Simson will take on the role of Francesca Findabair, the Elven queen of Dol Blathanna and one of the Continent’s greatest sorceresses. In the books, she lives a life of secrecy, and not much is known about her origins or her fate, but it seems that Netflix will try to flesh out the character further, as their breakdown for the character mentions her having a strong bond with her child. I have faith in showrunner Lauren Hissrich’s ability to develop complex and nuanced women, and I hope that Francesca will be another one to add to the list alongside characters like Yennefer and Ciri (of whom, the former is one of Francesca’s rivals). Simson has already been spotted onset, in scenes with Filavandrel.

Aisha Fabienne Ross will portray a minor character named Lydia van Bredevoort: the personal assistant of Vilgefortz, Lydia will likely have a small but pivotal role, as her breakdown specifies that she “Carries out a horrible deed”. Lydia is horribly scarred, but uses magic to create the illusion of a beautiful face for herself.

Three young Witchers will show up: their names are Eskel, Coen and Lambert, and they will be played by Thue Ersted Rasmussen, Yasen Atour and Paul Bullion, respectively. Coen is likely the most important of the three, as he will be responsible for helping to train Ciri in the ways of the Witchers.

No actors have yet been cast in the very important roles of Sigismund Dijkstra the spy, or the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, both of whom will probably be major players in the events of Season 2. However, the most crucial character in this season has just been cast today, and that is none other than the legendary Witcher, Vesemir.

Vesemir The Witcher
forbes.com

Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir was briefly mentioned during flashbacks in Season 1, but has yet to appear onscreen: and soon after the first season’s success, the internet collectively decided that Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame, was the best choice to play the coveted role. Hamill, being a cool, casual guy, was completely onboard with the idea, as was Hissrich – and supposedly, the two entered talks to negotiate a deal. Either the deal fell through or it never happened in the first place, because Hamill will not be playing Vesemir: that role will instead go to Kim Bodnia, best known for his work on Killing Eve. Bodnia isn’t quite as recognizable and eye-catching as Hamill would have been, but he’s still a well-respected actor who is more than capable of carrying what are sure to be the second season’s most powerful dramatic moments.

What do you think of the cast for The Witcher, Season 2? Who are you most excited to see in action? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!