blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Witcher (2019) s02e08 – Family

It’s the worst-case scenario for our heroes, with Henry Cavill racing to the Witcher Winter Wonderland where he’s sure an eternal evil spirit is after Freya Allan. Anya Chalotra is tagging along with Cavill, desperate to convince him she’s not just really sorry she was going to give Allan to that same evil spirit; she’s also now convinced her purpose in life is to help Allan. Live vicariously through Allan’s magic; it’s okay for Chalotra not to have magic of her own, she says. Cavill isn’t listening; if all the people last episode telling him to give Chalotra a chance got through to him, the current crisis has him pushing it away.

We know things are bad at the Witcher Winter Wonderland because Allan is dreaming she’s back in her old castle, back with old friend and protector Adam Levy (a first season favorite). And not just Levy, but Jodhi May’s actually back as well. The way they shoot the back of her head, it actually makes me wonder if she was the back of the head cameo a few episodes ago too. Everything’s just right in Allan’s memories, better than it ever could’ve actually been….

Which is good because, in reality, the evil spirit has possessed Allan, and she’s walking around the Witcher keep slicing every Witcher throat she can find. Good thing Cavill gets there in time to stop her from doing in Kim Bodnia; if she’d done Bodnia too, the very nice father and son arc for he and Cavill wouldn’t get its conclusion. Instead, it does; these two warriors are eventually able to bear their emotions to one another. It’s a great moment and possibly Cavill’s most successful of the season. “Witcher” is Cavill doing likable soulful brute amid better performances that caricature plays off.

Cavill and Bodnia and the rest of the Witchers have to fight Allan, who’s not done killing Witchers; she just wanted to take a break to make everyone sad about the situation. The evil spirit gets more powerful the more tragedy in the world—so when elf queen Mecia Simson abandons Mimi Ndiweni to go north and kill a bunch of human babies, it makes things worse for Cavill and Bodnia. Especially since Cavill’s trying to save Allan and just get rid of the evil spirit. Bodnia’s on the fence.

Chalotra and Joey Batey team up to do science stuff—a potion to separate the evil spirit—which is good because Cavill’s plan is to convince Allan to break through and regain control. Except Allan’s not just in her best memories, she’s in her best dreams—this world she’s found herself in doesn’t just have May and Levy alive; Allan’s also reunited with her parents. It’s everything she ever could’ve hoped for.

There’s a lot of political intrigue going on elsewhere—Eamon Farren convinces Ndiweni he’s a really smart co-conspirator, and they should lie about getting Simson and the elves on the warpath. There’s some more with plotter Graham McTavish, but surprisingly nothing about hundreds of babies incinerating or whatever. Given the epilogues have a whole new setting and job description for MyAnna Buring, it wouldn’t be surprising to discover some of the political machinations got cut.

We also get an idea of what Royce Pierreson will be doing next season, a surprise reveal for Farren and Ndiweni’s arc, and a continued delay on evil fire mage Chris Fulton’s employer. Guess the show only wants to have one unknown but known big twist villain at a time.

But at a certain point in the A-plot—which has Cavill and friends fighting some very nasty dinosaurs (you can tell they’re dinosaurs because of the feathers) before a convenient and well-executed resolution—it’s all just about the promise of season three. The episode checks in with the main cast to go over their responsibilities for next season. They could’ve had Batey make some quip about being ready for the next season and got away with it; the A-plot is so successful for Cavill, Allan, and Chalotra. While Chalotra and Cavill did action together last season, it was never epic. They’ve been building towards Cavill and Allan as a team this season, but always with a missing ingredient. Chalotra. Because they really are doing the surrogate family thing, and they’re leaning in on it.

There are some terrible CGI skies. “Witcher” has real problems with CGI skies.

But, otherwise, they’re set.

The wait between first and second season was fine because the first season was just entertaining and often problematic. However, this finale makes it clear the show knows what it’s doing, and it’s just getting bigger from here on out.

So it’s going to be a long wait for season three. Thank goodness they’re already renewed. Cavill does a fine job “leading” the show while Allan and Chalotra’s performances are getting better as their characters develop. Like, I said, they’re set.

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