The Witcher was a massive hit for Netflix, dominating their end-of-year lineup and wowing audiences around the world. But on launch it seemed like the show might end up being something of a dud. Early reviews weren’t particularly positive, with a lot of criticism aimed at the series for being difficult to follow due to its split timelines. It ended up at 67% on the Tomatometer, though audience ratings were much higher at 92%.
I think those critics simply didn’t give it a fair shake, though. The timeline wasn’t insanely difficult to figure out if you paid a little attention to the characters and it was at least ambitious. There were also some really neat moments where characters who’d died in a previous episode appeared again, with new context being applied to actions we’d already seen. Perhaps the show could have avoided some confusion with title cards saying when each scene took place, but that feels inelegant.
Fortunately for critics with short attention spans, they won’t have to contend with this in the second season. Showrunner Lauren Hissrich discussed the intersecting timelines in a recent interview, explaining that now that the three principals are together, they can follow one story:
Obviously, it was one of the most controversial parts of Season 1 and I didn’t expect it to be as controversial as it was. But it’s something I still stand behind, in terms of storytelling. … The goal was to get to know each of these characters individually, and the only want to do that was to separate their timelines.”
What’s great though is they have intersected now. So what we’ll see in Season 2 is that all of our characters are existing on the same timeline. What that allows us to do storywise though is to play with time in slightly different ways. We get to do flashbacks, we get to do flash-forwards, we get to actually integrate time in a completely different way that we weren’t able to do in Season 1.
Because, if you can imagine, if we were in three different timelines (in Season 1) and then flashed forward or flashed back, we would have been in four or five or six timelines — even I know that’s too much. So I think it will be a lot easier for the audience follow and understand, especially a new audience coming in. But there are still going to be some fun challenges with time.”
I’m really looking forward to seeing where The Witcher goes in season 2, though it seems that we’re going to be waiting longer than anticipated. COVID-19 shut down every major production shooting in the UK and this particular series actually had a case on set. This resulted in the cast and crew going into isolation and the set undergoing a full deep clean. Lockdown restrictions are beginning to lift though and we’ve heard whispers that production will resume in August.
As such, expect The Witcher season 2 in early 2021. Let’s hope it’s worth the wait.