The Witcher showrunner describes deleted scenes, teases season two

15 comments

It’s been a month since the release of Netflix’s The Witcher, and the Henry Cavill show has quickly become a huge success for the streaming service. With season two entering production this February, showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich has spoken to Vulture and Pure Fandom, describing some of season one’s deleted scenes, teasing the structure and plot of season two and explaining the biggest lesson her team learned from the reaction to season one. We’ve collected the highlights below.

In her interview with Vulture, Hissrich addressed a question about the structure of season two. Specifically, whether the show would continue to tell its story across multiple timelines. It seems that season two will be more linear, but the showrunner is open to playing with time again in future seasons.

“All three characters [Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer] are on the same timeline now. 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. I think that there is a lot that we couldn’t fit into season one. There are different short stories that I would love to highlight and focus on. We may end up doing those in the future, via flashback, for instance. But no, we won’t have things happening across 100 years at the same time anymore.”

Next, Hissrich was asked about the character Fringilla Vigo‘s involvement in season two. “You will absolutely get more Fringilla. What is interesting, referring back to your earlier questions, Fringilla is one of those characters that we’re going to delve into even more. One of the things that I did hear is that she seems like a fanatic or a zealot, which is interesting. I’ve never seen her that way, perhaps because, even by the time that we were putting it on the air, I knew where we were going with season two. 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. She gets to do a lot more. I’m so excited. Mimi Ndiweni did such a fantastic job portraying her.”

Another character who was discussed was the fan favorite bard Jaskier. Though Hissrich is clearly fond of the character, she admits that there were certain things about the books’ iteration of Jaskier that they knew they had to change in the show.

“This is something that [Jaskier actor] Joey Batey and I spoke about a lot. How do we take a character who loves women and not play him as a womanizer? We didn’t want to play him as someone who is just trolling around, taking advantage of helpless women. The solution was to not surround him with a bunch of helpless women who are standing around waiting to be taken advantage of.

“So as soon as you up the strength of the female characters in the show, then you will immediately up the strength of the male characters as well. This is something that is so misunderstood. Many think that if you have strong female characters, then obviously the men are weak. No. It makes men stronger too. Jaskier loves people. He loves women, especially. But what he loves is women who love him as well. It was easy for Joey to portray. Joey is someone who has a lot of natural joy in life. That’s what we tapped into for the character. What I love about this decision the most is that it’s taken away this idea of a sleazy, womanizing guy, and made him into someone that you root for. You root for him to find his true love … if that’s what he’s looking for.”

Vulture also asked the showrunner about the most important critique she has received for season one, from critics and fans alike, and whether that would shape their approach to season two.

“It’s one of the broadest ones, but it’s one of the ones that hurt the most when I read it. Some people feel that because we were putting in so much story, and because it was very important to me to present Yennefer early on, they felt like they didn’t get to go deep enough into any of the characters. They were trying to follow so much story that none of the stories emotionally resonated. Not everyone feels that way, but I have heard that critique enough for it to sit with me.

“We already know the stories we’re telling [for season two], but I want to make sure that we have the time to tell them appropriately. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is to make sure that the scripts aren’t too long. It’s a terrible thing when you shoot a story that you’re proud of, and then it’s 95 minutes long and you’re trying to fit it into 60 minutes of television. You end up cutting stuff that you know would be great, or would be important. Viewers are going to find that because we’re not trying to push as much story, and we’re not trying to constantly introduce new characters all the time, and new worlds, and new kingdoms, and increase the politics, sometimes we just get to sit with characters and learn about them a little bit more. And that’s probably the thing I’m most excited for people to see.”

FULL INTERVIEW: The Witcher Showrunner Looks Ahead to Season Two

Speaking to Pure Fandom, Hissrich described two of these deleted scenes, which she regrets removing from the show. “We had a lovely scene in Episode 103 where Yennefer, Fringilla, and Sabrina all discussed how they felt about their transformations, and looking back, I wish we could have kept it. It was such a gorgeous example of female friendship, and it also would have served to ground Fringilla a bit more before she joined Nilfgaard. We also filmed a scene of Yen meeting a very young Triss, who’d just arrived at Aretuza; it served to show how far Yennefer had come in her years at Aretuza, and created a sense of mentorship between these two sorceresses. Looking ahead at some stories unfolding in season two, I wish we still had those scenes! But I’m proud of what we accomplished in the time we had.”

We also filmed a scene of Yen meeting a very young Triss

“I wanted to meet Yennefer as a young woman,” Hissrich told Pure Fandom when asked about Yennefer’s arc. “To see the circumstances and experiences that built her into the tough, private, independent sorceress that we know and love from the books. The author, Andrzej Sapkowski, had planted small moments, flashbacks, thoughts in the books, glimpses into Yennefer’s younger life — but as a reader, what I was left to wonder was why Yen had tried to once kill herself at Aretuza, or how she’d grappled with the idea of a total physical transformation. Those were the most important scenes to me and the other writers: the why/how scenes. So we spent days in the writers room debating how Yennefer felt about ‘becoming beautiful’ — her conflict over the decision to change her appearance, her knowledge that it could influence her power and her station, her seeming sureness about what she’d have to lose, and her unexpected realization that she’d had a strong backbone all along.

“We dug around the void left in Yennefer by her abusive family, and wondered whether she and her mentor Tissaia de Vries could grow and shift in both painful and good ways to eventually become family to each other. And we debated how Yennefer had met Istredd, years prior to the ‘Shard of Ice’ story — specifically, what she needed from him and what he gave her, and how that on-again-off-again love could complicate her force-of-nature relationship with Geralt. I love these layers that we pulled from the books, and then expounded upon.”

Lastly, Pure Fandom asked Hissrich which fantasy elements she can tease for season two. “Oh! That’s a good question! 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.

FULL INTERVIEW: ‘The Witcher’ boss Lauren S. Hissrich talks deleted scenes and championing female-driven stories

15 comments on “The Witcher showrunner describes deleted scenes, teases season two”

  1. If “Fringilla” takes over the role of “Vilgefortz” – ten thousand fans will leave.
    It does not work. The complicated world is told like an ordinary story with 3 threads. The show should slow down. Please. There are hundreds of dialogues in the books that work. Don’t change them by force.

  2. I think she sometimes doesn’t understand the mosaic of characters created by Sapkowski. This story is so good not because of events but characters. It’s all about the characters. And I don’t see that her reasons are enough for such big changes. In her version of this story I feel the lack of consistency and realism of the behavior of the most important characters. Yen is well done, Jaskier too, but not Ciri and Geralt. Show more Geralt, let him be Geralt, stop make him “hm” and “fuck” all the time. Just tell the story from the book.

    1. Geralt hasn’t had many chances in the show to weave soliloquies like he tends to do.
      The over-development of B characters and the mismanagement of funds and shooting time meant that the only times that we got to see Geralt, he was in grandiose spectacles.

      Having a smaller scope for an episode or two will allow Geralt to more adequately express himself. Having “A Grain of Truth” put to screen will be a good chance for that. Just Geralt and Nivellen (maybe Ciri as well) having a conversation about the circumstances of his predicament will be a true test of Hissrich’s ability to channel Geralt’s personality.

  3. “You will absolutely get more Fringilla.

    🙁

    One of the things that I did hear is that she seems like a fanatic or a zealot, which is interesting. I’ve never seen her that way,

    ? Did you watch your own show?

    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.

    Why exactly it is necessary? Sapkowski managed to explain it in a short dialogue, but they’d need like 90 minutes of the show. And they would probably still fail.

    So as soon as you up the strength of the female characters in the show

    But you didn’t. Show Yennefer is actually weaker character than book Yennefer. As for the other characters, who exactly is very strong? Ciri who relies on her power which she doesn’t control, or Calanthe who is an idiot and a racist (she is neither in books, there she is actually cunning)?

    What I love about this decision the most is that it’s taken away this idea of a sleazy, womanizing guy, and made him into someone that you root for.

    He’s not sleazy, FFS

    Some people feel that because we were putting in so much story, and because it was very important to me to present Yennefer early on, they felt like they didn’t get to go deep enough into any of the characters. They were trying to follow so much story that none of the stories emotionally resonated.

    Because you didn’t go deep enough, the only character who has enough screen time to resonate is Yennefer, but she’s badly written, so…

    Viewers are going to find that because we’re not trying to push as much story, and we’re not trying to constantly introduce new characters all the time, and new worlds, and new kingdoms, and increase the politics, sometimes we just get to sit with characters and learn about them a little bit more. And that’s probably the thing I’m most excited for people to see.

    This is a very good idea. Question is why didn’t you do it in season one (besides Yennefer) when you introduced these characters?

    “We had a lovely scene in Episode 103 where Yennefer, Fringilla, and Sabrina all discussed how they felt about their transformations,

    Why didn’t you show that sorceresses other than Yennefer also changed?

    The author, Andrzej Sapkowski, had planted small moments, flashbacks, thoughts in the books, glimpses into Yennefer’s younger life

    Yes and he did it for a reason

    So we spent days in the writers room debating how Yennefer felt about ‘becoming beautiful’ — her conflict over the decision to change her appearance

    Conflict, lol. At least 95% of people would jump on an opportunity to become more attractive, there is no conflict there (of course you created it by making her to sacrifice her fertility for beauty)

    I love these layers that we pulled from the books, and then expounded upon.

    Onions have layers. Your show has only Shrek and Donkey

  4. So… Jaskier (and by extension Geralt) can’t be a womaniser as this is apparently a reprehensible trait for a character to have. Instead let’s have him sing a song (Toss a coin) that promotes the genocide of elves! Which is explicitly against his intentions in the book! As that’s a far more admirable character trait…

    Also, if Jaskier’s “true love” turns out to be their Essi Daven I will be so livid…

  5. Where is Gerald who talks too much where is his witty / sarcastic / funny character, she gave us an angry / angry / boring / wooden character

    Where’s Jaskier and his womanizing character, on the show he can’t even make a good flirt (Tea and Vea)

    Where is Vilgefortz?!? (At the Battle of Sodden Hill, he took command over the magicians of the northern kingdom)

    What Netflix was thinking of giving one of its biggest shows to someone like Lauren, she’s not just terrible as a scriptwriter / program director + she put her own personal views / ideologies on the show.

    1. You do make many good points Lucas. And speaking of more Fringilla for second season, heh do we really need more? Hell, Fringilla appears for the first time in Baptism of Fire which is FIFTH book of the series, counting two tomes of short stories, she gets her role in story later on, in second season we don’t need more of her it will inevitably take time away from the real meat of the second season, the Blood of Elves content, *sigh* short stories themselves are pretty easy to adapt into visual medium, but now they have a full blown novels with lots of minor subplots and a sprawling overarching plot, lots of minor characters who appear even later on, in the books sometimes pretty minor character could end up being somewhat important for the plot due to interaction with protagonists..for example marshall Vissegerd, appearing for the first time in Question of Price and he has a plot important scene later on in Baptism of Fire….and the Netflix show forgot this little character entirely, they cut out his presence :). How they are going to do that? That probably means massive changes, and with amount of things they chagned about Fringilla, things will be affected, and so changes will follow in events as far in the future as THE LAST book of saga. All the little things that script writers seem to forget, and this is the nature of source material. With how Fringilla was developed in first season it’s harder to imagine things going on like in book later on.

  6. However, all of these explanations (no excuses!) Don’t even matter. The point is that it’s okay to have a popular and well-loved character who does something irreverent, is wrong or makes a mistake from time to time. The dandelion (or anyone else, by the way) does not need to be perfect all the time and does not need to live fully according to our 21st century world standards, to be pleasant or relatable. And Sapkowski’s books prove it perfectly – every character we love has had its bad, ugly, weak or dumb moments, and it hasn’t ruined them for the audience. Quite the contrary, I would say.

    Lauren, trying to erase the characters’ flaws, to make them more acceptable and palatable, shows only that she has no faith in her audience and, even worse – she has no faith in the characters.

  7. I am very pleased that in 10 years this Netflix fiasco will be remembered in the same way as Hexer: As a bad idea, it was poorly executed, changed the source material a lot and is generally ignored by everyone except the most eclectic fans

  8. Now womanizer is not a virtue, but there is no reason to change that, he is a vain liar and a womanizer, but he is extremely loyal and has good qualities. This adds complexity to it.

  9. At that point, after seeing so many changes and listening Hissrich talking about more changes to fallow, I’m surprised she still tries to convince everyone how much she loves the lore and all the characters in it. Why even bother with calling the show The Witcher? Yennefer or Geralt In The Background would be more fitting.

    1. I didn’t like Dandelion in the books. He’s a high society goofball who wants to live vicariously through Geralt.
      I’m alright with having a nature vs nurture discussion about him; but, to me, Dandelion was just another wallflower at court, so he slums it with the peasantry to feel “real.”

  10. Hissrich thinks that people wouldn’t root for Jaskier, as according to her, he is a womaniser who prays on poor women; but it’s absolutely ok to make Yennefer to put an orgy spell on bunch of totally unaware and random people.

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