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.“