WarningMight contain spoilers.

Given that it arrived a lifetime ago, before the pandemic, it’s hard to remember much about the first season now except that I liked it with some qualifications. I was able to reconstruct my general impressions by watching Netflix’s handy recap and then the first episode of the second season, all of which reminded me I’d liked the show reasonably well apart from the gore and violence. I do remember being thoroughly confused by the three seemingly unconnected plots featuring Geralt in disparate scenarios until I understood—much later than everyone else—they were separate timelines. Very Westworld season 1 indeed.

I found Henry Cavill’s Geralt voice satisfyingly rich but forced (and far from seamless, since he can’t speak above a whisper without ruining the illusion), and his face ridiculous in that wig. He looks especially silly when he bares his teeth. In addition, while I’m deeply impressed by his effort and dedication, he resembles a bodybuilder in both size and shape here, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Obviously, Jaskier is great. No one wanted to see Geralt part ways with him. Joey Batey looks so much like Alan from the delightful comedy troupe Viva La Dirt League that I had to check the credits multiple times to be sure they were different people.

Renfri’s conversation with Geralt after meeting him at a bar, and the entire scene around it, are still my favourite part of the season. Her death by the end of the very first episode robs the show of one of its most compelling characters.

I wanted to see more of Triss, but instead we spend an absurd amount of time on Yennefer being gratuitously naked or seeking a means to have a baby, all of which is perhaps not the best treatment of a female character. That said, Queen Calanthé is an excellent, atypical woman in power who avoids falling into all the usual traps of being a ‘badass woman’ as seen through a man’s eyes.

By far the funniest episode is ‘Of Banquets, Bastards, and Burials’ with its use of the Law of Surprise. On the other hand, ‘Rare Species’ is rendered rather poignant and sad by Yennefer’s realization that they’re under a love spell, not to mention the dragon they hunt revealing itself to not to be the barbarous, uncaring monster they were led to expect.

I didn’t even register the changing shapes in the title until I read an article mentioning it.

I confess to initially struggling to disentangle my memories of this show from those of the unpleasantly grim Cursed and the enjoyable, fairly dissimilar Shadow & Bone . It strikes me that while The Witcher is a tonally darker show than either one of them—Cursed feels more bleak and terrible than dark in comparison—it’s a visually brighter one. That takes skill.