This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Special Collector’s Issue, which is available for international pre-order online at SciFi2021.com and available nationwide on newsstands now.
The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich previews Season 2 and discusses fans’ critiques.
Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories swing from paranormal horror to dark comedy. How do you strike a balance onscreen?
Lauren Schmidt Hissrich: In Season 1, especially with all of those short stories from Sapkowski’s The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, we embraced different tones. Going into Season 2, it had been my intention to keep doing it that way, let it go with the flow, but the stories are a little bit more intense. We lean into those darker elements, and I think they perfectly suit the stories. The only thing we really tried to be consistent about was keeping [Geralt’s] sense of humor.
In Season 2, we get to meet Geralt’s Witcher brothers. Do we see more emotion from him?
What I think is so fascinating is the debate around Witchers’ emotions. It’s easier to pretend they don’t care what anyone thinks about them after they kill someone. Then you introduce Ciri into this—this vulnerable teenage girl who’s lost everyone—and you get to see more range. The Witchers still kill monsters, even if they care about Ciri.
How important is it for you to listen to fans?
I think it’s incredibly important. But spend a day on my Twitter feed and you’ll see that the fans themselves are not in agreement. What I try to pay attention to is when [a lot of people] seem really disappointed. I think, “OK, why did I make that choice? Is it benefiting something that the audience doesn’t see yet?”
Which critiques hit the hardest?
One of the biggest I heard was that all Ciri did [in Season 1] was run all the time. I don’t want to take one of our main characters and constantly put her in a position where she is running from obstacles. We kept that in mind for Season 2.
But another big critique from Season 1, the [shifting timelines between episodes]—that one I fully stand behind. It was important for the show to tell the stories of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri within one season. If you didn’t futz with the timelines, that would have been impossible—and that’s not how I wanted to tell the story.
The Witcher, Season 2 Premiere, Friday, December 17, Netflix