Although it’s common for any show to shift its characters into new arcs from year to year, The Witcher season 2 is about to completely alter the lives portrayed on screen for a couple of its most important characters. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich spoke to reporters along with Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan, who play Yennefer and Ciri, about how massively different the two women will be in the coming chapter, especially when compared to the seemingly unchangeable titular character, Geralt of Rivia.
Viewers could be forgiven, in fact, for thinking the powerful sorceress Yennefer had died at the end of The Witcher season 1 when she sacrificed everything to defeat the Nilfgaardian army. “After her victory at the Battle of Sodden, she’s captured,” Chalotra reveals. “Her whereabouts are unknown and she has to survive being a prisoner of war… She goes back to Aretuza and she has to navigate that situation there after everyone thought she had died. And we just get a lot deeper into Yennefer’s mind.”
Because Yennefer spent a significant amount of season 1 pursuing her desire to have a child, her new journey in The Witcher season 2 is bound to be a complete departure. “We know that she meets Ciri in this season which is exciting,” says Chalotra. “What’s lovely is that we established her background in season 1 and now I think the choices she makes in season 2 will resonate with people a lot more and hopefully they’ll be able to empathize with those choices this season.”
Chalotra seemed eager to share more about Yennefer’s upcoming journey in The Witcher season 2, but had to merely hint at what was to come to avoid spoilers. “She makes some unlikely alliances, and those alliances really change her way of thinking,” she teases. “All the experiences that she has in season 2 really change her, and you see those changes this season. I’m sorry I can’t speak more about Yennefer’s journey but from the get-go, it would be a spoiler to speak of anything that happens with her.”
Ciri, the exiled princess of Cintra, has been more obviously transformed in the trailer for The Witcher season 2 as she begins to fulfill the destiny with Geralt that was only alluded to previously, and Allan has adapted expertly to her changed role. “Part of the journey between Ciri and Geralt this season is also one that involves training to be a Witcher,” says Hissrich, praising Allan’s performance. “Freya would send me videos of herself learning to swordfight before we started production in season 2 and the stunt team was amazed because she’s just a natural.”
Hissrich felt bad, in some ways, that Ciri had to wait so long to realize the transformation that’s to come in The Witcher season 2. “I’ve joked a lot that in season 1, one of my regrets is that the Ciri story ended up being reduced to her kind of running from things all the time,” Hissrich says. “And my favorite thing in this season is that Ciri plants her feet and starts fighting back. It was amazing to see Freya in that role.”
Allan agreed with this sentiment and recalls sharing ideas for a stronger Ciri with the writers in The Witcher season 2. “It was exciting getting to do that because it did feel like in season 1 I was just running, running, running, and I was thinking, ‘I want a scene!’” says Allan. “We had plenty of chats, didn’t we, Lauren, about scenes? My goodness. Sometimes chats that last a whole day.”
Fans will get to see how Yennefer and Ciri have changed — and finally see them meet, establishing their own unique relationship — when The Witcher season 2 returns to Netflix on December 17, 2021.