REVIEW: The Witcher: S2 E1: A Grain of Truth

the witcher

Welcome to the recaps of The Witcher Season 2 for Grimdark Magazine. I’m Ryan, and I enjoyed the first season of this show a lot. I haven’t read the books so a lot of the plot points will be coming at me for the first time. That said, this episode, A Grain of Truth, is taken from the story of the same name in Sapkowski’s The Last Wish.

the witcherSeason 2 of The Witcher has dispensed with Season 1’s timeline shenanigans. It still maintains two story arcs, of Yennefer after the Battle of Sodden Hill, and Geralt of Rivia after he finally meets Ciri. Yennefer’s plotline in this episode felt like a bit of wheel-spinning until the end, so more on her in the next recap.

Ciri and Geralt are still figuring each other out, and though she seems to view him as a protector, they haven’t quite developed a full familial bond yet. She’s still lonely and misses her family and Cintra. Geralt, meanwhile, believes that Yennefer died at Sodden, and while he keeps things close to his chest, he’s clearly mourning.

On their way to Kaer Morhen, they arrive at a small wintry town. Before they enter Geralt notices that not only are there no guards, there are no barking dogs. Luckily, Geralt knows someone who lives nearby, because Geralt always knows someone—it’s one of the features about him I like most. It makes sense that a wandering monster hunter would happen to befriend some of the people he helps, an attitude that doesn’t ignore the ‘Witchers are despised’ belief prevalent in the setting so much as underpin it. The world is a large place and people are not a monolith.

the witcherGeralt and Ciri’s story largely takes place at this old friend’s manor house, and this entire sequence is exceptional. His friend, Nivellen, has been cursed, but won’t talk about it. He seems outwardly gregarious and inwardly hiding something, and the actor, (Kristofer Huvju, Tormund from Game of Thrones) absolutely nails it despite the prosthetics. The sequence where he and Geralt play a drinking game based around throwing daggers at a painting of Nivellen’s father was a highlight of the episode. Each time either of them gets a dagger in, they can ask a question and get a truthful answer. But Nivellen is clearly playing Geralt as much as he’s playing their drinking game.

While he turns to have a few secrets, the most notable is that he has a Bruxa, a vampire, living at his manor.

Her introduction is creepy, and the creature design is exceptional, some of the best the series has done. Her motions are uncanny in the best way, giving a real sense that she is indeed something monstrous. But when she talks she quite clearly states that while she is a monster, she has done nothing that humans don’t do. That tension has always been at the heart of this series.

Check Out Our Reviews for Season 1

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Ryan is a mid-30s nerd, married, with two kids. Also two cats–Cathulhu and Necronomicat. He likes, in no particular order, tabletop gaming, board games, arguing over books, ancient history and religion, and puns. You can find him as unconundrum on reddit.

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