Following Episode One’s breathless introduction to The Witcher is a big ask. It’s one that episode two — Four Marks — doesn’t quite live up to, however, that doesn’t make it a bad episode. Far from it. Episode two of Netflix’s The Witcher introduces us to Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra). the series’ third most important player after Geralt and Ciri.
In the games, Yennefer is fully formed and already a powerful mage. However, her tragic and painful past is hinted at. In Episode Two, that painful past is fully played out.
Born a hunchback, Yen is shunned by her father and poorly treated by her family., Not feeling as though she has any place in the world she is subject to bullying and violence until she unlocks her incredible power.
The Witcher Review
After discovering her powers, she comes to the attention of The Brotherhood of Sorcerors and The Chapter who purchase her from her family. Taken away from the only home she’s ever known, Yen is subjected to more torture and rejection as she attempts to prove her worth.
Meanwhile, Geralt meets the bard Jaskier at a tavern and the two set out to capture a monster that has been stealing supplies. All is not as it seems though and Geralt and the Bard find themselves captives.
The episode draws great parallels between Geralt and Yen throughout. Both have incredible determination, strength and power yet both are powerless to use them under certain circumstances. Geralt refuses to use violence as a solution unless there is no other way whereas Yen prefers to shoot first and ask questions later.
There’s a vulnerability to these characters even though they possess these abilities and watching them think and talk their way through their predicaments is truly great TV.
Episode Two also gives us more time with Ciri who begins to see the fallout of the war between Cinta and Nilfgaard. Stumbling upon a refugee camp, Ciri joins her subjects without revealing who she is and is forced to listen to people decry her and her deceased grandmother and blame them for all their ills.
Episode Two works to make viewers realise that these three characters are more alike than they’d ever care to admit. It forces us to see how each of their journeys mirrors one another’s and how their strengths and weaknesses can and will play off one another in the future.
At this early stage in the series though, Geralt is the only character who is fully realised. Both Yen and Ciri have a long way to go, but you can see where they’re headed.
Episode Two of The Witcher is lighter on action than the first but it includes a lot more world-build, storytelling and scene-setting. It drives the overall narrative forward and helps to set up the destination for season one.
Getting to learn about Yenneder’s history in addition to watching Ciri learn how to survive is fascinating. And let’s not forget Jaskier. Brilliantly played by Joey Batey, I challenge you to not have ‘Toss a Coin to your Witcher’ stuck in your head for days.
After a phenomenal beginning, The Witcher slows down a little to focus on storytelling and narrative creation in Episode Two. It’s not as action-packed but it is essential.
The Witcher is now available to stream on Netflix.
Leo Stevenson was given preview access to five episodes of The Witcher by Netflix.
Name: The Witcher
Description: The witcher Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world in which people often prove more wicked than beasts.
- Yennefer's heartbreaking backstory - 9/109/10
- Jaskier is the perfect foil for Geralt - 8.5/108.5/10
- Less Geralt and more Yen-centric plot is a touch less exciting than episode one - 7.8/107.8/10