The Henry Cavill-led fantasy drama suspended production in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, but is returning to production in the U.K. on Monday, Aug. 17. When we spoke to Hissrich in the spring, she said that she and the production team were doing whatever they could over Zoom to plan for the return. "Everything's sort of open ended, obviously," she shared at the time. "But we want to be prepared so that when it's safe to go back, we can hit the ground running."
So what exactly can viewers expect from The Witcher's eventual return to screen? Here are seven things Lauren Schmidt Hissrich revealed about Season 2.
1. Yennefer will be greatly changed when we see her again. The biggest cliffhanger The Witcher's Season 1 finale left us on was what happened to Yennefer (Anya Chalotra). The sorceress disappeared after the Battle of Sodden, when the mages faced off with Nilfgaard. While Hissrich wasn't able to confirm what happened to Yen or how she'll return, she was able to reveal that whenever we do see Yennefer again she won't be the same ice queen we saw in Season 1.
"The Battle of Sodden changes everything for Yennefer and when we find her in Season 2, she is in a much different place," Hissrich teased. "What we see come out in Season 2 is that passion that we saw her have, that passion to be alive and be part of something bigger. But she's doing it from a very different position. And we get to see Yennefer as a character where she is not fully wrapped up in the politics of Aretuza and the Brotherhood -- that she's acting more out of the passion of her soul at this point."
2. The show is ditching the confusing timelines. Now that Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer's stories have all caught up to each other, you'll no longer have to create some complicated tracking system to figure out what's happening across three separate timelines -- which will likely come as a huge relief to many viewers.
"The timelines are obviously one of the most controversial aspects of the show. I continue to be in love with them and will fight for them and be passionate about them. To me, it's the best way to tell the stories that I wanted to tell," Hissrich said. "I do hear that there was an audience out there that was a little like, "What the hell is going on? Why don't I understand this?" I think for those people, Season 2 will be a lot easier to follow. I think Season 2 aligns all of our characters on a similar timeline. We're playing with time a little bit still, but in a different way, an easier, I think, to swallow away."
3. Geralt and Ciri's relationship will experience some growing pains in an original storyline. The first season ended with Geralt and Ciri (Freya Allan) finally uniting and accepting that they were each other's destiny. However, in the books we actually skip from Geralt finding Ciri at Sodden to decently far into the future, once they've had enough time to go from strangers to a true family unit. But The Witcher won't be doing a time jump when it returns for Season 2. Instead, the show will fill in those gaps in an original storyline that will show Geralt and Ciri's relationship going through all the early growing pains that the books jumped past.
"We found in writing the show that we didn't actually want to skip over those first months of them getting to know each other," said Hissrich. "That's part of the fun, is to take these characters … who understand that they're each other's destiny -- not really embracing it, but accepting that this is what they need to do to continue walking through The Continent. And then see what would that really be like?"
The showrunner noted this would be a tough adjustment for Geralt -- who "has no experience with parenting, with children, with having any sort of continuous relationship in his life" -- but also for Ciri, who had just begun to embrace her independence toward the end of the first season. "And now we get to see her with that new attitude, with this kind of lovely stubbornness and grit that she's built over Season 1," Hissrich said, "but then give her a father figure who's suddenly going to start telling her what to do again." And we can only imagine how Geralt will react to an obstinate teen on his hands!
4. We'll get Geralt's backstory and meet his witcher family. The theme of family will also come into play when we meet the group of witchers that Geralt was raised with -- Coen (Yasen Atour), Lambert (Paul Bullion), Eskel (Thue Ersted Rasmussen), and Vesemir (Kim Bodnia), who is the oldest and most experienced witcher, and also the closest thing Geralt has to a father.
"And what a better time to meet Vesemir, his father, than when he's raising a daughter of his own. So we start to look back at who were Geralt's parenting models, what did his family look like? And what Season 2 becomes, to an extent, is what we got to do with Yennefer and Ciri in Season 1, which is explore where these characters came from," Hissrich said.
It's generally expected that Season 2 will adapt the first Witcher novel, Blood of Elves. This book includes a lot of scenes at the witcher homebase Kaer Morhen, which is where Geralt brings Ciri to hide out and train. This also means that in addition to understanding more of where Geralt came from, the show will also put a bigger focus on exploring witcher culture as a whole.
"I think that what's so interesting about witchers is we've established them as very solitary characters. We're told over and over again they don't have emotions. Of course, that's not true," she explained. "That's just what is said in The Continent so that people can defend their crew actions toward them. And the witchers wear that banner, it makes it easier for them to do their jobs too. We pull all of that back in Season 2, and we start to see what is a really tight brotherhood between these men and with Vesmir overseeing them. And then we start to see what happens when women are introduced into that world."
5. It will be a while before Ciri gains full control over her powers. The Ciri fans know from the books and video games is one of the most powerful people in The Continent. And though the show's version of Ciri will eventually grow into that same formidable figure, Hissrich isn't going to rush this transformation simply so the show can dig into the action faster. "We're really trying to savor it," she said.
Hissrich did acknowledge that Ciri wasn't as present in The Witcher's first season as she would have liked, and promised that Season 2 would be "digging in" with her as a character more, including her struggles to reconcile her identities as a princess, a young female ward of a witcher, and the possessor of powerful magic abilities she barely understands.
"That growth that you're describing, where she starts training, where she actually becomes the character that we know from the books and later from the video games, we will see her become that person. But she doesn't change on a dime," Hissrich explained. "What we don't want to do is forget where she came from. When we met her, obviously she was in a beautiful velvet dress and she had lived this life where everything was handed to her. And she does struggle with that. She internally struggles with this idea of what she used to be -- a princess -- and what she wants to be now."
6. We'll see new sides of Cahir and Fringilla. In addition to diving deeper into the world of witchers, Season 2 will also explore some of the supporting characters we met in Season 1 more in depth. We already know that Joey Batey (Jaskier), MyAnna Buring (Tissaia), Tom Canton (Filavandrel), Lilly Cooper (Murta), Jeremy Crawford (Yarpin Zigrin), Mahesh Jadu (Vilgefortz), Terence Maynard (Artorius), Lars Mikkelsen (Stregobor), Royce Pierreson (Istredd), Wilson Radjou-Pujalte (Dara), Anna Shaffer (Triss Merigold), and Therica Wilson Read (Sabrina) will all be back for Season 2. But of all the storylines in the new season, Hissrich said that some of the ones she enjoyed the most were about Eamon Farren's Cahir and Mimi Ndiweni's Fringilla, two of the most formidable figures fighting for Nilfgaard.
"One of the things that we worked hard at in Season 1 was to establish that Nilfgaard seems like our bad guys. They seem like our villains. What's fun in Season 2 is we start peeling back those layers a little bit more," Hissrich teased. "We start digging into what Nilfgaard actually wants and why Cahir and Fringilla, these characters that we love, feel like they are best served in this kingdom. And I think both of them get to show really surprising things this season. And characters that perhaps you leave Season 1 thinking no, no, no, they're the bad guys, I think we gain really a lot of new empathy for them this season."
7. There will be more video game Easter eggs. While The Witcher is an adaptation of the books and not the video games, the first season did include subtle nods that only gamers would pick up -- like that iconic bathtub scene -- and Hissrich promised to keep sprinkling in those little Easter eggs for fans in Season 2 and beyond.
"Absolutely, because we love the games," Hissrich said. "Obviously what we wanted to do is go back to the source material, not to do an adaptation of an adaptation. But it doesn't mean that we're not fans of the games ourselves, that we don't play them ourselves, and that we know that a huge part of our audience has only heard of The Witcher because of the video games. So we do, we want to pay homage to it, to them as often as possible. And also I've been to CD Projekt Red. I've met all of all of those really talented people there. And what they do is amazing. So if we can offer them a wink and a nod whenever we can, we will."
The Witcher Season 2 will premiere on Netflix in 2021.