For those who couldn’t keep up with season 1 of The Witcher, rest assured that season 2 is a different beast. The bulk of the season rids itself of the complicated timeline that some found too convoluted, and probes deeper on relationships between its player for those worried the show is not emotionally deep enough.
But The Witcher also has fun with the critical response thanks to a brief scene with Jaskier the bard. In episode 4 of the new season, “Redanian Intelligence,” Jaskier is tasked with sneaking aboard a ship so he can give the all-clear to a group trying to escape to Cintra. He runs into a guard, whom he charms by telling the guard he’s, yes, that bard.
It’s all a very lovely fan interaction until Jaskier is about to walk away and the guard offers up a few final thoughts on certified lute jam, “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” and the plausibility of the story. “If you don’t mind me saying so, that one, it’s not your strongest.” The dock guard goes on to say the story was “a bit complicated” (it took him until the fourth verse to understand there were different timelines), the magic kiss was “a bit cheap,” he saw the dragon twist coming, and also: “The bit when the lute player ends up with the warrior ladies [...] didn’t really ring true for me, I must say.”
If that sounds like The Witcher writing staff snapping back at season 1 criticism, that’s because ... it is. But showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich says it’s all light-hearted.
“To us, it was so fun,” Schmidt Hissrich tells Polygon. “I love interacting with fans (probably a little bit too much at times) […] so I think that it’s really fun to say to fans, like, Hey, we heard you were listening like we’re not ignoring you!”
It felt right that Jaskier was the one facing the criticism. While the song certainly bounced around our world and theirs, it’s ostensibly Jaskier’s art. And, as we saw in season 1, Geralt couldn’t give a shit that the song of his exploits went platinum in the Continent’s version of that (keeping a bard well-fed and famous).
“Jaskier really is the storyteller of The Witcher, and is the one who’s putting himself out there and, you know, sort of retelling the story how he wants to tell it,” Schmidt Hissrich says. “And I thought it was so fun to have this guard poke holes in it and to have opinions and to be able to state them.”
To her, it’s all in keeping with the grand tradition of The Witcher world: “It’s so tongue in cheek and self aware, which is what [Witcher author Andrzej] Sapkowski does really, really well. And we want to bring that in.”