Before the pandemic in early 2020, as we basked in the enjoyment after the release of The Witcher’s first season, one thing above all stood out: everybody just could not stop thinking about the bardic release of the year, “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher.” Its shadow lingers in the show’s newly-released second season, but The Witcher does an amicable job of following in its wake.
“Burn Butcher Burn” is one of a couple of Jaskier riffs we get in the second season, but it’s the strongest, and it’s our re-introduction to Joey Batey’s wandering musician after we last saw him abandoned by Geralt on the side of a mountain in the first season. Plenty’s changed for Jaskier: He’s got a new look, and he’s back on the tavern tour circuit, but “Burn Butcher Burn” shows that for all the front he puts on as the center of attention, he’s still very much hurt by Geralt’s betrayal.
It opens in quite a joking manner, touching on both the way Geralt and Jaskier parted ways last season, and of course, throwing a nod to his most infamous song along the way—something Jaskier, ever the businessman as he is an artiste, would do with no shame. But as the song builds, it becomes something of a fascinating mirror to “Toss a Coin,” a break-up song that sees him needle the un-named Geralt for what he truly yearns for in a world where he abandoned one of his few friends—unbeknownst that Geralt has found his purpose this season in safeguarding the young Ciri.
It’s quite vicious, with Geralt cast only by his infamous nickname: “Butcher”, as in the “Butcher of Blaviken,” after his brawl with Renfri in the early episodes of season 1. But as Jaskier growls his way through the crescendoing chorus—as he yells “burn, burn, burn” it turns melancholic, both the backing track and all the anger he felt in the moment at his former friend falling away, as he concludes that all he wishes to do is not burn Geralt himself, but the memories he has of him.
It might not be quite as catchy as “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher”, but it’s much more touching and character driven, and sets the stage for an altogether heartfelt reunion between Geralt and Jaskier in the season’s climactic episodes—while still being further proof that Jaskier might well be The Continent’s answer to Taylor Swift.
The Witcher season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
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