I listed out my thoughts on episode one, two and three of The Witcher season two in individual blog posts. Turns out when you have three off days and plenty of free time, you end up binging a show you love watching and the idea of doing episode-by-episode recaps becomes obsolete. So here I will spill out my thoughts on The Witcher‘s second season.
There are not multiple timelines in The Witcher season two, but there are a ton of new storylines and characters introduced. The stems of the plot all have their roots in Geralt and Ciri’s journey and relationship.
While I have yet to delve into the depths of the Internet and its interpretation of The Witcher season two, I have a sneaky suspicion that the majority of viewers were slightly disappointed.
By the end of season two, everyone important on The Continent wants a piece of Ciri for their own specific reason.
- Geralt wants Ciri to protect her and train her.
- Yennefer wants Ciri because she sparked a fire and desire in her that was lost.
- Vesemir wants Ciri because she has the elder blood which could keep the witcher race alive.
- Cahir & Fringilla wants Ciri because that was the quest that was bestowed up him by Emperor Emhyr.
- Sigismund Dijkstra and King Vizimir II of Redania want Ciri for political reasons; Vizimir would marry Ciri to have the rightful claim to Cintra.
- Emperor Emhyr of Nilfgaard wants Ciri because he is her father.
- Istredd wants Ciri because she is a scientific marvel and he wants to understand her powers for the monoliths.
- Tissaia and Triss want Ciri because she is immensely powerful and can either be a threat or an asset to the mages of Aretuza.
- The leader of The Wild Hunt, more formally known as Eredin Bréacc Glas, wants Ciri for the magical power that she possesses,
Ciri is the stir that is drinking everyone’s drink, whether she knows it or not. The Witcher season two puts more emotional weight on the princess of Cintra. Ciri’s power and her inability to control it in season two during her escape from Cintra has unleashed new hells upon The Continent. Evils not known to man, or to witcher, are now lurking amongst the innocent.
The powers of Ciri and the origin of the current state of The Continent are linked together. The Witcher season two illuminates the outer edges of the event known as the Conjunction Of The Spheres. When this “Big Bang”-esq even took place, it was a shattering event for the original inhabitants of The Continent. Essentially, the elves got fucked. The humans came onto the world, the elves taught them magic, and then the humans did the whole genocide and racism thing and really put damper on the whole situation.
So humans came from a different sphere and became monsters in the world that we know. We four limbed beings aren’t the only things that come through. Geralt, Vesemir and company are all on edge because there are monsters killing folks in fashions they have never seen before. The fist half of the season poses the question as to where they are coming from. In the second half, it all falls on the shoulders of Ciri, hence the more emotional trauma she must go through.
Remember in season one when Ciri escaped from Cahir outside of Cintra? She screamed creating a fissure in the earth. At the time it was just an example of her power, but it turns out that there was much more significance. In that screeching moment. Ciri tore down a monolith, a solid black obelisk made of thought-to-be unbreakable stone. This is best explained in episode five of season two when Geralt and Istredd go down into the fissure. Geralt believes that these monoliths strictly house monsters, but Istredd and his historical knowledge come up to a more radical hypothesis.
These monoliths that are scattered across The Continent are all conduits between The Continent and the other worlds. The other spheres. These monoliths shake, shatter and birth monsters whenever Ciri unleashes her magical talents. The monoliths act as amps for one person and one person only: princess Cirilla.
Now we know that CIri is power. Immensely so. But how powerful? That is illustrated in the final episode of The Witcher season two. Ciri can transport between spheres! Dudes, that is kind of a big deal. The final explosive finale of season two ends with Ciri transporting herself, Geralt and Yennefer to a truly foreign land. The Deathless Mother, who only wanted Ciri (and used Yennefer to get to her) to get home, leaves Yen’s body and cue the drumroll…THE WILD HUNT IS THERE and the oh-so intimidating Eredin Bréacc Glas as the the helm charging right towards the heroes.
Ciri gets the heroes back to Kaer Morhen in one piece, but The Continent is not going to be the same even with their return. Now more people are aware of what Ciri can do, and we the viewers know that The Wild Hunt are going to play a much larger part in the already developing The Witcher season three.
While we saw a glimpse of what the future is going to hold, we also got to see a bit of the past. Tissaia went into the mind of Ciri in an attempt for them to try and better understand what the young lady is and why she is so important. What was supposed to be a harmless venture into Ciri’s subconscious turns out to be much more.
During the haze we see a female elf sitting on the ground weeping under a tree holding a baby. That is Lara Dorren. She is important. She married a human mage after the conjunction of the spheres (which is a no-no for anyone who remembers the conflicts humans and elves had trying to get a hold of the now shared land. Doren’s husband was murdered before her child was born, and Doren died soon after giving birth. Her daughter was named Riannon, and she was adopted into Redania. Ciri is a decendent of Lara Dorren, one of a very few and very special. Dorren had the elder blood and Ciri is proof that is has been passed down through forgotten generations.
If you read the wiki lore, Dorren died on a hilltop fighting for Riannon onto the last moments. On that hill, despite it being blizzard like conditions, feainneweed flowers began to blood. Fans of the show should remember that this is the type of flower that spurts up whenever Ciri bleeds at Kaer Morhen. It is all tied together.
So I mentioned the kingdom of Redania. An afterthought in season one, now it is time for us to pay attention. One of the four major kingdoms, it is now time for it to play its pieces in the chess game of politics. Sure, King Vizimir II is the official ruler, but the master puppeteer is is Redania’s spymaster, Sigismund Dijkstra. He and his pet mage Philippa Eilhart hatch together plans that are clothed with being the betterment for the kingdom, but often serve selfish motives. The masters of espionage have eyes everywhere, including in Nilfgaard-occupied Cintra with Dara (recognize him from season one) and also amongst Geralt’s small friends circle. In the season finale Dijkstra says that it is about time his bard becomes useful to his plans, AKA Jaskier is now in his crosshairs.
Vizimir, Dijkstra and Philippa have the same enemy as many: The White Flame himself and the invading Kingdom of Nilfgaard. I think it is safe to say that Geralt will have a face-to-face meeting with Dijkstra in the upcoming seasons where they discover that they have a feigned alliance. Redania may want Ciri’s hand in exchange for help but whether or not they say that out loud is up for debate.
What has everyone on edge on The Continent? It is the country of Nilfgaard and their quest for land and power. Under the leadership of the White Flame, this country took down Cintra and nearly had more success if not for the mages at Sodden Hill. When the viewers are introduced Cintra of Nilfgaard guard it is through the eyes of Fringilla and Cahir.
Cahir spends a lot of time with a pair of mages this season. Let’s start with his ally…by necessity…Fringilla. The lieutenants of The White Flame are both fighting to regain respect following their fall at Sodden Hill. By the end of the season, their relationship is knotted together by Fringilla’s manic belief in a prophecy told to her by Voleth Meir.
We met this demon early on in the season and she was able to sink her pain-drawing nails into Fringilla, Francesca and Yennefer. In Fringilla’s sense, Voleth Meir promises Fringilla power and respect if she is able to garner a relationship with the elves and bring that allegiance to her superiors. With the fear of failure and rejection fueling her inner fire, Fringilla does broach a relationship with Francesca and her people; Francesca is willing to go along with this allegiance because she was told by the demon that the key to the elves success and reproduction is to get to safety under the protection of someone. Nilfaard and the elves have the mutual handshake.
So with that context, let’s turn our eye back to Fringilla in the confines of Cintra. While she was able to bring in the race that historically hates the humans most, the momentum isn’t lasting as long as she needs. Francesca gives birth to a baby elf, the first birth of an elf in generations. This miracle fuels belief amongst the elves and as a result, the gratitude for Nilfgaard’s protection begins to dwindle. The human leaders within the walls of Cintra are seeing their new residents partying in the streets and not coming for military training. Cue the resentment. Cue the same vicious human on elves mindset.
All shit hits the fan when the child of Francesca is killed in the night. The hope for the elves is slaughtered, as is their faith in Nilfgaard. Following the lines of cause and effect, this effects Fringilla as well, for her major play to garner The White Flame’s love is now gone. How does the mage handle this? Well, she poisons every one of the Nilfgaard generals and then kills them slowly while they are paralyzed at the dining table. The only military person she left alive…is Cahir. She tells him that she needs one to go to bat for her, to vouch for her to the emperor of Nilfgaard. Honestly, it is a smart move.
While Fringilla is panicking about the death of the elf baby and what it means for her plan for success, Cahir shines a different light on the situation. The blond-haired warrior has a bright idea: let’s use the elves disdain for humans to our advantage. The Francesca and her followers are about to go on a tirade of epic proportions and they will be heading north killing everyone in their way. That is the same direction that Nilfgaard whats to go. Cahir is like, “Yo, Fringilla girl, let’s say that we killed the baby (even though we have no idea who did) and then remind our emperor that now the elves are doing our bidding without even wearing our colors.”
Honestly, a pretty solid idea, right?
WRONG BITCH! THE WHILE FLAME IS GOING TO BURN YOUR ASS!
The Witcher season two ends with a massive plot twist. The Emperor of Nilfgaard arrives in Cintra, and he arrives with some key bullet points. First of all, it was he who ordered the killing of the elven savior, so Cahir and Fringilla are fucked. Secondly, he reminds his pair of now embarrassed followers that they were sent north to also find Ciri — and that is important to him because HE IS HER FATHER!
Dropping the mic and removing the cloud of haze. Emhyr van Emreis is the White Flame, the Emperor of Nilfgaard, and the father of Princess Cirilla. Yes, that spiky man by the name of Duny we met in season one is now a dictator hellbent on power. He is brilliant with his deception and prowess for chaos. Most importantly to this story, Emhyr is staunch supporter of embracing The Elder Races…AKA the Elder Blood. This makes him very different from his north kingdom foes.
Okay, so how is Emhyr alive when all we have heard is that Ciri’s parents are dead? Let’s explore the lore, but not too much so as not to spoil for people who only watch the show.
Emhyr is a devious fellow. After marrying Pavetta and the birth of Ciri, Emhyr (known as Duny at the time) is approached by a sorcerer who dictated a prophecy regarding a giant frost and an apocalyptic event, one that can only be saved by those with the Elder Blood who can transfer people to a different world. Well, would you look at that, guess who’s daughter has the elder blood. Emhyr and this sorcerer hatch a plan to fake his familiy’s death while he is on his way back to Nilfgaard to claim the throne that is rightfully his (that is more lore but too much to explain here, but believe me it is true). Pavetta is smart to what is happening and smuggles Ciri out of their ship just in time. While Ciri is safe, Pavetta is not. She and Emhyr have a scuffle and she is thrown overboard and eventually drowns in the tumultuous sea.
Emhyr returns to Nilfgaard successfully faking his own death and the demise of his family. He retakes his empire and now has the aid of his two faithful new followers, Fringilla and Cahir. Now he has his eyes set on taking the north for his own power, and he wants Ciri for her elder blood. He wants to control everything and then escape with it. Now in the books he wants to not only reconnect with daughter, but also marry her. Not sure they will go as dramatic as that in the show, but if they do then I have to commend them on all fronts.
So Emhyr is a raging, determined asshole.
So now that we know that Emhyr is not a man to be trifled with and both Fringilla and Cahir are in his eyesights for their blatant lie. The impressive plan they wanted to take credit for was already hatched in Emhyr’s mind and he has already put it into motion. What is going to happen to these two Nilfgaardians? Cahir has already been through enough torture at Aretuza and Fringilla has been in a mental pretzel since the Deathless Mother got in her head. They are going to be in a world of hurt.
Speaking of someone who is in a world of hurt, let’s touch on the one aspect of The Witcher season two that I truly didn’t love.
Yennefer is neutered nearly the entirety of season two. Yes, I know she can not bear children due to her own decisions to become as power as she is, but I also mean in the sense of using ANY CHAOS AT ALL. Yennefer emptied out the tank at Sodden Hill and has to live like a commoner as the rest of the world is changing around her. This lack of chaotic ability festers in Yen like disease and is made even worse by Voleth Meir’s meddling. This demon clamps onto your biggest fear and draws out pain like a bee sucks up honey, and Yennefer must look like an entire flower garden for the isolated kermit.
Voleth Meir fixes on this fear of Yennefer’s and poses a proposal to her. If she brings the young ashen haired women to Nilfgaard and to safety, then she will be granted her chaos back. Yen is conflicted to start because she does not enjoy being under anyone’s thumb, but it gets even more complicated when she discovers that this young lady is under the protection of her lover, Geralt of Rivia.
In episode six, which is entitled Dear Friend…, Geralt and Yennefer meet face-to-face for the first time since Sodden Hill. Geralt thought that Yen was dead, so imagine his surprise when she is just sauntering around being all beautiful and shit. Imagine Yennefer’s surprise when she finds the key to her magical shackles are protected under the the one man she would least like to double cross. Imagine her double-dose of shock when Ciri just transports them from the fiery doom of Rience into the safe havens of her rescuers home from season one. So, she has transporting abilities and she hasn’t even tapped her full chaotic ability. Yen just got a dose of what Ciri is capable of.
So Yennefer is in a sticky predicament, and to quote Nenneke: “I don’t see any side upon which you are not entirely fucked.”
By the end of the season, no one’s stock is lower than Yennefer. Geralt has lost all trust in her, and she is weaker than she has ever been before. She did get her chaos back at the end of the season after Voleth Meir returned home to her original sphere, and it is important that her first magical act is healing a hurt witcher. Yen tells Geralt that she knows she fucked up and that she has to work to regain his trust as a friend, but she wants to be involved with Ciri’s growth as a chaos wielder. She has a newfound love and fire for chaos and what it can mean to people.
Everyone needs to be humbled once in a while, but Yennefer’s ego was buried. Didn’t like seeing such a powerful character shackled for nearly the entirety of the season.
Random Odds And Ends
- The way that Fringilla enacts revenge on humans while walking out of Nilfgaard was savage. Burning all of the babies and then having them die in their mother’s arms? I think we are going to be getting more vindictive elves come season three.
- According to a Screenrant video I saw, The Witcher makers and Henry Cavill himself plan on making seven seasons of the show to complete the entire book series. I would sign up for all of that.
- Who the hell is Rience working for? I wanted him and Geralt to do a legit one-on-one battle but were where robbed of that. It was nice that Geralt killed off of his henchmen, but lets have a solid mono-et-mono battle.
- I know there is not a lot of Jaskier in this reaction, but that is because there was not a lot of Jaskier in the season., His physical appearance really started to look more like his video game rendition. His new song Burn, Butcher, Burn is very solid, but it is no Toss A Coin To Your Witcher.
Here is the biggest thing I can say about The Witcher. I was a fan of the franchise from the video game, and then I listened to the audio books and fell in love with the world. This show has made me fall deeper into the lore and I find myself on the Witcher Wiki just reading deep and concocting all the family trees and historical timelines. Thank you Andrzej Sapkowski for creating this world and the character of Geralt. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
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