We cold open with Ciri in a forest suddenly free from the trance the mysterious wind that called her name put her in. She is confronted by a bunch of Aztec/Indian looking Amazon-esque warriors and asks repeatedly where she is, turns out she’s in Brokilon Forest, a spark of recognition hits her face, it means nothing to me but the title card hits hard like some knowledge just got dropped. Maybe it did.
We won’t know for a while though because we cut to Geralt and Jaskier the bard concluding an adventure, when these two met back up and how; skipped. I suppose it’s not important, but honestly more direct context as to how and why Jaskier is able to avoid getting his neck snapped by someone so strong while being the ultimate pest would be nice. You are meant to assume it is because Geralt is secret besties with him, a discussion had when Geralt is bathing and Jaskier is asking for his services, however the show has avoided showing any viable proof of this. The only thing one could site was that when they were captured in eps 2 that Geralt did ask their captors to not kill him, but from what is shown of the character he would have done that for any innocent with him. If that is the case then what the show is telling the viewer is that anyone could have Geralt’s friendship and protection if they just follow him around. That’s fine, gruff smolder boi just wants a friend to put up with endless verbal abuse, not an inherently bad story arc, but it really seems like they were trying to build a more complicated character. I think it would be more in line with their projected vision to actually show them becoming friends over time or come up with a decent reason the Witcher would allow him to stick around until a true friendship could foster. I don’t even know why I’m writing this, these writers can’t even handle a basic ass romance plot why would I even pretend they could handle the nuance of begrudging friends. To sum the scene up Jaskier needs guarding at an event and Geralt will guard him for pay and ‘cause they are best buds now.
In the next scene they are at the event, a lowkey bid war on marrying into the Cintran royal family, and Jaskier dresses Geralt up in the hopes that he will not be recognized. I have no idea why a man who has spent all his time hyping up Geralt to anyone who will listen thinks that no one will recognize him but he does and is surprised when someone knows him on sight.
The show then begins this odd flip between the present and the past where the party Geralt and Jaskier are attending happens prior to the fall of Cintra and the death of the queen putting, apparently the entirety of the story, apart from the parts with Ciri on the run and presumably the first quest Geralt went on, somewhere in the past. This show seems to be flipping between past and present on a whim and as I said before this can be done well, but with writers who can’t keep their character’s motivation straight from one sentence to another, this is a bold undertaking. Anyway all the scene flips show us that Dara the elf and Ciri have been taken in by the druids of Brokilon, a place with magic waters that heal and cause amnesia of painful things when ingested by the pure of heart and kill those with ill intent on the land. I just sat there wondering what it would do if you didn’t plan to do anything bad in Brokilon, but weren’t pure of heart; diarrhea maybe? Anywho Dara finds out who Ciri really is and is quite upset as Queen Calanthe (the one that was killed eps 1 but is now alive via flashbacks, I have to start naming now because this is bad enough with names) was the one who ordered the death of his people, he gets over this kinda fast but to be fair Ciri really had nothing to do with it… still though. After he chills about the murder of the entirety of his people he pretty much tells her; f**k the quest you’re on go do whatever, wherever. Another moment where I can’t help but feel like they wrote it just to write it because if you think about it, it does not make any sense. Ciri has been sent to find Geralt, he is presumably her only chance at survival, they live in a world where killing the heir from the previous ruler is defacto meaning Ciri is in real danger and Dara should know that. Telling someone they are not beholden to the wishes of others, dead or not, is not inherently bad advice, but in this situation both of them should know it’s a really, really bad idea to just wander around. On the Geralt side of the coin Queen Calanthe acts like a coked-up weirdo, generally, I don’t know what they told the actress as far as direction in this scene, but if I had to guess it was; ‘Always look like you are JUST about to pee yourself, but managed to stop it.’
BAM we’re back to Yennefer, through dialogue we glean that its been thirty years or so since we last saw her though she looks the same. She is riding with the queen of the king she is now serving and her crying baby. Yennefer is visibly bored, she explains that she gave up everything to get her position and finds that she is quite unhappy with said position now that she’s been at it for a while. Now. Wait. Hold on. What did she give up? Her ability to have children? Was that everything to her? F**k that, was it anything to her? Ever? What? This ho got a level 10 glow up and her dream job instead of nothing, where is the sacrifice? The writers cannot possibly be implying that Istredd is the ‘everything’ because she rather clearly did not give a flip, wtf are they talking about??? I dunno, dropping that for now we go back to the queen offering Yennefer her baby to hold… for reasons, I am so sure the plot is going to bring this up as some sort of trigger for the baby crazy lever that gets yanked later or some such.
There is also this line where the queen says to Yennefer, “People look at you for who you are, not for what you can give them.” AGAIN this is something someone wrote and felt good about, they patted themselves on the back and showed others who would congratulate them on such elegant wording, I assume this because only people too busy wafting their own farts would leave this line in. OF COURSE PEOPLE LOOK AT HER FOR WHAT SHE CAN GIVE THEM! Is this woman being willfully ignorant? That’s how jobs work you baked muffin!! When I hire someone for a service I do so because of what they can offer me, that’s the first requirement for me to even look their way. Yennefer is a highly desirable court mage with presumably thirty years experience WHAT DO YOU MEAN???!!!
I digress, so right after that treat of a conversation the carriage is attacked by a robed man with a… I dunno giant, magic, killer bug, Yennefer, the queen, her baby and one guard manage to escape into the desert through a portal Yennefer creates. It is there that Yennefer surmises that the king sent the man, an assassin, to kill her since she cannot produce a male heir. One hell of a deduction based on NO information, however, I’ll allow that in her thirty years she’s seen enough to know what’s up. The assassin follows, the guard dies, the creature gives them an unreasonably long head start and Yennefer teleports them again. She quickly figures out that they are being tracked and tries to find what the king gave his wife in order for the assassin to find them. They have to jump once again and that is when the queen finds the tracker and smashes it, then for literally no reason starts calling Yennefer useless and shouting at her. I guess ‘cause the plot demands it or something, or the script panicked because it wants us to be sympathetic to Yennefer, but she’s about to teleport away from a defenseless mother and child so best just have the woman turn to a bitchy Karen to make sure the audience keeps on liking loveable ol’ Yennefer. She teleports alone and ends up by some yellow trees, more on that later I’m sure.
Back to the party in the past a gate-crashing knight comes running in punching guards and demanding that he get to marry the princess (Pavetta, who I can only assume is Ciri’s mother). The knight won’t reveal his face but another man knocks off his helmet and he is revealed to be an fugly hedgehog man. Calanthe demands that he be killed by Geralt who refuses, stating that the dude is just cursed so the queen orders everyone else to kill him. The man cites something called The Law of Surprise, they do not explain what this is, but it makes all the characters take a ride or die stance about this dude. Geralt goes to help him as does another man and everyone in the building just throw themselves into that whirling blade dervish and get chopped up.
There is also the offence that is committed in every medieval show where swords are metal and armor is paper. Who cares, moving on.
The queen then hops out of her chair, steals a sword from a guard, kicks him down the stairs then saves one of the dudes defying her by killing his attacker and crosses swords with Geralt before calling for everyone to stop fighting.
She could have done that from her chair.
Why did she wait.
Why did she kick her own guard who had been wounded fighting?
Why did she attack a man who was presumably fighting for her before calling the ceasefire?
Back with the other queen and her baby in the (possibly) farther past the assassin and his Starship Troopers bug are just standing there awkwardly while she pleads for her life. Then she offers the baby in exchange for her freedom, rather glibly in fact. This, as with all things, I’m sure is meant to seal her as being even more of a bitch because the plot decided that now the audience needs to not like her. I mean they JUST established her as a long-suffering mother who loves her baby and wishes she could be more for her children’s sake. They wrote her as sympathetic and ostensibly kind when she spoke with Yennefer, allowing the mage to hold the baby and offering her advice. Then the plot wants create this feeling of a trash parent who throws away their kid so when faced with the assassin she yells at her only protector who is in the middle of protecting her and throws her baby down as a sacrifice without a second thought. If you’re going to do that just have her be a bitch from the outset, why do it this way?
Now lets put this whiplash-inducing snap of character change aside, if this woman knows the assassin has been sent by her husband because she cannot produce sons, why would she think offering her daughter up as a sacrifice would mean anything to either the assassin or the king? In what universe does that make sense? If you wanted to have her give up her child to try and save her own life it would have made sense to have the bug run at her and then have her toss the baby down to try and distract it. That makes sense, it’s cold blooded and heartless, but it makes sense. The version this story concocts makes no sense. It’s like turning your gun on yourself in a Mexican Standoff, what does that accomplish?
Moving on the assassin OBVIOUSLY does not care for the offer and cuts her throat with a magic flying knife, the bug then goes in for dibs on the baby, but Yenneferi’s back bay-beeee. Where did she go? Plot doesn’t want us to know yet. For now, she cuts off the bug’s head, throws black glitter at the assassin that I take to be some sort of magical force field, opens another portal, scoops the baby and leaps inside but not before getting a floating dagger to the shoulder.
The portal dumps them in the ocean and by the time she makes it to the shore the baby is blue and presumably dead. She tries some spells but nothing works.
Back at the not-quite-a-party-anymore we find out what the Surprise Law is, turns out its this fairy tale-esque thing where if you save someone’s life they owe you one free anything-they-want, the knight saved the previous king’s life and now wants Pavetta, and Queen Calanthe aint havin’ it. Everyone is pretty much like, ‘C’mon ur husband promised’ and the queen is like ‘Nah, fam.’ There is a lot of talk about denying destiny and so on, and Geralt finally weighs in with ‘Deal’s a deal’ and Calanthe seems to give in before trying to stab the knight in the face. This prompts Pavetta to scream loud enough to knock everyone back then create a field of force(?), wind(?) magic around herself and Sir Hedgehog before making them both float. The magic keeps everyone pinned so the court mage and Geralt use their magic to cancel hers. When the dust settles she gets up and Calanthe hugs her daughter apparently thankful that the gift of magic is in fact in her daughter since it was not in her. Sure, ok, but Pavetta seems waaaay too chill about the fact that her mother used a peaceful ceasefire to try and stab her future husband in the face. The queen then declares that they will honor the Surprise and the actress is being so breathy I get a little scared this whole scene might turn romantic, but then we find out that Calanthe plans to marry the man she saved in her unnecessary attack on friendly forces, so, cool.
Hard cut to Ciri standing in a vision of the elven massacre by her people and waking to find Dara has drunk the water. She gets offered the same and drinks but it does nothing to her, the lead druid decides to take her elsewhere.
Back on dead baby beach Yennefer is talking to the dead baby, a bit before burying it. In this scene she expresses her displeasure with her lot in life and I am a bit baffled because we covered this in the carriage but moooooooooovin on.
Cut to the past party-now-wedding Pavetta and Sonic are getting married on the spot, right in the middle of the mess they just made with all the fighting and bleeding and destruction. The queen marries them, they kiss and he turns human again. It’s so cliché I am rather baffled, but they hide it as the curse being lifted because the queen gave her blessing. M’k.
The Ex-hog is thankful to Geralt for saving his life and demands he ask a boon. Geralt turns him down but when the now-a-man protests he asks for The Law of Surprise. Calanthe gives a dramatic ‘NO!’ and Geralt is like ‘Pft I won’t come and claim a baby or some shit’ then Pavetta vomits apropos of nothing and the queen deduces she’s pregnant.
Nevermind that she just blew up a room with her mind, no that’s not the thing that upset her stomach, nope, has to be mid evening sickness from the baby she’s carrying ‘cause she got too randy reading Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction.
Can I have a moment to sit in horrified awe at the speed in which we uncovered and/or explored a hidden romance, a curse, a battle, a secret life debt, discovery of magical destiny, two marriage proposals, a wedding and a pregnancy ALL AT ONE PARTY. Each one of these elements could have been the subject of several episodes. As a writer this kind of shit just hurts me.
*another calming breath*
Geralt sees the baby induced vomit and scrambles for the door, the queen’s mage stops him and babbles about him being interlinked with destiny and all that bull. They were chanting it in the first episode and nothing in the world is more ham-fisted than constantly saying the word destiny in your show about destiny.
We then cut back to the present where Fringilla, the mage Yennefer usurped with her makeover, is trolling around the ashes of Cintra, looking the same as she did in the past. One of her underlings finds the queen’s body, he calls Fringy over, cuts off a piece of the queen’s skin and eats it, as he begins to convulse Fringilla guts him on the spot and puts her (gloved) hand on his intestines. She then knows where Ciri is.
This has to be the most ridiculous tracing spell I have ever seen in a show. The cost is not worth the reward. Please explain how changing your physical makeup costs ovaries, but to get a brief Google Maps ping of one person one time you need the skin of one person and the life of another. Wat? Whatever, with their GPS update Fringilla and her homies head for Brokilon dragging the queen’s mage with them (the same one from the past who was yapping about destiny with Geralt).
Back with Ciri the head Druid stabs a tree and tells her to drink the suspiciously jizzy looking sap that flows out, she does and wakes up in a desert. Behind her there is a large glowing tree that asks what she is.
The episode ends I’m sure the answer to that question isn’t something stupid /s.
The sad part is I think this might be one of their more cohesive episodes.
My suffering is real.
See you next time.