‘The Witcher’: Geralt Returns Home and Ciri Begins Her Witcher Training (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 2, “Kaer Morhen.”]
This episode reminded me of something I really appreciated about the first season — the speed at which the plot moves. Other shows might have dragged out Geralt’s (Henry Cavill) and Ciri’s (Freya Allan) journey home for several episodes, but The Witcher doesn’t waste time on stalling tactics. Not long after the witcher and the princess set off, they arrive in Kaer Morhen, while the Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) plot also picks up pace at the other side of the Continent.
Geralt’s return home is met with hearty laughter, entertaining tales of witcher exploits, and, of course, plenty of ale. After so much time riding alone, Geralt finds comfort again around his fellow witcher brethren, including his old mentor and father figure Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). With that comfort comes a sense of safety, which is what is needed right now, especially for Ciri, who Geralt has sworn to protect.
Vesemir is a little cautious, however, about having Ciri living in their quarters. After all, he doesn’t know her or what she’s capable of. In complete honesty, Geralt tells Vesemir he doesn’t truly know Ciri yet either, but he made a promise that he’s determined to keep. Plus, where better to keep an eye on her and learn about her than right here in the place where he was raised?
As Geralt points out, it’s not as if Vesemir wouldn’t do the same. After all, Vesermir was one of the few members of the School of the Wolf to survive the 12th-century assault on Kaer Morhen and made it his mission to protect those injured orphans left behind. He provided sanctuary to those without homes, including Geralt, who he helped train. But it’s that last point that is important; they survived because Vesemir taught Geralt and others how to fight and fend for themselves. If Geralt truly wants Ciri to be safe, he must do the same for her.
However, Geralt is reluctant to train Ciri despite her inquisitiveness and desire to learn. It’s a little too fatherly, and while Geralt clearly has paternal instincts, he denies the title of “father.” He’s there to protect Ciri, not play catch in the yard, or, in this case, train her in sword fighting in the muddy banks of the Keep. But the events of the episode give Geralt no choice, the danger in this world is ever-present, and if he wants Ciri to stand a chance, he will have to guide her.
The danger arises in the form of Eskel (Basil Eidenbenz), a fellow member of the School of Wolf who returns to the Keep after fighting with a forest monster known as a leshy. Eskel claims he couldn’t defeat the beast, but he chopped part of its body off as a prize. While it’s clear that Eskel and Geralt go way back as friends and allies, there is something off about him, and not just because he invited a bunch of women back to the Keep for a night of booze and sex. There is something different about him.
That turns out to be because Eskel was pierced by the creepy tree creature, which is now mutating inside him. Eskel’s transformation into the leshy is quite the image — imagine Groot on steroids. A fight ensues, with Geralt and Vesemir teaming up to fend off the branch-armed beast. In the end, Geralt has no choice but to kill his old friend in order to protect Ciri and the others.
It’s that close call that sees Geralt change his mind about training Ciri. It isn’t enough to just hide her away and hope she stays out of trouble for the rest of her life. She’s too stubborn to do that anyway, plus she has power of her own and doesn’t scare easily. And so, Geralt decides to train her, starting with sword technique, making for a sweet father and daughter moment.
Elsewhere, Yennefer and Fringilla have been captured by elves, including Filavandrel (Tom Canton) and Francesca (Mecia Simson). Francesca was the queen of the elves of Dol Blathanna and has an angry disposition towards humans. She wants Filavendrel to string Yennefer and Fringilla up and then send their heads back to Cintra as a message. Filavandrel, however, believes the prisoners could be useful in their plot to reclaim their land.
While tied up together, Yennefer and Fringilla begrudgingly put differences aside to devise a plan. While Fringilla is a woman of faith, Yennefer believes you make your own luck, and it’s going to require some cunning to get out of this predicament. Luckily they find a way in after realizing they’ve been having similar dreams, both featuring a figure in a robe. Believing these visions to hold a clue, Yennefer and Fringilla convince Francesca to let them help her.
The three women are transported from an old temple into a dream world containing “a hut with no doors.” It’s here they each encounter the robed figures from their dreams. Yennefer’s vision is a young girl who teases her about her lack of fertility and hints that Yennefer has lost her power of magic. Francesca sees the elven prophet Ithlinne, who she believes will guide her to the promised land. While Fringilla’s figure keeps hidden behind his helmet, claiming to be The White Flame, Emhyr, who pushes her to believe in herself and seize her destiny.
This is ultimately revealed as a conjuring trick by an old crone, who appears from behind the figures to give ominous warnings. Yennefer believes the crone to be evil, though Fringilla isn’t so sure. “If she’s that evil, why did she let you go?” she asks. And with that, Yennefer is again left alone, as Fringilla leaves with the elves, agreeing to an alliance between the elven people and Nilfgaard. Meanwhile, Yennefer unsuccessfully attempts to portal and realizes that her powers have indeed been taken away.
The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix