‘The Witcher’: Yennefer Disobeys the Brotherhood (RECAP)

Anya Chalotra in The Witcher Season 2 Episode 3
Spoiler Alert
Jay Maidment/Netflix

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 3, “What Is Lost.”]

For a show that is usually full-steam ahead, this was a more subdued episode by The Witcher standards. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There were still revelations and plot advancements, but this felt like an episode setting up the pieces for the chaos to come. Even then, a quieter episode of The Witcher still contains a wild monster fight and some mage magic to keep us satiated.

In Kaer Morhen, Geralt (Henry Cavill) is still attempting to play the protective father role to Princess Ciri (Freya Allan), who is growing frustrated with her training regimen. Ciri wants the Witcher For Dummies crash course; she doesn’t have the patience for Geralt’s slow approach. As her old advisor, Mousesack, once told her, “Anything less than perfect means death,” and so she needs to sharpen her fighting skills quickly.

Geralt, however, knows the importance of rest. He’s been through witcher training himself, and he’s seen the effects it had on his brothers, like Eskel (Basil Eidenbenz), who met his end last week. In a flashback, we see a tired and battered Eskel asking Geralt for a reprieve to let their hair down and have some fun. But the younger Geralt has no time for rest, continuing to push Eskel under the guidance of Vesemir (Kim Bodnia). Time has softened Geralt’s attitude, though, and he doesn’t want to push Ciri beyond her comfort level.

Kim Bodnia and Henry Cavill in The Witcher Season 2

Jay Maidment/Netflix

However, Ciri, much like the younger Geralt, is stubborn. Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s taunted by the fellow Kaer Morhen brethren, particularly Lambert (Paul Bullion). Urged on by Lambert’s teasing, Ciri chooses to take on the witcher obstacle course, a brutal wooden contraption of swinging spikes and traps — imagine a medieval Ninja Warrior. No matter how many times Ciri is knocked on her ass, she gets back up and tries again, coming close to completing the course save for a last-minute tumble. “So close,” says a begrudgingly proud Geralt.

Ciri’s urgency to learn to fight as fast as possible is not without good cause. The Continent is becoming more dangerous by the day; nowhere is safe. Last episode, we saw this with the leshy that embedded itself within Eskel — something Vesemir has never seen or heard about happening in the history books. After laying Eskel’s body to rest, Vesemir wonders if the world is gearing up for another Conjunction of the Spheres — the cataclysmic event that trapped monsters and other “unnatural” creatures in this dimension.

Vesemir might be onto something if the ending of this episode is anything to go by. After one of Ciri’s visions takes her and Geralt into the woods, they’re confronted by the leshy. Only, the leshy is destroyed by an even bigger, freakier monster — some kind of mutant centipede-looking creature. And this beast had Ciri dead to rights if not for a last-minute intervention by Geralt. “Anything less than perfect means death,” Ciri reiterates, hammering home her point from earlier in the episode.

Freya Allan in The Witcher Season 2 Episode 3

Jay Maidment/Netflix

Meanwhile, in Cintra, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) surprises the Elders when she returns from her presumed death. The young mage’s return is a welcome relief for Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), but not so much for Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen), who feels his power is threatened. Tissaia calls Yennefer the true hero for what she did at Sodden Hill but tells her that for now, Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu) must take the credit to help their case in usurping control from Stregobor.

In an effort to remain in the seat of power, Stregobor embarks on a disinformation campaign, questioning Yennefer’s loyalty. He spreads rumors of her being a spy for Nilfgaard and shares propaganda about elves and their violent tendencies. Istredd (Royce Pierreson) calls Stregobor out for his lies but is brushed aside as Stregobor ambushes Yennefer, using his magic to get in her head and torture her from the inside.

Yennefer only has two options to prove her loyalty. She either admits that she’s lost all her powers since the battle at Sodden Hill or she kills Cahir (Eamon Farren), proving she has no connection to Nilfgaard. Neither option is particularly appealing. As Yennefer tells Cahir in his jail cell, she only kills if it serves a purpose, and offing a defenseless prisoner of war doesn’t match her moral code.

MyAnna Buring in The Witcher Season 2

Jay Maidment/Netflix

On the other hand, confessing to her loss of powers not only reveals her vulnerability, but it’s almost an admittance that she’s never getting them back. Although she can’t even magically heat a pool right now, there is still part of Yennefer that believes she can will her abilities back. Tissaia tries to offer reason, telling Yennefer that her powers aren’t coming back, and even when she had powers, she remained unfulfilled anyway. But at least it was something, as Yennefer says, “That’s all I had left.”

As one might expect, in the end, Yennefer chooses to do neither. She’s brought in front of the Northern Kings, tasked with beheading Cahir. But instead of lobbing off his head, Yennefer breaks open Cahir’s chains and knocks over the pyres, allowing the pair to make an escape through the distracting flames. “Why save me?” Cahir questions as he climbs atop Yennefer’s horse. “I’m not,” she says, “I’m saving me.”

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Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich also discusses Witchers' emotions and fans' critiques.

As I said at the start of this recap, while this episode was a slower feel action-wise, it set in motion what’s to come. Yennefer’s actions are bound to have consequences because, in the world of The Witcher, there is no rest for the wicked.

OTHER NOTES

Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) and Francesca (Mecia Simson) commit to working together in Nilfgaard’s aim to take over the Continent. It’s also revealed that Francesca is pregnant!

There is a brief focus on Triss (Anna Shaffer), who is self-conscious about the scars she suffered in the battle at Sodden Hill. Also, the show has now course-corrected and given her red hair like the character in the video game. “You look different,” Yennefer tells her in what is surely a wink and a nod to the audience.

The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix