‘The Witcher’: The Bard Returns to Save the Day (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 4, “Redanian Intelligence.”]
One of the most enjoyable things about the first season of The Witcher was the show’s ability to mix tongue-in-cheek humor with its more serious and violent action sequences. The laughs have been a little light so far this season, as the characters deal with the grisly aftermath of the battle at Sodden Hill. Fortunately, Episode 4 brings back a bit of levity thanks to the return of everyone’s favorite, wise-cracking bard.
That’s right, Jaskier (Joey Batey) is back and still strumming his lute in backwater bars and singing tales of witcher adventures, though now with an added sense of melancholy. But he soon snaps back into his sarcastic self when he reunites with Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), who finds herself shackled with Cahir (Eamon Farren) as they make a run for Cintra. The reunion is sweet, even if the important stuff is left unsaid, but Jaskier can’t help but get in a few digs. “You smell like something crawled up your arse and died,” he tells the mage.
The meet-up takes place in a small Northern town, where Yennefer and Cahir have been hiding out since they escaped from Aretuza. It’s not exactly safe for them here, though. Guards are rounding up all elves under suspicion that they are Nilfgaard sleeper agents. And wanted posters with Yennefer and Cahir plastered on them are floating around the streets. Their only option to remain alive is to return to Cintra, where at least Cahir might be able to use his influence to protect Yennefer.
However, getting out of town unscathed is going to require some doing. Yennefer and Cahir sneak into the sewers, where they meet two elves planning to board a boat to Cintra. Apparently, a man known as the Sandpiper has been helping elves escape in the cover of night. After some back-and-forth, the elves agree to take Yennefer and Cahir with them. Sadly, all four don’t make it after a super-mutant sewer squid attacks and kills the younger of the two elves.
The Sandpiper, it turns out, is Jaskier. He uses his charm and bard celebrity to hustle elves out of town. For as acerbic as he can be, Jaskier is a good man, and he disagrees with how the North is treating the elves. He knows how this ballad ends — first they come for the elves, then the dwarves, and then anybody else they deem to be an “other.” And so, in his own small way, he is trying to help fight the system as best he can.
It’s also clear that, for all his wise-cracks, Jaskier is still hurting from how things ended with Geralt (Henry Cavill). Yennefer sees it immediately because she feels the same, even if she won’t admit it outright. And so, while they mask their true feelings with ball-busting banter, it’s not hard to see the deeper connection between the pair. In fact, Jaskier even gives an uncharacteristic pep talk to Yennefer, assuring her that the Chaos is not done with her yet and not to give up hope on reclaiming her powers.
In perhaps the funniest scene of the episode, Jaskier uses his star power to manipulate a guard into letting him board a ship. There is some fourth-walling breaking as the guard tells the bard that he wasn’t a big fan of his last song. “It took me until the fourth verse to realize there were different timelines,” he says, a clear reference to Season 1. He also questions the likelihood of the bard sleeping with several women. Jaskier cannot keep his mouth shut and snaps back, blowing his cover in the process.
Thankfully, the older elf Yennefer and Cahir met in the sewer provides a distraction. “F*** the North,” he shouts over and over, sacrificing himself to make up for letting his friend die in the sewer. Yennefer, Cahir, and a group of elves rush aboard the ship as the guards pummel the elf within an inch of his life. But, just when it looks like the coast is clear, a scream from Jaskier comes from outside. Yennefer pokes her head up and sees the bard’s lute smashed on the ground. It seems Yennefer might not be leaving town just yet.
Meanwhile, in Kaer Morhen, Geralt invites Triss (Anna Shaffer) to provide some maternal guidance to Ciri (Freya Allan). It’s a welcome treat for Ciri, who finally feels comfortable dressing like a princess again, even if she’s mocked by the witcher brethren. “My grandmother wore a dress and fought in battles… a woman can do both,” Ciri states. Triss also gives the men a dressing down, telling them they “choose to be ignorant arseholes.”
Ciri is more than a princess who can fight, though; she is capable of so much more. This comes to light as Triss provides a magical autopsy on the leshy and the centipede creature. Both beasts were covered in the same dust-like substance, which is unusual, to say the least. Even more strange is Vesermir’s (Kim Bodnia) discovery of Feainnewedd near the obstacle course Ciri took on. Feainnewedd is a flower that only grows in places where elder blood has been spilled.
This discovery is huge, not only due to the implications that Ciri contains elder blood but the fact elder blood can be used to make more witchers. But it’s not all good news. Ciri confesses that she’s seen the dust-like substance before in one of her visions. It was the same substance from the monolith she came face-to-face with during her escape from Cintra. Ciri’s scream toppled the enormous pillar-like rock, and she believes this caused the recent rise of monsters and inexplicable phenomenon.
It’s an interesting contrast between the two stories. As Yennefer is struggling with the loss of her powers, Ciri is finding out she perhaps has more power than anyone else on the Continent. If I can put on my guessing cap for a moment, I bet that Ciri will be the one to help Yennefer get her magic abilities back.
The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix