‘The Witcher’: Ciri and Yennefer Take Big Risks to Fix Their Past (RECAP)

Anya Chalotra in The Witcher Season 2 Episode 5
Spoiler Alert
Jay Maidment/Netflix

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 5, “Turn Your Back.”]

As this season’s storylines begin to intersect, the characters at the center of the drama try desperately to escape their past. This is certainly the case for Ciri (Freya Allan) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), who consider dangerous methods to change themselves in this episode. But as both women find out, you cannot numb yourself to the pain of the past; instead, they must learn and grow.

Ciri’s determination to become a monster-slaying witcher is initially seen as an admirable goal. She not only wants to learn to protect herself, but she wants to be like her pseudo-father, Geralt (Henry Cavill). However, as this episode progresses, we see that there is a darker and more upsetting reason behind Ciri’s desire. Ciri doesn’t just want the fighting skills of a witcher; she wants what she believes is a witcher’s lack of feeling, lack of emotion… she wants to switch off the pain.

This comes to a head when Vesemir (Kim Bodnia) tells Ciri about her Elder blood and how it can be used to create more witchers. For Vesemir, this is hope, the kind of which he hasn’t had in years. For Ciri, this is a chance to be reborn, forget the past, and find new purpose. Despite Triss’s (Anna Shaffer) warnings, Ciri agrees to be experimented on, on one condition — she wants to be the first to try the potion. Vesemir is reluctant, knowing of the potentially deadly consequences, but Ciri is not the type to take no for an answer.

Freya Allan and Kim Bodnia in The Witcher Season 2

Susie Allnut/Netflix

Triss, meanwhile, does her best to convince Ciri not to go through with it. Instead, the maternal mage offers Ciri an alternative way to find purpose, taking her into a deep dream state to explore her past. What follows is a seasonally appropriate A Christmas Carol-style journey through the past, present, and future, as Triss guides Ciri through her memories, all in the hope of finding answers.

In this dream world, Ciri meets her mother, Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori), who somehow is able to see and communicate with her daughter. “Something is wrong,” Triss worries, recognizing that this might have been a mistake. Ciri is determined to keep going, though, eventually coming up on an elf mother clutching a crying baby. The elf suddenly turns, choking Triss while warning that Ciri is “the child of wrath” who will destroy humanity.

Back in the real world, a deeply frightened Triss cowers in the corner of the room, keeping Ciri at arm’s length. “It’s you,” she says, “You’re going to bring about the end, and nothing can stop it, not even him.” With no answers and even more questions, Ciri returns to the laboratory and tells Vesemir to pump her with the Elder blood potion. And she’s about to go through it until Geralt returns and puts a stop to it.

Ciri argues with Geralt that it’s her choice to become a witcher. She wants to be like him, cut off her feelings. Everything that’s come before she has destroyed. She’s lost her home, her friends, and her family. And for what? She doesn’t even know why because she doesn’t know who she truly is. Ciri doesn’t want to go on feeling like that, so she’d rather forget the past and become an emotionless witcher. It’s a rather bleak moment.

Eamon Farren in The Witcher Season 2

Susie Allnut/Netflix

But Geralt tells Ciri that becoming a witcher doesn’t make one numb to the past. The talk of the heartless witcher is just a myth. Witchers feel just like everyone else. They remember the past just like everyone else. It’s not about shutting the pain out. It’s about learning from the past and moving on of one’s own free will. Becoming a witcher will not fulfill what Ciri is currently missing.

We know Geralt is telling the truth because, despite his stony expression and gruff demeanor, we know he has feelings. Just look at his reaction when he finds out from Istredd (Royce Pierreson) that Yennefer is still alive. This is a man capable of love and heartache. Although love is probably not his top priority right now, given what he and Istredd discovered at the sight of the toppled monolith. The monoliths have been communicating with each other, powered by magical energy, and it’s allowed new monsters into this dimension.

It’s going to take a special kind of power to fight off this threat, the kind of power Ciri possesses, or, perhaps, Yennefer, if she can ever reclaim what she’s lost. You see, Yennefer, much like Ciri, is a woman dead-set on escaping her past. Having grown up a poor hunchback outcast, Yennefer has no love lost for the person she once was. Gaining her mage powers gave her at least a semblance of purpose; as she told Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) in the previous episode, her powers were all she had left.

Wilson Mbombio in The Witcher Season 2

Susie Allnut/Netflix

So, now Yennefer is in a tough spot. Does she settle for the woman she once was, powerless and outcast? Or does she succumb to the temptations of the old crone and ask for her powers back, knowing that it comes with sacrifice? Her powers would certainly come in handy right now, what with having to save Jaskier from a mage assassin and being captured by guards after a village prostitute sets her up.

Unwilling to ask outright for her powers back, Yennefer beckons the old crone and offers a trade. The old woman promises that Yennefer can get her powers back if she finds a girl. “Me,” she says as she transforms into Ciri (or at least a projection of Ciri). “I’m the key,” she explains. As Ciri, the old crone tells Yennefer to find her and bring her to the shattered gate just outside the city.

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What this means, I’m not quite sure. But it stands to reason that this is the arc that will bring Yennefer and Geralt back together. It seems that Yennefer will need to sacrifice Ciri to regain her powers, which will put her at odds with Geralt and the witcher contingent. But perhaps Ciri and Yennefer can learn from one another and find that their shared experience is more powerful than any magic spell or potion.

Other Notes:

Cahir (Eamon Farren) makes it back to Cintra, where Fringilla and Francesca continue to plot and strategize their next moves. Ciri’s old elf friend Dara (Wilson Mbomio) also arrives in Cintra operating as an undercover spy.

The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix