‘The Witcher’: The Journey to Cintra Is Filled With Heartache and Violence (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 7, “Voleth Meir.”]
This season has been steadily ratcheting up the tension over the past couple of episodes, putting the pieces and players in place for what promised to be a dramatic conclusion. Episode 7 delivers on that promise in a major way, bringing with it fist-pumping reunions, cold-blooded violence, and heartbreaking revelations.
Cintra is currently the hot destination on the Continent. Everyone who is anyone is there or heading there. Already there are Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) and Cahir (Eamon Farren), who prepare themselves for the arrival of the elusive Emhyr, aka the White Flame, who invokes hope and fear in equal measure. Cahir is still determined to get back on the hunt for Ciri (Freya Allan), while Fringilla has to deal with undermining generals and promise-breaking elves.
Having seen that elf childbirth is still possible, new hope has filled the elf community. That hope has made them reconsider helping Nilfgaard in the war against the North. As Filavandrel (Tom Canton) tells Fringilla, he’d rather focus on rebuilding his people than letting more die in a needless war. Even Francesca (Mecia Simson), who bonded with Fringilla after the deal they made with the old crone, reneges on the agreement, stating that the bond between family and blood is more important.
The pressure from the Nilfgaard generals, the betrayal from Francesca, and the incoming threat of Emhyr have Fringilla forced into a corner. She portals herself to Aretuza to request help and sanctuary from her uncle Artorius (Terence Maynard). He says she can return but would have to apologize to the Brotherhood for being so foolish to think she could ever have power. “There are those obsessed with having power and those smart enough to know their place,” he tells her.
It’s this utter disrespect that pushes Fringilla to do what she does next. She returns to Cintra and casts a spell on Cahir and the generals in the middle of a feast, poisoning their mead with Deadly Nightshade. Paralyzed but still very much alive and aware, all the generals can do is watch on as Fringilla pierces daggers into their eyes and necks. She spares Cahir so that he can lie to Emhyr about who was responsible. It’s a brutal yet badass scene and something I think Fringilla needed to cement her character.
Meanwhile, having portalled out of the temple, Ciri and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) find themselves back in the cottage where a kindly woman once housed the young princess. The mother and child’s bodies are found charred to a crisp, the doing of the fire-wielding mage assassin. Ciri is determined to get back to Geralt (Henry Cavill), and Yennefer tells her Nilfgaard has likely taken him to Cintra to be tortured, hoping that Ciri will be lured there to save him.
While Ciri tells Yennefer that she will go to Cintra alone, the powerless mage will not have that. She tells Ciri she wants to help, though we know she has an ulterior motive. The two ride on horseback across the terrain, discussing life along the way. Ciri admits that Geralt is like the father she never had, while Yen says her relationship with the witcher is one of longing, regret, hope, and fear. “Ah, you love him too,” Ciri surmises.
You can tell that Yennefer is conflicted; the guilt peeks out from her mesmerizing purple eyes. There’s part of her that does want to help Ciri. But she also wants her powers back, and that only becomes clearer when she tries to guide Ciri on how to master the Chaos. Stopped in their tracks by a river, Yennefer aides Ciri in a spell to rebuild a broken bridge, only Ciri strains too hard, blood pouring from her eyes. Frustrated, Ciri screams, her powers shaking the ground beneath them and helping them cross the water.
The pair eventually arrive outside Cintra, in front of the monolith that Ciri toppled. Yennefer tells Ciri that if they get separated, “remember what you have, magic.” There is a longing when Yennefer describes the feeling of magic: “It’s a strange sort of pain, combined with bliss.” But as Yen is close to delivering Ciri to the location described by the old crone, Ciri uses some sort of mind control on Yennefer to communicate telepathically and realizes what is happening.
Yennefer confesses that Geralt isn’t in Cintra and never was. It was just a ploy. That’s when it dawns on Ciri that Yennefer was the one that hired the mage assassin to find her. Yennefer denies it. And I’m not so sure if she is telling the truth or not. Yen seems regretful and tells Ciri to come with her. “I don’t trust you!” Ciri yells, and with that, the ground cracks open, alerting the Nilfgaardians to their location.
Also on their way to Cintra are Geralt and Jaskier (Joey Batey), reunited after Geralt breaks the banter-loving bard from prison. “F*** it,” says Jaskier, immediately pausing their past beef and hugging the witcher. And after some complaints about Geralt leaving him on a mountain, Jaskier says goodbye to his cellmates (a choir of rats that he practiced pitch tuning with) and accompanies Geralt on his latest mission to get back Ciri.
The Geralt and Jaskier reunion isn’t the only meet-up between old friends, though. The pair bump into some of their other mountain buddies, Yarpen (Jeremy Crawford) and his gang of dwarves, now working the Trail as convoy guards. After busting each other’s balls, Geralt asks Yarpen if he can buy a horse. And with that, the ride to Cintra is on.
On the journey, Geralt learns from Jaskier that Yennefer has lost her powers, though the bard wonders if the mage is lying about that. But when he mentions hearing Yen mutter the “hut, hut” incantation, Geralt realizes that Yennefer made a deal with the old crone, aka the Deathless Mother, aka Voleth Meir. Apparently, the first witches were hired to imprison Voleth Meir, entombing her in a hut. She now feeds on pain.
Geralt, Jaskier, and the hunter dwarves make it to the Cintra outskirts just as the guards launch their attack on Ciri and Yennefer. A kickass, “save-the-day” fight ensues, which, of course, means more grisly stabbings and beheadings. Jaskier catching the head of a slain soldier provides some momentary light relief. With the guards dispatched and Ciri ordered to return to Kaer Morhen with Jaskier and Yarpen, Geralt turns his attention to Yennefer.
“How could you do this?” he asks her, his tone barely masking the disappointment. He demands that she repeat the “hut, hut” phrase to lift the curse and take him to the Deathless Mother. In doing so, the bargains made previously become undone, with Francesca’s baby being slaughtered in its sleep — I told you, this episode had some cold-blooded violence!
However, the Deathless Mother escapes before Geralt and Yennefer are transported to the forest. And the hut grows legs…? Not quite sure what that was about. Anyway, Geralt is surprised the crone could escape but believes it must be because she has fed on enough pain and desperation. Her spirit is now loose, and who should it end up inside at the end of the episode? Why, Ciri, of course.
If we thought this was a violently chaotic episode, I can’t imagine what the finale has in store for us now that Ciri and her powers are under the influence of the Deathless Mother.
Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) and Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu) fight to keep control of the Brotherhood but there is suspicion surrounding Triss’s (Anna Shaffer) return. Tissaia pleads with Triss to tell them more about Ciri, but the young mage feels betrayed that Tissaia told Vilgefortz about what she knows.
The mage assassin returns to the woman who hired him, the sorceress Lydia (Aisha Fabienne Ross). He wonders why Lydia’s employer has yet to show their face, and Lydia gives some unconvincing excuse. The assassin decides to give Lydia the Elder blood mutagen, but her face begins to transform when she takes the potion. Unfortunately, the scene cuts away before we see the final result.
Dara (Wilson Mbomio) gives up his spying and refocuses on helping the elf community. However, Dara’s decision doesn’t seem to perturb Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) too much, as he tells King Vizimir II (Ed Birch) that he has many other irons in the fire.
The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix