Friendships Are Broken in 'The Witcher' Episode 6 (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Episode 6, "Rare Species."]
The choices we make come to define us and our journey through life. But what about when a choice is made for us? What if our ability to choose is taken away entirely? Those are the kind of philosophical questions The Witcher has been asking from the start, in between sword fights, monster hunting, and sexy bathtime breaks. Do the characters of The Witcher have the capability to make their own choices, or are they merely slaves to destiny?
"Rare Species" (written by Haily Hall) puts this question to the forefront, in an episode that also features angry dwarves, zombie shapeshifters, and a talking golden dragon — nobody said this show wasn't gloriously ridiculous. Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) once again find themselves fighting side-by-side, and for a brief moment, something akin to love seems to be blossoming. It's as if the Witcher and the mage have both found what they've been missing. But is any of this real? Or is it just an illusion? Can free-will really exist when fate is involved?
The majority of the episode revolves around a great hunt for a destruction-causing dragon. Four teams will make their way up a mountain to the slay the beast, with the winner getting to keep the treasure horde and all the glory that comes with it. It's kind of like a medieval Wacky Races. A mysterious knight named Borch Three Jackdaws (Ron Cook), and his two lady companions, Téa (Adele Oni) and Véa (Colette Dalal Tchantcho), want Geralt to join their team, knowing the Witcher's skills with catching and killing monsters.
There's just one problem, Geralt doesn't kill dragons. "There's no treasure worth dying for," the Witcher says. "Depends on the treasure," replies Borch, who has a way of looking directly into Geralt's soul and seeing what makes him tick. "You feel it just the same as me, that hole inside you," says Borch. "That itch that can't be scratched that burns your brain, keeps you awake at night. Come with me. I'll show you what you're missing." It isn't Borch's slick words that convince Geralt to join the hunt, though, it's the moment he realizes Yennefer is on one of the opposing teams.
And so the hunt begins. There's a team of dwarves led by Yarpen Zigrin (Jeremy Crawford), a perpetually furious dwarven warrior with the weirdest Scottish accent I've ever heard. Then there's a group called The Reavers, who aren't really explained, but it's clear they're all murderous a**holes. Yennefer is on the team of a virtuous but naive knight named Eyck of Denesle (Jordan Renzo). And, joining Borch's team, along with Geralt, is the bothersome bard himself, Jaskier (Joey Batey), who spends most the time awkwardly flirting with the clearly disinterested Téa and Véa.
There's some fun stuff during the hunt. Jaskier's continued fear of Yennefer provides some laughs. There are some brilliant landscape shots, particularly when the teams maneuver across a narrow bridge on the side of a mountain. And there's a freaky monster called a Hirikka, which sort of looks like a grown-up Gremlin with a drug addiction. Eyck savagely butchers the poor creature when all it wanted was food. Though, in an act of revenge from beyond the grave, Eyck ends up with the runs after eating the beast, leading to him having his throat slit while emptying his bowels.
But the crux of the story is to do with Geralt and Yennefer. There is tension in their relationship ever since Geralt packed up and left after they slept together back in Rinde. And the pair get into an argument when Yennefer tells Geralt she's searching for a fertility cure and heard dragons possess healing properties. "What could you possibly want with a child?" Geralt asks. "They took my choice. I want it back," Yennefer snaps. "Not that I expect you to understand."
It's not that Geralt is utterly oblivious to Yennefer's situation, he too lost his choice to have children when he was made a Witcher, but it's something he came to terms with. "The people who made us, they made us sterile for a lot of reasons. One of the kinder ones is because this lifestyle isn't suited to a child," he explains. But the thing is, Geralt does have a child, albeit through the Law of Surprise, a fact he lets slip in the heat of the argument. "You lecture me on made-up cures for having a child, meanwhile you cheat with destiny to steal one," Yennefer says.
Through this argument, however, Geralt and Yennefer find common ground. They are both mutations, and, in Geralt's words, "mutations are intentional." They had no choice in being. It's why they share such an undeniable connection — and why they end up sleeping together again in Yennefer's fancy tent. "Do you ever regret it? Becoming a Witcher?" Yennefer asks. "It's hard to regret something you didn't choose," Geralt replies. "Did you always want to become a mother?" Geralt asks. "I dreamed of becoming important to someone," she answers, and Geralt tells her she's important to him. And this time he spends the night!
This sweetness doesn't last for long, though. As the dwarves try and make an early morning ambush on the dragon, Yennefer puts a spell on them, freezing them in their spot. Yennefer and Geralt enter a cave to find a dead mother dragon wrapped around an egg. She was protecting her child, and that's why she attacked the townsfolk. Then things get super weird. Téa and Véa reappear, after seemingly falling to their death along with Borch earlier in the episode. It turns out, Borch is a rare golden dragon, a mutated creature that can apparently appear in human form.
The whole reason Borch came to Geralt in the first place was because he knew the Witcher would never kill a dragon. He came to Geralt for protection. And that's what he gets. Geralt and Yennefer team up to fight off The Reavers in a ferocious sword fight on the cliff's edge, while Borch the golden dragon breathes fire on his enemies. Jaskier and the dwarves miss all the action, but Borch offers Yarpen a set of dragon teeth to take back to the King as proof of his success. And just when you think we're getting a happy ending, Borch unintentionally lands Geralt in the dog house.
"I can see why Geralt didn't want to lose you," Borch tells Yennefer. "What does that mean?" the mage asks. "In Rinde. The djinn," Geralt begrudgingly answers. Is that what Geralt wished for? To never lose Yennefer? "That's why we can't escape each other. Why I feel this way inside," says Yennefer, realizing that her connection to Geralt is a mere fabrication. "It's not because of anything real or true. You made a wish." Geralt tries to argue that it is real, regardless of the wish, but as Yennefer says, how could they ever really know? Once again, the choice was taken away.
"I'm going to save you both a lot of hurt with a little pain now," says Borch. "The sorceress will never regain her womb. And though you didn't want to lose her, Geralt, you will." Then comes the kicker from Yennefer: "He already has." The situation stings so much that Geralt, who usually keeps his emotions concealed, snaps at Jaskier, blaming him for all the s**t that's come his way. "If life could give me one blessing, it would be to take you off my hands," yells Geralt. There's no jokes or funny quips from the bard this time, just a brokenhearted friend. "See you around, Geralt," says Jaskier, as he skulks away.
Severed friendships seem to be a common theme across the episode, as Ciri (Freya Allan) and Dara (Wilson Radjou-Pujalte) also part ways on rather unceremonious terms. Dara warns the princess that Mousesack (Adam Levy) might not be who he claims to be, and after some careful interrogation, Ciri realizes her elf friend is right, this isn't the real Mousesack. Ciri and Dara try to fight off the doppler, who drops his Mousesack form to reveal his true demonic self, but they're unable to kill it. The only option is to run, as fast as they can, into the woods, as the demon gives chase.
After once again saving Ciri, who was tied to a tree by what I presume was a Nilfgaard guard, an upset Dara says they never should have left Brokilon. "You're just like Calanthe," yells Dara. "You bring terror and death wherever you are!" There's obviously a lot of pent up anger from what the Cintrans did to his people, but you can't help but feel Dara is pretty harsh here. "I'm doing the best that I can," says a teary-eyed Ciri. "I'm done apologizing. I'm done with all of this. I have to move on." Sadly, she won't be moving on with Dara by her side. "Find a new family," he tells her, "because I can't be there for you anymore."
Now, as both Ciri and Geralt find themselves alone and friendless, you have to believe this is setting up for their eventual meeting in the final two episodes. It might be destiny pushing them towards each other rather than choice, but the truth is, they need one another more than they could possibly know. And who knows, maybe by the end of the season, Geralt will finally find that thing he's missing.
- I'm not quite sure what is going on with Cahir (Eamon Farren) in this episode. At one point, he fights off and kills a doppler of himself (because the doppler was mad that Cahir didn't warn him of Ciri's special powers). Later, he ominously warns that "the time of the sword and the ax is nigh." We just haven't seen enough of Cahir to understand his motivations or his relevance to the overall narrative yet. However, we do know the mage Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) works by his side, and she sees him as a savior, the man who rose up against the "Usurper."
- Cahir's story perhaps ties into the camp-fire conversation in the Geralt/Yennefer arc, where Yarpen talks of how the "rightful son of Nilfgaard has returned" and is burning through the South. "With Fringilla as his mage," Yennefer adds. This suggests that the timelines are now almost all caught up.
- "Nothing scares you, Geralt of Rivia," says Borch. "Then you don't know Yennefer of Vengerberg," Geralt replies.
The Witcher, Season 1, Streaming, Netflix