Later, it was said the man came from the north, from Roper’s Gate. He came on foot, leading his laden horse by the bridle. It was late afternoon and the ropers’, saddlers’ and tanners’ stalls were already closed, the street empty.The Last Wish; The Witcher
THE second character out of three in our streak of storyline analyses is the one fans know best. Geralt of Rivia has been with us for more than 30 years, with the first short story published in Fantastyka magazine back in 1986, then becoming the protagonist of a beloved book series which lasted until 1999. Since then, The Witcher universe has been portrayed in various official and fan illustrations, comics, audiobooks,
The Hexer, CDPR’s video game trilogy, and now we’ll get to see a TV adaptation of it. Adapting the books for TV, with the former using time-jumps and a different framing narrative, means his story will have to be modified to make the season one plotline work – also allowing for the increased roles of Ciri and Yennefer (now played by Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra respectively). However, because Geralt’s plotline is the most fleshed out of those three characters in the short stories, there’s plenty for us to work with in mapping out Netflix’s take on his journey.
Spoiler warning! This article refers to events from the stories that the show is adapting and gathers information from leaks, interviews, and other sources. Read at your own discretion.
The Netflix series will likely begin with a presentation of what it means to be a witcher, what the job entails and how this shapes one of the protagonists of the story. The pilot episode will be based not on The Witcher story that introduced Geralt to book readers, but The Lesser Evil. This fits showrunner Lauren S Hissrich’s statement in an interview with 411mania about telling a present-day story that unfolds in chronological order; The Lesser Evil takes place before the events of The Witcher.
The Lesser Evil introduces Geralt to us as a monster hunter. The story starts with Geralt entering the town of Blaviken carrying a kikimore corpse. The kikimore was described in the books as a spider-like monster with dry black skin, a glassy eye with a vertical pupil and needle-like fangs in its bloody jaws, inhabiting swamps. It bears a striking similarity to the final scene in the teaser wherein Geralt is about to fight a spider-like monster in a foggy swamp. There’s also an excerpt from the fifth page of the pilot episode, posted by Hissrich on Twitter:
With his silver sword reserved for monsters, it’s likely that this fight will serve as a cold open to the first episode, before leading into Geralt entering the town.
In the story Geralt faces a choice between killing a manipulative princess-turned-bandit Renfri (Emma Appleton) or letting her kill the powerful sorcerer who wronged her, Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen). Inaction will see Renfri’s band kill innocent townsfolk, so Geralt faces a choice between different evils. The bloody final outcome sees the Witcher go down in history as the infamous Butcher of Blaviken, whose reputation will be known through the entire Continent.
One of the best known characters in the Witcher universe is a horse (or many thereof) named Roach. During the SDCC panel, Henry Cavill, who plays Geralt of Rivia in the Netflix series, shared his thoughts on the connection between Geralt and his trusty steed: “Geralt isn’t Geralt without Roach. We meet Roach with Geralt at the beginning of the story, and as a lot of you know, Roach is more than just a horse. Roach is actually […] an anchor to Geralt’s honest and true self. […] he’s gone through a few Roachs already, and the Roach that he’s on, she’s everything to him. She’s the one source of humanity he has left… kind of like a therapy horse.”
In the same panel, Hissrich confirmed that Geralt will have a heartfelt monologue to Roach in the first episode. Given our thoughts on Ellander in season one, which will be described later in this article, there is a high probability that this monologue will be pulled from the one given by Geralt to the mute priestess Iola in The Last Wish’s short story, The Voice of Reason.
[…] Then they taught me various things until the day when I left Kaer Morhen and took to the road. I’d earned my medallion, the Sign of the Wolf’s School. I had two swords: silver and iron, and my conviction, enthusiasm, incentive and… faith. Faith that I was needed in a world full of monsters and beasts, to protect the innocent. As I left Kaer Morhen, I dreamed of meeting my first monster. I couldn’t wait to stand eye to eye with him. And the moment arrived.
I should have listened to the voice of reason that time… I didn’t. I thought I was choosing the lesser evil. I chose the lesser evil. Lesser evil! I’m Geralt! Witcher… I’m the Butcher of Blaviken— […]The Last Wish; The Voice of Reason, an excerpt from the monologue
The monologue is very expository – it describes witchers, their home, and how they were created; we also learn more about Geralt’s internal, jaded thoughts on the world, that quickly stifled his belief in justice, righteousness of his profession, and his place in society.
“A witcher is a young boy left on the streets, left to fend for himself, who’s taken in by this group called witchers. Each kid is then put through trials to test their potential and most of these children do not survive — say, one in 10 survive these trials — but they’re trained in the art of monster hunting. They travel the world providing their services for coin.”Henry Cavill during the San Diego Comic Con panel
In a way, this scene is therapeutic for Geralt, as he gets to let out the bitterness he often has to keep to himself. Considering the mention of Blaviken, it might take place at the end of the first episode – if they don’t cut this part out. And, looking at how the show is taking a chronological approach to its timelines, it might be a substitute for Kaer Morhen flashbacks or territory to include them with Geralt’s voice-over, which would not only help us grasp what witchers are and what Geralt is going through, but also set up a scene with a certain sorceress in Something More.
Jaskier and elves
The second episode, directed by Alik Sakharov, is rumoured to be adapting The Edge of the World. Not much is known about Netflix’s take on this story, save for the cast and possible filming locations – but we do know about the crucial points the short story contributed to the narrative road the book readers followed with Geralt in The Last Wish collection.
The Edge of the World introduces us to Jaskier, Geralt’s best friend
(besides Roach), whose humour and light-hearted attitude starkly contrasts with Geralt’s seriousness. Jaskier often brings trouble and annoys Geralt “as much as humanly possible” (as described by the showrunner in an interview with TheWitcher.tv), but he also has proven many times that he’s truly a loyal friend and a tender-hearted poet who is quite perceptive about the world. We absolutely cannot wait to see Joey Batey’s portrayal of our beloved bard who will go on a long journey with Geralt throughout the series.
In the show, this short story will likely be preluded with Istredd’s (Royce Pierreson) monologue featured in the teaser trailer, in either the first or second episode. In the story we learn about the racial tensions running through the Continent as well as the injustices committed by humankind against elves, wiping out and cornering them in the fringes of their lands. For non-humans, there are no options other than adjusting to this new society, accepting the life of hiding on the declining tracts of land or joining the rebellious and bloody guerrilla fighters, Scoia’tael (like Natasha Culzac’s Toruviel). We also discover Geralt’s take on this in his confrontation with a prideful leader of elves, Filavandrel (Tom Canton):
[…] By refusing to cohabit, you’re condemning yourselves to annihilation. To cohabit, to come to an understanding, that’s your only chance.
” Why are you avoiding my eyes, strange human? How do you find cohabiting with neighbors from whom, after all, you do differ somewhat?”
“I manage.” The witcher looked him straight in the eyes. “I manage because I have to. Because I’ve no other way out. […]”The Last Wish, The Edge of the World
Here, Geralt not only presents his view on the racial issues but also addresses how he deals with being an outsider in this society – a monster killer who, despite saving people, is being called a freak and monstrosity. Geralt is very aware that he, just like elves, dwarves, and gnomes, is not considered equal to other humans but similar to other feared monsters. He copes with this on his own. Including this element would be a crucial point in setting up Geralt’s character for further development as the show continues – just as his stance on neutrality has been established so it can be challenged down the road.
One episode later and the show will be covering The Witcher short story. This short story was the first written by Sapkowski and the one that made readers of Fantastyka fall in love with and ask for more of the mysterious Geralt of Rivia. The Witcher begins with Geralt being brought to the court of Temeria. There, the king asks him to cure his daughter who was turned into a bloodthirsty striga. The story is similar to The Lesser Evil and A Grain of Truth – it shows Geralt doing a classic witcher job in a monster-of-the-week formula and further develops his character within the story. It’s also an episode that might showcase the first major deviations from the books.
The episode will feature original roles, such as Gudmundur Thorvaldsson’s Remus and Andrey Kurganov’s Tsoka. Gudmundur described his role as “a witch hunter”. There are no witch hunters in the books at this stage, so they might have been added, or it’s possible that he plays a striga hunter or another witcher. In The Witcher story, there were two witchers who attempted to fight the cursed striga – one of them tried and was killed, and the other tried to kill her instead of attempting a cure and fled upon seeing her in action. The man from the still (taken from the teaser) looks indisputably similar to Gudmundur. His surroundings also bring to mind the conditions required to fight a striga – in the middle of night. Our theory is that the Gudmundur scene will be the third episode’s cold open; he will either run away or be killed by the monster, a representation of the previous witchers who tried and failed in the original short story. However, there’s a counterargument to this theory, which will be presented below.
In the teaser, a man says, “I remember hearing stories about witchers. Is it true what they say?“. Shaun Dooley has confirmed on Twitter that the voice belongs to none other than his King Foltest. If Geralt is the first witcher Foltest encounters, he would have done more than “hearing stories” about witchers, and that contradicts the theory posted above about two witchers already having attempted to take on the striga.
Another interesting detail is that Foltest does not say these lines in the books. The king mentions several witchers taking on the job in the past, inquires as to Geralt’s experience, tells him details of the jobs, and asks him to try to reverse the spell first rather than killing the princess immediately. But there’s another character in The Last Wish who indeed said something similar.
“I’ve heard about witchers—they abduct tiny children whom they feed with magic herbs. The ones who survive become witchers themselves, sorcerers with inhuman powers. They’re taught to kill, and all human feelings and reactions are trained out of them. They’re turned into monsters in order to kill other monsters. I’ve heard it said it’s high time someone started hunting witchers, as there are fewer and fewer monsters and more and more witchers . […] Why don’t you say anything? How much of the rumors about you witchers is true?”The Last Wish, A Grain of Truth
A Grain of Truth, a twisted take on Grimm’s Beauty and the Beast tale, was one of these stories that was never certain to be adapted. There is a limit of eight episodes in the first season, and in terms of narrative, The Lesser Evil and The Witcher are performing the same task in fleshing out Geralt’s character. Chalotra and Allan not knowing about Nivellen in a recent interview with IGN, plus the lines above being assigned to Foltest instead, strongly signal that this story won’t be featured in season one. In fact, it’s possible Foltest’s role will be expanded to encompass some of the content cut from other characters, as he’ll be the one to ask Geralt about his profession’s infamy and his personal integrity. That said, with a rumored season two on its way, there might still be a chance for Nivellen’s story to appear since it can fit anywhere in the timeline. If later seasons need a monster of the week, he’s their guy.
Later in The Witcher short story, Geralt speaks to King Foltest in private about the difficult task he’s facing, but he mostly focuses on reversing the spell cast upon the princess and gives Foltest advice preventing the curse from returning. This ultimately earns him the king’s trust.
In the recent teaser, we see glimpses of Geralt’s fierce fight with the striga. Book readers know that despite his precautions, he eventually takes a lethal blow after letting his guard down. This lapse in judgment leaves him heavily injured and his throat torn apart.
Introducing Triss Merigold of Maribor
In the books, Triss Merigold debuts only in Blood of Elves, when she visits Kaer Morhen upon Geralt’s request. Even so, there are traces of her earlier in the stories, such as when Yennefer mentions her in The Last Wish and when her name is mentioned among the heroes who fell in the Battle of Sodden Hill. In the teaser, Triss, played by Anna Shaffer, is introduced much earlier in the story. She appears in a scene with a recovering Geralt after his fight with a monster. There’s a strong possibility that it occurs in episode three and that Triss pinch-hits for another character, as Foltest did previously.
In the books, Geralt recovers from his injuries caused by the striga in Ellander, east of Vyzima, where he’s being treated by Melitele’s grumpy but caring archpriestess Nenneke and her proteges. It occurs in The Voice of Reason story, which was used as a framing device to tie together the first set of short stories in The Last Wish. Nenneke (pictured above), despite what she says, serves as a motherly figure to Geralt, questioning his life choices and calling him out (relatable mom stuff), but also showing him compassion. However, with the change in medium as well as the change in structure, it’s likely there will be no need for Ellander in season one. In steps Triss, whose meeting with an injured Geralt takes its place.
Why include Triss in the third episode — which has been confirmed in our interview with Jason Thorpe who plays Lord Ostrit in the same episode — when she wasn’t present in The Witcher? It was actually the first short story published by Sapkowski, not intended to be followed up with a continuation, so Triss’s character wasn’t created yet. Later, it was established that Triss serves as a member of King Foltest’s royal council, so it would make sense for her to be present in Temeria scenes, both to counsel Foltest and to heal Geralt (she’s said to be a skilled healer). This added time with Triss clearly sets up a bigger emotional payoff in the Sodden finale; she’ll get to have her character established before the negative character development that follows and her redemption arc thereafter.
Related article: EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with The Witcher’s Lord Ostrit actor Jason Thorpe
In fact, the biggest question with Triss seems to be whether or not she sleeps with Geralt in this scene. In my opinion, it is quite likely, in order to set up their reunion at Kaer Morhen in season two. However, with our prediction that The Witcher occurs in the third episode and The Last Wish occurs in the fifth episode, it looks as if Geralt meets Triss earlier than Yennefer – unless The Last Wish is a flashback (this is not that likely as the showrunner said that flashbacks would be used sparingly, if at all). Book fans might recall that they slept together once while Geralt and Yennefer were on a break. Triss used magic to lure him to her bed, a factor in their coupling that she later comes to regret as she realizes she’s hopelessly in love with him. These events impact both their relationships with Yennefer, though in Triss’s case, forgiveness is a steeper hill to climb.
There are three possibilities:
- The Last Wish features in episode five as a flashback. Geralt already knows Yennefer during the events of the third episode, but they’re on the outs. That’s when Geralt and Triss sleep with each other. In The Voice of Reason, Geralt sleeps with Iola, drawn to her in his longing for Yennefer. It also takes place after Geralt abandons Yennefer in the post-The Last Wish stage of their relationship. Geralt and Nenneke discussed his relationship with Yennefer, with Nenneke calling him out, and Triss could take on that role, as she knows Yennefer too. It all would happen under the assumption that The Last Wish will indeed be a flashback.
- The Last Wish happens at present time in episode five. Geralt and Triss sleep with each other in episode three. He meets her before Yennefer and it changes the context of Geralt/Triss and Yennefer/Triss in further seasons, as they sleep with each other when Yennefer is not in the picture yet.
- The Last Wish happens at present time in episode five. Geralt and Triss do not sleep with each other in episode three. Their one-time romance happens off-screen, as Triss mentions it in the beginning of season two (if it follows the events of the books, with Triss arriving at Kaer Morhen at Geralt’s request).
Regarding Nenneke: fear not. Her absence doesn’t mean her character is being entirely cut out. Although we might miss her early scenes with Geralt, she does have a very crucial role in Blood of Elves, with Ciri training at Ellander under Yennefer’s tutelage. That’s where, after all, Yennefer realizes Ciri’s potential as a sorceress, which sets in motion the events that lead them all to Aretuza. We hope to see Nenneke brought to life on screen again.
The Law of Surprise
With Ciri’s story happening in the present timeline and the sacking of Cintra likely in episode three, the next episode, which features A Question of Price, is bound to be a flashback. We should learn about the memorable day when Ciri’s fate tied itself to Geralt’s through destiny and about the Law of Surprise, the very same law her father, Duny (Bart Edwards) invoked in demanding Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May) give Princess Pavetta’s (Gaia Mondadori) hand in marriage.
[…] The clip opens with Geralt taking up arms and fighting alongside Duny against Queen Calanthe’s guards and subjects. Another man, a noble it looks like, joins the fight alongside Geralt and Duny. I’m paraphrasing, but he says: “The Law of Surprise has been invoked. If you kill them, you must kill me too.” And he starts fighting to defend Geralt and Duny. Calanthe has eventually seen enough and picks up a sword and enters the fray. She crosses swords with Geralt and asks him to stop. […]WheelJack83’s detailed description of Geralt’s featured scene from the Comic Con panel
When the banquet fight kicks off, Geralt takes Duny’s side and helps in lifting the curse cast upon him, with Calanthe allowing him to marry Ciri’s mom, Pavetta. In the end, Duny wants to return the favour, and Geralt invokes the Law of Surprise as his reward.
“Duny, Calanthe, Pavetta. And you, righteous knight Tuirseach, future king of Cintra. In order to become a witcher, you have to be born in the shadow of destiny, and very few are born like that. That’s why there are so few of us. We’re growing old, dying, without anyone to pass our knowledge, our gifts, on to. We lack successors. And this world is full of Evil which waits for the day none of us are left. […] Duny! You will give me that which you already have but do not know. I’ll return to Cintra in six years to see if destiny has been kind to me.”The Last Wish, A Question of Price
In the teaser, we see Mousesack (Adam Levy) underlining the importance of the powerful bond born of destiny that Geralt has created with the Surprise Child. It seems to happen shortly after the Cintra feast – the entire place is in shambles, windows are shattered after Pavetta unleashed her power as a Source – and both Cavill and Levy wear the same costumes that were shown during the banquet fight. Mousesack, as in the books, will serve as a mentor, reminding Geralt of his fateful responsibility, one he’s already reluctant to take.
[…] No, no, no. I never look back. I’ll never return to Cintra. I’ll avoid it like the plague. I’ll never go back there. […]The Last Wish, The Voice of Reason, a fragment of Geralt’s monologue to Iola
Tied by fate
Geralt and Yennefer’s stormy romance, also described in HeroOfRodden’s analysis of Yennefer’s storyline, revolves around them having their fates tied together by Geralt’s meaningful last wish to a djinn. They get together for years, split up for years, hurting and caring for each other, and not being able to be honest with their own feelings. Both are traumatized by their past experiences and the environments they grew up in. Yennefer desperately wants to cure her infertility and Geralt does not want to recognize that he has emotions, too, for he was conditioned to perceive himself as a monster.
After Geralt abandons her after The Last Wish, they meet again four years later during what we speculate to be the events of episode six: the dragon hunt in The Bounds of Reason. Yennefer is set on killing the most beautiful dragon in an attempt to secure ingredients that can be used to cure her infertility, while Geralt’s code forbids him from doing so. During the story, Yennefer forgives him and they get back together, only to be separated later in A Shard of Ice. They are not able to open their hearts to each other as they’re both too scared of commitment. This eventually leads to Yen leaving. They meet again a year later on Belleteyn, when Yen concludes that destiny is not enough to tie them together; something more is needed for their relationship to work.
The Surprise Child
Geralt wants to run away from the forces (destiny, fate) he obstinately rejects, but they eventually catch up with him. In the books, he finds Ciri years later in Brokilon forest, after she ran away from an unwanted marriage. Geralt realizes she’s the child from the Law of Surprise he was meant to come back for. However, despite destiny finding him, he refuses to take her under his care and, instead, sends her back to Cintra. After, years later, Yennefer asks him to, warning him about the dark times coming, he ultimately accepts the responsibility destiny gave him and decides to go back to Cintra. Alas, upon arriving at the nearby Yaruga river, he learns that Cintra and its royal family had been entirely massacred by Nilfgaard, and Ciri is not likely to have survived.
It is possible, however, that Geralt and Ciri’s timeline will be changed in the show, which will be discussed in detail in upcoming Ciri’s narrative analysis. That analysis will cover The Sword of Destiny adaptation, whether Geralt is present in the episode, and its impact on the final story, Something More.
The season finale
Something More provides the conclusion to Geralt’s struggle against destiny. He accepts his fate, but it turns out he acted too late – Nilfgaard had already destroyed Cintra. This story sees Geralt dealing with grief and regret, as he’s sure he’s lost two of the most important people in his life – Yennefer and Ciri. He saves a merchant from monsters under the promise of the Law of Surprise as a reward, but gets injured in doing so, which leads to fever dreams. In them, he has flashbacks, thanks to which the reader learns what happened to Cintra, Ciri, and Yennefer.
His mind wanders back to Belleteyn, the Night of May festivities, where he reunites with Yennefer who tells him to travel to Cintra once again. While we do not know whether the fever dream sequence will be featured in the eighth and final episode as flashbacks, there is a scene in the teaser that is clearly depicting Belleteyn – save for the location change from outdoors to indoors (logical, as Hissrich has said filming in forests was challenging). We see Geralt meeting a beautifully dressed Yennefer amid the people making love to each other in a hypnotizing, dance-like manner. The sequence has an uncanny and dreamy feel to it, raising our hopes of it appearing in the finale.
Geralt recalls his first return to Cintra, which took place six years after the events of A Question of Price and that meeting with Queen Calanthe. In that memory, he declines an opportunity to take the Surprise Child.
“I was, an ordinary orphan, […] a kid that his mother, whom he does not remember, did not want. But I know who she is.”The Sword of Destiny, Something More
Geralt fever dreams are interwoven with moments of wakefulness, one of which sees him being healed by a mysterious woman who introduces herself as Visenna. The witcher recognizes her, though, as his mother. She gave him away to witchers in Kaer Morhen, condemning him to the miserable, loveless childhood undergoing harsh trainings and painful life-threatening experiments that would turn him into a mutant, ostracized by society.
We do not know whether Visenna has been cast. This scene, seeing Geralt facing his mother, grieving over the damage she did to him and learning she was actually the one to give him his name, does an important job in contributing to the overall melancholy of Something More.
If Visenna is indeed heading for our screens, then our money is going on Anna-Louise Plowman, who was confirmed by her casting agency United Agents to have a part in the show. She was followed on social media by Jack Wolfe, playing Nadbor, around the same time he added Marc Jobst who is confirmed to direct the season finale. Nadbor is the son of Yurga, the merchant Geralt saves. Plowman fits Something More‘s description of Visenna as having a short nose and a narrow chin, not looking similar to Geralt.
Later, as they’re passing the area in which it happened, Geralt and Yurga talk about the second battle of Sodden that took the lives of 14 sorcerers. The battle of Sodden is confirmed to be in the season finale, teased to be quite explosive.
“[…] The ground rose up, the sky spat fiery rain. Lightning struck. Corpses littered the ground. But the sorcerers at last vanquished the Black Ones and snuffed out the power that animated them. Fourteen of them did not return. Fourteen of them gave their lives… ”The Sword of Destiny, Something More
Geralt learns about the death of these mages, some of whom he knew. He’s too afraid to confront the truth about Yennefer’s possible death, refusing to read the final name on a memorial listing those who died. He meets Death and asks her to take her him away because Ciri and Yennefer are gone. “Not today,” she says, and leaves. Geralt later learns Yennefer is not among those who fell.
It is not clear whether we, as the viewers, will see the battle or know Yennefer’s fate before Geralt’s sees the memorial stone on the hill – though the clapperboards for the Ogrodzieniec Castle scenes listed them as being at the beginning of the episode. The deaths at Sodden could be revealed through flashbacks. It will certainly hit our emotions hard, as those fallen sorcerers will have been more fleshed out by the show. We know we’ll be seeing Vanielle of Brugge (Judit Fekete) and Coral (Rhianna McGreevy), with the latter’s subplot with Geralt from Season of Storms a possible source of material for her. We know Hissrich received an early copy of its translation. And let’s not forget Triss Merigold, the Fourteenth of the Hill!
Exercising the Law of Surprise as a thank you for saving him, Yurga takes Geralt to his house to find out that his wife, Goldencheeks, adopted a daugher during his absence. The daughter turned out to be none other than Ciri. It’s still unclear whether in Netflix’s adaptation Geralt will meet Ciri in Brokilon, before the siege of Cintra, or after it – as set out in our future analysis of Ciri’s story. Could Something More be their first meeting?
The reunion of Geralt and Ciri is the emotional peak of Something More and is likely to be that for the show’s season finale too – amid sorrow, grief, and destruction it turned out that destiny was giving hope to our witcher, as he and his child of destiny are reunited once again. Ciri is something much more than that, though.