Last week, Netflix stormed the halls of MCM London Comic Con and Lucca Comics and Games in a week fans of Henry Cavill’s The Witcher will not soon forget. Throughout the week, a trailer was released alongside new footage. Panels and interviews were held, official stills released and a costume exhibition presented to the fans on the Lucca show floor. Below, we’ve gathered the show’s most surprising plot developments revealed via those sources, including some hinting at surprising departures from Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels. Needless to say, there will be spoilers below.
Yennefer and Geralt’s first meeting will be different than it was in the books
The Witcher‘s exhibition at Lucca Comics and Games presented many of the series’ props and costumes, alongside verbal descriptions of the creative process that led to the costumes’ creation. The dress Anya Chalotra‘s Yennefer wears in the image above, previously thought to belong to the show’s version of the books’ Belleteyn flashback, was described as such:
As with many costumes in the Witcher world, this dress is special. It is the outfit Yennefer is wearing when she first meets Geralt of Rivia in the series. The dress’s design elements earn its bondage reputation with the use of strap effects over the body, and the “cage” effect over the shoulders and arms.
As the text above indicates, the scene in question depicts Yennefer and Geralt’s first meeting. That also explains Yennefer’s dialogue in the scene: “I’ve heard of your kind, witcher. You’re a mutant, created by magic, roaming the Continent and hunting monsters for a price. I thought you’d have fangs or horns or something.”
Surrounding Yennefer and Geralt are, for whatever reason, a lot of naked people doing what naked people do. Clearly stunned by Yennefer, Geralt replies: “I had them filed down.”
In the iconic short story The Last Wish, Geralt and Yennefer first met in entirely different circumstances (involving apple juice and an invisible shower). Two characters related to their first meeting in the books have already been cast (Beau Berrant, whose home Yennefer resides in, and also Chireadan, an elf who is in love with her) so there is still hope that the short story’s iconic scenes will carry forward in some way.
RI INTERVIEW: The Witcher’s Lucas Englander on playing Chireadan
Ciri’s vision will happen in the fourth episode
The promotional picture above, featuring Princess Ciri, is one of several released by Netflix shortly after the premiere of the trailer. Interestingly, the file name of the image source mentions that the scene above belongs to episode “104”, meaning the fourth episode of the upcoming season.
Recently, the title of that episode was revealed to be “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials”. We have long known this episode will adapt the short story A Question of Price, which tells the tale of Ciri’s conception and explains why Geralt is her destiny. Other than that, the episode features a Yennefer storyline where she fails to protect a queen and her baby (more on that below). It seems that Ciri will also have an important role in the episode, as the scene above appears to be a vision or dream sequence with great symbolic significance. The dryads are also confirmed to appear in episode 4, according to their costumes’ description – which means the scene (which looks like a vision or dream sequence) will happen during the Brokilon arc.
In Ciri’s vision (or dream) she finds herself in the middle of a desert, where a magical, purple tree is seen atop the tallest dune. The significance of this tree is unclear, yet fans have speculated that it symbolizes a choice Ciri must make after she enters Brokilon. In the books, Ciri is forced to drink from the “Water of Brokilon”, a substance that turns young girls like Ciri into dryads. Ciri, however, is not a normal child – the Elder Blood flows through her veins, granting her immunity to the magical substance and preventing her from becoming a dryad. Perhaps, in the show, Ciri will decide her own fate, choosing not to become a dryad.
Another shot from the trailer, possibly from the same dream (or vision), is the one where Ciri is seen against a plain, red background. In that scene, her hands are covered in what appears to be blood.
It’s possible, as well, that this vision will reveal to Ciri the truth about her past, by presenting her with the flashback of the banquet from A Question of Price. Here is a quote from Ciri actress Freya Allan which may point to that: “Suddenly, there’s this huge shift where she discovers within a matter of seconds so many different things, it’s overwhelming. And so, yeah, it was interesting to explore her power; see her navigate the truth of her past that’s been totally hidden from her for her whole life.”
Do you believe A Question of Price could be shown from Ciri’s perspective through this vision? If not, what do you think is the significance of this dream sequence? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
The Fall of Cintra will happen much earlier than expected
In both the show’s panels (at London and Lucca) three clips were shown. One of them featured Ciri alone in a snowy forest, approaching a bush of red berries – only to be stopped by the character Dara, who warns that they are poisonous and offers her some rat meat instead. Ciri reluctantly agrees and sits with Dara over a small fire (where the rat is cooked). She then tells him of the horrors she has seen during the Fall of Cintra, and of a knight with a winged helmet who is pursuing her (Eamon Farren‘s not-a-Nilfgaardian Cahir). You can read a transcript of this scene in the link below, or skip to the following paragraph where we discuss the implications.
RELATED ARTICLE: A Detailed Breakdown of The Witcher’s Newest Footage
After showing the clip at London, showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich confirmed this scene would take place in the show’s second episode. Seeing as Cintra is destined to fall before this scene takes place (the fall is described in the dialogue), that means that Cintra will fall either in the first or second episode (probably the first, for dramatic purposes). This is surprising, as Cintra only falls in the series’s final short story. Apparently, in the show, Ciri will be on the run for most of the season.
But that’s not all.
Geralt will be there
One sequence from the trailer shows Geralt fighting Nilfgaardians in a narrow alley. The scene was filmed in the Hungarian castle Monostori Erod, which was used for Cintra’s exterior shots. With smoke, fire and Nilfgaardians at Fort Monostor, it is quite clear that Geralt will be present during the fall of Cintra in the show’s chronology. This does not happen in the books.
In the short story Something More, Geralt decides to travel to Cintra and take Ciri (finally coming to terms with his destiny) and runs into Jaskier on the way there. The bard tells him that he is too late – Cintra has fallen to Nilfgaard, Queen Calanthe is dead, and the Lion Cub of Cintra (Princess Ciri) is gone as well. It looks like the chronology will be altered in the show so that Geralt will travel all the way to Cintra and fight there, and only then lose hope over Ciri’s survival.
More interestingly, with the fall likely to happen in the pilot (or the following episode), Geralt’s presence raises a question regarding the show’s timeline and continuity. As was known for a long while, the pilot will adapt the short story The Lesser Evil, set in the town of Blaviken. It does not seem likely that Geralt will complete the events in Blaviken and travel to Cintra in the same episode only to fight there and lose Ciri. This is similarly unlikely for episode two, which adapts The Edge of the World. So, how will Geralt be present during Cintra’s fall?
Not much is known about the show’s seventh episode, conveniently titled “Before a Fall”, and another description from the exhibition provides some clarity. Detailing Eist’s costume, the description mentions that the king returns to Cintra in episode 7 and finds Calanthe quarreling with Geralt. This is similar to one of the scenes from Something More, where Geralt returns to Cintra to claim his Child Surprise (before he knew it was Ciri) and Calanthe asks him to choose from a group of children instead. Given the importance of the Ciri-Geralt relationship, and given that Geralt will be quite busy until that then, meeting Yennefer and slaying various monsters, it’s likely that this will be where the show will set Geralt on a course to meet the Child of Destiny.
It’s important to note that Geralt’s timeline in the show (including the events in Blaviken) will be set years before the fall of Cintra, and possibly even before Ciri was born. Geralt’s timeline is likely to catch up with that of the young princess towards the end of the season, perhaps in the appropriately named episode “Before a Fall”.
Stregobor will be a teacher at the mage school of Ban Ard
This next plot point has already been speculated by Redanian Intelligence following a report from a source involved with the production. The source mentioned that Stregobor, the mage played by Lars Mikkelsen, appears in Aretuza alongside male students of magic. Now, another description from the costume exhibition (this time belonging to Istredd’s above outfit) confirms Stregobor’s role:
Studying under Stregobor’s tutelage at Ban Ard school, Istredd’s colors are paired down to mainly silver, grey and black. Fabric manipulation is used on the upper part of the jacket with a corded “lightning bolt” detail to the cuffs and at the hem of the trousers. This look is an updated version of the Renaissance doublet and hose.
REDANIAN Archives: Behind the Scenes of The Witcher, Part VI
Geralt will keep Renfri’s broach
The Witcher‘s trailer finally gave us a look at Emma Appleton‘s character, the exiled princess Renfri, who Geralt will meet in the show’s first episode. The character, who is allegedly inflicted with the “Curse of the Black Sun”, was hunted and driven to exile by the mage Stregobor (yes, the same character played by Mikkelsen) for fear that she would become evil and go on a murderous spree. Before the mage could order her assassination, Renfri is able to escape to the wild, where she plots to take her revenge.
Geralt meets Renfri in Blaviken, shortly after seeing Stregobor. Both the mage and the princess ask Geralt to kill the other, and Geralt refuses both offers, having no intention to partake in a “lesser evil”. Geralt also gets romantically involved with Renfri, and the two have great chemistry.
In the end, however, Geralt learns of Renfri’s plot to hold innocent civilians hostage and lure Stregobor from his tower. Fearing for the lives of the innocents, Geralt attacks Renfri’s men. This leads to an unwanted confrontation with Renfri herself, in which Geralt kills her. Then, the innocents he was so eager to save show him no gratitude, and begin pelting him with stones.
Renfri’s death is a defining moment in Geralt’s life, one that he could never forget. The creators of the show chose to underline that point with an interesting visual narrative involving Renfri’s broach. This broach is seen on the exiled princess in the trailer and is later seen in Geralt’s hand (shortly after Renfri is killed). Next, and likely in every following sequence in the series, the broach is seen above the crossguard of Geralt’s steel sword. It appears that the witcher has kept the broach in memory of Renfri, and as a cold reminder that the steel sword demands a terrible cost.
Yennefer will make a scene during the ball at Aretuza
Another description of a costume from the exhibition is that of Yennefer’s ball gown, which she wears to the dance at Aretuza. This scene happens shortly after Yennefer is transformed from hunchback to beauty, and is a great shift in the character’s storyline. Here is the costume’s description:
This may look like a ball gown but, if you look closely, this is the “power” dress. Yennefer chooses to wear this scandalous and revealing dress to the Aretuza ball in an act of defiance when she has fully grown into her abilities by Episode 3. The original description of the dress is “leather and lace” which re-interpreted uses laser-cut leather lace mounted over a silver metallic material to reflect light from behind. The small cape with slashing over the shoulders adds a Medieval feel to the garment.
It appears, then, that Yennefer (who is only a student at the time) will arrive at the ball at Aretuza in an act of defiance, wearing this beautiful dress. In the trailer, she is seen dancing with King Virfuril (played by Ben Lambert), and that is likely because she has become the center of attention in the ballroom. That’s our Yennefer.
The Yennefer story arc involving a baby will begin in the same episode
Interestingly, the storyline involving Queen Kalis of Lyria (played by Isobel Laidler) and her baby will begin in the third episode as well, and it’s possible that these events are related to the ball. Fans have speculated that King Virfuril is the father of the baby, whose parents “orchestrated her final act” (hint: her death). In any case, the still above was taken from episode 103, titled “Betrayer Moon”.
Beside Yennefer and Queen Kalis is a Lyrian knight, one of many who protected Queen Kalis but the only one to survive the attack of the mage in black (played by Marcin Czarnik). This scene is the beginning of a sequence that lasts into the show’s fourth episode, essentially a chase scene with several teleportations through different environments that comes to a climax on a mountaintop. There, the Queen and her baby end up dying.
Following the baby’s death, Yennefer takes to the beach and delivers a heart-felt, ice-cold eulogy before burying the baby in the sand. This scene completes the third piece of the episode’s title, “Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials”.
Dara will be an important character
Dara was a character created especially for the show, and is not featured in Sapkowski’s novels. From the moment he was originally cast, fans went wild with speculation. That speculation only increased when actor Wilson Radjou-Pultaje underwent a facial scan in the show’s pre-production phase, leading many to speculate he would play one of the show’s monsters, or perhaps the djinn.
Now, we know that Dara is just a boy who Ciri meets in the forest while escaping Cahir and the Nilfgaardians. Or, at least, this is what they want us to believe. “Dara is a very crucial part Ciri’s story this season,” said Ciri star Freya Allan during the panel in London. “He is the main source for her different perspective and viewpoint. He’s vital at keeping her going and they make a good team. They are from completely different backgrounds but they get together and it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich added that an earlier version of the script did not include Dara, and that the character was added to give Ciri a mirror to her experiences, as well as someone to talk to during her journey. But that might just be misdirection. The wild speculation is still there, from Dara being a victim of Brokilon’s dryads to him being a shapeshifting doppler. For now, we can only guess.
Ciri will be introduced as a rebellious princess, before Cintra falls
Ciri’s black dress, seen in the series’ first teaser, was featured in the exhibition at Lucca, where it was revealed that this will be Ciri’s debut look in the show:
May we introduce Her Highness, Princess Cirilla of Cintra. This is Ciri’s costume from the knighting scene in Episode 1, where she is seen for the first time as a regal young woman wearing a dress befitting of her status. It is a very grown-up look, hinting at her future responsibilities as eventual Queen of Cintra. The inspiration of this dress is a mixture of both gothic and 1930s fashion.
The knighting scene mentioned above was glimpsed in The Witcher’s first teaser and was also described to us by our production insider. Ciri looks like a reserved and obedient princess in this scene, but she was also described by Allan as a “tomboy”.
As in the books, Ciri doesn’t really like the life of a princess and much prefers to run around and play with the city boys. Since Ciri is older in the show, the games she plays at Cintra have also been changed (no more running around in the mud). Either way, seeing Ciri play around like a common child is a great nod to the books’ characterization.
Bonus: Jaskier is definitely part of the show!
Despite his exclusion from the show’s promotional material, Jaskier (better known as Dandelion) is still a big part of the story. In fact, his back was seen in the recently released trailer (for a fraction of a second), as well as the case containing his lute. The bard, played by Joey Batey, has been criminally hidden throughout production and also in the show’s marketing, but Netflix threw us a bone at the very end of the panel clip featuring Ciri and Dara, where we can hear the beginning of one of Jaskier’s songs.
You can listen to the bard’s song in a recording shared by Redditor u/Boskee on the show’s badass Reddit sub. Skip to the very end and you will hear Joey Batey sing: “You think you’re safe, without a care…” This has been confirmed on the showrunner’s twitter account.
Read the books and found yourself confused by the show’s reconstruction of the story? Check out our analysis of the journeys of the show’s three main characters: Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg and Princess Ciri.