Over the past week, Netflix has relocated filming of The Witcher season two to one of England’s most beautiful ruins: Fountains Abbey. The ruins were the setting of a massive night shoot involving many of the series cast members, including Henry Cavill’s costar Anya Chalotra (Yennefer of Vengerberg). We have already reported that this scene appears to be a gathering of mages, kings and politicians from the Northern Kingdoms, and today’s report may hint at what they’re gathering for.
SPOILER WARNING: If you wish to avoid spoilers for The Witcher‘s second season, you may regret reading this post.
Pictures of the set at Fountains Abbey suggest a dramatic scene
The new pictures and details come courtesy of an onlooker who prefers to remain anonymous.
Our source was present at the Abbey during the night, while filming was taking place inside the ruins. According to them, the scene involved a gathering of many actor in robes (likely referring to the mages we showed in yesterday’s article). our source also managed to explore the location where filming would take place and found an interesting construction setup there. Take a look at these new images from the nightshoot at Fountains Abbey and read our speculation on the scene below.
Inside the ruins, at the end of a corridor decorated with dozens of red flags, the Witcher crew erected what appears to be a giant altar or monument. To either side of the altar, there were tall wooden constructs looking very much like pyres. Between these pyres and in front of the altar, our source found an executioner’s block. It looks like the scene filmed at Fountains Abbey will be more much more dramatic than we first believed.
Before The Witcher‘s cast arrived for filming at Fountains Abbey, we speculated that the location will be the show’s Shaerrawedd, a once-great Elven palace now in ruins. We’re not quite certain about that anymore.
Our best guess right now leans towards something completely different: the ruins atop Sodden Hill. What place would be better to show what happens in the aftermath of the war against Nilfgaard than the location of the final battle? The fact that most of the characters seen on location participated in that battle is also quite telling, as are the plaques on the altar in the middle of the set. Perhaps the altar is the show’s version of the memorial to the Fourteen of the Hill, the mages who gave their lives to save the North? And what of the red flags, which we once suspected to be elven? Your guess is as good as ours on that front.
More interesting, however, is the executioner’s block. We have a pretty good idea who’s head it was made for.
Cahir is in big trouble
The week’s filming at Fountains Abbey showed us many new pictures of the Witcher’s cast as they prepared for filming, and all but one were frequent guests of Yennefer’s storyline. The character that stood out was Eamon Farren’s Cahir, now looking rather rugged with a huge beard and shirtless.
In the pictures, Cahir can also be seen wearing the old Nilfgaardian armor. The striped pants and wrinkled boots are proof that Cahir hasn’t just been avoiding the barber: He is quite clearly a captive of the Northern Kingdoms. The Nilfgaardian (Vicovarian) knight was last seen watching as Yennefer tipped the scales of the Battle of Sodden. After her fiery wave decimated the Nilfgaardian army, King Foltest arrived with reinforcements from Temeria, Kaedwen and Skellige that are sure to make quick work of Cahir’s remaining forces, presumably leaving him at the mercy of the Northern Kingdoms.
The Northerners don’t seem to be in a merciful mood. As no other Nilfgaardians were seen on set during filming of this scene, we’re thinking that the executioner’s block was made for Cahir.
Readers of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels and followers of Redanian Intelligence will know this isn’t the end of the line for Cahir. In fact, Eamon Farren was also photographed in the Water Gardens adjacent to Fountains Abbey, filming a completely different scene. In those pictures, Cahir was wearing the redesigned Nilfgaardian armor which will come into play a few episodes into the second season.
We now know the scene filmed at the Water Gardens will take place later than the one filmed at the ruins (probably in the sixth or seventh episodes directed by Louise Hooper). In short, if Cahir is the recipient of this rather public execution attempt, he will live to see another day. The question is how? Surrounded by the elite of the Northern mages as well as an entire army led by King Foltest, the odds aren’t exactly in his favor.
It’s likely, then, that someone will interrupt the execution: perhaps, to offer a completely different pathway. Sparing Cahir’s life, and perhaps that of other Nilfgaardian prisoners, may present the Northern Kingdoms with an opportunity to negotiate with Nilfgaard. In the novels, a peace treaty is eventually signed, chiefly thanks to the efforts of Vilgefortz of Roggeveen. As it happens, Vilgefortz actor Mahesh Jadu was also present for filming inside the Abbey.
In the show, we haven’t seen Vilgefortz’s cunning and sharp rhetoric yet, as he only had a few scenes in the first season. Perhaps the most controversial thing about Vilgefortz in season one was that the mage was defeated by Cahir during the Battle of Sodden. Though the scene does not seem to suggest it outright, some fans believe Vilgefortz lost the fight on purpose. Could the mage be arguing in favor of sparing the Nilfgaardian’s life in order to use him as a pawn in a larger political game? That would certainly be in-character for Vilgefortz.
After a month of filming on locations near London and across Northern England, The Witcher‘s cast and crew will be returning to the production headquarters in Arborfield Studios. Fortunately, the production will not be affected by England’s pandemic lockdown, and filming will continue as scheduled.
If you’ve missed our previous report on Fountains Abbey, make sure to check it out as it has many new pictures of the cast and crew preparing for filming (linked below).