Anyone who has read the novel Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski will remember that things get much, much more interesting when Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri arrive at the mages’ island, Thanedd.
In the novel, it was actually the first time book readers were introduced to the magical location and its manipulative and often backstabbing inhabitants, but by the time our main characters will set foot on Thanedd island in the show, it will already have been a well-established location better known for its School of Sorceresses, Aretuza.
One would argue that the show has been laying the groundwork for the events coming up in Season 3 since the very beginning when they chose to explore Yennefer’s backstory and introduce many of her fellow mages much earlier than they appeared in the books. And now, it seems that an event two seasons in the making is currently being filmed behind closed doors, inside the intricate sets of Longcross Studios.
Who is behind the production of Thanedd?
These highly anticipated scenes will appear in episodes five and/or six of the upcoming season and will be directed by American Horror Story, Warrior, and Banshee alumni Loni Peristere.
As for the writers, episode five was written bye Clare Higgins who previously wrote the third episode of Season 2, and episode six was written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach who has previously written for Lost, The Dark Crystal, and The 100.
We don’t know exactly how the sequence will be distributed among these two episodes, but it’s safe to assume that the sixth episode will include quite a bit of action and likely the most of the entire Thanedd sequence.
With Peristere’s experience directing a martial arts series like Warrior and Wolfgang Stegemann, of the Blaviken fight fame, doing the fight choreography, it will be a sight to see.
Though we will try to avoid spoilers, it is best to avoid this article if you haven’t read the books.
Mages and Sorceresses Convene at Longcross Studios
While one unit of the crew was filming Ciri scenes on the Sahara Desert in Morocco, a second unit returned to the production headquarters in Longcross Studios, where the many sets of the third season have been built. Many of these sets will no doubt portray the various halls and corridors of Aretuza, the School of Sorceresses that fans have seen as early as the show’s second episode.
Throughout the past couple of weeks, various members of The Witcher‘s cast showed up for filming in the studio, and most of them happened to be mages. The most notable of them was Cassie Clare who portrays the sorceress Philippa Eilhart.
Fans will remember that Philippa appeared briefly in her human form at the end of Season 2, after spending most of the season in owl form.
Despite her short screentime in the previous season, Philippa will in fact be an incredibly important character in the seasons to come and one of two key players vying for power on Thanedd Island, so expect to see much more of her in Season 3 and beyond.
Another key player who showed up for filming in the past few days is Lars Mikkelsen, who portrays the mage we all love to hate, Stregobor. Stregobor has been pissing the audience off since the very first episode, in which he was involved in Renfri’s downfall and the murder of other “cursed” children. After that, Stregobor relocated to Aretuza where he continued to anger viewers, this time by plotting against Yennefer and Tissaia.
Will Stregobor finally get his due in season three during the events at Thanedd? We sure hope so. Mikkelsen’s costar Ryan Hayes who portrays the newcomer mage Artaud Terranova shared a picture while they were taking a break from filming. Terranova was one of the leading mages in the novels, and book readers will know where the events on Thanedd lead him.
Also on set were a number of new mage characters. One of these mages, played by Safiyya Ingar, is believed to be Kiera Metz. Ingar has been on set very frequently in the past few weeks, so it’s likely they were involved in most of the Thanedd scenes filmed.
Additionally on set was mage actor Harvey Quinn whose role is yet unknown, but he could perhaps be Dorregaray or Fercart. Quinn also shared a picture of himself, Hayes and Mikkelsen while on a break.
These are just the actors that shared their return to the set on social media. Naturally, many more of the show’s cast members chose to keep their silence, and we suspect that most of the following were present for filming as well:
Henry Cavill as Geralt, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer, MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Mimi Khayisa as Fringilla, Mecia Simson as Francesca, Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor, Royce Pierreson as Istredd, Anna Shaffer as Triss, Rochelle Rose as Margarita, Graham McTavish as Dijkstra, Therica Wilson-Read as Sabrina, Terrence Maynard as Artorius, Aisha Fabienne Ross as Lydia, and last but not least, Mahesh Jadu as Vilgefortz. And perhaps many more.
Expect a couple of other new additions as well, as we’ve heard early on that the writers were considering adding Dorregaray and Marti as well as other characters from the novels.
The Thanedd Ball Commences
Readers of Time of Contempt will remember that two major events occurred on Thanedd Island. The first half of Andrzej Sapokwski’s double-banger of a second act is an elegant ball inviting mages from all around the world and, well, Geralt.
This chapter is incredibly important as it places all major players in position for the chaos that follows, but besides the pivotal machinations going on behind the scenes, it also happens to be one of the most hilarious chapters in Sapkowski’s novels. Needless to say, fans have set their expectations very high for the show’s adaptation of the Thanedd ball.
In the past week, our sources have confirmed that several dancers have been called to the Witcher set a Longcross Studios and, given the circumstances, it does seem to be exactly what we think.
Safiyya Ingar, presumed to be Keira Metz, has also shared that they’ve been dressed “hyper femme” on set throughout the past week. It’s safe to say that the Thanedd Ball, with all it’s awkward and hilarious twists and turns, is now being filmed.
A sequence such as this one would not be a first for the show, as elegant balls were already featured in previous seasons, both in Cintra and Aretuza. However, fans are expecting Netflix to go all out with the set design and specifically the costumes for the Thanedd ball.
With that said, it’s a good opportunity to remind the fans that Art Designer Andrew Laws will continue to oversee the set design and art direction of the show in Season 3, as he had in the previous two seasons. Alongside Laws, Season 2 Costume Designer Lucinda Wright will also return.
Let the Fighting Begin
Here’s another casual reminder that there will be spoilers in this article, particularly in this next bit. You have been warned!
In the last section of the article, we mentioned that the events on Thanedd can be separated into two main sequences. The first is the extravagant Thanedd Ball, and the second is the bloody Thanedd Coup.
It’s safe to say many of the show’s mages are about to lose their heads by the time this particular sequence is over, and even those who seem to survive it may see their demise shortly after. This event is a huge turning point in he novels not just because of these deaths, but also because of the power vacuum that follows and the two major characters who fill that vacuum: Vilgefortz and Philippa.
Though Philippa employs occasionally shady methods, she does have the Continent’s best interests at heart. Vilgefortz, on the other hand, is a completely different story. As viewers will see in the coming season, Vilgefortz has played a role in many of the events that transpired across the first two seasons, and he is directly responsible for some of the hardships our main characters have had to endure. The Thanedd Ball and Coup serve as a reintroduction to Vilgefortz as essentially the main villain of the story.
Naturally, this leads to a major confrontation between this villain and the story’s leading hero, the titular Witcher. The duel between Geralt of Rivia and Vilgefortz of Roggeveen is one of the most exciting fights in the novels, and thanks to a few eagle-eyed fans and their military-grade cameras, we have numerous pictures from the filming of this fight scene.
The duel was filmed at Three Cliffs Bay in Wales, which will no doubt represent the beaches of Thanedd Island in the show. In these pictures, you can see Geralt, his face in blood and bruises, wearing his classic black shirt, while Mahesh Jadu’s stunt double is wearing a brand-new Vilgefortz costume.
Like in the novels, Vilgefortz will be fighting with his staff as a blunt weapon, rather than the disposable blades he used in the first season.
Though this fight is very cool, it is just one of many exciting confrontations expected during the Thanedd Coup. Another major showdown is the not-a-Nilfgaardian knight Cahir‘s duel with Ciri. This is an important moment for Ciri, as Cahir encapsulates all of her trauma from the Fall of Cintra and the ensuing events. This is also the moment she first sees Cahir as a human, weak and somewhat pathetic, incapable of fighting her.
Another highly anticipated scene is the confrontation between Philippa and Vilgefortz in Aretuza’s main hall and Tissaia‘s interruption. The Rectoress of Aretuza wishes to stop the fighting and prevent the fall of Thanedd Island. In the show, this moment will be even more impactful now that we have gotten to know Tissaia better, and due to her romantic relationship with Vilgefortz. Her partner’s betrayal is going to be painful to watch, and readers of the novels know what happens next.
Now we have a pretty good idea of when the Thanedd Ball and Coup will take place in the upcoming season, and the cast and crew currently involved in its filming. Stay tuned to Redanian Intelligence and do pop into our Discord server to join in on The Witcher conversation.