One of the more discussed scenes in the first season of Netflix’s The Witcher was that Eamon Farren‘s Cahir defeated Mahesh Jadu‘s Vilgefortz with the former being a normal human, and the latter being the most powerful mage ever. Book readers knew that this scene felt somewhat off since eventually, Vilgefortz would have to defeat Henry Cavill‘s Geralt during Thanedd.
So how did Cahir, a skilled, but still very much human soldier defeat the most powerful mage ever, who defeated Geralt? Well, after the release of Vol. 2 where there’s a brief explanation and a behind-the-scenes documentary about Making of Season 3, there is a definitive answer.
Showrunner Lauren Hissrich explains how Cahir could defeat Vilgefortz
Many at the time suggested that Vilgefortz was holding back and they were correct. In the actual episode, during the big showdown with Geralt he says: “Know what the hardest part was? Holding back! Hiding my real skills, knowing I could take any life at any time. It was… exasperating.“
This is indeed quite brief and it’s understandable that in the middle of an engaging fight, not everyone would catch that and connect it all the way back to that scene in Season 1.
In the Making The Witcher: Season 3 documentary on Netflix, showrunner Lauren Hissrich explains: “One of the things we got questioned the most about in Season 1 is in Episode 8 when Vilgefortz and Cahir are fighting, and we actually see Cahir very handily defeat Vilgefortz, and fans were in uproar. ‘Vilgefortz is the most powerful mage, there is no way, he could kill Cahir by just looking at him‘
She continues: “There’s a great moment, Vilgefortz explains this season that the hardest thing for him about this long game is that he had to hide his skills. When we see his power demonstrated for the first time, it is against Geralt.“
Even with this explanation, the questions aren’t all completely gone. Would anyone really question Vilgefortz’s allegiance if a powerful mage like him killed a human like Cahir? Did he really need to hide his skills even during a battle? Did he get explicit directives from Emhyr to spare Cahir if they ever came in contact? If so, did he get any other directives how to handle other high-ranking Nilfgaardian persons in combat? Was Vilgefortz the one who put a memory extraction block in Cahir’s mind in Season 2?
Maybe we’ll get some answers in Season 4, maybe we won’t. In any case, it would be a long wait.
The Witcher Season 3 is available on Netflix with The Rats prequel in post-production and The Witcher: Sirens of the Deep anime by Studio Mir is far in production. Stay tuned to Redanian Intelligence and do pop into our Discord server to join in on The Witcher conversation.