[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 Episode 8, “Family.”]
Throughout the season, we’ve been told that if Ciri’s (Freya Allan) powers end up in the wrong hands, it could lead to all-out destruction. Oh boy, was that right! The Season 2 finale sees a possessed Ciri unleash her unbridled chaos on the world, leading to a monster fight of epic proportions and one of the most exhilarating episodes of television this year.
Whatever you may think of The Witcher, there is no denying the series knows how to pull off a show-stopping season finale. The first season culminated with the brutality of battle at Sodden Hill, with Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) releasing her fire magic in an eye-catching climax. Season 2’s finale matches and, at times, surpasses that intensity while also teasing what’s to come with some particularly juicy cliffhangers.
Under Voleth Meir’s possession, Ciri is trapped between two worlds. In one reality, she is back home in Cintra before the Nilfgaard attack. Her friends and family are still alive, including her trusted advisor Mousesack (Adam Levy) and her grandmother, Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May). Ciri can sense something isn’t right, but she’s sucked into the comfort of the lie; being able to see and interact with those she held dearest again is a tantalizing temptation.
However, this reality is merely a mirage, made evident by the presence of Ciri’s parents, Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori) and Duny (Bart Edwards). This dream world is a facade to keep Ciri distracted, while in the real world, Voleth Meir uses Ciri’s corporeal form to enact unmitigated violence. The possessed Ciri stalks the halls of Kaer Morhen, slicing the throats of her witcher brethren.
The instinctive reaction from Vesemir (Kim Bodnia) and the other witchers is to down their elixirs and set about finding and killing Ciri. Obviously, Geralt (Henry Cavill) strongly advises against such drastic action. Vesemir reminds Geralt that they had to kill Eskel earlier this season, an act that broke Vesemir but needed to happen to protect them. He believes the same must be done with Ciri. “Witchers don’t kill out of fear; they kill to save lives,” Geralt says, convincing Vesemir to let him try and entice the Deadless Mother out of Ciri.
Meanwhile, Yennefer, intending to make up for her betrayal, enlists Jaskier’s (Joey Batey) help to make a potion she hopes will force the spirit from Ciri’s body. As always, Jaskier is on hand to provide the light relief in an otherwise violently dark episode. “I hope you’re making a hangover cure potion because my head feels like it’s lodged between the buttocks of a fat and sexually rageful goat,” says Jaskier, in my new favorite way to describe a hangover.
The witchers find Ciri by the Medallion Tree, and Geralt asks Voleth Meir what her price to set Ciri free is. “It’s not a question of price,” she says, “It’s a matter of cost.” Geralt offers himself in place of Ciri, but the old witch turns him down. After a break in the tension by a poorly timed Jaskier interruption, Ciri lets out an almighty scream, breaking open the Medallion Tree to reveal a monolith hidden beneath the bark. This is when the action really kicks into another gear.
Ciri smashes the monolith, sending shards of rock flying at the witchers, who try and use their force fields for protection. The witchers might be able to block the pieces of stone, but they have less success against the monsters that emerge from the monolith. These giant, tortoise-headed, dinosaur-looking creatures are absolutely freakish, even more so when they start biting off the heads of their victims. Vesemir wants to kill Ciri to stop it all, but Geralt fights him off while pleading for Ciri to snap out of it.
In the dream world, Ciri remains distracted, swayed by Mousesack and her parents. This allows Voleth Meir to continue her chaos, unleashing a snake-faced T-Rex-looking beast onto Kaer Morhen. It’s basically Jurassic Park with swords and castles. What’s not to love about that?! Geralt battles with the beast, eventually getting the upper hand and impaling his sword through its reptilian head.
While Geralt is sidelined with the monster, it allows Vesemir a chance to stab Ciri with his dagger. But it’s no use. Voleth Meir is able to use her witch powers to immediately heal the wound. “Poor, poor witchers,” she mocks. “You feel everything, don’t you? Especially hatred.” In this moment, Geralt realizes the old crone is feeding off their hatred; what they need to bring Ciri back are kindness and compassion.
Ciri is pulled between the two worlds, her parents and grandmother begging her to stay in the dream reality, while Geralt’s voice urges her back to the real world. But no matter how hard Geralt asks, Ciri can’t escape until Voleth Meir has another vessel. That’s when Yennefer offers herself up as a sacrifice, cutting her wrists and presenting herself before the witch. The spirit crosses over, freeing Ciri and bringing her back to reality.
The danger isn’t over at that point, though. Even though still stinging from the betrayal, Geralt must save Yennefer too. He tells Ciri she must use her powers to send Voleth Meir back through the monolith portal. “I believe in you,” he tells the princess before she screams the three of them into a dusky hellscape. The Deadless Mother’s spirit leaves Yennefer and floats into the ether, with Geralt realizing the witch merely wanted to return home to her sphere and used Ciri to make it happen.
After that relentless, hold-your-breath action, the episode settles down somewhat to set up the future. Ciri is back in Kaer Morhen and safe, for now, while Yennefer finally has her powers back. Unfortunately, while the Deadless Mother might have been dispatched, bigger threats are on the horizon. Firstly, in the hellscape sphere, Ciri was almost kidnapped by the Wraiths of Mörhogg, aka The Wild Hunt, a group of eerie specters galloping on undead horses. What they want with her is unknown.
Meanwhile, Francesca (Mecia Simson) is out for revenge following the murder of her baby, though she argues it’s “justice,” not revenge. After Dara (Wilson Mbomio) confesses to spying for Dijkstra (Graham McTavish), Francesca presumes that King Visimir ordered the killing of her child. “Why would Redania target us?” Filavandrel (Tom Canont) wonders. “Because we’re elves,” says Francesca, stating that hatred of elven kind is the only reason they need. With that, they set forth to Redania, Francesca using her sorcery to kill the babies of those she believes responsible.
Francesca’s assumptions are incorrect, however. Redania wasn’t responsible for her child’s murder. It seems Dijkstra only enlisted spies in Cintra to keep track of Ciri’s whereabouts — as surmised by Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) and the Brotherhood, Dijkstra wants Ciri married to King Visimir, which would give Redania the only rightful claim to Cintra. To stop that ever happening, the Brotherhood puts out a bounty on Ciri and anyone who protects her.
The actual person behind the baby’s murder was doing it in the name of the so-called greater good. Cahir (Eamon Farren) believes it was Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) making a power play to force Francesca and the elves to fight. “I’d never do that,” Fringilla says. But it doesn’t really matter to Cahir, the baby’s death had the desired intention, and he thinks they could use it to impress the soon-to-be arriving White Flame, aka, Emhyr.
Those who have read the original Witcher books or played the video games probably saw this next twist coming, but this final revelation was thrilling for those going in blind. As Geralt and Yennefer put differences aside and promise to protect and train Ciri, Geralt wonders how Nilfgaard knew the truth about Ciri’s background and powers.
That’s when the White Flame arrives in Cintra, scoffing at Cahir and Fringilla’s claims that they killed Francesca’s baby. How does he know they’re lying? Because he was the one that ordered the killing. “It was the best path for helping me find my daughter,” says Emhyr, revealing himself to be Ciri’s father, Duny. Cue the dramatic music!
It’s a sensational revelation that sets up an exciting array of possibilities for future seasons. For all of the monsters and killings and political machinations, it’s once again family at the driving force of the action. From the start, that’s been a running theme throughout The Witcher, from Yennefer’s inability to have children to Geralt and Ciri’s pseudo-father/daughter relationship. So if Season 3 is a Battle of the Dads, I’m here for it!
While we still don’t find out the identity of the mysterious employer who hired Lydia and the mage assassin, we can at least confirm it isn’t Yennefer. Any guesses? Let us know in the comments. Also, Lydia’s rocking some gnarly Harvey “Two-Face” Dent-type scars following her encounter with the Elder blood mutagen.
We finally get a look at Dijkstra’s spying owl in human form, and she is sorceress Philippa Eilhart (Cassie Clare) — from what I understand, a popular character from the video games. This scene also unveils Jaskier’s duplicitousness, as Dijkstra reveals himself to be the bard’s benefactor.
Istredd (Royce Pierreson) is captured spying on the elves at the end of the episode but saves his skin by telling them about Ciri. “She is Hen Ikeir,” he says, meaning Elder blood. Francesca recognizes Ciri is the one Ithlinne prophesized — the one who could save them.
For those that didn’t watch the credits, you will have missed a trailer for the upcoming The Witcher spin-off series, Blood Origin. So it’s worth going back and checking that out if you switched off early.
The Witcher, Season 2, Streaming, Netflix