Episode #2 – Four Marks: “Bullied and neglected, Yennefer accidentally finds a means of escape. Geralt’s hunt for a so-called devil goes to hell. Ciri seeks safety in numbers.”
Listen to The Witcher episode recap 2 below or scroll down to read the transcript.
This Little Piglet Went to the Mage Cave.
A couple is walking alongside the backend of what looks to be a barn. The boy gives his girl a daisy, to which she throws as “it’s not a rose.” He then begins confessing his love for the girl, but as he does the girl looks back for her daisy. It is no longer there, and when she inquires about it we meet a hunchbacked young woman who is attempting to give the girl back her flower. The two quickly begin to pick on the hunchbacked woman and eventually shove her to the ground before kicking and tormenting her. The hunchback then awakens in a cave where a young man is sitting by himself. He hears the girl and turns. Shocked, he asks her how she got there, but the girl has no idea how she did. He introduces himself as Istredd before acknowledging that he is a mage and then proceeds to tell the girl that she created a portal to get there, thus making her a mage as well. Before our hunchback can ask any questions, however, the man chews off a piece of flower and opens a portal for her to return home. Before she leaves, he tells her, “she will be coming for you,” and then were cast to the following day.
The hunchback girl is pulling something along the ground as a man begins to yell at her to stop. As they argue, he eventually knocks her to the ground inside of a pig pen where she gets covered in filth. As she stands, a woman dressed much nicer than all of the village folk walks up and offers the man 10 marks to take her off his hands. He lowers to six before the woman lowers once more to four, and he accepts. The hunchback’s mother then comes running from the shack and exclaims that he cannot sell her daughter. He says that she is no daughter of his, and thus the relationship between Tissaia, the well-dressed woman, and our hunchback begins.
Let the Chaos Begin
We rather quickly learn that this is Yennefer, who is one of the main staples in The Witcher franchise, and that she has been brought to Aretuza, a female school of mages. They lock the girl in a room where she proceeds to walk over to a mirror. As she looks at herself she begins to cry. Frustrated with herself, she punches the mirror and shatters it into a bunch of pieces. Yennefer reaches down and grabs one of the larger pieces and holds it to her wrist before we cut to the title sequence of episode two. She is thrown into class immediately and begins learning of the balance that exists within the field of magic. There is always a consequence associated with the chaos that comes with magic, and they are there to learn how to control that chaos.
We then find Ciri wandering the woods alone. She soon stumbles across a young boy who is living in the woods and decides to keep company with him. The boy appears to be mute though and answers none of Ciri’s questions. After a speedy meal of rat and some more wandering through the desolate forest, the two stumble across a Cintran refugee camp. Ciri turns in excitement but finds that “rat boy” has vanished into the woods again, so she proceeds by herself up to the camp.
The Bard and The Witcher
As Geralt sits and broods in the corner of a dark bar, a bard notices him and points out to all that they’re in the midst of a Witcher. Geralt immediately stands and makes his way for the door, but before he makes it there he’s stopped by one of the men within. He asks Geralt to take care of the devil that’s been stealing all of the town’s grain to which The Witcher obliges after being offered some coin. As he leaves the bar in search of this devil, the bard, Jaskier, decides that he wants to accompany Geralt in hopes of creating better stories for his ballads. Geralt is not too happy with this decision and even ends up hitting Jaskeir with a gut punch to try and convince him not to come, yet the bard follows anyways.
We jump back to Ciri as she makes her way through the Cintran refugee camp. She speaks with a young boy with a necklace full of ears of elves he has slain. He brings her to meet his mother in one of the main tents, and upon entering, Ciri (or Fiona) immediately gets an earful about her “wretched bitch” of a grandmother, Queen Calanthe. The boy and his mother then continue rambling about the war and other nonsense before the mother notices how torn to pieces Ciri’s shoes are. She calls over a dwarf to get her a new pair before she refers to him as, “one of the clean ones,” which will definitely come back to haunt her later on.
Geralt and Jaskier are still roaming down a road. As the bard goes on and on about some elven lore, Geralt dismounts Roach and begins making his way through some field and towards an old ruin. The two aren’t within the small encircling ruins for long before they’re attacked by a Sylvan, which is the got-like humanoid “devil” that Geralt was sent to kill. Geralt quickly dispatches of the creature, but as he’s standing over him telling him that the beast can no longer stay, our hero is punched in the face by an unexpected guest.
Trial and Failure
As Yennefer continues her magical lessons, she slowly realizes that she is at the bottom of her class. She cannot seem to do anything correctly and as she and her fellow mages learn about mental transference she sets her sights to succeed at last. After a while, Yen stands up and claims that her partner’s biggest fear is snakes (a tie-in to the intro sequence), to which Tissaia proclaims she is lying. As she continues to fail she also continues confiding in Istredd. The two are in their cave once more as he asks Yen to try the mental transference with him. Almost immediately she begins to see what he is picturing in his mind, which boosts Yennefer’s moral for at least a little while longer.
Yen is awoken in the middle of the night by Tissaia for her next trial which is to catch lightning in a bottle. Her first classmate attempts the task and is struck by the lightning instead. She collapses to the floor and Tissaia barks at the next girl to pull her away from the area the lightning is striking. That girl then climbs up onto the area and shoves her arm up into the air before the lightning strikes. She shockingly captures the lightning, but as she looks at the bottle in amazement it explodes in her face shooting glass into her eyes. Tissaia yells for Yen to go next. As she stands on the lightning spot you can’t help but root for her. Unfortunately, the lightning passes down her arm into her stomach and shoots Yennefer backward against the wall. The next mage that goes succeeds. Tissaia marks her as the strong amongst the weak and then looks over at Yennefer. This infuriates Yen and she pulls that lightning energy out of her body and shoots it at Tissaia. The elder mage smacks it back out into the sky with a simple flick of her arm before telling the next girl to step up to the plate. Once the trial is complete, all the girls bother than Yennefer leave the trial chamber. Tissaia proceeds to have a heart to heart with her she looks Yen in the eyes and asks if she has what it takes to succeed as an effective mage.
Golden Castles and Elven Kings
Geralt jolts awake as Jaskier jokes around that now is the time for an escape and for Geralt to “do his witchering” as the bard’s lute gets destroyed. The two begin getting beaten by an elven woman who absolutely hates humans. Geralt gets a headbutt in at one point which causes the woman to get sick (nicely done, Witcher). Another man and the Sylvan walk into the room and we find out that this man is actually the king of the elves and that he plans on murdering both Geralt and Jaskier for the crimes that all other humans have committed against his race. This leads to a conversation about the great cleansing, a mass-murdering of the elves, that essentially led to King Filavandrel and his people being pushed out of their lands to live in exile atop the mountains. Geralt talks the Elven king off of his ledge however by explaining that he is not human and that a rebellion against the humans won’t end in the joyous life he is searching for.
We then find Yennefer and Istredd back in their cave as Yen tries to convince her confidant to not let her be thrown out of the guild. As they talk, Istredd points out some bones that line the walls and pillars behind the two of them. He tells Yen that these are all eleven bones before giving her a small flower. He recites an incantation that Yen repeats and to both of their surprise a massive portal opens up behind them. Istredd is beyond confused as to how Yennefer could open that portal on her first try, but she then explains to him that her father was a half-elf. He died in the great cleansing and his blood is what gave Yen a twisted spine. After explaining all of this to Istredd, the two kiss before we jump into a conversation that Tissaia and Yennefer are having. Getting the flower from Istredd was a test of Yen’s emotions, but we quickly find out that it was also a test for Istredd as well.
Ascension and Freedom
Ciri has awoken abruptly by screaming within the refugee camp. The mother of the boy who is watching over Ciri yells at one of the dwarves (again) and he grabs a knife and starts going to town on her. As he plunges the knife over and over again into her back, Ciri watches in horror as she leans against the side of the tent before a knife comes slashing through near her. She begins to panic but quickly realizes it was rat boy from the woods the day before. The two take off for the woods once more, but not before we get a glimpse of the Nilfgaardian black knight who has been searching for her.
Yennefer is waiting for the knock on her door but it never comes. She can hear her mage sisters being pulled away for their ascension and decides to sneak off and see what exactly is going on. Tissaia has three girls standing in a room with glowing white water and proceeds to turn them all into eels. Tissaia then yells for Yen to come down since she clearly knew she was there the entire time. She proceeds to tell Yen that she needs to push her friends into the glowing pool. We then hear the, “Sometimes the best thing a flower can do for us is die,” line that Tissaia has been so fond of throughout these first two episodes, yet this is the first time it is not directed at Yennefer.
Geralt and Jaskier are now free, meaning that Geralt’s talk with the Elven king swayed his mind away from the rebellion against the humans. As our Witcher sits atop his horse, Jaskier japes at him for his speech and how he gave all the coin to the elven king as well. Geralt tells Jaskier that now is the time for him to part ways, yet the bard says that he is not yet ready. He breaks out into song, which is one of the more incredible tv show songs I’ve ever heard by the way, before it slightly fades out and we close out our other characters.
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