The Witcher starring Henry Cavill is the best new show on Netflix. Here’s our recap of the first season.
The Witcher premiered on Netflix on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, and it’s well on its way to becoming the best fantasy show on Netflix. Below, you’ll find our episode-by-episode recap of the first season.
“The End’s Beginning”
The series opens with a serene and peaceful scene of a cute little deer foraging near a river. At first, I thought I was watching the wrong show, but it quickly evolved into a battle between the witcher Geralt of Rivia and a monster, known as a kikimora, when Geralt is catapulted out of the river with the monster hot on his tail.
Geralt, played by Henry Cavill, is a brooding, grim, and coarse mutant who grunts a lot in response to questions posed to him. If all you do is hunt monsters for a living, you probably wouldn’t have much to say either. Geralt definitely gives the strong, silent type a whole new meaning.
The timeline of Witcher is a little confusing early on in the episode with the story. Vague references are sprinkled throughout the dialogue about humans being worse monsters than the monsters Geralt hunts. Also, destiny is mentioned often. One thing is clear: every action is not only ruled by destiny, but no one can escape from their destiny either.
After Geralt is forced into a fight with Renfri, a “monster,” according to the mage named Stregobor, we are flashed to a kingdom called Cintra. Cintra is ruled by Queen Calanthe who has a granddaughter name Cirilla, or Ciri for short. Calanthe is teaching Ciri how to be a proper queen, but during a formal dinner, Calanthe soon learns that they will soon be invaded by the Nilfgaard.
Ciri is quickly whisked to relative safety when the kingdom falls to the invading army, but she is captured by a soldier while escaping. She screams, and clearly some magical power takes over, and she flees into the woods and away from the advancing Nilfgaard soldier.
At the end of the episode, Geralt hooks up with an aspiring bard Jaskier and heads off into the sunset seeking his next monster.
The second episode opens with a deformed, young woman, Yennefer being attacked by a couple, and in fear, she manages to open a portal and transport herself away to a cave. Inside the cave, a man named Istredd learns Yennefer has innate magic, and he warns her to go back home before “She” finds her. This person turns out to be Tissaia de Vries, a very powerful sorceress. Tissaia sensed Yennefer’s innate powers and buys her from her father for four marks, hence the episode title.
Yennefer is then taken to the brotherhood where she is taught to control her powers.
While Yennefer is attending the magical school, Ciri, still on the run from the dreaded Nilfgaadians, was told by her dying grandmother, Calanthe, to find the Witcher Geralt of Rivia. It seems Geralt is her destiny and she will only be safe with him.
Meanwhile, Geralt and his faithful bard went hunting a “demon,” which actually turned out to be a rather harmless creature named Torque. Torque gets the drop on Geralt when someone attacks him from behind. Geralt and his bard are tied up. The culprit is Filavandrel who used to be an elf king before “The Great Cleansing” when humans tried to end their race. Filavandrel is now hiding in a cave and hates all humans.
Geralt explains that he isn’t human but asks Filavandrel to let Jaskier go and kill him instead. Geralt tells Filavandrel that he still had a chance to live and to move to another kingdom and start over. Filavandrel liked that advise and lets Geralt and Jaskier go.
The third episode begins in the kingdom of Temeria. Geralt is hunting a monster that miners think is a werewolf-like creature called a Vukodlak. Geralt discovers that the creature killing the miners is actually a Striga, a woman who is cursed to turn into a monster.
King Folstest was the target of the curse cast by his own mage, Ostrit, who cursed Folstest out of jealously. It seems Folstest had an incestuous relationship with his own sister, Adda, and Ostrit was in love with Adda, but he didn’t know the curse would pass onto Adda’s unborn daughter when Adda died while still pregnant.
Using Ostrit as bait, Geralt was able to transform the Striga back into the princess but was severely wounded in the process.
While Geralt is healing, we flash to Yennefer who was going to be assigned as a mage to the King of Aedirn. Except that Isdredd told his master mage Stregobor about Yennefer’s elven blood which was the ammunition Stregobar needed to block Yennefer’s assignment. She was, instead, assigned as Nilfgaard’s mage, which made her furious, so she talked another mage into making her beautiful. Her transformation comes at a great cost. Then, she seduced the King of Aedirn using her beauty to become mage at Aedirn. In the process, she loses the ability to have children.
Flashing to Ciri, we find her still running, but a mysterious whisper from the forest catches her attention. In what seems like a trance, she walks into the woods.
“Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials”
The fourth episode sees Geralt and Jaskier attend a wedding. It seems Jaskier has an eye for the ladies, married ladies, in fact, and is concerned his past will catch up to him. Geralt agrees to be his bodyguard at the wedding ceremony of Pavetta, the daughter of Queen Calanthe.
The wedding is interrupted by Duny, a knight cursed with the face of a hedgehog who claims that by “Law of Surprise,” Pavetta is his betrothed. Queen Calanthe, of course, is not happy with a hedgehog for a son-in-law. Destiny comes into play once more as anyone that breaks the “Law of Surprise” is to go against destiny.
Duny saved Pavetta’s father’s life at one point in time claimed “Law of Surprise,” which gives Duny the right to claim something that Pavetta’s father has but does not know, which means Duny can claim Pavetta as his bride.
Upon this revelation, Calanthe tries to kills Duny, but Geralt saves his life. In exchange, Geralt flippantly claims the “Law of Surprise.” At the time, Pavetta is pregnant with Ciri, and now Geralt tied their destinies together.
Flashing to Yennefer, we learn that it has been thirty years since she has graduated from sorcery school and became mage to the King of Aedirn. The King, as it turns out, isn’t that nice, because when he heard that he has a daughter instead of son, he sends an assassin after his wife and new daughter.
Yennefer teleports the wife and daughter to one place after another in an attempt to save them, but eventually, both are killed. We don’t see much of Ciri in this episode, but I’m sure she will be appearing soon.
The fifth episode shows Geralt fishing in a river when our annoying bard Jaskier catches up to him. It seems Geralt is having trouble sleeping, so he is fishing for a Djinn to gain three wishes, which he plans to use as a sleeping aid. A scuffle over the bottle results with Jaskier opening the bottle and releasing the Djinn who promptly tries to strangle Jaskier.
Jaskier’s wound needs to be healed by a mage, and after receiving directions, Geralt meets the beautiful Yennefer. Geralt is mesmerized by Yennefer, but it turns out she only wants the Djinn for her own personal reasons. Whoever opened the bottle is the Djinn’s master and will receive three wishes. Jaskier has already used two, and Yennefer wants to capture the Djinn to get a wish.
Yennefer puts a spell on Geralt that makes him tear up the town and get arrested, so she has Jaskier in her control, but unfortunately, it is soon learned that Geralt is the master of the Djinn. He uses his last wish to save Yennefer who is trying to make herself the container for the Djinn so she can have control of his power.
Our young heroine Ciri is hiding in the Brokilon forest which is being protected by a group of Amazon type warrior women called Dryads. In folklore and Greek mythology, Dryads are tree spirits or tree nymphs that inhabit a forest protecting trees.
The sixth episode has Geralt finishing killing one monster and then hunting another, but his hunting is interrupted by Borch, an older gentleman, and his two female warrior sidekicks. It seems that there is a dragon in King Niedamir’s kingdom that is killing his subjects and so he arranged a hunting party to kill it. Borch wants to increase his chances of winning by having Geralt on his team. Geralt isn’t interested until he learns Yennefer is also going to be on the hunting team. Yennefer is looking for the dragon because she had heard that there are parts of the dragon that could heal her infertility.
After some interesting mishaps, they find the cave where the green Dragon was hiding but discovers she’s dead. She was trying to protect her egg from humans, and it is revealed that Borch is actually a Golden Dragon, and he is also there to protect the egg. They join forces to defend the egg against the other hunters. In this episode, Yennefer learns from Borch that Geralt used his last wish to tie them together. She feels betrayed by Geralt’s wish.
Meanwhile, Cahir of Nilfgaard sends a doppler who looks like Mousesack into Brokilon forest after Ciri. Dopplers can take on the shape of any man or woman it comes in contact with including their memories.
She evades the Doppler, who is upset that Cahir lied to him about who and what Ciri is. The Doppler takes on the image of Ciri and attempts to kill Cahir, but it fails to do so.
Fringilla, Cahir’s mage, tries to make him feel better by reminding Cahir that he was anointed by The White Flame, who appears to be Nilfgaard’s god of sorts.
“Before a Fall”
The penultimate episode of the season sees Geralt return to Cintra after 12 years to own up to being responsible for Cira’s protection. He was forcefully reminded of his responsibility by Yennefer and felt guilty, so he returned to Cintra.
Geralt has returned just before Nilfgaard invaded Cintra back in the first episode. Calanthe wasn’t happy about his return. She feels when he abandoned all of his responsibilities, and therefore, he doesn’t deserve to be Ciri’s guardian now.
Calanthe has him thrown in prison, where he remains when the Nilfgaardians overwhelmed Cintra and sacked the castle. Geralt promptly escapes and begins tracking Ciri, who, as we know, has escaped and fled into the woods.
In the present timeline, Ciri has escaped Cahir, and she is confronted by people she knows from her days in Cintra. When they assault her, Ciri uses her power and destroys them before she collapses, unconscious. Shaken awake by a sympathetic woman, Ciri sees that the boys are all dead along with her horse.
Back at the brotherhood, Yennefer is involved in a debate about whether or not the brotherhood should get involved with defending Cintra. The majority voted against defending Cintra, but a small group decided they would go against the vote and fight Nilfgaard.
The final episodes of the season finds Cintra in flames and Geralt heading into the forest tracking Ciri, but he runs into a group of nekkers whose bites are poisonous. He fends them off, but one still bites him and he begins to hallucinate. A merchant named Yurga patches him up as best he can, then takes him to his home.
We also get to see the mages who follows Tissaia to Sodden Hill, the last barrier between Nilfgaard’s army and the north. At first, it looks like the mages are going to lose the battle, but Tissaia tells Yennefer to let lose her chaos, which she does. She sets the hillside ablaze.
Yurga’s house just happens to be the same one where Ciri is staying after the events of the previous episode. Ciri dreams about Geralt and Yennefer, and she knows that Geralt is looking for her. She runs into the woods, but Geralt follows her. In the woods, they finally meet, and Ciri asks Geralt who Yennefer is.
That’s all for season 1! The Witcher is coming back for season 2!