The Witcher will finally return to Netflix in December, almost two years to the day since it originally premiered. A lot has happened in the world since then. No one will fault you if you don’t exactly recall everything that happened on the Continent during The Witcher season one. And even if you do a re-watch, you might still have some questions. Those eight episodes covered decades worth of characters, events, and multiple storylines. With plenty of lore and history mixed in too. Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help. Here are the main things you need to remember from The Witcher’s first season before you head back to the land of monsters and magic.
Who is the main villain in The Witcher Universe?
The main antagonistic force in The Witcher season one is the empire of Nilfgaard. Much of The Witcher’s world once considered Nilfgaard a “shitty backwater.” But that changed after (the unseen) Emperor Emhyr claimed the throne of the empire. Also called the “White Flame,” Emhyr garnered fierce loyalty from his subjects, who view him as a messiah.
This blind devotion extends so far a Nilfgaard soldier claimed he was “already saved” right before Geralt killed him. Emhyr is also seen as a religious figure. Fringilla the Mage mentioned in season one that “The White Flame made me who I am, gave me a higher power.”
Despite promising salvation, Nilfgaard is ruthless in its quest to control the entire Continent. It slaughters the innocent, young and old alike. It employs dark, forbidden magic and makes its new subjects’ lives so miserable they gratefully accept the meager tokens given by their cruel rulers.
In season one, we see Nilfgaard begin conquering other kingdoms of the South for Emhyr. The Emperor is also obsessed with locating Ciri. He believes she is the key to Nilfgaard’s true purpose, which could lead to the end of the world. With the help of Fringilla the Mage and the Knight Cahir, he moves to capture her. Ciri narrowly escapes Nilfgaard’s clutches several times in season one. But Cahir is still determined to find her.
Who is The Witcher’s Ciri, and What Are Her Powers?
Ciri was an important character before she was born. Geralt inadvertently claimed her as his charge in a moment of destiny via the Law of Surprise. The ancient custom states that if you save someone’s life, they owe you a boon. But the nature of the boon is unknown. In Geralt’s case, it was a child whose destiny became entwined with his own. At the time, though, Geralt had no wish for a child. Nor did he believe in destiny. So he left Ciri and his responsibilities behind for years, in direct conflict with the wishes and demands of destiny. A dangerous proposition in this world.
Geralt knew about this destiny even longer, though. Years before he claimed his Law of Surprise, Princess Renfri told him “the girl in the woods” was his destiny.
Ciri also inherited a powerful family “gift,” one referred to as a “primal power.” Her screams can destroy and kill; they can crack open the earth itself. Sometimes she also hears voices calling out to her. And without trying, she can enter into a trance when they call to her, or she’s in danger. It’s a gift her late mother shared, but one her grandmother, who raised her, does not possess. However, neither mother nor daughter showed an ability to control their deadly power.
Ciri and The Witcher’s Prophecies
Cahir wants to use Ciri to spread his Emperor’s supremacy throughout the Continent. With Ciri’s powers, Nilfgaard might be unstoppable. That would make for a dangerous future. Cahir said, “The time of the sword and the ax is nigh.” And Ciri echoed those ominous words during a spell where she went into a trance. She spoke Elder and killed three attackers and a horse after saying the following:
“Verily, I say unto you, the era of the sword and the ax is nigh, the era of the Wolf’s Blizzard. The Time of the White Chill and the White Light is nigh….the Time of Madness and the Time of Contempt.”
But Ciri might be even more dangerous to the Continent than that. Season one introduced a major prophecy that foretells mankind’s demise. Stregobor the Mage told Geralt about it when explaining why Princess Renfri had to die.
Have you ever heard of the Curse of the Black Sun? First full eclipse in 1,200 years. It marked the imminent return of Lilit, demon goddess of the night sent to exterminate the human race. According to the wise mage Eltibald, Lilit’s path was to be prepared by 60 women wearing gold crowns who’d fill the river valleys with blood.
If Ciri, who can’t yet control her power, is the prophesied Lilit, she could destroy the entire human race. All hope is not lost, though. Destiny “is a double-edged sword.” Ciri might just as easily save mankind than destroy it. (Plus, Stregobor is wrong all the time. That guy is the worst.)
Yennefer’s Quest For a Child
To become a powerful witch, Yennefer gave up her ability to have children. A choice she sought to correct throughout The Witcher season one. Her yearning led her to take huge risks. She attempted many cures over the years, including trying to become the vessel for a djinn and hunting for a dragon’s heart. But the golden dragon Borch (in human form) told Yennefer she “will never regain her womb.”
Though these quests were unsuccessful, they did lead to her becoming inextricably entangled with Geralt. During their encounter with the djinn, Geralt’s final wish was to never lose Yennefer. When she learned about the wish, though, it made her believe nothing about their relationship was real.
Yennefer will surely continue her quest for a child in season two of The Witcher. Perhaps exploring how Geralt’s mother, Visenna, also a sorceress, was able to have a child on her own will lead to answers. Geralt’s mother has appeared on the show twice, though neither stands as an entirely reliable appearance. The first was during Geralt’s fever dream in a vivid memory when she gave him up. The second also came during Geralt’s delirious fever dream, which may or may not have been real.
It remains to be seen whether an answer lies with Visenna and how she connects into Geralt and Yennefer’s story. It is also possible an answer lies with the elves, who were nearly wiped out previously.
Where did The Witcher Season One leave our main characters?
Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer of Vengerberg, and Princess Cirilla (“Ciri”) of Cintra, The Witcher’s main characters, each followed their own timeline for much of season one. With Ciri’s beginning long after the other two. All three stories came together in the present during the final two episodes. Season two of The Witcher will take place in just a single timeline.
Season one’s last major event was the Battle at Sodden, when Yennefer stopped another attack by the empire of Nilfgaard. She unleashed pure chaos—another word for magic—as her fire swept over Nilfgaard’s soldiers. However, she was not seen after her incredible display.
In The Witcher season one’s final moment, Geralt and Ciri finally find one another in the woods. Despite never meeting her, Ciri asked Geralt who Yennefer was as Ciri heard Geralt calling out for her while dreaming. In the season one finale, Geralt also said he needs to go “home,” a.k.a to Kaer Morhen, a place he grew up and trained to be a witcher, and he will in season two.
Netflix’s great anime prequel movie, Nightmare of the Wolf, introduced us to Kaer Morhen and showed the events that led to an eventual attack on it. It also focused on Geralt’s teacher and mentor, Vesemir. All while providing valuable insight into why humans fear witchers and often hate them. The movie also filled in gaps on the role of monsters, mages, and magic on the Continent. This all helps frame season two of the show, in which an older Vesemir will play a major role.
Other Characters and Their Fates
Though badly hurt by Frangilla during the Battle of Sodden, she remained standing after Yennefer burned the Nilfgaardian army. Tissaia ended season one calling out for Yennefer. The two had only recently shared their affection for one another after a long and difficult relationship.
Triss suffered a terrible burn during the Battle of Sodden but barely remained among the living at season one’s conclusion. She was also correct that King Foltest would answer her call to defend the North. He arrived with his forces after Yennefer stopped Nilfgaard. Foltest trusted Triss because years earlier, she hired Geralt to save Foltest’s daughter from her curse as a striga.
The only mage with military experience pushed for the members of Aretuza to defend Cintra. They voted him down. But Vilgefortz convinced a small group of mages to defend Sodden. He fought Cahir in single combat during the battle but ignored Yennefer’s warnings and used up his magic in the fight. Cahir bested him, but Vilgefortz lived. When he woke, he brutally slaughtered an ally for reasons that remain unclear.
…But What About Jaskier
Our favorite bard and chief hype man for the White Wolf gave us more than “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” one of pop culture’s best ditties ever. He gave us so many laughs in season one. Unfortunately, his season one story ended on a sad note, with some truly hurtful words from his friend. Geralt told Jaskier all he wanted from life was to be free of the bard. A dejected Jaskier (who accidentally never aged over more than two decades during the first season) went off never to be seen again.
But don’t worry! Trailers show he’ll be back in season two. And it seems Geralt will once again need his old friend’s help.