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Review: The Witcher Season 1 Finale

December 20, 2019
6 min read

With the first season finale, ‘The Witcher’ seems to finally bow down to the genre’s tropes and features an epic battle. To be fair though, viewers might not have taken anything lesser than a battle for the season finale, given the ridiculously high expectations that television series face these days.

Something interesting that we see in the finale episode are the opening credits. They are slightly different than what we saw in the rest of the show. Instead of the single sigil that was shown for most of the series, the final episode’s opening credits show multiple animal sigils rotating, revolving and coming together to form one composite image. The first thing that came to my mind upon seeing this was the wheel of power that forms a major theme in ‘Game of Thrones.’

The Witcher Season 1 Episode 8 Recap:

Yennefer:

Tissaia, Vilgefortz, Yennefer and several other mages are shown to be travelling on a boat. They intend on heading to Sodden and defending it against the Nilfgaardians as it is a chokehold for the North, similar to “the Neck” in ‘Game of Thrones.’ Yennefer seems to have agreed to fight beside Tissaia and the other mages after all.

Most of the episode is basically a battle between the Nilfgaardian army and the group of mages who attempt to hold Sodden. However, their presence is detected by Nilfgaardian scouts and Fringilla intends on using her own magic, as well as that of the mages conscripted by the Nilfgaardian army to conquer Sodden. Moreover, Fringilla does not care about restricting the mages’ magic/chaos like Tissaia preaches even if it costs the mages their lives.

Yennefer and the other mages prepare the castle at Sodden Hill for the upcoming battle. Yennefer plays the role of a scout by standing on top of a high tower and telepathically communicating with the other sorceresses based on what she is able to see from her vantage point.

The battle begins and each side makes use of magic in inventive manners from shooting bottles of explosives with arrows to teleporting arrows to misty smokescreens. Vilgefortz teleports to Cahir and attempts to kill him but fails to reserve his chaos/energy/magic and gets pushed by the Nilfgaardian downhill. Tissaia reaches Fringilla and the two battle fiercely till the former gets knocked down. Yennefer loses contact with both Fringilla and Vilgefortz.

Suddenly, Sabrina, a witch who was on Yennefer’s side shoves a dagger in her tummy and two boys burst all the magical explosive reserves at Sodden. It turns out that Sabrina and the boys had been under the spell of Fringilla. A heavily injured Yennefer manages to survive though and heads to the battlefield, looking for Tissaia or Vilgefortz. She manages to find Tessaia who is still alive. The sorceresses’ head tells Yennefer to unleash her chaos and not care about maintaining balance as the situation demands it.

Yennefer remembers her past sorrows and conjures up all the power/chaos from her body. She uses her immense amounts of energy to burn through the entire Nilfgaardian army in an epic, concluding blow. However, after that she is nowhere to be found as Tissaia and Geralt (who is not physically at Sodden) try to find her by shouting her name.

The Witcher and Ciri

The final episode of the first season of Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ begins with Geralt saving the life of a man who is trying to give Cintran dead bodies a decent burial after the attack by Nilfgaard. The man gets attacked by zombie-like creatures who rise to the surface from under the ground. After saving his life, Geralt gets attacked by these creatures too and although he manages to save his life, he gets bitten by one of the creatures on his leg and faints.

Ciri, on the other hand is shown to have fainted after the previous episode where she was shown summoning her power to attack her “friends” that had come to take her to Cahir. She gets woken up by the woman whose horse she had stolen and this time, decides to go with her. At the woman’s home, Ciri is treated rather warmly and given a comfortable bed to sleep on.

Geralt wakes up on the cart of the man that he had saved. The man is carrying him to his home and insists that Geralt stay awake. He drinks a potion from his bag and pours some on his wound. Then, Geralt begins to hallucinate due to his injury and remembers being deserted by his mother, Visenna. His memories/hallucinations prove to be muddled up and he mixes up Renfri, Yennefer, Ciri and his mother often. At one point, he is also looking for Yennefer at the battle of Sodden after she has destroyed the Nilfgaardian army.

Meanwhile, Ciri wakes up thinking of Yennefer right after the Witcher hallucinates about her. She runs away from the woman’s house and into the forest instinctively. Then, the man that saved Geralt’s life finally reaches home with The Witcher in his cart. It turns out that the man is the husband of the woman that saved Ciri’s life. Almost immediately after the cart stops, Geralt runs to the nearby forest and finds Ciri who runs towards him. Then, Ciri asks Geralt, “Who is Yennefer?” That is how the season ends.

The Witcher Season 1 Episode 8 Review:

The first question that popped into my head after watching the season finale was, “where did this show go wrong?” The final episode had all the ingredients for a compelling ending but somehow failed to be as effective as I expected it to be. There was a lot of build-up towards a grand battle but somehow, it did not turn out to be as interesting. Is that because we have seen too many battles on screen already? Perhaps.

The ending and the way Yennefer manages to turn the tide on the Nilfgaardians also did not seem very convincing. The victory felt too easy. She was shown to be not doing much more than scouting throughout the episode when she could have destroyed an entire army within seconds. It is true that she had to expend all her inner potential to do so, but her journey to reach that epic ending did not feel like a struggle that paid off well.

Moreover, the Witcher’s hallucinations only served to add some form of confusion to an otherwise straightforward plot. The revelation about his mother was surprising but did not add enough punch simply because it came out of nowhere. Moreover, despite having watched the final episode, I cannot say that I fully comprehend what exactly happened in his head. Was it a dream? Were Yennefer, Ciri and the Witcher somehow connected to each other telepathically? I cannot tell.

That being said, the show still has some potential for upcoming seasons. Its first five episodes were genuinely pretty great but it seems that the show lost its direction after that. Had they continued toying with the idea of narrative time, in my opinion, they might have done a better job.

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