The various plot threads come together on The Witcher Season 3 Episode 4 to set us up for the Volume 1 finale.
While Ciri is protected by Yennefer’s spell and effectively taken out of play, Jaskier and Radovid are finally honest with each other in the relative safety of the woods.
The real narrative tension centers on the conclave ball, where Philippa and Dijkstra have something in the works, and Geralt and Yennefer look to trap Stregobor for the disgusting old villain that he is.
Several story decisions here have contributed to a plodding sort of progress despite including elements of monster fighting and magical conflict.
For example, launching this penultimate offering with Yennefer pitching her unified North via conclave to the Council only to segue into party planning lacks a feeling of high adventure.
All of Yennefer’s Aretuzan scenes share a mundanity mired in cautious but uncertain action.
With the Council, there is the necessary groveling and aspirational rhetoric.
This conclave is my first step on the path of regaining your trust. If we are to unite the Continent, and let me be clear, we have to, we must first agree. No more division. No more secrets. We can all be our best selves. For the Brotherhood.
With Tissaia, there’s a sense of regret and reconciliation. Yennefer acknowledges Tissaia’s life has changed significantly since Cahir’s thwarted execution on The Witcher Season 2 Episode 3. Tissaia introduces a history with Philippa, which may prove key to Redania’s inclusion in the conclave.
And with Vilgefortz, Yennefer basically gives his relationship with Tissaia her blessing. It’s quite the lovefest between two former adversaries. Amazing what a shared love can do.
Groveling is the sincerest form of manipulation.
Even when Triss tries to warn Yennefer that bringing Ciri to Aretuza will put the girl in danger, any sense of urgency is dulled by Yennefer’s certainty that Ciri will benefit from novice training.
Perhaps all this is to lull us into a state of stupefaction so that the rogue mage’s attack is a surprise.
Admittedly, it worked. I didn’t see it coming. Furthermore, it’s not the standard ambush. If they wanted her dead, the portal wouldn’t have popped her out on the cliff when it could’ve just dropped her into the sea.
The rogue mage tries to trick her into providing Ciri’s location, and the doppelganger’s long pauses give her time to realize a deception is in play.
I personally think it was the lack of grunting that clued her into this Geralt being false.
There’s comedic gold to be mined when Jaskier, Geralt, and Ciri end up trapped on a boat with Jaskier’s nemesis, Valdo Marx.
Of course, a lot of time is devoted to setting up the aeschna attack.
Ciri quickly identifies the creature and immediately proposes a full plan of action to Geralt.
Then they stop for some father-daughter advice time.
As a witcher, I will accept coin from someone, no matter where they’re from. Nations are invisible lines that people assign meaning to. A life, however. A life has real meaning. Its warm skin and a beating heart. It should only be taken as a last resort. Righteousness can easily become rage. Justice can easily become scorn. If you want to be a queen, be a queen.
Not that it’s not a great scene; it just seems a strange moment to be giving career guidance.
Conversely, the scene of Valdo’s bandmate mansplaining aeschna to Ciri is timed delightfully.
Has it ever been explained why Cahir dreams of Ciri? What is their connection beyond Cahir hunting her for years now? Is it possible that being so close to her when she unleashed her monolith-splitting screams in the series premiere has left him with residual magical afterburn?
I’ll admit that I never expected the Nilgaardian captain to become such a figure of pathos.
It’s only a matter of time before Francesca learns he murdered Gallatin. My money’s on Dara sussing it out somehow. That’s a character that’s chomping at the bit for a juicy purpose.
Meanwhile, what could their co-piloted mission be? All we know is that it’s ambitious.
Mind you, the mission objective Cahir hands Francesca could be a ruse as he opens the mission card Emhyr handed him while Francesca’s is still sealed when he delivers it.
Also, why in the world would they write these missions down? Francesca’s sort of makes sense, but Cahir’s is handed to him directly from Emhyr, his commander.
Will he be able to keep it together and finish the mission? Will he spill the info that the White Flame ordered the murder of the elven baby?
On The Continent, there seem to be infinite ways to start a war.
And that’s what keeps the Redanians in control.
Tissaia: You know, for someone who disdains politics, you do excel at it.
Yennefer: It’s just personal agenda wrapped up in a different package.
With one episode to go in The Witcher Season 3 Volume 1, what can we expect of the trap they plan for Stregobor?
One can assume Triss and Yennefer have shared the information they have, but will Geralt and Istredd be able to play nice?
The safe Triss and Istredd see in their location spell is essential. It holds the Book of Monoliths Istredd is seeking, but what other secrets will come pouring out with the book?
How does Teryn fit in with Stregobor? Where is Elizabet since she disappeared only recently? Will Triss now carry the guilt for all the novices lost to the Ciri-experiment?
How fast a boat can Fringilla hire? Will she play a role in the Aretuzan climax?
Does Emhyr actually believe she is dead, or does he want Cahir to believe he can only rely on his kingly buddy, the Emperor, from now on?
Finally, is Radovid playing Jaskier and seducing him to bide the time until the shield comes down?
So many potential catastrophes on the horizon, Fanatics! How do you think things will play out?
Hit our comments with your best thoughts and theories!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.