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Toss A Coin To Who, What Now?

A who’s who of The Witcher: Season 3 - Volume 1

WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Witcher (Netflix series).

Season 3 - Volume 2 of The Witcher starring Henry Cavill (for now 😢) as monster hunter Geralt of Rivia is about to drop on Netflix. Cavill as the laconic, growling, white-haired Geralt is by far my favorite (everyone’s favorite?) part of the series. Coming up in second place is Anya Chalotra as the mage Yennefer of Vengerberg. The purple-eyed witch packs a lot of sass and went through several moral quandaries in Season 2. After saving the other mages at the battle of Sodden Hill, she lost her magic. Season 2 saw Yennefer struggle to get her Chaos back, even having her consider giving Ciri to a demon that feeds on pain, but ultimately, Yen knew it was wrong and sacrificed herself to keep Ciri safe. Season 3 - Volume 1 begins with Geralt and Yennefer romantically on the outs (Geralt still harbors a grudge), but they are united in their mission to protect and teach the third member of their found family, the series’ ultimate MacGuffin: Ciri, (played by Freya Allan) aka Princess Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, Geralt’s “Child Surprise,” the Elves’ “Child of Elder Blood,” “The Lion Cub of Cintra”... the list of names goes on.

After learning to fight and hunt monsters amongst the witchers last season, Ciri must now try to learn to control the massive magical power she contains within herself before it potentially destroys everyone around her. Cliff’s notes version: Ciri is powerful but she’s also an angsty teenager. Despite Yennefer as her tutor, mastering magic does not come easy to her. As our three main characters travel nomadically to avoid Ciri’s capture, Yennefer and Geralt slowly rebuild their trust and rekindle their love through daily letters passed back and forth like notes between crushes during middle school. Ciri gets a chance to grow attached to these two new parental figures in her life after losing her actual family (more on this later), BUT, just when things seem to be going well, they are again discovered and forced to flee. Geralt departs on a mission to find (and kill) the sorcerer Rience who is after Ciri (he’s the burned-face fire mage from last season who keeps snapping flame from his fingers). Yennefer decides that she must ask her fellow mages to help protect and train Ciri but she’s not exactly welcome back at her witchy alma mater, Aretuza Academy (like the girl’s school equivalent of Hogwarts). Ciri starts to have more and more scary visions that she cannot control and would rather stay with Geralt. The separation of the group makes Ciri act like a bratty, well, teenager.

Beyond the plot of “Everybody Wants Ciri,” there’s still A LOT GOING ON during the first half of Season 3. For viewers who have not read the books by Andrzej Sapkowski (ahem, me, I’m sorry), there are so many characters packed into these first five episodes that keeping up with who’s who and all of their simultaneous plotlines can be, well, confusing. To help clarify things a bit before Season 3 - Volume 2 drops on July 27th, when we get our final installment of Cavill as Geralt (I know, I’m unhappy about it, too), let’s take a look at the beefy cast of characters in Season 3 - Volume 1 of The Witcher and try to get a better understanding of what the heck is going on before we dive into Volume 2.

Jaskier the Bard (Joe Batey)

I loved Jaskier in the first two seasons of The Witcher but what have they done to my beloved bard in Season 3? I get that time has passed and Jaskier is older (somewhat wiser?). In Season 3 - Volume 1 he continues to be protective of his found family while still loving the limelight, but why give our beautiful babe such a long stringy hairdo and worn pasty expression? It’s like The Witcher traveled back to the 90s era of fashion when it was preferable to look like you were exhausted and malnourished all of the time. The same can be said for Ciri and Yennefer this season, but their wigs are way less distracting to the plot than Jaskier’s locks. While he is often given the task of being a “manny” to Ciri, his other secret role is negotiating her protection (unbeknownst to Geralt and Yennefer) with the kingdom of Redania. This leads us to a delicious new character.

Prince Radovid of Redania (Hugh Skinner)

It took me a minute to recognize the actor Hugh Skinner under all his furs and long hair. Skinner played the delightfully milquetoast boyfriend Harry in Season 1 of Fleabag. In Season 3 - Volume 1 of The Witcher, it’s Skinner’s time to shine. As Prince Radovid, brother of the King of Redania, Skinner again plays someone who is smarter than he appears. He may look like a medieval party boi, but Radovid is highly observant of the relationships of those around him. He often drops bits of information into conversations nonchalantly that make it seem like it was by accident (seem is the operative word here). He also presumably has a deep appreciation for our beloved bard, Jaskier. Their flirtation builds steadily as Radovid tries to gain Jaskier’s trust and convince him that bringing Ciri to Redania is the “least crappy” plan out there. In Season 3 Episode 5, we finally get the steamy (albeit quick) pay-off of Jaskier and Radovid’s toying banter; the two finally make out while Jaskier is on watch duty for Ciri while Geralt and Yennefer attend a witchy party. But is Radovid really there just to see Jaskier? Or is he providing Jaskier with a distraction so someone from Redania can try to kidnap the sleeping Ciri? Will we get to see more hot man-on-man action in The Witcher Season 3 - Volume 2? Let’s hope.

Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer)

Triss is a mage known for her talents in botany and healing - who was more of a main character in Season 2 - when she chilled out as the only adult lady among the community of hunky witchers (and Ciri) living at Kaer Morhen. The kind red-haired mage tried to help train Ciri in magic but later began to fear her potential power. In Season 3 - Volume 1, Triss has returned to Aretuza to help train new students and she seems to be the only one worried about the young female novices who have recently gone missing from the school.

Lydia (Aisha Fabienne Ross)

So we talked about Rience (fire boi) already, Lydia is sort of the intermediary between him and the mysterious big bad villain that hired him. Ciri has both Elven and human blood. More importantly, she has Elder Blood and is believed to be a descendant of Lara Dorren, a powerful Elf sorceress. Lara was supposed to be the ultimate weapon of the Elves against the humans and marry another Elf, but instead, she married a human mage who advocated for the peaceful coexistence of humans and Elves.

Last season, Papa Witcher, aka Vesemir (played by Kim Bodnia) tried to use some of Ciri’s blood to recreate the elixir used to create new witchers through the painful mutation process known as the “Trial of the Grasses.” At the end of Season 2, Rience (fire boi) steals the vial of this witcher potion to gain a sample of Ciri’s blood, making it easier for him to track her down in the future no matter where she goes. When Lydia gets her hands on the vial, she makes the mistake of sampling the punch AND IT BURNS HALF OF HER FACE OFF. In Season 3 - Volume 1, Lydia uses her magic to conceal her deformity but she can no longer speak out loud. She can only communicate telepathically. She is missing for most of Season 3 - Volume 1 but pops back up in Episode 5 at the witchy peace party being held at Aretuza.

Sigismund Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) and Philippa Eilhart (Cassie Clare)

Dijkstra looks kind of like what I imagine happens when a bodybuilder gets older and is still pretty swole, but now they like to wear capes and fancy lil’ frilly neck pieces and whatnot, as one does. In Season 3 - Volume 1, Dijkstra is established as the head spy of Redania. He deals in intelligence and dark favors to gain what he wants, and what he wants is for Ciri to marry King Vizimir (Ed Birch) of Redania, going so far as to murder the King’s current wife to get her out of the way. If Dijkstra can get Ciri to swear allegiance to Redania, they would also have full authority to claim the kingdom of Cintra. Redania would be the top dog essentially. He tries to appeal to Geralt to bring Ciri to Redania for protection but gets shut down fairly quickly.

Helping him along with his mission to make Redania the most powerful kingdom in the Continent is mage Philippa Eilhart (who is often seen transformed into an owl). She frequently communicates with other kingdoms (like with the young Elf Dara who is pretending to be allegiant to Nilfgaard as a spy) in an effort to get a leg up for Redania. She also seems to view both the King of Redania and his brother, Prince Radovid, as dipshits. In the finale of Season 3 - Volume 1, Philippa appeals to Yennefer that there are traitors at Aretuza already working with Nilfgaard and that she previously tried to convince Tissaia not to ally with Vilgefortz. She claims the Brotherhood is a “sinking ship” with no place in the future of the Continent. She points out the sad, now mute mage Lydia as being “heartsick,” and willing to follow her love anywhere, even if it leads to her own death. The last shot we see of Lydia is as she passes Geralt at the party, wearing dangling earrings made out of the same red protective stone as Aretuza headmistress Tissaia’s own bracelet.

Artorius (Terence Maynard)

Actor Terence Maynard is a treasure but his character, Artorius, is mostly annoying. He is the uncle of mage Fringilla and he sits on the chapter of magicians from various kingdoms called “The Brotherhood of Sorcerers.” He’s sort of like a conservative uncle who is usually a naysayer most of the time but occasionally comes around when needed. Artorius is friends with the grumpy racist mage, Stregobor, and they used to rule the Brotherhood but got demoted after they opted to do nothing and let Cintra be attacked by Nilfgaard and burned to the ground.

Istredd (Royce Pierreson)

Istredd is rocking some sensitive poet-length hair in Season 3 - Volume 1, and after his attempts to learn more about Ciri and her connection to the monoliths (giant mystical stone structures that are pathways to different realms), he has also returned to Aretuza to find an ancient Elven text that gives its holder the ability to travel through space and time. He believes Stregobor has stolen it and he and Triss believe he has been using it to create dark portals to try to kill Yennefer among other misdeeds. They intend to find the book and finally get Stregobor to pay for all of the crap he has done to others. Despite the potential competition he poses for Yennefer’s affection, Istredd helps Geralt create a distraction so Yennefer can slip away to break into Stregobor’s room.

Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen)

Stregobor has been a baddie of The Witcher since Season 1. I had an even harder time recognizing the actor who plays him (Lars Mikkelsen) under all of his fake beard and eyebrow pieces than I did actor Hugh Skinner. Brother to the beloved Mads, Lars Mikkelsen is about to be seen as the live-action embodiment of the animated character he voiced: Grand Admiral Thrawn, in the new Disney+ series Ahsoka. In The Witcher, Stregobor’s kind of like a white supremacist. He calls Geralt “Butcher,” and claims he is “saving the Continent, rooting out the deadly creatures that threaten us all.” He hates the Elves and refers to any humans with Elven blood as “dirty” or a “monster.” It’s partly why he hates Yennefer (who is part Elf). Geralt believes Stregobor has been conducting experiments on the abducted half-Elven students from Aretuza, essentially creating a “Human Centipede” type situation that Geralt had to kill. Both Geralt and Yennefer fear that Stregobor has dark plans for Ciri, but after Yennefer breaks into his wardrobe and finds lists of names and creepy mementos from the novice mages who disappeared, Stregobor seems completely surprised. He finds the claims that he has conducted experiments of mind control on these students absurd and when Istredd finds the ancient “Book of Monoliths” hidden deeper inside his wardrobe, Stregobor seems to not know what it is. Hmm…

Tissaia (MyAnna Buring)

Initially, Tissaia and the other mages feared Ciri will someday destroy all humans and thus, must be destroyed herself. She’s also on the outs with Yennefer despite her affection for her and her belief that Yennefer was the best student she ever taught. Yennefer appeals to Tissaia to allow her and Ciri to come to Aretuza to actually help Ciri control her powers. Yennefer implores the mages of the North to work together and show that they are a united front.

In the final episode of Season 3 - Volume 1 our headmistress of Aretuza Academy (and only lady rep on DA BROTHERHOOD) decides that Stregobor should be held accountable and stand trial for the serious claims against him made by Triss, Yennefer, and Istredd (that he has been experimenting on students and stolen an ancient Elven text for personal gain). Her boyfriend and fellow sorcerer Vilgefortz agrees and Stregobor is taken away. She tells Istredd that she will hide the ancient “Book of Monoliths” to keep it safe, so it won’t fall into the wrong hands, again. Before she walks off, she accidentally drops her fancy bracelet that her BF Vilgefortz gave her that is supposed to “keep her safe.” Uh oh…

Francesca (Mecia Simson)

Francesca is an Elven mage. In Season 2, she worked hard with human mage Fringilla to support Nilfgaard, believing that the Elves would be protected by Fringilla and they could live in peace with their human protectors. All that changed after her newborn baby was murdered to prevent the Elves from leaving to start a new community elsewhere. In Season 3 Volume -1, Francesca is PISSED (rightfully so), and looking to kill humans and fight her way to finding Ciri in hopes of gaining the supposed savior of the Elves, the “Child of Elder Blood,” with the ability to destroy all humans.

Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni)

My only complaint about Mimi Ndiweni is that there is not enough Fringilla in Season 3 - Volume 1. I am hoping Volume 2 rectifies this. After serving “The White Flame” aka Emhyr, the Emperor of Nilfgaard for all of Season 2, Season 3 - Volume 1 finds Fringilla now a betrayed prisoner, forced to taste-test potentially poisoned wine for her captor. Through the process, she becomes kind of an alcoholic. Eventually, she poses as a dead body in order to escape, so she can find a bar and get drunk until she finds a boat…

Cahir (Eamon Farren)

In Season 2, Cahir was captured by mages, brought to Aretuza and tortured, then sentenced to death. To prove her alliance with Aretuza, Yennefer was tasked with killing him, but ultimately, she spared his life and let him escape. Once the leader of Nilfgaard’s army, Cahir has also fallen from grace in the eyes of “The White Flame.” He now tries to prove his continued loyalty to Nilfgaard daily but is still mistreated. He eventually betrays and murders one of the only Elves who seems to value him and believes they can support Nilfgaard together: Gallatin (played by Robbie Amell of Upload fame). Cahir has become a bit of a kicked dog in Season 3 - Volume 1, and he keeps returning to his master looking for acceptance. What his master really wants though, is to find Ciri.

Emperor Emhyr var Emreis (Bart Edwards)

Emhyr is the big bad in the shadows; he is: “The White Flame,” Emperor of Nilfgaard, and also, Duny, the human daddy of Ciri, who once suffered under a curse that made him look like a big hedgehog man. Ciri thinks both of her parents have been dead since she was a toddler. Emhyr is determined to find Ciri but has kept the fact that he is alive hidden for a long time while he conquers more and more of the Continent. One can only imagine his motives for finding his daughter are less than altruistic.

Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu)

Vilgefortz is the smooth-operator sorcerer boyfriend of Tissaia who seems to be too good to be true. That’s because he is friends. After Artorius was ousted as leader of the Brotherhood, he and Tissaia became the new leaders. Despite her struggle to trust others, Tissaia seems to have fallen for Vilgefortz who claims to have been changed by his love for Tissaia. He gives her a bracelet as a gift, made of red stones that are supposed to “keep her safe.”

At the gathering of mages at Aretuza, Vilgefortz raises a glass to toast “peace among the mages of the North” and claims he and Tissaia have hope for cooperation in the future. He seems sincere. Is he? Earlier in the evening, Geralt encountered Vilgefortz standing before his “favorite painting” that shows the first use of magic by the founder of the Brotherhood - showing “outcasts uniting under a common banner.” He talks to Geralt about his childhood as an orphan who was misused and mistreated but later became a sorcerer. He hints at the “battle to come,” and implores Geralt to join the side of the Brotherhood to protect both Ciri and Yennefer. He vaguely threatens that if Geralt remains neutral he will always have enemies after him.

When Yennefer explains that the red stones in Tissaia’s bracelet are “scarlet ammonite,” rumored to protect loved ones, Geralt says that the stone can only be found in the mines of Redania. Uh ohhhhhhh….

…which is where Geralt also found all of those kidnapped novice lady mages locked inside a spooky castle. Yennefer remembers that the mountain in the painting that Vilgefortz admires is also the same location she was brought to by the cursed portal she entered when she almost fell off a cliff to her death after her arrival. Perhaps Stregobor wasn't the villain they were looking for, after all, it was smooth-talking, eyeliner-wearing Vilgefortz all along. After spending the night with Yennefer at the end of Season 3 - Volume 1, Geralt leaves their room to investigate, hears screams, and encounters Dijkstra who holds a knife to his throat and scolds him that he “should have chosen a side.”

Uhhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhhhhhhh…….

…to be continued in Season 3 - Volume 2 of The Witcher airing July 27, 2023, on Netflix.


Diana DiMuro

Associate Editor

Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro




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