My Racist Journey
Ciri is in the woods, in the bitter cold, an unspecified time after the attacks (in a bit she’ll say it’s been three days). Soldiers trot around the forest calling for ‘Princess Cirilla’.
But she didn’t shout down an obelisk just so she could get recaptured, so she hides and puts mud in her hair. She also exercises way more control than I would have, having just discovered a super power while in peril. Things get quite hairy at one point and not a sonic scream to be heard. It’s wise, because despite the tension, her identity remains concealed for the episode. That’s a good outcome for her right now.
Ciri meets a silent boy, and goes from “No Thanks, I don’t eat rat” to “Actually that rat smells pretty good” in the space a of short monologue. He looks surprised when she offers him one of her gloves when his hands are cold.
The Witcher gives us a mini cliffhanger when Cirri loses her new friend while she is determinedly going towards a Cintran flag. But it is a Cintran relief camp, so yay. Talk around the camp reveals a resentment towards the monarchy from all classes, and that maybe Queen Calanthe fought wars a lot. Maybe a whole lot?
This next bit was confusing for me first time around. A teen guy recognises her cloak as his dead father’s work – a tailor to Cintra’s finest so it doesn’t personally idenitify her. He’s so proud of his elf ear necklace,
that I thought the dreaded Nilfgaard must be elves, but no, this is about a whole different conflict that’s been going on for a while and we hear about Filavandrel’s (appearing in another storyline) uprising. Elf ear necklace guy lost his brother in the conflict, and he’s pretty messed up about it.
When Ciri goes to Elf ear necklace guy’s tent, we meet his family. Younger brother appears to be fighting the non racist fight but mother orders an elf servant (very possibly slave) called Abbott to give up his shoes for Ciri, and then misinterprets Ciri’s slightly horrified stare.
So, I briefly wondered if all elves were little people, that’s probably not great but he was my first confirmed elf in this universe and I had no frame of reference.
The answer is ‘no’.
Also the Nilfgaard might still be elves, but if they are, then all elves clearly are not Nilfgaard, but I think I’m finally getting the spelling of it. Ok, we progress.
The mother hangs around long enough to show us that racists can be wonderful people to the people they consider their people, and we find out that Ciri’s parents died when she was a baby. Then when the camp gets attacked by Nilfgaard (ridge rider arrow guy is there) Ciri’s scary hostess berates, screams and then heavily slaps Abbott for failing to carry the biggest bag of silver in the world at a sharp clip.
Abbott snaps, and stabs her repeatedly. It’s not that quick.
Ciri’s silent friend returns to rescue her, they find their way out, and in the morning he raises his hat, to share that he’s Elvish.
So that’s why he wouldn’t go into the camp. He can speak, and his name is Dara.
Toss a Coin to Your Witcher
We are in a very picturesque place which is called Posada.Where Jaskier the Bard makes the questionable choice to try to liven up his weak improvised set with an abortion reference. He’s not rewarded for his fling with the avant-garde and gets food thrown at him but some of it’s quite fresh, so that’s lunch, and might possibly have been the plan. He spots Geralt in a corner.
And Jaskier’s arc this episode will be taking the hell out of that note. Once Jaskier identifying him as a Witcher both ruins Geralt’s afternoon and gets him some work to stop a grain stealer (money up front), Jaskier follows him out of town. Jaskier’s mission is to learn some of what he sings about and get some inspiration. He offers Geralt lots of opportunity for terse comebacks, which Cavil does a nice job with, and Joey Batey is great as the over enthused artist out of his depth.
The thief is a Sylvan – a very tall goaty looking bipedal sentient species, but he’s been stealing on behalf of elves. Specifically the elves following Filavandrel (mentioned in another storyline) who capture them. Geralt and Jaskier (mainly Geralt) get beaten by a hot headed female elf. She gets too close to Geralt at one point and gets headbutted across the room, Filavandrel comes in and Jaskier learns that a lot of what he’s been told about elves was fictional.Filavandrel talks about the ‘Great Cleansing’, and of fields of mass graves where his people now provide fertilizer for the lands farmed by humans. And that’s horrifying. The elf leader’s current concerns are mounting too. Geralt thinks he has an answer, and argues for it spiritedly. The hot headed female elf argues for a war, and we don’t quite find out how Filavandrel chose. We know they let Geralt and Jaskier go, that Geralt gave Filavandrel the upfront money he got, and that Filavandrel was in a state of mind to give Jaskier his own lute to replace the one he lost.
It certainly helps his busking, because after a couple of starts there’s quite the melody going. He’s kind of got something, there. Unfortunately Jaskier’s not growing as a person all that fast, because in a curiously appropriate way for this kind of thing, the first verse is kind of horrifyingly racist and blatantly untrue.
When a humble bard, graced a ride along, with Geralt of Rivia
Along came this…song
From when the White-Wolf fought, a silver tongued Devil
His army of elves, at his hooves they did travel,
They came after me, with masterful deceit,
Broke down my lute, and they kicked in my teeth
While the devil’s horns, minced our tender meat
And so cried the Witcher, he can’t be bleat…Ciri takes refuge with her elf friend as the last lines of the super racist first verse end, and Geralt has an objection on the basis that it’s fictional. Jaskier does not appear to care. And then, Jaskier proves why you just cannot afford to enirely trust artists for the whole picture.
Because while we can all agree we just don’t sing the really racist bit, then there’s still a whole lot of disturbing subtext in the rest. I’m sure Geralt is just delighted to be a ‘friend to humanity’, and that’s quite the ‘elf on a shelf’ reference, but sadly none of that matters, because Jaskier is on his game as an artist and “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” is a total jam.
At the end of Yennefer’s story in this episode there have been so many reveals you kind of want it to settle for a bit before it decides on another few turns.
It starts with solid CG, right at the top of the episode. It won’t always be able to be a misty morning, but I’m buying the hell out of this village. It has two annoying lovers ready to bully, beat and humiliate the hell out of Yennefer today.
Under this duress she apparently portals into the magical fortress of Aretuza for an apparently spontaneous meeting with her apparent future boyfriend.
We get a ‘portals 101’ which will happen to be the one piece of magic Yennefer is apparently naturally pretty good at, and she is returned home. The next day this lady turns up.
And asks for a pig. A pig is ten marks. She asks how much for Yennefer and haggles with Yennefer’s deeply uncaring stepfather for her. They settle on four marks, and its the price that burns into Yennefer during the night. She thinks she’s going to die anyway. She takes the glass and while we don’t see her attempt, her intent is made clear as we cut to the title screen.
We go a few rounds at Miss De Vries’ incredibly strict and mandatory magical school for girls.
Where Yennefer does not excel despite a desperate determination, and continues to see Istredd off the books.
By the last scene, we’ve been getting smacked around with a few revelations. Istredd is being controlled by Stregobor from the last episode, so suddenly Yennefer’s birth date would be very useful to know. Right after that we find there’s been an offscreen conversation at some point between Yennefer and Miss de Vries, where Yennefer has presumably told her everything and definitely agreed to manipulate Istredd, procuring one of the portal flowers. The cutest relationship so far is the one where everyone was faking it, and Yennefer’s recent ‘part elf’ confession is looking suspect along with everything else.
Having done this, Yennefer is desperate to achieve ‘Ascension’, but the knock she is told to wait for never comes that night, so she portals in to watch the other girls ‘Ascend’ anyway. It is not what she was expecting. Miss de Vries wants Yennefer to push the eels that were recently people into the water. Yennefer baulks a bit (they don’t seem to be going willingly) and figures out what this is all for. What she has been told to strive for, and what she failed at wasn’t safety at all, it was a trap, and ‘Ascension’ once again proves it is not a safe word in this kind of environment. Tissaia De Vries gets to repeat the flower lesson which is her version of a shrug and ‘circle of life.’
The role of the fortress, Aretuza is interesting. De Vries introduced herself first as Rectoress of Aretuza, a lot of characters have repeated the name and we’ve been treated to quite a few beauty shots.
And, as the second part of “Throw a coin to your Witcher” starts up, and, yeah, why not have it again? It’s that rare bird, the catchy ballad.
Yennefer scoops her former friends (including Anica, who supported Yennefer when she had diffculty with mind reading) into the pool, the liquid becomes iridescent, and the fortress Aretuza changes into her ‘Blade Runner’ look. They say locations are a character, in drama. Here’s one with an appetite, too, as the magical rectory is definitely part of the magical process (ing?). She’s looking great, though.
Tissaia and Yennefer seem to bond a bit, over a hard job well done. But that look that says “Well done, definitely not a flower”, who knows how long that will last?
At the end of Yennefer’s first episode we can’t say where she’s heading, who she can trust, who should trust her, or know how close she is to the next reveal, only that illusions have been stripped and progress has been made.
And I think Yennefer from the beginning of her story might well have chosen that, had she known.