Have You Considered a Metal Career in Striga Rehabilitation?
A teen boy gives the lore of the creature that gave him the massive wounds he is dying from to a Witcher who is ‘Not-Geralt’.
The boy dies and Not-Geralt goes to investigate in what looks like it could be an archeological dig near Winterhold:but is, in fact, the meat packing district of wherever the hell we are. We don’t see the Not-A-Vukodlak but we do see it kill Not-Geralt.
Meanwhile, some way away, Geralt has been enjoying ale and a lady, and with a few song lines and ‘what the bard said’s from the lady it seems Jaskier from last week has been influencing the cultural discourse and getting Geralt a warmer welcome in the area. Sadly, once the lady’s questions start heading towards Renifer, Geralt is unthinkingly insulting towards her, because he’s trying to deflect from the fact that the woman on his mind is the one he had to kill in episode 1.
And she gets a bit huffy like: “Fine, I thought there was more, but if we’re renegotiating what happened here, then I would normally be getting paid”.
She tells him that another Witcher had been through recently. Some miners from Temeria had a big problem and saved up 3000 orens to get it solved.
And has Geralt’s full attention. He gives her all the money he has on him, and leaves Roach as collateral at the inn for the room charge.
And heads to Temeria on foot, as we get this weeks’ title screen.
Temeria is bordering on unrest. The miners are stuck between strike, move away or revolt and the dead boy’s father, with all that pain that needs to go somewhere, argues very strongly for revolt. And at a time like this we can all agree that the Witcher’s Guild is lucky to have Geralt doing on the spot community outreach after such a stunning PR failure.
The miners agree, but then Geralt gets thrown out by a local lord, on the order of the King. This turns out to be a feint, organized by the court sourceress so he can investigate quietly.
The magic user is called Triss and she belongs to the ‘brotherhood’, and is trying to find a cure for the creature, as it is strongly suspected to be the magically gestated child of the king’s dead sister Adda, and heir to the throne. She tells Geralt it’s not a Vukodlak but she doesn’t know what it is. She’s preserved the bodies in salt, leading to an awkward reunion with Not-Geralt.
He has a rummage in Not-Geralt and from the specific organs removed figures out that this is the work of a Striga. Someone killed the King’s sister and turned the baby girl she was carrying into a monster, and it was done by a curse.
There follows an investigation in which King Foltest is revealed to be a consensual incester, also a man who we can well imagine was paralyzed with grief and guilt during the crisis.
He’s looking for just a little hope, and the witcher gives him all the hope the truth contains, and Renifer’s brooch as a gift for the Princess, should he succeed. Also, Geralt’s poker face for “Hey you witchers sure don’t feel stuff” is terrible. The implication perhaps that it has never needed to be good, people see what they want to see, because he appears to be gutted every time.
Support Lord, who has been so helpful, was a creepy stalker that got discovered because Geralt could smell he had been in Adda’s bed.
I think, perhaps, the only thing Support Lord says we might think of as true is that he aimed his actions at King Foltest, and maybe Adda’s pregnancy was the trigger.
Anyway, he refuses to give up how he cursed her until Geralt drags him to Adda’s room in the castle the Striga is using as a lair. He continues to say how he’s not guilty as he talks about all the steps of the ritual he went through to kill the woman he loved. Geralt makes him repeat the elven chant as well as he can remember it.
Geralt leaves him to his fate, Support Lord’s protestations that it’s all Faltest’s fault continuing to the very last. And why yes that is her umbilical cord, dragging…through all that.
I really like the physicality of the Striga, that and some great foley work give these fight scenes heft.
The score goes big on Zimmer reminiscent huge low brass and marching drums to go with the Striga’s shrieks.
The ‘portal barrier’ thing only gets introduced oh, maybe a whole minute before it saves the day. But that body slam was cool, and I love the conceit that he defeated the monster by refusing to get out of its bed really hard.
At the end, once dawn has come and transformed the Striga into a Princess, Geralt forgets that he tends to loom, and neck stabs are exchanged before everyone learns to back off a bit.
Geralt seems near to death but comes around in Triss Merigold’s work room. His first question is to ask after the Princess, which is commendable, and Triss tells him she has gone to stay with the Sisters of Melitele for a while. A kind and well armoured order, one hopes.
And then, when told the political solution to all this is that Murdering Support Lord is now a hero that gave his life to kill the Vukodlak he gets a bit…And he gets a bit huffy like: “Fine, I thought there was more, but if we’re renegotiating what happened here, then I would normally be getting paid”. And if your heroism just got pinned to a turd, maybe you get to check the money before you’re shoved out the kitchen door.
He also kept saying Renfri’s name while he was down so he’s clearly not over it, but he does get paid and hey, they give him the brooch back.
It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. I wasn’t anticipating anything too twisty in The Witcher but I think I was vaguely aware something timeliney had happened in the game. Anyway, this is the episode is the one in which there are enough references that it’s time to talk about it.
Has the revolution in Nilfgaard happened yet?
How old are Folest and Adda right now?
Who rules Cintra?
So…Yennefer’s about 35-50 years behind Geralt? Ciri’s story I know had something to cross reference when the racist lady she stayed with said something about the Nilfgaard revolution, but I can’t remember what it was and I’ve decide to not let myself go back too much. Ciri’s storyline can tell me when it is, an after revolution Nilfgaard would certainly make more apparent sense than otherwise, but I’m not assuming.
What about Metal Plastic Surgery?
Yennefer’s storyline did what I wanted it to at the end of last week. It opens out a bit and gives us some context so we can get some solid ground beneath our feet. She and Istredd were for real, but they were both less earnest then they were letting on. Their relationship this week feels much more realistic as it falls apart.
She blames him telling Stregobor about her elven blood (apparently real: Tissaia believes she’s part elf and Yennefer is soundly disadvantaged by it this episode, if it weren’t true she’d be grabbing some proof). And while that’s definitely the weapon they used, and it put the whole thing beyond doubt, I think ‘Yennifer for Nilfgaard’ was a plan that Fringilla’s Uncle and Stregobor walked in to that meeting with, and they had been preparing for a while. Particularly that light insult to Fringilla from Stregobor, sound like a great way to get an ally into the conversation without letting on that’s what they are. Tissaia does think a lot of Yennefer, and fights the good fight. But ultimately fails to save her protege’s dreams and ambitions.
And with all this poilitics one does start to wonder if the eel girls last week really were the best conduits or if they were just – unconnected. Also ‘interesting’ relationships with your court ruler appear to be part of the job, from the implication that whoever works for Fergus is going to have it as their main job descriptor, to the worry caused by the lack of chemistry between the King of Aedirn and Fringilla.
Downstairs the excluded (Aedirnian) Yennefer is not accepting fate, she’s broken up with her boyfriend, thrown off her mentor’s guidance, and goes to see the appearance enchanter which she is definitely not supposed to be doing. Fortunately he turns out to be the kind of Gen X’er that is just waiting to start some shit. He warns Yennefer that there is always a sacrifice for getting to be a second draft of yourself. In her case, she will have no children. She accepts.
We start by gently removing your uterus. Relax and let the anesthetic herbs do their work, confident that your enchanter has chosen just the right kind of hooky blade for you. Unless you chose the metal package in which case hold to the armrests you’re chained to and scream.
We then massage and hydrate the organ with the finest herbs before warming it in an antique imported Moroccan copper brazier. Then it is hand mixed in a granite mortar and pestle with our most secret ingredients. Relaxed with soothing oils to form rich, magical essence,
we paint that shit right into your body,
And it gets to work on your transformative experience.You might want to meditate, but most of our clients find screaming the house down works as well.
Yennefer is transformed in an amazing sequence. Her entry into the ‘Yule Ball’ room is anticipated by Tissaia and Istredd, who both get a bit of foreboding. And as all heads turn and Yennefer gets her moment, Tissaia starts to glide towards her and she’s got just a few seconds to grab this opportunity. But Yennefer knows the exact three words to say to stymie her mentor, her boyfriend and the whole damned chapter. Because in the end their political power comes from the Kings they serve, and she knows what her king wants. As she bypasses the whole damn lot of them, what consequences will come (the score somewhat promises them with some significant tension in this moment) we do not know, but the world just rolled boulders in the way of Yennefer of Vengebourg, and came a cropper against a woman with a crowbar, an alert mind and a taste for metal plastic surgery.
Yennifer of Vengeberg will go to Aidern, and you can all deal with it.
Next Episode: Of Banquets, bastards and burials.