Hello everyone who just realized that The Witcher season 2 is on Netflix this week and has absolutely no memory of what happened in season 1. Like, something about Henry Cavill fighting monsters and falling in love? Yes to that, but also it’s slightly more complicated due to multiple timelines and tons of world-building.
In order to avoid wandering into The Witcher season 2 entirely lost and confused like a little baby lamb, here’s a quick recap of key events and themes from The Witcher season 1.
First, a Fast Bare Bones Plot Rundown
The Witcher follows three main characters as they navigate a medieval world full of dueling kingdoms, in-fighting magicians (aka mages), and casual monsters. Ahem:
- Geralt of Rivia, a brooding and excessively hunky “Witcher” who hunts monsters for a living.
- Princess Ciri, a young royal with powers who is being hunted by the Nilfgaardian Empire.
- Yennefer of Vengerberg, a powerful sorceress who gave up her ability to have children in order to change her appearance.
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Reminder: There Are Three (3) Different Timelines
Each of our three faves (aka Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer) follow their own timeline, which eventually merge together in season 1, episode 8. Here’s a quick breakdown of each person’s timeline:
1231: Geralt meets (and later kills) a woman named Renfri who tells him there’s a girl in the forrest who is his “destiny.” Vague!
1249: The next important thing in Geralt’s timeline goes down more than a decade later in 1249, when he attends a betrothal party for Queen Calanthe’s daughter Princess Pavetta. [Quick break to note that Queen Calanthe is Princess Ciri’s grandmother, but in this timeline, Ciri hasn’t been born yet.]
The party is interrupted by a man/porcupine (just go with it) named Duny who uses the “Law of Surprise” to claim Pavetta’s hand in marriage. What *is* the “Law of Surprise,” you ask? Basically, when a person saves someone’s life (as Duny did with Pavetta’s father), they can ask for the “Law of Surprise” as repayment. This dictates that the savior gets something that the saved person already has but is unaware of. In Duny’s case, this is Pavetta—since her father was unaware of Queen Calanthe’s pregnancy at the time he was saved.
Anyway, Geralt ends up saving Duny’s life at this party, and Geralt chooses the Law of Surprise as repayment. No bigs, except two seconds later Pavetta vomits and everyone realizes she’s pregnant—meaning Geralt’s destiny is tied to that child (who ends up being Princess Ciri).
1256: Geralt and Yennefer meet up when Geralt’s buddy Jaskier gets sick due to releasing a Djinn (similar to a genie), and it’s a whole dramatic thing which ultimately results in Geralt falling for Yennefer and binding them together via Djinn-wish.
1262: Geralt and Yennefer meet up for a dragon hunt and there’s lots of simmering sexual tension and drama, but they end up parting ways on bad terms when Yennefer learns of his wish.
1263: Nilfgaard is about to to invade Cintra, so Geralt cashes in on his Law of Surprise in order to claim Ciri and protect her. But he ends up getting imprisoned (and escapes), which brings us to…
1263: Ciri’s full timeline takes place in 1263, shortly after Nilfgaard captures the Kingdom of Cintra and she’s sent away by her grandmother Queen Calanthe with vague instructions to find Geralt because he is her destiny. Unfortunately, Ciri is captured by a very evil-seeming Nilfgaardian soldier named Cahir—but manages to use her powers to escape.
Ciri is helped along the way by a young elf named Dara, and they spend most of the show trying to avoid Cahir’s various methods of capture.
1206: Yennefer is sold to a sorceress named Tissaia de Vries and begins to train in magic at Aretuza Academy. She gets friendly with a sorcerer named Istredd and they become ~lovers~.
As the years pass, Yennefer’s powers grow and she ends up changing her appearance (and giving up her fertility as a result). She eventually becomes a mage advisor to the Kingdom of Aedirn.
1240: Yennefer has been serving Aedirn for a good 30 years and is escorting the Queen and her newborn baby when they’re attacked by an assassin. Though Yennefer tries to save them, the Queen and her child die.
At this point, we’re gonna jump forward a few years since Gerlat’s timeline also included some Yennefer details!
1263: Yennefer joins up with a group of her fellow mages to fight Nilfgaard, which brings us to her and Geralt’s timelines intersecting with Ciri’s!
Reminder of What Goes Down in the Final Season 1 Episode
Nilfgaard invades Cintra, and Yennefer helps her fellow mages hold down Sodden Hill to stop the army from taking over the rest of the north and ultimately the entire continent. She harnesses a massive fire in one last-ditch effort to save everyone and then disappears, seemingly dying.
Meanwhile, Geralt and Ciri have managed to escape to the same random farm, where they finally meet in the woods. The show ends with Ciri asking who Yennefer is because ~they’re all connected~.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the show than this (plus many extraneous characters), but if you watched The Witcher season 1, this should give you everything you need to get into season 2 without being massively confused. Enjoy!
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