The Witcher’s first season was notoriously hard to follow. The reason, in no small part, was the show had three main characters — Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri — operating in three different timelines that crossed over only rarely. Geralt and Yennefer only met after Yennefer finished her training at Aretuza. Ciri and Geralt only found each other in the aftermath of the Battle of Sodden Hill. Yennefer and Ciri didn’t meet at all.
So “Dear Friend …” represents a pivotal moment for the show: The first time Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri have been in the same room together. This long-awaited, monumental moment happens at the Temple of Melitele, where Geralt has taken Ciri following her extremely close brush with either becoming a witcher (maybe!) or dying (statistically much more likely!).
The temple is where Geralt trained in basic magic as a young witcher, which now he uses to charm monsters or push stuff with telekinesis. But in addition to this useful training, the temple is clearly one of the safer and happier places Geralt experienced hardscrabble childhood. It’s a place where Geralt must check his swords at the door because fighting and politics are strictly banned. It’s also a place where he can seek advice from Nenneke, the warm and wise priestess who keeps the temple running. Most of all, it’s a place where the biggest danger to Ciri seems to be an awkward boy with an obvious crush on her. That seems like an acceptable compromise given the monsters they’ve been fending off all season.
But as Geralt and Ciri should probably have learned by now, an enemy can turn up in the guise of an ally — even if she wishes things were different. Enter Yennefer, who arrives at the Temple of Melitele looking for the girl she promised to the Deathless Mother. It’s not as if Yennefer wants to betray Geralt and Ciri; she made the deal before she had any idea what Geralt’s Child of Surprise even looked like. But as she could have learned from any good fairy tale, there’s always an ironic consequence when you make a deal with a witch.
Before those consequences come home to roost — and after Ciri awkwardly interrupts Geralt and Yennfer’s passionate kiss — we get a nice, relaxed scene of the trio chatting and enjoying each other’s company, bantering about whether unicorns exist. Like the previous surrogate family formed by Geralt, Triss, and Ciri at Kaer Morhen, you can imagine how these three bruised, battered people might find in one another the strength and support they’ve needed all along.
It can’t last, of course. For one thing, Yennefer won’t come clean about what she’s doing at the temple (though Geralt’s advanced senses do pick up on her unnaturally accelerated heartbeat). For another, there’s the small matter of a magic assassin named Rience — whom Yennefer succinctly and helpfully identifies as a “fire fucker” — who remains absolutely hell-bent on capturing Ciri for his own as yet unidentified employer.
That night, Rience and his goons arrive at the temple ready to raise hell. As it turns out, a rule against fighting and politics doesn’t matter much to a magic assassin. As Yennefer runs off with Ciri, Geralt stays behind, and The Witcher delivers one of the better non-monster fight scenes of its entire run. At one point, Geralt punches a guy in the face and we get a nice long slow-motion shot of a bloody tooth flying out of his mouth. At another, he uses his Aard sign to blast a guy into the air, then holds a dagger upright so the guy’s face lands directly on it. Gravity takes care of the rest.
All the while, Yennefer and Ciri are stuck behind a locked door with Rience doing his best to break it down from the other side. But if Yennefer has lost her magic, at least she can coach Ciri in how to use it. After a rapid-fire lesson, Ciri generates a portal, and she and Yennefer depart to a place unknown. Once again, our heroes are scattered across the Continent; once again, Geralt is alone.
The episode doesn’t rest here long, but it’s sad to think about Geralt in this moment separated from the child he only recently realized he wanted. One of the benefits of season one’s convoluted timeline was we got to spend a lot of time with Geralt as a taciturn, solitary figure.
But if his love for Yennefer was the first crack in his brittle exterior, then fatherhood seems to have broken him wide open. Season two has been built around a softer, gentler Geralt, protecting and teaching Ciri while doing his best to steer her away from the hard road he was forced to walk. Now that they’ve been separated again — and with what seems like the entire Continent chasing her down — we’ll see what Ciri can do with everything she’s learned.
• Meanwhile in Temeria: Istredd wanders into the shop of Codringher and Fenn, a pair of delightfully eccentric investigators, bibliophiles, and all-around knowers of things. Their research unravels the curse of Lara Dorren, laid down ten generations prior, which will “make the columns of space and time tremble.” Sounds like some Ciri stuff!
• Meanwhile at Kaer Morhen: Rience portals in, attacks Vesemir and Triss, and portals away after stealing the witcher mutagen made from Ciri’s Elder blood. Honestly, given the huge importance both Vesemir and Triss have placed on that battle, it’s weird it takes them so long to realize it’s missing.
• Meanwhile in Cintra: Francesca and Filavandrel have a healthy elf-y baby. Hooray! At the same time, Cahir nudges Fringilla to shift her attention away from the elves and embarrasses Dara in a sparring match for absolutely no reason. I appreciate that The Witcher isn’t trying to make Cahir more sympathetic following his imprisonment by the mages; too often, TV shows attempt to shoehorn an unconvincing redemption arc for a character who just makes more sense as a huge asshole.
• At the top of the episode, Geralt and Ciri square off against a chernobog — The Witcher’s monster-fied version of a dark Slavic god that has turned up in one form or another in everything from Disney’s Fantasia to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to the Kingdom Hearts video-game series.
• Yennefer references a stuffed unicorn she once owned that broke under mysterious circumstances. Hmmm, what could have happened to it?
• Ciri doesn’t get the chance to ask Geralt about the “Aard incident” mentioned by Nenneke, but that’s his telekinesis spell, so it probably involved blasting a wall and almost bringing the temple down.
• Istredd is impressed that Codringher and Fenn have a copy of Hen Gedymdeith’s incredibly rare book, Elves and Humans — but thanks to the magic of our own universe’s Witcher Wiki, you can read an excerpt anytime you want here.
• Rest in peace, Roach, killed by a chernobog. Your legacy will live on in the next horse Geralt names Roach.