The Witcher Season 1 Recap
Netflix’s The Witcher is a fantasy television show based on a video game and book series of the same name. The Witcher follows the interconnected destinies and exploits of the magically enhanced monster hunter Geralt of Rivia as well as his ward, Princess Ciri. Along the way they encounter bards and mages and dragons and more — all vital to the future of the Continent.
The first season explored these characters’ histories and established their relationships, motivations, and powers. It also did so by jumping to different time periods to focus on formative events. So if you need a refresher on who everyone is, when they’re alive, and what they want — you’re in luck. Read our season 1 recap below to get ready for the highly-anticipated drama of The Witcher season 2.
*warning for images in this article depicting blood and bodily harm
“People linked by destiny will always find each other.”
1231 – 1240
The Witcher opens in the year 1231 with Geralt fighting monsters before seeking respite in Blaviken. There he encounters a wizard named Stregobor and a princess-turned-bandit named Renfri. Geralt fatally wounds Renfri during combat, but in her dying breaths she tells Geralt of a girl in the forest with whom his destiny is intertwined.
Now dubbed the Butcher of Blaviken, Geralt and his horse Roach travel the Continent looking for work. In 1240 Geralt meets Jaskier, as well as the elf king Filavandrel. They discuss the rift between elves and humans. In this episode, we see Geralt’s morality and empathy, as he struggles with feeling like an outcast and monster himself.
1249 – 1263
Geralt attends the betrothal feast of Princess Pavetta in 1249, and this is one of the most important events in the entire show. Pavetta is Queen Calanthe’s daughter, so this is Geralt’s first encounter with the family that will shape his destiny. At the feast, Pavetta unleashes a magical maelstrom in order to marry her true love, Duny. Geralt assists in the couples’ victory. As his reward, he jokingly claims the Law of Surprise — immediately after, it’s revealed Pavetta is pregnant, which magically binds Geralt to the child.
Seven years later, Geralt awakens a Djinn. This action harms Jaskier, who Geralt rushes to a powerful mage for treatment. Thus Geralt meets and falls in love with Yennefer of Vengerberg. She agrees to help, intending to capture the Djinn for herself, but her spell spins out of control. Because he is the Djinn’s master, Geralt uses his final wish to save Yennefer’s life. Later in 1262, Geralt goes dragon hunting with the adventurer Borch. Yennefer also joins, and alone with her, Geralt reveals that that third wish bound their fates together. He is rebuffed, so he lashes out at Jaskier. Losing them both, Geralt wanders in anguish and anger.
Still, the witcher keeps up with the political rumblings on the Continent. He claims Ciri as his Child of Surprise in order to protect her from the oncoming war, but Queen Calanthe tries to trick him. During the Nilfgaard invasion of 1263, he escapes his cell before he can be united with Ciri. Then after defending a merchant from undead monsters and getting wounded, Geralt loses consciousness and is brought to the merchant’s farm.
Geralt dreams of his mother, Visenna, a poor woman who abandoned her child to be made into a witcher. The process of becoming a witcher is extremely grueling; it involves magical mutations as well as ruthless mental and physical conditioning. Delirious with fever, Geralt remembers some of his painful past. When he wakes, he heads into the forest and meets Ciri.
“Who is Yennefer?”
In 1263, southern invaders from Nilfgaard invade the northern kingdom Cintra. Queen Calanthe sends her granddaughter, Princess Cirilla, on the run with orders to find Geralt. Ciri evades capture by using her newly awakened magical banshee-like powers. Alone and afraid, she seeks allies among military camps, strangers, and farmers. Eventually she encounters more elves and dryads.
Throughout the series Ciri is pursued by Nilfgaard enemies who seek to destroy her family line. She is victim to various assassination attempts, but always manages to survive and flee to a new part of the Continent — once, this involves accidentally killing a band of old friends who turn on her. Eventually she leaves a comfortable farm and meets Geralt in the forest. They embrace. Ciri asks about Yennefer, and season 1 ends.
“How? I can’t!”
1206 – 1210
Yennefer of Vengerberg is born a hunchback, which causes her father to sell her to Tissaia de Vries, a powerful mage who brings Yennefer to Aretuza for magical training. At first, the insecure Yennefer struggles to find any talent or skill. She is incentivized, however, when she discovers the fate of weak students; the girls are turned into eels to conduct power to Aretuza.
By 1210, Yennefer possesses extreme magical aptitude. The Brotherhood of Sorcerers assigns her to Nilfgaard because she has elven blood, and then Yennefer transforms her body into her preferred physical image at the cost of her fertility. She is distraught that she will never be a mother. But with her new appearance Yennefer manages to charm her way into an assignment at Aedirn instead. Yennefer serves this king for 30 years, catching her up to Geralt’s timeline in 1240.
1240 – 1263
When Yennefer and Geralt finally meet, they act pretty immediately on their sexual attraction to one another. Yennefer does use him a bit, though, to access the Djinn, so they part on bad terms. When they meet again they resume their romantic tryst, but a revelation from Geralt makes Yennefer think all of her feelings for him are artificially produced. She rejects Geralt outright.
At the end of the series, Yennefer is fighting to oppose Nilfgaard. Although she is afraid she is not powerful enough, Yennefer unleashes her chaos to channel a massive stream of fire, then disappears into the mist.
“See you around, Geralt.”
In 1240, Jaskier the Bard performs lewd songs in a Posada tavern. Jaskier is somewhat useless in a fight, but he makes up for it in wit and some charm. After a brief quest and capture, Jaskier expresses that he desires friendship as well as more stories to sing about, so he decides he’ll follow Geralt on his journey. Jaskier thus documents many of Geralt’s exploits in song and the duo spend most of their time together.
In 1256, seven years after Pavetta’s betrothal, Jaskier and Geralt accidentally release a Djinn. Jaskier falls ill after trying to use the wishes but not being accepted as the Djinn’s master. Jaskier is saved by the mage Yennefer. But Jaskier thinks she’s bad news, and doesn’t treat her kindly or fairly when he sees her again in 1262. Because of this, Geralt and Jaskier part ways. This is the last we see of Jaskier in Season 1.
“Geralt of Rivia. I often wonder where fate took him.”
It’s 1243, and the kingdom of Temeria’s sorceress advisor Triss Merigold enlists the help of a witcher to combat a striga. Triss works for King Foltest, whose affair with his own sister created the cursed creature. Triss and Geralt save the kingdom, though in doing so they reveal the terrible royal secret. Still, Triss remains loyal to her assigned home. She apparently thinks of Geralt often after their brief business encounter.
Triss helps fight to defend Cintra in 1263. She is a valuable and brutal mage. Still, their forces are overwhelmed. Triss is burned and stabbed by enemy soldiers. In her last scene, she is gasping and seems close to death.
To summarize this historical conflict that becomes a significant feature of the season 1 finale, the elves of Nilfgaard are at war with the humans of Cintra because of claims to land. In the past, Cintra drove the elves out and nearly to extinction. Nilfgaard wants revenge and to restore their rightful place on the Continent. Small skirmishes and animosities between the species abound during the course of The Witcher. In the finale, the North and South mount full-fledged attacks against one another. This high-stakes war officially began in season 1 and will be further explored in The Witcher season 2 on Netflix this December 17, 2021.
What was your favorite part of The Witcher season 1? What are you most anticipating in season 2? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!