Ciri’s (Freya Allan) tutelage at Kaer Morhen did not quite go the way Geralt (Henry Cavill) had hoped in season 2 of The Witcher, but the journey continues with an eight-episode third season starting this June. And though Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) are finally united in a common goal, nothing is ever easy for them. These tensions are highlighted in a new trailer (above) for the third season, which features Geralt admitting that — at least for one moment — Jaskier is right. The wandering songsmith’s response: “I’m right … well, that’s deeply worrying.”
What does that mean as the series heads into its third year? The season will be based on the second long-form Witcher novel, Time of Contempt, with some continuing threads from the first and, it seems, even a couple of ideas from the third novel, making it even more of a unique version of the story than season 2’s adaptation on Blood of Elves. According to showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, it is “the culmination of what we’ve been building toward all along.” So, let’s take a look at what we know about the third season so far and see what we can read from its bones.
What’s Next for Ciri and Geralt?
In previous seasons, we’ve been able to use the books of Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski for some insight, but now things start to change, even if the broad strokes remains the same. As revealed in Blood of Elves and season 2 of The Witcher, one of the big problems facing the main trio is the fact all the power players on the Continent know Ciri is alive and carries the elder blood. As seen in the new Season 3 trailer, she is connected to everything and there is nothing Yennefer or Geralt can do to prevent her from eventually confronting it.
“Now, there is a real threat,” Cavil told Netflix’s Tudum in May. “It’s genuine; it’s no longer theoretical — it’s practical. And it’s very, very dangerous. They are walking into the lion’s den everywhere they go.”
According to Netflix’s own description of the season to come, “Geralt takes Ciri of Cintra into hiding, determined to protect his newly-reunited family against those who threaten to destroy it.” It will allow the opportunity for Yennefer to train Ciri in the use of her powers (as glimpsed in the recent trailer) and for their bond to be properly forged. As Allan recently explained, “People don’t always make the right choices. But ultimately, I think everyone knows [Yen]’s good at the core. They have such similarities that I think Ciri can’t help but latch onto Yennefer … Also, through Yennefer teaching Ciri, they do begin to build that trust up.”
(Photo by Netflix)
Click image to open full poster in new tab.
But Yennefer will also take a cue from her novel counterpart by bringing Ciri and Geralt to Aretuza. Unfortunately, the situation there is described as a “battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery.” The trailer also suggests atmosphere will be highlighted at a mage’s ball Geralt and Yen must navigate with the same difficulty they faced on the road. And if events there occur as they do in Time of Contempt, they may discover they were better off facing Nilfgaard and the Northern Kings from the heights of Kaer Morhen.
Then again, all the political shenanigans and cross-talk among the mages may also offer further opportunities for Ciri and Geralt to mend their trust issues with Yennefer. Sure, a lot would have to transpire to get them to that point, but a monumental change like that is worth of another eight-episode season, especially as circumstances will no doubt see them separated before too long. The teaser trailer released in April even sees them literally split thanks to a maze. Although, the more recent June trailer sees Geralt and Ciri teaming up to fight a monster within the labyrinth.
As Hissrich told Tudum, the trio are “linked by destiny. We’ve said that from the very beginning. Yet clearly by this point they want to be together. And so that’s more than destiny. Suddenly that’s a choice.” Add to that a coming change to the Continent and you have a wide-ranging fight for the emerging family unit.
The full synopsis from Netflix:
As monarchs, mages, and beasts of the Continent compete to capture her, Geralt takes Ciri into hiding, determined to protect his newly-reunited family against those who threaten to destroy it. Entrusted with Ciri’s magical training, Yennefer leads them to the protected fortress of Aretuza, where they hope to uncover more about the girl’s untapped powers; instead, they discover they’ve landed in a battlefield of political corruption, dark magic, and treachery. They must fight back, put everything on the line – or risk losing each other forever.
Who Returns To Tempt Fate Again?
Naturally enough, Cavill, Chalotra, and Allan return as the mismatched Witcher family. The story can’t really function without the three of them (or so it seemed). As mentioned above, Batey will also return as Jaskier – it will be interesting to see where they find him this time, even if the new trailer offers a few ideas. Returning mages include MyAnna Buring as Tissaia, Anna Shaffer as Triss Merigold, Mahesh Jadu as Vilgefortz, Terence Maynard as Artorius Vigo, Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor, Royce Pierreson as Istredd, Therica Wilson-Read as Sabrina, Cassie Clare as Philippa Eilhart, and Mimî M Khayisa as Fringilla.
For Geralt and Yennefer, their dynamic will change. “It becomes more than romance. It also becomes about soulmates,” Hissrich explained. “One thing that they can’t deny is their history and the connection that’s inescapable.”
In regards to their adopted daughter, Chalotra added Yennefer is “struck by this newfound family. She always wanted to become a mother. But it’s not without its complications. After all, Yennefer doesn’t have many purely positive role models for the position.”
And what of Ciri herself? Allan revealed to Tudum that “At the beginning of that season, she still feels like a young teenager and by the end, she does really seem like she’s grown up.” Her comments in May seemed to presage the June trailer, which featured Ciri in combat and declaring herself a Witcher.
Geralt, meanwhile, strives to remain neutral in regard to the Continent’s political struggles. “Geralt has seen how politics work out. A lot of it’s incredibly selfish,” Cavill said. “No matter which side anyone’s on, they’re doing the thing for them. He’s like, ‘Why would I pick a side when the same thing’s going to happen?’” Geralt’s commitment to neutrality is highlighted in the new trailer, with the Witcher mentioning “it won’t get you a statue, but it will certainly help in keeping you alive.”
Of course, Ciri’s involvement in the political struggles across the realm means “his entire perspective on things” has changed to some extent. This is underscored within the trailer, with both Jaskier stating “Neutrality has consequences, too,” and Geralt admitting to Ciri that, in light of what he believes is coming, “for the first time, I understand real fear.”
Other returning faces include Tom Canton as elvish rebel Filavandre, Jeremy Crawford as Yarpin Zigrin, Eamon Farren as Black Knight Cahir, Wilson Mbomio as Dara, Mecia Simson as the now-wrathful Francesca, Graham McTavish as Dijkstra, Bart Edwards as Duny — now revealed to be Nilfgaard Emperor Emhyr — Ed Birch as Redania King Vizimir and Kaine Zajaz as Gage. Liz Carr and Simon Callow will also return as notable private investigators Fenn and Codringher.
Curiously, as of last August, Adjoa Andoh was unsure if she would be returning as Nenneke despite Cavill previously pointing to the character as one worth exploring further.
Aisha Fabienne Ross is set to return as mage Lydia van Bredevoort, but reports indicate Sam Woolf has replaced Chris Fulton as fire-wielder Rience. The characters are important, though, as their story is one of the Blood of Elves plots left unresolved at the end of season 2; in fact, we imagine Geralt’s search for their employer will be one of the key elements from the second novel, Time of Contempt, to appear in the third season.
(Photo by Netflix)
Click image to open full poster in new tab.
Meanwhile, the shifting alliances and ambitions of all of the returning characters will be tested with Ciri’s arrival to the Continental stage. Is Emhyr’s interest in finding her purely out of parental concern, a marriage to secure his hold on the land, or is her way with the monoliths on his mind? Will Cahir and Fringilla even get a chance to talk to her? We imagine escape from the White Flame’s dungeon is their primary concern. The entire Brotherhood will no doubt want to bend her to their way of thinking while King Vizimir is also looking to legitimize a claim to Cintra via marrying her.
The success or failure of those plans will also tell us when we will see the second war between Nilfgaard and the North. Previously, we wondered if the two conflicts as depicted in the novels would be compressed into a single war. Now, we wonder if it will be part of an eventual climax to the series as the Wild Hunt (glimpsed in the April teaser and featured in the new trailer chasing Ciri) rushes headlong to the Continent’s sphere or if it will happen as it does in Time of Contempt.
Who Is Joining the Fray?
Of course, no series like The Witcher carries on without a few new additions to their conflicts. Upload’s Robbie Amell will appear as Gallatin, a leader of Scoia’tael fighting on Nilfgaard’s behalf. Described as “unafraid to speak his truth,” his devotions will lead him into conflict with Francesca.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings’ Meng’er Zhang will debut as Milva, a character Witcher readers may recognize from the third novel, Baptism of Fire. A human raised by dryads, she is a fierce archer and a formidable opponent. It remains to be seen, though, if she will be friend or foe.
Fleabag’s Hugh Skinner joins the intrigue as King Vizimir’s younger brother, Prince Radovid. Said to be a playboy, he now finds himself a part of Redanian Intelligence. His charm and appearance make him an effective agent, but will he ever become aware of just how precarious his situation really is?
Christelle Elwin is also on board as Mistle, member of a gang of street-wise teenagers known as “The Rats.” They will, eventually, meet a particular person who will “change everything.” Their presence in the season suggests certain movements into the third novel could happen quite quickly.
As with season 2, it is sometimes tough to predict if the new characters are meant to be key additions to the story or, like Kristofer Hivju’s appearance in season 2’s premiere episode, a memorable guest spot for the show’s occasional dalliances with Witcher short stories. Although, with everyone hunting for Ciri, we doubt there will be any detours into the remaining one-off adventures in season 3.
The Wild Hunt Behind The Scenes
As mentioned above, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich returns once again as showrunner and executive producer. On the EP side, she is joined by Tomek Baginski, Jason F. Brown, Sean Daniel, Mike Ostrowski, Steve Gaub, and Jarosław Sawko. One notable absence is supervising producer Declan De Barra, who was readying the Witcher prequel limited series, The Witcher: Blood Origin, during production of season 3. He may eventually rejoin the production, though.
Writers for the season include Ostrowski, Tania Lotia, Haily Hall, Rae Benjamin, Clare Higgins, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Matthew D’Ambrosio, and Troy Dangerfield. Ostrowski, Hall and Higgins, and D’Ambrosio return from the previous season. Meanwhile, the season’s eight episodes is divided among directors Stephen Surjik, Gandja Monteiro, Loni Peristere, and Bola Ogun. Surjik is the only returning director for season 3.
The new season was filmed at Longcross Film Studios and various locations in England, Wales, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, and Morocco.
When Does The Witcher Season 3 Premiere?
Vol 1 of season 3 arrives June 29, with Vol 2 following on July 27. If Jaskier’s closing thought in the June trailer is to believed, it will be a “boatload of fangs all up in your business.”
A fourth season is also on the way, but it will proceed without Cavill. Despite our own assumption that the program would need its three principal actors, Liam Hemsworth will take up Geralt’s swords and grunt in season 4.
On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.