This episode opens with a profound downer. Henry Cavill and Freya Allan have left the Witcher Winter Wonderland and run into the new flying monster from last episode. Turns out the new monsters are all trying to get to Allan for some reason. There’s the most significant casualty of the season so far and possibly the series.
Cavill and Allan also have some excellent moments; she’s pissed at him for not letting her take the Witcher juice, and he’s trying to make her understand why. Unfortunately, the monster interferes, but the brief character development sets the board for later in the episode.
It’s good they left the Witcher base because the fire mage (Chris Fulton) can teleport there looking for Allan. Anna Shaffer and Kim Bodnia, who have been confabbing about Allan’s mysterious and major powers, survive Fulton’s attack but not without serious injury. It’s also a little weird the rest of the Witchers in the fort don’t hear the ruckus. It must really suck when you’ve got a monster in your village, and you get any Witcher except Cavill or Bodnia. The rest are severely wanting.
The B plot is going to be Mimi Ndiweni’s continued problems controlling the shitty generals—who want Eamon Farren to put her in her place for helping the elves—and the elves, led by Mecia Simson, are more interested in making sure Simson’s pregnancy goes well than playing soldier for Farren and friends.
It’s unclear what Cavill and Allan will get up to in the temple, other than a lot of exposition and backstory (Cavill was a science student as a teenage Witcher); the A-plot’s up in the air. But it’s got Cavill’s old teacher, Adjoa Andoh, who’s a delight, so it doesn’t really matter. She’s got some great scenes with Cavill and Allan. And then Allan makes an age-appropriate friend in student Joseph Payne.
Then Anya Chalotra turns up at the temple, and we get this lengthy reuniting plot for her and Cavill. Running under it is the audience knowing Chalotra’s in league with the witch out to harm Allan, and her affection for Cavill is an undeniable, magical urge, so there’s a lot of conflict going on. Conflict the audience is aware of but not privy to. “Witcher: Season Two” has had a particular plotting. The first two episodes were resolution and set up; the next two were more set up and reveals; now we’re into the home stretch, and the show’s still picking up speed.
The show finally establishes Cavill, Chalotra, and Allan as a trio, with Allan curious about their history; despite Cavill and Chalotra being the subject of the scene, it’s where the character development arc for Allan and Cavill returns. Very well-executed stuff.
There’s some more world-building with Royce Pierreson in a charming antiquarian bookshop where he and the shop owners (Simon Callow and Liz Carr) learn all about Allan’s secret origin. Turns out she’s the World Killer or whatever they call Wonder Woman in the first movie. But only in the wrong hands, she could also bring about good things. Allan, not Wonder Woman. Ships sailed on Wonder Woman.
It’s pure exposition, but Callow and Carr are fantastic, so it evens out.
There’s a questionable fight scene—if anyone’s been waiting for Cavill to do something for five episodes, I imagine it’s a bathing scene, not a slow-motion fight scene—but otherwise, the episode’s well-directed. And the cliffhanger’s a fantastic mix of ominous and thrilling.