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Recap / The Witcher 2019 S 01 E 01 The Ends Beginning

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Hostile townsfolk and a cunning mage greet Geralt in the town of Blaviken. Ciri finds her royal world upended when Nilfgaard sets its sights on Cintra.


Tropes present in this episode:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Stregobor, believe it or not. He was very much a bastard in the original story, but he doesn't incite the people of Blaviken against Geralt. In fact, even after Geralt refuses to allow him to autopsy Renfri, he still suggests Geralt leave with him because Blaviken will see him as a killer. The villagers stone Geralt without any trickery on Stregobor's part.
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  • Adaptational Mundanity: In a sense. It still features the Curse of the Black Sun and such fantastical elements, but the original story was more explicitly a Deconstruction of Snow White, with Renfri said to have first taken up banditry with seven gnomes, who eventually all killed each other for one reason or another. The show doesn't ever reference such details.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Renfri is certainly vicious but if we take her at her word and not Stregobor's, she has one hell of a Freudian Excuse.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: The room goes silent when Geralt enters the pub early on.
  • Battle Couple: Queen Calanthe and her husband ride into battle against Nilfgaard together.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Calanthe and several of her nobles commit suicide when Nilfgaard overruns the city.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While the episode is deliberately vague on how good or bad Renfri is, Stregobor is undeniably the greater evil here. He also is the only person to get everything he wants: Renfri is dead, he has her body to study For Science!, he's perfectly safe, and Geralt is kicked run out of town and can't oppose him.
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  • Bullet Time: When a crossbow bolt gets fired at Geralt, time slows down and he bats it aside with his sword.
  • The Butcher: This episode is where Geralt earns his nickname, "The Butcher of Blaviken."
  • Charm Person: Stregobor claims that Renfri has a supernatural charisma, which is how she assembled her gang. He also thinks she used this on Geralt. Whether it's true is unclear, but Stregobor does seem to genuinely believe it, as he wants to autopsy her body to find the source of this particular mutation.
  • Cold Sniper: Cahir, who's able to shoot the King of Cintra in the eye at a significant distance across a raging battlefield.
  • Composite Character: In the original short story, "The Lesser Evil", Marilka is a young child and only has a few throwaway lines. In the show, she's still a child (though on the older side of the spectrum) and she receives most of the role played in the story by her father, Caldemeyn, including introducing Geralt to Stregobor and telling Geralt to never come back to Blaviken.
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  • Cradling Your Kill: Geralt does this with Renfri, who he truly didn't want to kill but had to fight after she took Marilka hostage.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Geralt takes down all of Renfri's men in under a minute without breaking a sweat.
  • Drama Queen: A wounded Calanthe has a heartfelt talk with a terrified, tearful Ciri, who thinks she is dying. Calanthe assures her that when she actually dies, it will be far more dramatic.
  • Ear Ache: Stregobor mentions that Renfri killed a man by stabbing him through the ear. Renfri says this was after the man raped her.
  • Eye Scream: The King of Cintra takes an arrow to the eye in battle.
  • Foreshadowing: Calanthe's first battle as a teenager is referenced by Ciri, then the next scene has Renfri talk about it as being very recent. A bit later, Mousesack talks about the Black Sun like it was much longer ago than in Geralt's storyline.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Nilfgaard and Cintra start in organized lines, but end up just running at each other across the battlefield, and Cintra makes no attempt to put up a pike line to break Nilfgaard's cavalry charge. The cavalry on both sides waits to charge until the lines are too close to build any momentum, so it's more of a cavalry trot. Likewise, it's not clear why Cintra met them on the field anyway, since they knew Nilfgaard was coming for the castle and putting troops on the walls would probably have been a more efficient use of resources. Though there are strategic reasons for defenders to decide not to try to fight a siege.
  • I Am a Monster: Renfri claims Geralt needs silver to kill her, and that she's immune to magic, both of which are impossible for humans. She's definitely a mutant, but Geralt tries to convince her that she's only a monster if she goes mad with revenge.
  • Kick the Dog: If you believe Stregobor, one of the reasons he thinks Renfri is a monster is that she tortured several of her pets to death as a child.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Ciri's scream of grief not only hurts people, it opens a massive chasm in the earth.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Stregobor turns Blaviken against Geralt by claiming he took the law into his own hands, rather than the truth, that they attacked him in the street when he wouldn't let Renfri kill Stregobor.
  • Mood Whiplash: One moment, Ciri's grandparents are flirtatiously bantering while Ciri has fun dancing. The next, Queen Calanthe is informed Nilfgaard has invaded Cintra.
  • No Help Is Coming: Calanthe asks where their ships from Skellige are. She is informed that a storm delayed them, and they're going to be far too late to help with the battle they're about to lose.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Ciri's response to her grandmother and step-grandfather getting rather salacious in their banter? "Gross."
  • The Prophecy: Stregobor claims that sixty girls born on the day of a solar eclipse are destined to summon the powerful demon queen Lilit to destroy all of humanity, and that Renfri is one of them. Geralt is skeptical, and whether the prophecy is genuine isn't resolved.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: Averted. Geralt mockingly points out Stregobor's prophecy doesn't rhyme.
  • Scenery Gorn: The shots of Cintra being burned by Nilfgaard.
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare. Renfri has a line that resembles Shylock's speech while discussing the treatment of mutants.
    Renfri: When I cut my finger, I bleed. That's human, right? When I overeat, my stomach aches. When I'm happy, I laugh. When I'm upset, I swear. And when I hate someone for stealing my whole life from me, I kill him.
  • Tempting Fate: Queen Calanthe assures her husband that Nilfgaard is far away and if they plan to attack, they'll have plenty of time to build a defense. Cue one of her knights informing her that the Nilfgaardian forces are already in Cintra.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: What Renfri claims is her situation, robbing and murdering because of the treatment she'd received at the hands of Stregobor's machinations.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Ciri's powers awaken when she is captured by the Nilfgaardians and sees her home burn.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Stregobor and Renfri give wildly differing accounts of why Renfri wants him dead (he says she's evil, she says he decided she was a monster simply because of her date of birth and destroyed her life on the basis of that). Renfri does swear by Lilit, and displays magic powers and orders Geralt to use silver on her when they fight, but when Mousesack tells Ciri what is clearly a story about the Black Sun Prophecy, he says the girls involved were killed, which contradicts Stregobor's claim that they died of their mutations. Additionally, there's no proof beyond Stregobor's word the prophecy is even true; everything about Renfri has a perfectly plausible non-Lilit-related explanation.
  • Wham Shot: Ciri unleashing an unearthly roar like scream that not only paralyzes her abductor but also causes a small crevasse to appear, allowing her to escape and preventing the abductor from following her.
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