DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Witcher Season 3 Episode 4, “The Invitation,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, citizens of the Continent! It’s hard to believe this is the penultimate episode of Season 3, Volume 1, but here we are. “The Invitation” boasts uneven pacing while moving the plot forward. I don’t know about y’all, but this first half has been a tad slow for me. It feels like the writers are trying to cram too much into each episode and adding scenes that don’t feel necessary to the narrative. I’m ready to have my mind changed by the next batch of episodes, though. I enjoyed the mystery elements in this outing as everyone tried to connect various dark incidents.
The scenes with the rival bard were too corny and pulled me out of the show. Sure, Jaskier is comedic relief, and we need levity to balance out the drama, but these moments fell flat. However, I love the scene when Jaskier and Ciri watch Geralt and Yennefer. The humor there is subtle and effective while deepening the bond between Jaskier and Ciri.
It’s all about love in these here parts. Geralt and Yen. Jaskier and Radovid. Stregobor and his love of the word “fungus.”
Ready to delve into “The Invitation”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Cahir (Eamon Farren) having nightmares about Ciri (Freya Allan). He hears her calling him “Nilfgaardian scum” before Emhyr (Bart Edwards) wakes him. He thanks Cahir for doing his bidding the night before. You know, for killing Gallatin in cold blood. Apparently, friendships mean little compared to exercising loyalty to emperors. Emhyr has a mission for Cahir: he must meet with Francesca. We don’t get the specifics, though. Someone’s back in the White Flame’s good graces!
Meanwhile, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) delivers a proposal to the Brotherhood. The audience includes Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen), Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu), Triss (Anna Shaffer), Margarita (Rochelle Ross), Sabrina (Therica Wilson-Read) and Artorius (Terence Maynard). Stregobor and Artorius are reluctant to hear Yen’s proposal, especially given her complicated history with the Brotherhood. Yen believes they must unite as mages to unite the Northern kings against the Nilfgaard threat. How will they do that, you ask? A ball and a conclave. Nothing stirs up trust quite like an opulent ball.
Everyone outvotes Artorius and Stregobor, who insists Yen’s presence is “like a fungus.” Geralt (Henry Cavill) and Ciri prepare to journey to Aretuza, much to the latter’s dismay. She explains why she doesn’t want to go there. The women are catty, and they like to imbibe. Oh, and she said some unsavory things to Yennefer. Yen will most certainly forgive her, though. Tissaia urges Yen to relax. The council is pro-conclave, so she can stop groveling. The pair talk about Vilgefortz’s beautiful gift to Tissaia. Ah, love. Triss informs Tissaia that more novices have gone missing. She tells her about the blood she found in Elisabet’s quarters. Tissaia insists it’s nothing. Perhaps they should invest in less clumsy pupils.
Triss reunites with Istredd (Royce Pierreson) in the library. He’s searching for the Book of Monoliths. He’s also there to attend the conclave. Triss voices her concerns regarding the missing novices and how Tissaia doesn’t take it seriously. Triss wonders if the girls were abducted. Istredd recounts his time traveling with the Scoia’tael (the Squirrels). He watched them perpetuate the same violent cycle that victimized them. The book he needs offers the key to traveling between the spheres. His objective was to whisk the elves away to safety far from the Continent.
However, someone at Aretuza already has the book. What if they wish to banish the elves permanently? Questions, questions, questions. Meanwhile, Jaskier (Joey Batey) reunites with Geralt and Ciri. The three prepare to board a boat bound for Aretuza. But the ferryman refuses to leave the port because there’s a deadly creature terrorizing the waters. Ciri wants to put her training from Geralt to good use. That spurs our titular witcher to offer the ferryman a deal: if they kill the monster, that grants them free passage. The ferryman heartily accepts.
While on the boat, Jaskier’s rival Valdo Marx (Nathan Armakwei Laryea) boards said boat with his troupe. Valdo and Jaskier face off. It’s giving Glee vibes. Admittedly, it’s a tad cringy and feels out of place in this series. Ciri is merely happy to have entertainment during the long voyage. Meanwhile, Vilgefortz asks Yen what her intentions truly are. Does she have any hidden motives? He doesn’t want Tissaia to get hurt, after all.
Later, Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) orders Aplegatt (Jim Sturgeon) to obtain something important from the Navy commander. Philippa (Cassie Clare) informs Dijkstra that Rience is a mystery in Nilfgaard, too. However, her informant is reliable. All communications go through Lydia (or, as Philippa puts it, “the woman without a voice). The goal is to crash the conclave and bring this information to the Brotherhood. Well, more like interrupting the proceedings to place blame.
Then, Jaskier and Valdo verbally spar on the boat. You know, bard stuff and whatnot. Geralt asks Ciri the real reason she’s struggling to use her magic. They also talk about Ciri accepting her birthright and becoming a queen. Yen crashes the funeral for Queen Hedwig, wherein King Vizimir (Ed Birch) tearfully delivers a eulogy that quickly morphs into a vow for vengeance. Yen invites Philippa to attend the conclave. Upon hearing Yen’s intrusion, Vizimir orders his subjects to find ways to attack Nilfgaard for killing his queen. Next, he demands Dijkstra, Philippa and Radovid (Hugh Skinner) attend the conclave at Aretuza.
Geralt tells Ciri about what he found at Vuilpanne. He reveals that someone was experimenting on young women and girls, molding them into becoming Ciri. Teryn, the sole survivor, believes she is Ciri. Suddenly, an aeschna leaps onto the boat. Ciri and Geralt tag-team to kill it, with Ciri delivering the final blow by stabbing it through its head. Teamwork makes the dream work. Meanwhile, Yen walks through the portal back to Aretuza. However, she inexplicably arrives on a cliffside. She sees Geralt, who claims Ciri is missing. They must find her.
Suddenly, Geralt attacks Yen. She wards him off and kills him before landing in Aretuza. Of course, that wasn’t really Geralt, but an illusion. Someone tried to kill her. Triss and Sabrina sit with Yen and listen to her story. Triss tends to her wound. She mentions the missing novices and the trio wonders if these incidents are connected. Triss urges Yen not to bring Ciri to Aretuza for her safety. After Yen departs, Triss looks at her fingers, which touched Yen’s face. She notices they’re covered with Stellacite powder.
Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) parties it up after escaping Nilfgaard. She’s alive! I’m glad someone is having fun in this episode. She overhears the barkeep and a patron talk about the impending war and the increased violence in the Continent. She continues asking for more ale. It takes her using her powers to get their attention.
Later, Yen reunites with Geralt, Ciri and Jaskier. Ciri apologizes for what she said to Yen and for leaving her. Yen accepts and offers her apology in turn. Jaskier and Ciri watch from afar while Geralt and Yen talk. Jaskier proceeds to make up what they’re saying. Ciri gets in on the fun. Suddenly, Geralt and Yen kiss. Finally!
Jaskier has been tasked with being Ciri’s nanny for the night while Geralt and Yen attend the mage ball. Jaskier and Ciri play cards. When she falls asleep, he hears a noise outside. Ever the intrepid explorer, our bard arms himself with his lute and ventures out to attack the interloper head-on. However, he finds Radovid in a shed nearby. Radovid plays Jaskier’s song for him. He admits he’s glad he met Jaskier amid the mess. Naturally, Jaskier is won over by Radovid’s charms. The two kiss. More kissing!
Next, Cahir approaches Francesca (Mecia Simson) and Filavandrel (Tom Canton). He offers an alliance with Nilfgaard and the emperor. He informs them of Gallatin’s attempt to overthrow Francesca. Thus, he eliminated the threat. Cahir ensures they can all work together for the greater good despite wanting Ciri for different reasons. The elves will have protection. Francesca accepts Nilfgaard’s terms. Then, poor Aplegatt gets an arrow to the throat while en route to the Navy commander. It’s just as Ciri envisioned.
Triss informs Istredd about Yennefer getting attacked. She also muses whether the Book of Monoliths has Stellacite dust on it. Perhaps they can conduct a locator spell to find it. So, Istredd and Triss join hands to perform said spell. They see flashes of what appears to be a door. Geralt and Yen suspect Stregobor is behind all the madness. He’s experimenting on young girls. He attacked Yen. They don’t realize that Lydia (and, in turn, Emhyr) is pulling Rience’s strings. They must collect proof that Stregobor is the culprit before indicting him.
Later, we see Geralt and Yen, Triss and Istredd, Philippa and Dijkstra, and Tissaia and Vilgefortz prepare for the pre-conclave ball. Everyone looks hot as hell. These costumes are envy-inducing. They all attend the shindig with different motivations: Geralt and Yen hope to catch Stregobor. Triss and Istredd are endeavoring to discover who took the Book of Monoliths. Philippa and Dijkstra want to present what they know about Rience and Nilfgaard so they can point fingers at the Brotherhood. Lastly, Tissaia and Vilgefortz hope everything goes off without a hitch. Save the drama for your mama.
The Witcher Season 3 Volume 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
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