DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back, citizens of the Continent! The Witcher Season 3 Volume 1 is here, and it’s the start of Henry Cavill‘s last go-round as our titular monster hunter. “Shaerrawedd” is a solid season opener, reintroducing us to the characters we love and re-immersing us in this rich, luscious universe. Seeing Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri together like a family is lovely, even if it’s short-lived. 

The last 20 minutes pick up steam with glorious action sequences and gore aplenty. The final few moments of the outing illustrate the dire situation, and the stakes have never been higher. So many folks want Ciri for themselves to fuel their master plans. Apparently, she’s a hot commodity. Can’t they all share her in peace? I jest; I jest. 

Ready to delve into “Shaerrawedd”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with Geralt (Cavill) getting into a bloody, Matrix-style fight with a group of men searching for Ciri on Rience’s behalf. Naturally, he slays (literally and figuratively) them. Afterward, we see Geralt, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Ciri (Freya Allan) riding across a stunning expanse of land to find sanctuary from the countless factions that want Ciri. While staying at an inn, Yennefer pens several letters to Geralt as part of her “Yennefer Is Sorry” Tour. Unfortunately, Geralt leaves her on “read.” 

Meanwhile, Yen trains Ciri to harness her magic. So far, things aren’t running smoothly. Ciri boasts potential, to be sure, but little skill in capitalizing on it. Suddenly, Geralt spots an enemy inching closer to their location. Our trio leaves just in time as said enemy arrives. Enraged that Ciri slipped through their fingers again, the group burns the inn. After almost coming face-to-face with more antagonists, Geralt, Yen and Ciri seek shelter from an old friend — Yarpen (Jeremy Crawford). While staying with Yarpen, Geralt softens his hardened edges around Yennefer. 

Ciri holds her hands out in front of her while standing outside on a cloudy day in The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, "Shaerrawedd."

THE WITCHER Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd.” Photo credit: Susie Allnutt.

The trio even has a string of family dinners together. Their new home looks like it’s straight from The Shire. I dig it. Yen and Ciri enjoy ice skating before the latter tries her hand at water magic. Unfortunately, Ciri’s grasp on water magic is akin to her grasp on earth and air magic: nonexistent. Yarpen returns with supplies. He mentions how the Squirrels are at it again. Thankfully, they didn’t attack his convoy. Yarpen wonders aloud if Geralt and Yen are forking again before he urges Ciri to attend the Belleteyn Festival. Ciri tries to persuade Geralt and Yen to let her go. Nobody has attempted to search for her for months, after all. Girls just wanna have fun!

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Next, we see two monster handlers (one of them an elf) feeding some deadly creatures. Rience (Sam Woolf) arrives and claims he needs the jackapace to search for a girl with elven blood. He uncorks the bottle containing an irresistible scent, causing the jackapace to go wild in its prison. Meanwhile, Francesca (Mecia Simson) reunites with Filavandrel (Tom Canton) and Gage (Kaine Zajaz). Francesca orders Gage to take his fighters to Maribor, while Filavandrel must take his to Caed Dhu. They must find Ciri. She’s their only hope in finding Dol Blathanna. 

When some of their own arrive severely injured and dead, Gallatin (Robbie Amell) stands up to Francesca, protesting her leadership direction. Their people are dying over a girl. Francesca questions his loyalty, but Gallatin only cares about food and shelter. He urges her to keep the elves alive. Then, we see King Vizimir (Ed Birch) sitting with Dijkstra (Graham McTavish) and Philippa (Cassie Clare) during a feast. Vizimir complains about Dijkstra not upholding his end of the bargain. He was promised Ciri as a wife. The conversation turns to the blasted Squirrels and Francesca. 

Vizimir essentially fires Dijkstra, his spymaster who cannot find one girl, and installs his replacement: his brother, Radovid (Hugh Skinner). After the feast, Dijkstra and Philippa contemplate their next move. Dijkstra suggests they play “boulder, parchment, dagger” to determine which moves first. However, Philippa’s not about that life. They can keep an eye on Radovid, distract him if need be, and carry out their mission unimpeded. Philippa claims when she returns; she’ll be the one giving orders. 

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Later, Ciri dresses in a beautiful blue for the Belleteyn Festival. Yen stuns in a familiar black gown with a matching eye mask. Geralt compliments her despite his anger toward her. While at the festival, Ciri dances with the locals, and Geralt and Yen reminisce about all the times they had sex over the decades. Ciri is in the worst disguise ever. Her ice-blonde hair is on display for all to see — not even tucked under a hood. She ditches her mask so her face is wholly exposed. It’s only a matter of time before someone else who’s looking for her finds her. Lo and behold… 

Geralt runs through a dark maze with his sword in hand in The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, "Shaerrawedd."

THE WITCHER Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd.” Photo credit: Susie Allnutt.

As our trio wanders through a maze, Ciri is attacked by the jackapace unleashed courtesy of Rience. Ciri tries to use her magic on it but fails. Thankfully, Yennefer lends a helping hand in that department. Geralt swoops in, all hero-like, and slays the monster. Now, it’s time to leave again. The following day, Geralt, Yen and Ciri tell Yarpen about their plan to lure Rience. Veldhoek is the only monster handler in the Continent reckless enough to cage a jackapace. Rience undoubtedly used the bit of Ciri’s blood he had on hand to set the jackapace after her. 

So, the plan is to have Yarpen complain loudly about hosting Ciri in his convoy to Aedirn (Hagge, to be exact). Veldhoek overhears this conversation. He’ll pass on that info to Rience. Geralt and Yen plan to travel behind the caravan at a distance so as not to be spotted. They’ll have someone they trust accompany Ciri. And that someone is … Jaskier (Joey Batey). Jaskier’s currently getting the boot from his lover of the week. Philippa and Radovid find him and order him to make good on his end of the bargain by delivering Ciri to King Vizimir. 

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Radovid informs Jaskier that Redania’s pretty dang sweet as far as kingdoms go. Ciri could go to worse places. Jaskier’s ex-lover tries to toss out his lute, to his shock. That’s his real baby. Philippa threatens Jaskier before departing. Then, Yarpen arrives to tell Jaskier Geralt wants him to perform a favor. That favor? Escort Ciri to Hagge. Jaskier believes he’s the bait, but Ciri reminds him she serves that role. Our caravan stops at the ruins of Shaerrawedd for the night. Geralt and Yen tell Ciri the story of Aelirenn, an elf who led her forces against the humans spilling onto her land. Of course, her sacrifice is well-known. Nobody crafts a statue for someone who remained neutral in the face of conflict. 

Meanwhile, Gallatin and his fighters successfully overthrow a human caravan and raid it of its supplies. He hands out food to the elves. Francesca, Filavandrel and Gage arrive. Francesca reveals their forces must unite for the common good. She now sees Gallatin’s side of things. They’ll work in tandem, on equal footing, and put their heads together to formulate their next move. Ciri delivers an impassioned speech to Geralt and Yennefer about her role in the grand scheme of things. She’s part-elf and part-human. Perhaps it’s her destiny, all of their destinies, to unite the Continent. Geralt embraces her, claiming he believes in her but doubts the world. After he hears the arrival of Rience, he and Yen leave Ciri to attract the mage alone. 

Ciri looks at white roses while Geralt stands behind her and Yennefer sits next to him in The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, "Shaerrawedd."

THE WITCHER Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd.” Photo credit: Susie Allnutt.

Surely enough, Rience arrives with reinforcements. Ciri puts the skills Geralt taught her to good use by engaging them in combat. Yarpen enters the fray with his forces, while Yen and Geralt join the fight to protect Ciri. Yen manages to ward off Rience’s fire attacks. Suddenly, Francesca and the elves charge into the battle to seize Ciri for themselves. That’s when Ciri spots Dara (Wilson Mbomio) beside Gallatin. Yennefer holds open the portal Rience leaps through so Geralt can follow him. 

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Geralt manages to evade Rience’s flames. The pair duke it out. Meanwhile, an arrow pierces Jaskier’s shoulder, so Ciri pulls him away to safety. Yen struggles to keep the portal open for Geralt to return. Francesca screams when Gage is killed amid the battle. Filavandrel prevents her from running to him. Geralt forgoes killing Rience and breaks his wrists before running through the portal back to Shaerrawedd. Noticing Ciri is missing, Geralt starts battling his foes. It’s a fun long take featuring our fave witcher killing enemies left and right. Well, at least it looks like one continuous shot. 

Geralt and Yen reunite with Ciri and Jaskier. Yarpen thanks Jaskier for assisting his caravan in the fight. Geralt thanks Jaskier as well and insists he’ll survive. His lute, however, wasn’t so lucky. That night, Geralt decides to part ways with Yen and Ciri. Yen will take Ciri to Aretuza to train. She surmises that someone is pulling Rience’s strings, someone much stronger, so they must prepare for the fight ahead. Meanwhile, Geralt will seek out Rience to finish him off. 

Francesca cradles Gage in her arms and sings an emotional tune. Filavandrel orders Gallatin to let her grieve in peace. He finds Dara nursing his wounded hand. Dara claims that death follows Ciri wherever she goes. Gallatin departs to search for a friend. Geralt bids farewell to his ladies. He promises Yen he’ll think of her. They’ll reunite someday. Cavill and Chalotra boast electrifying chemistry. Jaskier meets with Philippa and Radovid and takes them up on their offer. He’ll bring Ciri to Redania, but they must do something for him first: kill Rience. 

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Geralt reads another letter from Yen, stating that she and Ciri already miss him. He finally responds to Yen, revealing that he understands real fear for the first time. He wants to be a family with her and Ciri. Geralt believes he will inevitably trust her again. We see Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) with her pupils at Aretuza while Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen) watches from afar. 

Dijkstra sits with Philippa at a banquet in Redania in The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, "Shaerrawedd."

THE WITCHER Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd.” Photo credit: Susie Allnutt.

Someone fixes Rience’s broken wrists, and he’s giddy to see he can still unleash hellfire. Finally, we see Emhyr var Emreis (Bart Edwards), Ciri’s father, burning portraits, including one of Pavetta, Ciri’s late mother. However, he keeps the painting of baby Ciri, cradling it in his arms. The game is afoot. 

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The Witcher Season 3 Volume 1 is now streaming on Netflix

Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: Yennefer of Vengerberg

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