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What to know about The Witcher season 1’s ending before watching season 2

We last visited The Continent two long years ago

Ciri and Geralt hugging in a still from season 1 of The Witcher Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

The Witcher season 2 is out on Netflix, and it’s been approximately a lifetime since we last saw Geralt in season 1. The two years between now and the ending of The Witcher season 1 on Netflix have brought an animated origin story, a lot of other TV, and a global pandemic, so we’ll forgive you if it feels like the timelines got a little mixed up.

Season 2 drops viewers right back on to The Continent, and in the middle of a great deal of societal upheaval. Knowing not everyone has time to catch up with the previous eight episodes of The Witcher, we’ve put together this refresher — what happened to Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, Roach, Fringilla, and the other characters by the end of season 1, and what you’ll need to keep up with season 2.

[Ed. note: As you might have surmised, this post contains full spoilers for season 1 of The Witcher.]

What happened with Geralt at the end of The Witcher season 1

Geralt riding a horse in season 1 of The Witcher Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix

Across a few hundred years of in-universe time, Geralt spent most of the first season being hired as help for magical happenings around the Continent. Through his work he met Jaskier (who adopted Geralt’s story into a certified banger, both in and outside the show) and Yennefer, a powerful mage whom he fell in love with. He also accidentally signed himself up for child surprise Cirilla, the princess of Cintra.

By the end of the season, Geralt isn’t interested in his growing legend so much as he is in trying to help Ciri escape Cintra. Unfortunately he gets thrown in jail until the city is attacked. He misses Ciri in the hubbub and escapes with Roach on his own.

When Geralt is wounded in the season finale by a stray monster, his hazy delusions give us the broad strokes of his backstory: His mother, a sorceress named Vissena, abandoned him on the doorstep of a man named Vesemir, who turned him into a Witcher. He was one of the three (out of 10) boys who survived the process.

Where we left Yennefer last season

Yennefer in the season 1 finale of The Witcher using fire magic Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix

Yennefer’s season 1 arc revolved around power — namely the acquisition, the control, and rewards of it. Born with a hunchback, Yennefer was never taken seriously by those around her. When she discovers her mage powers she quickly rises in the ranks of the Aretuza school for sorceresses. She originally gets assigned to serve the king in Nilfgaard, but gets reassigned to Aedrin, and ultimately sets out on her own. She wants a baby above all else, something that’s virtually impossible for sorceresses.

Eventually she meets Geralt, setting off a few years of on-again-off-again romance. But Yennefer leaves him after finding out their devotion may have been caused by a wish Geralt made on a djinn.

She returns to the mages, who have gathered to figure out how to deal with Nilfgaard’s growing military presence, having already attacked Cintra. This leads to the Battle of Sodden Hill, the narrowest part of the Yaruga River and the area that stands between Nilfgaard’s army and the north.

On Tissaia’s advice, Yen saves her chaos until things look most dire, before letting every ounce of her power pour out in fire magic. Of course, conjuring fire takes a terrible toll on any mage who wields it. And after the earth is scorched and Nilfgaard is in retreat, neither Tissaia nor Geralt (in his post-wound haze) can find Yen anywhere.

How Ciri winds up with Geralt

While Geralt can’t find Yennefer, his call does manage to reach Cirilla, who’s been wielding some strange powers throughout the first season. While her grandmother seems to allude to some secret, it’s not until the fall of Cintra that Ciri sees the powers in action: When being attacked during her escape, her panicked screams cause glasses to move and a monolith to crumble.

A separate attack later in the season pushes Ciri into a trance. She delivers a speech heralding the end of the world, then power explodes out of her, knocking her attackers back and flattening the grass beneath them. Not too long later she finally meets up with Geralt; the two instinctively hug before Ciri asks: “Who is Yennefer?”

Where Fringilla and the Nilfgaardian forces fit in

Fringilla and Yen in a still from The Witcher season 2 Photo: Katalin Vermes/Netflix

Fringilla could’ve used a bit more arc to her story in season 1, but here’s the highlights: She was initially the most talented student at the Aretuza academy, before being surpassed by Yennefer. Yen ends up stealing Fringilla’s posting as the mage for Aedirn, which means Fringilla ships off to Nilfgaard.

Which ends up being what she prefers, spending most of season 1 devotedly following the will of Nilfgaard’s leader “The White Flame.” Together with Cahir, the Black Knight, she searches for Ciri and hopes to spread the White Flame’s supremacy throughout the Continent. Unfortunately for both of them, season 1 leaves them at the Battle of Sodden Hill, separating Cahir and Fringilla thanks to Yen’s fire power.

The Witcher season 2 premieres on Netflix on Dec. 17.

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