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The Witcher's fifth episode makes some long-awaited introductions and sets up a devious plan that could decide the fate of the Continent.
Yennefer has gone rogue and Geralt finds himself at her doorstep in need of help when an angry djinn curses poor Jaskier. The two enjoy an orgy, a nice soak in the tub, and reluctantly work together to free themselves of this angry genie (and then their clothes). Meanwhile, Ciri is forced to make a choice between her new forest friends and a familiar ally who isn't who he claims to be.
Pace your pre-gaming, because The Witcher knows how to throw a party, y'all.
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of The Witcher.
Fishing For Djinn
Jessica: So just a timeline check before we get started. Last episode, Geralt found himself bound by the Law of Surprise to Ciri — who has yet to be born. We pick up with our lone wolf shortly after, as he's fishing for a genie to grant him a peaceful night's sleep because the anxiety of being tied to a kid with a destiny is interrupting his counting sheep game. Jaskier tries to get him to open up about his misgivings, correctly guessing that it's more than just sleep that troubles our brooding hero but he’s shut tight like the grumpy old clam he is so, instead, the two end up releasing a bitter spirit that immediately attacks our well-intentioned Dandelion.
Alyssa: Is Dandelion well-intentioned? I love The Witcher's version of Jesse McCartney, but he is out for himself and himself alone, bless his horny heart. Yes, the djinn is released and it appears that when Jaskier claims the wishes for himself, things go south fast. He develops a magic goiter on his neck that is both disgusting and dangerous, and when they arrive at a nearby town seeking help, they are told that it's not a medical issue, it's a magical one.
Jessica: Alyssa, how dare you! Sure, he's more worried about which pantry his sausage will go into next rather than Geralt's emotional crisis, but he cares about the witcher. A little. Sadly for Jaskier, it seems the only help might be a dangerous mage currently being held captive by the town's mayor who believes magic should be banned. I'll say this, our healthcare system sucks but I'm damn glad I'm not Jaskier right now. Chireadan, the elf healer, warns Geralt that they'll need magical help but that the mage in town is not to be trusted. Geralt assumes it's a dude, shrugs off the elf's warning, and spirits Jaskier to, well, we'll get into that in a bit.
Yennefer Goes Rogue
Alyssa: That malicious mage is none other than our dear Yennefer, who is living life outside of the Brotherhood's control, which is good, but also without their resources, which is less good. After she is counseled by another rogue mage to set up shop in an unsuspecting town and bleed the townspeople dry for their coin, Yen decides that her "correctives quite effective" can help bring in some much-needed coin. Selling boner potions to loved-up couples seems like a waste of Yen's talent, but you can't knock that hustle.
Jessica: Look, Yen is out for number one right now so I can't fault her for how she makes that coin. I'm more interested in why she's doing what she's doing. Some vague references are made to her transformation and owing payment for a few more "procedures" to correct her issue, but overall, Yen seems so dissatisfied with her lot in life right now and she's just doing what needs to to get by.
Alyssa: Yen is such a chaotic character, and she has made a habit out of being dissatisfied. Things didn't work out in Aedirn because she got bored, so she broke with the Brotherhood, and apparently with Tissaia as well. Her old rectoress stops by for a visit to let her know that while the Brotherhood has allowed her to do what she wants up until this point, her constant quest for power is starting to leave them more than a little unsettled. The world seems pretty determined to keep Yennefer down and she constantly fights against the idea that they will only let her succeed on their terms, not by her own talent. That is a very trapped feeling.
Jessica: Much like this pesky djinn, Yen doesn’t feel good about simply existing to serve others' needs and she’s stepping out of line in a big way. Tissaia offers an out, she can come home to Aretuza and train the new crop of talent, shaping a new generation. Which rankles Yen even more because she doesn't want to teach, she doesn't want her successes to be defined by Tissaia or anyone else. She wants power, and the ability to do with it what she pleases. But for now, she's fine using her magics to earn some coin and liberate the stifled townsfolk by putting the mayor under her spell and getting all these village people to de-robe and let loose. No one throws a party quite like a rebellious witch.
Alyssa: Maybe in a better situation, Jaskier and Geralt would have enjoyed a magical orgy such as this one, but unfortunately there are magical cures to seek. Yennefer gets a read on Geralt right away and sees him as more of an equal than anyone she's met in a while. She agrees to help cure Jaskier and forces Geralt into a bath. She was going to get him naked one way or another. As Jaskier sleeps while her magical cure works on his wound, Yennefer goes for some bathside flirting with our burly witcher. I mean, who wouldn't shoot their shot?
Jessica: Look, I too appreciate this show's dedication to good hygiene — some we've covered don't place too much importance on cleanliness — and if that means I must sit through Henry Cavill twirling suds in a luxurious, in-ground stone tub, so be it. He and Yen have a tense, revealing chat in the bath. It's less sexual than it is probing. They're trying to suss each other out, gain the higher ground, figure out what makes the other tick. Yen calls Geralt out on his coarseness and insinuates he's only able to bed women because he pays them which, yikes. He implies she was probably ugly before her transformation and notices the slits on her wrists which, double yikes. It's all sexy and strained and the kind of slow-burn action I can really get behind.
Alyssa: Yen claims that Geralt's company and conversation is payment enough for healing Jaskier, but the witcher should have definitely looked this gift horse in the mouth. After she assures him that Jaskier will wake up fully healed if he is allowed to sleep off this cure, Geralt starts to feel suspiciously woozy. Cut to the witcher in a jail cell with Chireadan and no knowledge of how he got there. Apparently Geralt went on a rampage through town, fighting all of Yennefer's battles for her. If someone so much as looked at the mage the wrong way, Geralt beat them to a pulp. You know I'm a fan of Yen, but magically roofying Geralt into doing her dirty work is a bad look.
Jessica: Look, it's not her fault the smell of gooseberries breaks down his wards. She was only playing the cards she was dealt and she did warn the man that she wouldn't play fair. Still, Geralt is in prison waiting to die and Jaskier's waking up in a mage's bed — which should be a dream come true, except this mage is more interested in using him to gain access to the djinn. Yen wants him to use his third wish so that she can capture the genie and absorb its power. Unfortunately, it's not Jaskier that the djinn is tied to.
A Dark Ruse
Alyssa: Nope! One offhand wish from Geralt that his executioner would burst has a very bloody outcome, so, surprise! Geralt's got the wishes, and he's got the two bloody hash marks on his arm to prove it. He rushes back to the mayor's house and finds a healed Jaskier and a darkness brewing as Yennefer tries to become the vessel for the djinn and harness its power. I'm not quite sure why she had to be tits out for this ritual, but fantasy realms are going to fantasy realm. Geralt tries to reason with Yen and informs her that the power of the djinn will kill her, and she's not all that concerned. She has one goal in mind: power that is hers and hers alone, and the djinn is how she aims to get it.
Jessica: I mean, I suppose going topless allows for more range of motion and also, all the bone-cracking that’s needed for a transfer of power like this? Or maybe Yen’s got a thing against holding her girls down? Who knows? But she's definitely willing to go through hell for what she wants and while I can’t understand this consuming need for more power, I respect that even while her body was literally being torn apart, she refused Geralt's help with a clear, succinct "F*** off." Yen wants power, sure, but she wants it on her terms. She doesn't want it tied to someone else, to have to be indebted to someone else for it. I kind of respect that. Still, homegirl has absolutely no chance of controlling this kind of energy so Geralt whispers his final wish, the djinn demos the house before peacing out and poor Jaskier is left to believe his bro is truly dead. Except, sike, he's just been portaled to the first floor of the mansion by Yen and the two are bumping uglies.
Alyssa: At least someone is having fun for a brief moment in this episode because elsewhere is all nightmare fuel. The Nilfgaardian army is starting to focus in on Ciri, and they've decided that the best method of retrieving her from the forest is to enlist the help of a particularly vain, shapeshifting doppler to take on the appearance of poor Mousesack in order to lure her away from her dryad protectors. And when I mean the appearance of Mousesack, I mean all of his memories, skills, and mannerisms as well. It's a chillingly effective bit of magic. And then they murder Mousesack for good measure. Gotta tie off those loose ends.
Jessica: The death of Mousesack could not have hit me harder in the feels. And knowing this strange, psychotic doppler was going to use his body to trick Ciri into coming to Nilfgaar to be used for whatever dark purposes they have planned was just the final twist of the knife. And though Ciri is observant and cautious, she's also a kid on the run greeted by a familiar face in the worst of times. You can't blame her for wanting to leave the forest with her former mentor but God, am I worried for our little lion cub.
Alyssa: Ciri is in a world of hurt now that she's in the hands of Nilfgaard, so I hope that someone has the sense and ability to alert Geralt. It's time for him to collect that law of surprise and take Ciri under his wing. I for one am looking forward to him and Jaskier learning how to raise a child. I know that a buddy comedy is not the Witcher way, but can we get a special episode of that? A few webisodes? I don't ask for much. But I will say that I am a little bored by Ciri, so I'm ready for her to be added to a more interesting storyline.
Jessica: Yeah, Ciri's been off on her own for a bit too long and while I appreciate she's a powerful weapon, all we've really seen from her is a bunch of forest wandering and weird tree visions. She's a kid who just lost her whole kingdom so I get it, but I think this is the time when Geralt needs to step in. I'd also like to see how Yen responds to Ciri, a child with so much power, which is exactly what she wants. The dynamic between these three is being set up so well, but can we finally just have their meet-cute happen?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors', and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.