Sometimes, when you're not too focussed on the minutiae of the Witcher-verse, this series takes on the trappings and tropes of a classic wartime drama.
The Witcher Season 2 Episode 4 is one of those instances where Triss tries to intervene before Ciri goes full-blown child soldier, while Yennefer and Cahir experience the life of fugitive refugees.
War makes heroes out of the most unlikely candidates and Dandelion's ... uh, sorry, Jaskier's turn as elf sympathizer and transporter, Sandpiper, is both a welcome return for the character and the best WTF moment of the season so far.
One of the most anticipated arrivals is Dijkstra, the Redanian spymaster.
Portrayed by Graham McTavish -- a Witcher double-dipper, having voiced Vesemir's mentor Deglan on the animated prequel feature, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf -- Dijkstra is a genius strategist whose mental projections outpace his ability to communicate them.
Even traitors speak the truth.Dijkstra
His service to the Redanian king, Vizimir II, does not end with bodyguard duties but includes advising him on matters of potential conquest.
His suggestion that it would be easier to take Cintra from the Nilfgaardians now than it would've been to wrest it from Ciri's grandmother, Queen Calanthe, in the past effectively directs his liege's attention to that potential prize.
His consultations with the telepathic owl are a little harder to follow.
Ultimately his plans to infiltrate Cintra require an inside elf, and he finds Ciri's old friend, Dara, down in the holding cells.
A familiar face (although Wilson Mbomio has grown significantly in the interim two years) whose mission is to figure out what the Nilfgaardians are after. How shocked will he be to find out they're after the girl he let escape?
But the crowds will be cheering for a different familiar face here.
When Yennefer and Cahir attempt to escape Sodden leads them to the mysterious Sandpiper who helps smuggle elves to Cintra, it's both a surprise and a delight to discover the subversive rebel is none other than Jaskier.
Geralt: Some wounds cannot be healed. I understand that more than you know. I hope that in your search to feel again, you feel your value. Jaskier: They come for the elves, Yennefer. They'll come for the dwarves. And sooner or later, they will come for everyone. Anyone that they deem the 'other.'
The comedic quotient ticks up considerably with Jaskier's return. Despite his newfound heroism, he's more than ready to throw down verbally the minute he spots Yennefer.
So when her heartfelt embrace of relief knocks him off his stride for a moment, it's nice to see him just react to the emotion.
Who knows? Maybe they could've been friends if they hadn't had Geralt to fight over. Or maybe Yennefer would've firestormed him into nothingness the first time they met because she wasn't distracted by Geralt, and Jaskier can be super annoying.
I would not wish that fate on my worst enemy, and, yes, you are firmly lodged in that category, it has to be said, but what they've done to you and your people is unspeakable.Jaskier
Their time together here plays out to a very different dynamic from what their relationship was like before Sodden.
The change is on both sides.
Jaskier has a new muse: helping elves escape the persecution of the North. That raison d'être lends him an air of respectability and honor.
Yennefer has been humbled by her handicap and the loss of Aretuza's protection. At least, with Jaskier, she regains a bit of her verbal spark, but she's not a hundred percent by any means.
Jaskier: What happened to you?
Yennefer: Chaos appears to be done with me.
Jaskier: You've lost your magic? Is that even possible?
Yennefer: Go on. Get your gloating in. Time's limited.
Jaskier: Once upon a time, I would have used this opportunity to call you an empty, lonely, power hungry she-demon, but I'm an artist, Yennefer. It's my job to put myself in other people's shoes. Even if they are, in your case, large, clunky, and, I don't know, probably full of snakes or something.
It's a little off-brand, but Triss's arrival at Kaer Morhen reminds me of the 1954 musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where a tiny scrap of a woman named Milly whips a house full of backwoodsmen into a semblance of civility and good manners.
You say you're mutants. That's why you don't understand what people feel. But the truth is, you're choosing to be ignorant arseholes, aren't you?Triss
Triss's history with Vesemir's brood -- and her own significant abilities -- gives her confidence in dealing with them.
However, she's more cautious with Ciri, recognizing the girl's trauma and the defense mechanisms the princess is using to keep people at bay.
The most intriguing development is the flowers Vesemir finds. Feainnewedd, as confirmed by Triss, only grows where Elder Blood has been spilled.
The show doesn't explain this, so I'll briefly define Elder Blood because I had to do a quick info dive for my own clarity.
While the elves, dwarves, and gnomes of The Continent are known as the Elder Races, Elder Blood refers only to the descendants of Lara Dorren, a powerful elven warrior-sorceress who fell in love with a human mage.
Sound familiar? The lantern-animated story Nivellen tells Ciri on The Witcher Season 2 Episode 1 is Lara Dorren's.
It's impressive that Vesemir isn't tempted to simply bleed Ciri dry to procure blood that may be the key ingredient to making new witchers.
Instead, it's Ciri who offers her blood up, with the condition that she be the first to try it.
Daughter of Chaos belongs to us. Turn your backs. Join the procession. There is only death here.Lara Dorren
The desperation with which Ciri pursues anything that can make her more like Geralt, more impervious to the world, feels like it is escalating.
Whether she senses a danger drawing near or her own power becoming uncontrollable, it's hard to watch a young person who sees no way forward except a life of violence and mutation.
The Trail will test you. Force you to move beyond the pain, the fear, the failure. Until you become one with the killer itself. Remember, hesitation will draw danger to you like fire. But trust the path you choose, and it will protect you. Even in darkness. As long as you listen. Always listen.Geralt
One can only hope that the bond between her and Geralt proves strong enough to guide her.
Will the new witcher potion work? Will Triss let Ciri take it?
Istredd and Geralt on a recon mission together is bound to be interesting. Do you think they'll figure out their common connection to Yennefer?
What has happened to Jaskier?
I'm sure you're all binge-watching, but if you're taking a breather, feel free to comment below on who you were most excited to see again.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.