Nothing goes right for our heroes on The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1 Episode 2, and their ability to pivot will determine whether they'll see this mission through.
Shifting alliances are also seen in Xin'trea as Merwyn begins to angle for independent power as Empress. She's got a plan, and if anyone can make it happen through sheer will, blind optimism, and stupid luck, it's this poor little princess.
Finally, seeing is truly believing, so Syndril's little side trip to the bug monster dimension serves to prepare Éile and Fjall for the reality of Balor's beast.
I suspect there are some inside jokes sliding into the narrative. Robbing a bank in a town called Daédwóde (Deadwood) seems a little too much like a Western to be an accident.
Of course, the bank being a Dwarven one is simply a fantasy genre truism.
Speaking of dwarves, our seventh company member appears here, seeking vengeance and spreading carnage in godhead parlors.
While Meldof's introduction happens in isolation from the rest of the fellowship, it's the best backstory we've had for any of our gang. As the only non-elf of the company, it's only fitting that she has a different starting point and perspective.
We see first-hand how badly elves treat dwarves. Watching her coolly take the verbal abuse, pause to confer with Gwen, her hammer, and then nonchalantly clear house makes quite the first impression.
It’s all about the little things, isn’t it? When you think about it. The little traces we leave behind of ourselves. Our little tells. I could always tell when Gwen had been in a room or crossed a street. That smell of winterberry and lilac. Still don’t know how she did that.Meldof
Of course, our second impression of her is when she successfully tracks down and executes the elf she's been hunting.
Her calm demeanor could be interpreted as a level of psychosis, but overall, it comes across as something more accessible and justifiable.
The newly minted Empress has been busy.
Not content to be Balor's figurehead leader, she's determined to make her vision of a Golden Empire come true on her terms.
The first piece of her sovereignty falls into her lap when the apprentice mage Avallac'h -- another Easter Egg for Witcher game enthusiasts -- protects her from an attack in the palace.
Adding Avallac'h to her loyal entourage through a combination of charm and extortive coercion, she even takes his cloak to sneak into the city.
Can I point out here how badly guarded she is that wearing a bright blue cloak that does little to hide her features still fools the military Eredin and Balor have set to watch her?
And when she visits Brían's house the next day, did she bring a guard with her, or did she just stroll into the merchant's house in full Empress mode?
Eredin: We were so careful.
Merwyn: Sometimes, luck simply casts her lot against you.
She demonstrates some savvy in offering to elevate Brían to a status where his relationship with Eredin would no longer break cultural taboos.
Even Eredin appears tempted, although he's more cautious than Brían.
Brían: This could be a new beginning.
Eredin: Or our quick end.
Brían is a dangerous vulnerability for Eredin to keep around. Considering how Fjall and Merwyn's relationship ended and what happened to Gwen, romantic relationships on The Continent don't seem to be a good investment in general.
The jury's still out on Zacaré and Brother Death, though.
Éile: Who the fuck are you?
Brother Death: Let’s just say I’m one for a good story. I think that you might be the start of one.
I like Brother Death. For someone with a name like that, who sports facial and ear wounds that lend credence to the name, and whose weapons of choice are freakin' CLEAVERS, he gives off some warm vibes.
Brother Death: I thought that I was done with killing. Seems that killing isn’t done with me. So I reckon I’ll be joining your little story. If you’d have me.
Éile: How good are you with those cleavers?
Brother Death: Too good.
Zacaré's harder to read. She's a healer and wields potent magic but defends herself with psychic mists. She recognizes her relationship with Syndril as unique but holds him at arm's length.
As I've mentioned before, the writers have their work cut out for them, trying to fit in all the necessary expositional elements.
See if you follow the narrative beats here that lead our three to the other three.
Brother Death is seated in the tavern on The Witcher: Blood Origin Season 1 Episode 1 when the Golden Army soldiers post the bounty posters for Fjall and Éile.
He tracks them to the forest outside Daédwóde after Scían's been wounded in the bank ambush by a poisoned blade.
He conveniently knows of a healer who can save Scían's life, but to get to Zacaré, Fjall and Éile must pass through the mists and relive their worst memories.
So, in one fell swoop, they've added Brother Death and Zacaré to the company AND provided the backstory for our friendly neighborhood Dog and Raven Clan reps.
And then Syndril appears out of nowhere. Boom! Now, we are six.
The celestial twin relationship is an interesting recurring element.
Balor mentions the children he brings to the Chaos being are celestial twins with rare and powerful magic.
Zacaré fills in more details when she explains how she and Syndril are siblings of a sort.
Mere tokens beget mere tastes. Transformation requires true sacrifice.Arid World Being
Of course, the child murder doesn't earn Balor more than a taste of the Chaos magic he seeks.
What is the true price, and why doesn't the being simply tell him what it is?
The pacing of the episodes so far has been inconsistent. The premiere was A LOT of everything, whereas here, we're left with Éile making tracks back to the group after catching the attention of an insectoid monster.
As a leader, she leaves something to be desired when it comes to dependability.
First, her breaking formation in the bank nearly cost Scían's life. Now, her impulsive curiosity while in an alien dimension triggers a monster pursuit.
Hopefully, Syndril's able to pop them back into their world quickly.
We know this series will reveal the events of the Conjunction of the Spheres that brought monsters and men to The Continent.
We've now seen two monsters. Will we see humans arrive too?
Is the Conjunction related to the comets Merwyn has been tracking as portents of her success? Or will it be something more unnatural?
Air your thoughts and theories down in the comments and throw a [figurative] penny to your reviewer! I'd love to discuss what's going on midway through this series.
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.