There's always a grain of salt to be taken with any highly-anticipated release, and The Witcher Season 3 Part 2 is as salty as they come.
All of the most exciting moments in the Volume 2 trailer occur on The Witcher Season 3 Episode 6, which leads us to wonder what could the last two hours of the season offer.
With Ciri activating the Tor Lara monolith, Geralt in dire straits, and Yennefer mourning the destruction of her home and dealing with Tissaia's collapse, it'll take more than Chaos to reunite this family.
The conclave at Aretuza goes simultaneously as well and as terribly as anyone could have predicted.
The party, as seen on The Witcher Season 3 Episode 5, juxtaposes the opulence and hedonism of the mage culture with the intrigue of court life.
But, just as our heroes pat themselves on the back for revealing Stregobor for the hateful bigot and sadist he is, they realize their victory is a distraction, and the true villain, Vilgefortz, is still in play.
So the real action happens, as the old-timey newspaper folk like to say, below the fold, i.e., after the glitz and glamor of the ball.
Dijkstra and Philippa clearly had a plan from the beginning. Throughout the ball, they offer hints and warnings of what is to come, so the Redanian insurgence is hardly surprising.
Dijkstra: We have ample evidence of Vilgefortz aligning with Nilfgaard. We want to be heard. The Brotherhood needs our help to root out these traitorous infestations.
Geralt: So this is a trial?
Philippa: No. A purge.
The keen observer could note that they would've been more successful had they shared their intel on Vilgefortz with Geralt and Yennefer (and Triss and Istredd) earlier.
At the very minimum, Yennefer might've convinced Tissaia to listen to the evidence.
Emphasis on the "might."
Tissaia's usually calm demeanor invites us to forget exactly how powerful a mage she is. Although Dijkstra heralds her as the "headmistress," she is much more than an educator.
She proves that the adage, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach," is WRONG. Like Dumbledore, she does not need to flaunt her abilities because those who know, KNOW she can melt their faces.
Sabrina: Keira! Radcliffe! Why wasn’t she secured?
Tissaia: Because I told them I would melt their faces if they touched me.
Philippa: There’ll be no face melting here. I’ve shrouded your little kingdom in a powerful binding spell.
Tissaia: Oh yes, I can feel it. From ‘The Book of the Waning Sun.’ I wrote that book.
Is it any wonder Vilgefortz allies himself with her, building her trust and affection for him so that those who do violence to him earn her immediate wrath?
All in all, you have to hand it to Vilgefortz. He's played an excellent long game. He uses Lydia and Rience to chase down and eliminate obstacles while he stays above reproach, hanging on Tissaia's arm, encouraging the Brotherhood to seek unity.
To be fair, the Redanian attack may have genuinely caught him by surprise. He probably had the Scoia'tael forces coming to battle the mages, never imagining they'd also need to put down Dijkstra's soldiers.
Piece of advice, though. Coming after mages in their own home during a conclave… That’s suicide.Geralt
Having Tissaia in his corner proved a saving grace.
Of course, he beats a hasty retreat once he's betrayed Tissaia, leaving her to deal with the shock just as Francesca and her army arrive.
Despite his Bond villain crowing as he beats Geralt into the ground, he underestimates the objective of all his scheming: Ciri.
Considering all the novice mages he spirited away to his dark magic laboratory in West Redania, he doesn't understand young women well.
Speaking of those girls, if Vilgefortz has been working for Emhyr all this time, looking for Ciri in order to return her to her father, what's the point of trying to make other girls believe they are her?
Vilgefortz: You’re a wise man, Geralt. A lot like me. A warrior. Touched by magic. Alone in a world he never made.
Geralt: Enough with your parallels. You lack originality.
What is the purpose of brainwashing Teryn unless he thought he could counterfeit Ciri? He insists that he isn't purely Emhyr's lackey, that he has other plans.
Perhaps those plans include the Book of Monoliths and Istredd, too?
And then, there's the whole thing with Radovid and Jaskier. What does the future hold for the frightened princeling and the bard?
Is Radovid redeemable? Could Jaskier ever be content in a royal relationship? While he's not one to relish dangerous situations, I have a hard time seeing Jaskier happy in a safe and routine environment, no matter how luxurious and lascivious.
Radovid: How can you think my feelings for you are a lie?
Jaskier: Because that is who you are, Radovid. At your core. I thought I’d seen through your mask. Turns out there was nothing behind it.
Radovid's effect on Jaskier has opened up some emotional options for the minstrel-smuggler.
Historically, the core cast has had little use for royalty, Ciri's princess-ness notwithstanding, so it'll be interesting to see if Radovid manages to prove himself more than an empty puppet to Jaskier.
Also, what happened to either of them after the siege of Aretuza?
There's a considerable body count to tally at the end of the day. Tissaia calling down Alzur's Thunder decimates most of the elven forces—the elven dimeritium-tipped weaponry dooms most of the mages.
Yennefer ends Lydia while Geralt decapitates Rience. Nice balance there, although with all the trouble Rience caused, it seems a very pat ending for the fire-f*cker.
Istredd is who-knows-where after being tossed through Vilgefortz's dark portal.
Ciri's activation of the monolith ensconced in Tor Lara (because, of COURSE, there's a monolith at Aretuza) could have sent her anywhere on the Continent, through to other dimensions, or even through time, as we learned on The Witcher: Blood Origin.
So we sit perched on the tipping point of this rollercoaster of a season, with Geralt near death, Ciri's whereabouts unknown, and Yennefer untethered from home and family.
Can Tissaia pull it together to rebuild Aretuza?
Will Vilgefortz manage his end game without his henchpeople or Ciri?
What will Francesca's next move be? Filavandrel's gone. Cahir's missing. They still haven't found Ciri. Can she and Fringilla still dream of a future for elven kind?
Hit our comments with how you'd like to see things play out, Fanatics!
Diana Keng was 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 X.