Production photos leaked from the filming of Netflix’s The Witcher Season 2 indicate we’ll be meeting the likes of Eredin Bréacc Glas and the Dearg Ruadhri later this year. While this has prompted some hand-wringing in a few corners regarding the timing and costumes of the famous nemeses of The Witcher 3 (https://www.thegamer.com/thue-witcher-netflix-wild-hunt/), the addition of the Hunt this early suggests intriguing possibilities for the upcoming season. How substantial a role will they play? How much invented material are we going to get to flesh out the Hunt from their thin presence in the early books? Is this armor cool or just silly (or both)? Does this mean the Time of Contempt is nigh? Important questions. Below, I’ll give lay readers and newcomers a basic introduction to The Wild Hunt and then offer some speculative answers to what the hell the Hunt may or may not be doing in season 2 and what it all might mean for the rest of the season.
The Wild Hunt At A Glance
Okay, so you’re a newcomer to Witcherverse and you’re sitting there wondering, “who the fuck are these skeletor dudes?” Well, that depends on who you’re asking. To the people of the Continent, educated sorcerer and flea-bitten serf alike, the Wild Hunt is either: 1) a terrifying spectral omen of catalcysm and war or, 2) fucking nonsense cooked up by superstituos hayseeds. Little if any actual knowledge is readily available about them to the denizens of these lands, to the effect that in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Lodge sorceress and former royal advisor Keira Metz is genuinely shocked to learn during the “Wandering In The Dark” quest that they actually exist.The Hunt is a very opaque phenomenon understood by few and studied by almost none.
The reality of the Hunt is at once mind-bending and utterly mundane. The Hunt are elves of the race of Aen Elle, a foreign world in The Witcher multiverse of space-time to which they give their name. Led by the charismatic and ruthless Eredin Bréacc Glas, the Hunt are an elite cavalry regiment possessing limited abilities to travel through space-time who periodically raid the Continent for slaves. Here the details vary a bit based on games and books, including the Hunt’s appearance. In the games and now it seems the show, the Hunt wear skeleton-like plate armor, whereas in the book these features are augmented by red cloaks and caparisons on their horses which lend the Hunt their official name, the Dearg Ruadhri, or “Red Riders”. Regardless, their goal in both mediums is to harness Ciri’s Elder Blood and the navigational magic latent within it to lead a massive invasion of the Continent and conquer it. In both instances the White Frost of Ithlinne’s Prophecy plays an important but varying role in these plans, which I’ll elide here to save space and spoilers.
Wait wait, what is the Wild Hunt doing here so early in the story?
That’s a good question, but it’s not a hard one to answer tentatviely. Purists will point out that if season 2 is an adaptation of Blood Of Elves, the first proper Witcher novel, then that rules out any justification for the presence of the Wild Hunt, who don’t appear till the second chapter of the second novel, The Time Of Contempt. True, but this is built on an incorrect assumption to begin with. Season 2 will not be an adaptation of just Blood of Elves, because Lauren Hissrich, the showrunner, has literally told us on multiple occasions that is not the case.
First, Season 2 will incorporate overlooked short stories from The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, including “A Grain of Truth” in its first episode, and probably also “A Shard of Ice” at some point, given its integral place in the canon and the return of Royce Pierrson as Istredd. Based on the casting of the Time of Contempt characters Codringher and Fenn, as well as Hissrich’s tweet referring to “Blood of Elves and beyond”, we have really good reason to suspect, in my opinion, that the fateful reunion of Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri in Time of Contempt will be the closing act of this season.
Why? Well, first, Yennefer literally fights the Wild Hunt just before this reunion occurs, making it a good action climax. Second, and more importantly, this is canonically the first occasion in the books when all three protagonists are in the same place at the same time. If season 1 ended on the fateful first meeting of Geralt and Ciri, it would be an appropriate corollary to end season 2 with a similar family-affirming reunion. Lastly, this meeting occurs exactly before two crucial chapters in Time Of Contempt which completely reshuffle the personal and political landscape of the series, separating the three protagonists, resuming war with Nilfgaard, and establishing Vilgefortz as Geralt’s arch rival and the Big Bad.
These events would make for a spectacular opening to season 3 and I fully suspect the romance and bloodshed that takes place at Aretuza in these chapters will fulfill exactly that role. Given the serial nature of the novels, in which the action of one bleeds into the next, many major threads of Blood of Elves don’t get resolved until chapter 2 of Time of Contempt, making it likely in my view that it is at somewhere analogous to this exact point in the books that season 2’s narrative will terminate.
So fears of the Hunt’s tailgating have been greatly exaggerated. The Wild Hunt is likely to be introduced in season 2 to fulfill exactly the same role it held in the books at the start of Time of Contempt: an ominous and unexplained menace to our heroes whose true threat is only teased for now. It should be noted in passing that The Witcher: Blood Origin recently casted an Eredin, who as a non-human is possessed of a greater lifespan sufficient to hand-waive the 1200 year gap in the flagship show and its prequel. Expect some slow-burn hype ahead over the next few years.