By Tanya Malik
Audio Version Below Article
As we enter into the second half of this season, we see the different the focus of the two seasons. While Season 1 was mostly just snapshots, Season 2 is an overarching story. “Turn Your Back” represents the climax of that story, which mostly explores Ciri’s confusion and her desire to find her own identity and the origin of her powers. This episode is also notable for its deviation from the books and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, especially with Vesemir’s and Yennefer’s relationship to Ciri. Yennefer is a mother-figure to Ciri, and Vesemir is more of a father figure who oversees Ciri’s training at the start of the game. However, in this episode, Yennefer betrays Ciri and Vesemir agrees to Ciri undergoing the Trial of the Grasses, one of the tests required to become a Witcher. As it is known that only boys can become Witchers, this particular test would kill her, but Vesemir agrees to go through with it anyway. Additionally, while there is respect between Ciri and Vesemir, there isn’t as much of a close bond compared to The Witcher 3. Rience, on the other hand, is a major antagonist in both the books and the show, and his mission is to find Ciri. His determination is shown at the start of the episode when he is imprisoned with Lydia due to crossing Queen Calanthe, where Lydia tells him that he is wasting his talent. Later, it is shown through his superb acting when he is torturing Jaskier to locate Geralt and Ciri. One of the strongest scenes in this episode is Jaskier’s torture scene. Both Joey Batey and Chris Fulton play their roles incredibly well, with Jaskier showing his loyalty to Geralt despite Geralt blaming Jaskier for all his burdens in “Rare Species” and Rience showing the lengths he will go to get the information he needs. This torture goes on until Yennifer rescues Jaskier, posing as his drunk wife, and spits flaming alcohol on his face. Yennifer may have lost her magic, but she relies on her wits as compensation.
Another notable difference between the books and the show is the use of Ciri’s Elder Blood as a Witcher mutagen. In the books, this mutagen is created through a forktail’s spinal cord, a bruxa’s tongue, mandrake root and speargrass sap. However, in the show, the only (possible) ingredient is Ciri’s Elder blood, which increases her importance. Vesemir notices the rare Feainnewedd flower growing in spots where Ciri bled during training, and as a result, he suspects that Ciri’s Elder blood can help create new Witchers. He discusses with Triss the possibility of creating a new serum with this ingredient to test on Ciri, with Triss responding that the final decision will be up to Ciri.
Geralt and Istredd explore monoliths as a new breed of monsters has arrived at the Continent, where they confirm that the monoliths act as conduits for monsters of other worlds. They also discover that the Cintra monolith was shattered by Ciri, which solves the mystery of the monsters’ initial appearance. Meanwhile, Ciri is tired of feeling lost and feels that her entire life was a lie, and that all the people she loved were taken from her before she tried to find the truth. She goes to Vesemir and asks to become a Witcher, which Vesemir disagrees with. Triss tries to help her by performing a Dol Durza, a spell to access Ciri’s genetic memories and the deepest layer of her consciousness, but it goes wrong when Triss realizes that the people in Ciri’s memories can both see and hear her.
At the end of the dreamscape, Ciri meets Lara Dorren, an elven sorceress who is clutching a newborn. When Triss comes close to her, Lara grabs her throat and utters a prophecy that Ciri was “the seed that will burst into flame” and will therefore destroy the world. It is finally discovered that Ciri is a “Daughter of Chaos”, or Lara Dorren’s descendent, when the Wild Hunt appears. Ciri calls Geralt for help and the dream ends. Triss, shocked by what she saw, leaves, and declares that Ciri will “destroy them all”. Ciri decides to ask Vesemir to test the serum on her. However, just when the trial is about to begin, Geralt arrives just in time and explains to Ciri that she is special despite Triss’s claims that she will destroy the world.
The episode ends with the crone from the hut visiting Yennefer. When Yennefer asks what she can do to get her powers back, the crone answers that she has to capture Ciri. Season 2 is an amazing season so far, and this episode increasingly ramps things up. Learning more about Ciri’s background and identity, learning more about the Wild Hunt and the Trial of the Grasses, and solving the mystery of the monoliths will build many important events in future episodes and lead to a smashing finale.
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