By Tanya Malik
“Voleth Meir” is an episode of betrayal, where Yennefer betrays Ciri, Fringilla and the elves betray Nilfgaard, and Tissaia betrays Triss. Dara also betrays the elves as a spy from Redania. Named after the main villain this season despite her limited screen time, the Deathless Mother is neither in the books or the games. In the show, the first Witchers were hired to imprison her, which resulted in her being trapped in her hut. Preying on people’s fear and pain, she has appeared to Yennefer, Fringilla, and Francesca back in the second episode and promised them what they wanted, which was the return of her magic, the approval of Nilfgaard’s emperor, and the healthy birth of a baby elf respectively. She has hatched her plan this entire season, and in this episode, she finally springs it, with devastating consequences – Yennefer has lost Geralt and Ciri, Fringilla has betrayed Nilfgaard and has killed the entire Council except Cahir, and Francesca’s baby has died.
Opening with the aftermath of the fight in the previous episode, Geralt is in the temple with Nenneke, worried about Ciri. He swore to protect her, knowing her great power and trying to help her master it, and now he doesn’t know Yennefer’s true intentions or where both of them are. However, Nenneke says that he cannot help her if Ciri is as powerful as he says, and that she needs more that he can give her. Meanwhile, Ciri also worries about Geralt after she and Yennefer have landed in a hut, a seeming “safe space” for both of them due to past events, but one which turns out to be the homestead of the merchant Yurga from season one, whose wife took Ciri in but whose entire family, they discover, has been massacred by Rience. Yennefer and Ciri leave the hut and travel together until they come across a collapsed bridge. Using this as an opportunity to test Ciri’s power, Yennefer asks Ciri to raise and repair the bridge. Not having done this level of magic before and trying to prove herself, blood starts coming out of her eyes and she ends up teleporting her and Yennefer to the other side of the bridge instead. This builds the bond between the both of them, which eventually breaks when Ciri realizes that Yennefer intended to betray her through a telepathic connection.
Meanwhile, Geralt invites Jaskier to find Yennefer and Ciri by rescuing him from jail, which includes a comical scene of Jaskier talking to mice, giving them names, and asking them to sing. There is also funny banter between the two of them that starts when Jaskier talks about his reaction to Geralt telling him to “fuck off” last time they met and ending when Geralt gives him a look when he says good bye to the mice, with Jaskier responding that he made new friends and that Geralt should “get over it”. They discuss Yennefer being alive, as well as the possibility of her being in league with the Deathless Mother and using Ciri as a sacrifice. They meet Yarpen Zigrin, a dwarven warrior, adventurer, and dragon hunter, and his tribe in a forest. Yarpen was a prominent character in the books, although he appeared only in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings in the games and more attention was given to Geralt’s other dwarven friend, Zoltan Chivay. We last saw Zarpen, fittingly, on the dragon hunt in “Rare Species” [S2E6], the last time Geralt and Jaskier were together. An old friend of Geralt, he has helped him with many past missions, and he needs a horse (and Yarpen’s help) for this particular one. Yarpen calls for his tribe, and together, they head towards Cintra.
Back in Nilfgaard, the elves haven’t show up to training, raising doubts about their loyalty to Nilfgaard, and tensions rise between Cahir and Fringilla. Fringilla confronts Filavandrel and his wife about the elves, who are currently deciding names for the baby, and Filavandrel responds that Francesca has “given” him a reason not to fight and that it is time to rebuild their numbers rather than die in someone else’s war. Fed up with the events going around her, Fringilla seeks the advice of her uncle Artorius and decides to paralyze Cahir and his company with a potion. She kills them all except Cahir, so he could vouch for her loyalty and effectiveness to Emperor Emhyr , or the “White Flame”, when he arrives. Later in the night, Filavandrel and Francesca find their baby daughter murdered, and Francesca swears to seek justice.
Yennefer is unable to go through with the betrayal and doesn’t hand Ciri to the Deathless Mother, but Ciri doesn’t trust her and accidentally alerts a group of nearby Nilfgaardian guards. Geralt arrives just in time with some soldiers, fights the guards, and puts a sword on Yennefer’s throat while telling Jaskier and the soldiers to go back to Kaer Morhen. Geralt and Yennefer search for Voleth Meir, but it is too late for them as she has been set free from her hut after collecting enough despair. She looks for a perfect vessel, and that vessel is Ciri. The final fight is just beginning, with many twists and turns that will not just determine Geralt’s and Ciri’s future, but the future of the Witchers as well.