The Witcher Season 3 Episode 8 Review: The Cost of Chaos

Television

Does anyone else feel that The Witcher Season 3 Episode 8 might not be leading to the shake-up we expect when Geralt returns?

He isn’t dead. He hasn’t been mutilated or maimed. He literally walks off with Jaskier and Milva to continue his search for Ciri.

What are we missing here? How will the announced change of witcher be handled?

After spending over half the previous outing on Ciri’s desert ordeal, this offering provides the more familiar rotating narratives as our core three are still spread out geographically.

Geralt is convalescing in Brokilon. Ciri’s got herself tied up in Korath. And Yennefer’s leading the rebuilding effort at Aretuza.

Of the three, Yennefer’s journey spirals down the most.

The horror of finding the bodies of the novices in Vilgefortz’s castle has a devastating knock-on effect on Tissaia, who is already made vulnerable by her lover’s betrayal.

They make us sacrifice so much. The cost of learning magic. When I came to Aretuza, if a sorceress fell pregnant, she was kicked out. ‘Divided loyalties,’ said the men. So, I made them take us seriously. The enchantment was never about clearer access to Chaos. It was about getting a seat at the table. And the Brotherhood, they called me bold. I was just desperate. The first of many mistakes.

Tissaia

After all her years of fighting the misogynistic Brotherhood for respect and trying to shape the organization into one that puts more good into the world than evil, Tissaia is understandably tired of it all.

Calling down Alzur’s Thunder on The Witcher Season 3 Episode 6 did more than turn her hair white. It exhausted her reserve of resiliency and optimism.

One of the first things we learn about Chaos is that it always has consequences. There is a cost to this magic. And eventually, we all must pay. It is not a gift. It is a trade. And often, that trade leads us to dark places. But there are always bright spots. Teaching you has been the biggest bright spot of my life. And I would love to see you through the next leg of your journey. I know you will do great things, my daughter. But I’m afraid I cannot. There is a cost I must pay. Sometimes a flower is just a flower. And the best thing it can do for us is die.

Tissaia

In writing her last letter to Yennefer, we see the contentment on her face as she feels the end nearing. The decision is made. Her future is set. She can lay down her arms and rest.

Keira cracking her joke about it being a bad week for magic is a sparkling moment of genuine humanity.

After everything they survived, there’s a ringing truth in her claim to be out of tears.

There are some wounds magic can’t heal.

Yennefer

Of all the things that might signal Cavill’s exit, his scene with Yennefer at Brokilon is the most convincing.

Throughout the season, Yennefer’s lines have had a repeated finality whenever she and Geralt part ways. She made him promise to return to her multiple times, and her letters have sworn her love to him in whatever form he takes.

The openness with which Geralt expresses his grief and love to her is the brightest red flag that he’s about to evolve into something different. Or maybe he already has.

I’ve always tried to stay above the fray. To shut everything out. And life always finds a way to force my hand.

Geralt

Renfri’s brooch is another indication that Geralt‘s ready to move on to a different way of being.

It’s a tidy bookend to introduce: a token from The Witcher Season 1 Episode 1, where he was forced to kill a human because he’d lost he’d become involved in a human conflict.

Offering the brooch to the Nilfgaardian soldier for passage is the first in several rapid developments.

Yennefer’s letter is a perfect juxtaposition — describing how they’ve both abandoned their neutrality because they’ve learned what it is to connect and how it feels to love and value others — as Geralt dives into a battle, single-handedly taking on a Nilfgaardian battalion over them stealing a child’s toy.

Human conflict. It’s where the real monsters thrive.

It’s all Jaskier can do to shuffle the civilians somewhere safe.

I’ll admit it’s been a while since I truly found Jaskier entertaining. Here, I’m enjoying his presence a lot more.

Perhaps it’s the distance from Radovid. Maybe it’s because there’s less Redanian influence in general.

He’s also stepped away from the Sandpiper identity.

Milva: Like I’ve been saying, you can’t leave unless you get better. And you won’t get better unless you let us help you. You need more healing waters and plenty of rest. Grouse?
Geralt: Give me the damn grouse.
Milva: Oh, now you want it?
Jaskier: There’s a very weird energy between you two.

His commentary in Brokilon is sharp and witty, while the contrast between him and Milva is odd-couple gold.

Milva: You’re not his friend. You’re tagging along to get one more song out of him when he dies.
Jaskier: How dare you? I would milk his death for, like, three songs. And maybe an epic poem.

It might be basic on my part, but I truly love Jaskier when he’s being his best Dandelion.

Now Radovid is another one on an uncontrolled rollercoaster of a life.

His plan to gather his resources and return to Jaskier’s side is derailed by… his coronation?

Oh, dear. For someone who states without pretense that he’s not a good spymaster and not even a good prince, to be crowned king of one of the largest realms on the Continent must be very stressful.

On the less serious hand, Jaskier will be weirdly chuffed to find out he canoodled with a king.

Philippa’s look of affection, when Dijkstra offers to let her kill him, is such an unlikely moment of tenderness.

They are a strange pairing, yet I can’t imagine either without the other.

I’d like to know if she’ll express any emotion when word of Tissaia’s suicide reaches her. Or perhaps it’ll make her more determined to destroy Vilgefortz and defeat Nilfgaard.

I must say, Fringilla, death, it becomes you. And I have faith that being Imperial Governor will too.

Emhyr

So many nations, so much intrigue.

Fringilla and Francesca’s plan to use Ciri as a getaway conduit to another sphere goes sideways spectacularly when Fringilla spills that Emhyr killed Francesca’s baby.

Considering Francesca’s abilities and the Scoia’tael’s skills, I suspect life in Nilfgaard will get complicated.

That is the problem with trust. You have it until you don’t.

Tissaia

Will Fringilla return to Aretuza?

Or will the mysteriously missing Cahir prove to be her bestie again?

Cahir: Fringilla! I thought you were dead.
Fringilla: No. Not dead. I’m simply no longer confined, Cahir. You know, it is amazing what you can do when you think for yourself.

Ultimately, a LOT is going on here, but as a season finale, it does not meet the grade.

The real Ciri embarks on life as a Rat named Falka, while the brainwashed Teryn is installed as Princess Cirilla in Nilfgaard. (How did Vilgefortz get her back from Otto? I’ve got a bad feeling about that.)

Yennefer must take up Tissaia’s torch and lead Aretuza on an offensive on Vilgefortz. (And maybe rescue Istredd and the Book of Monoliths while they’re at it?)

Geralt’s off heroing with Jaskier and Milva and looking for Ciri. But will he return a different man, literally?

We’re left with many questions and no clear idea of what will come. That’s two fails on the season finale report card right there.

What say you, Fanatics? Where do you see this going next?

What’s happened to the Wild Hunt? Isn’t that the bigger threat to the Continent?

Will Emhyr ever reveal himself as Duny again? Does he know Teryn isn’t really Ciri?

It’s going to be a long wait until The Witcher Season 4. Let’s talk about the highlights and challenges! Hit our comments with your hottest takes and coolest theories!

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.

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