Good things come to those who wait, and all through The Witcher’s first season I waited for the Ciri I knew and loved to appear on screen. I'm glad the series is taking a slowburn approach, not rushing ahead to the action or fan service set pieces, but understanding that in order for those moments to land, we need to connect with the characters behind them. It would have been easy to mess that up, especially in a series as action packed as The Witcher can be if you disregard the story behind it. I know it was for my own good, but that didn't make me any less impatient. Luckily, season two is here to give me the Ciri I've been missing.
We've seen the dangers in a show rushing through its source material for the 'good bits.’ Game of Thrones set the standard for premiere seasons, and while it always involved beheading, disembowelment, and relentless violence, it was far more interested in whispers in shadows, political intrigue, and playing the long game. But by season six, the pace had quickened, and by season eight, any attempt at building up mystery or paying off meticulously constructed narratives was swept away in favour of dragons and zombies and swords fuck yeah! This isn't a complaint that season one established Ciri as she was, as the protected princess insulated from the threats and plight of the real world – it is crucial that we see that version of Ciri in order to establish how far she has come. But now that we've passed it, this is the Ciri I've always wanted.
Related: The Witcher Season 2 Proves Triss Vs Yennefer Doesn't MatterAs I've written about before, I'm something of a casual Witcher fan. You hang around in games media long enough and The Witcher 3 is imprinted upon you. I wouldn't call it a cult, but… well, I have no other way to finish that sentence. Even as a casual fan though, Ciri has always fascinated me. A rugged, stoic warrior taking a younger, vulnerable but feisty girl under his wing as a pseudo-daughter is nothing new for gaming. See The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite, and about 15 other titles. It's not this bond that makes Geralt and Ciri's relationship special, it's that Ciri can stand alone from Geralt and still shine.
Though The Last of Us Part 2 has us playing as Ellie, we're directly informed by Joel. She was the special one in the first game, he the nobody sent to protect her, so she has always been the key, but her entire story is built around Joel. In these stories of fathers and daughters, that is what the women must perpetually stay – daughters. Children, either literally or metaphorically, constantly operating as a narrative extension of the men who raised them. Though Ciri's relationship with Geralt (and, as season two's ending shows, her actual father) are crucial to who she is as a character, we also get to see her be far more independent, especially in her relationships with Yenn and Triss, which both blossom this season.
While season one gave us a single side of Ciri, and set her up seemingly just to be Geralt's vulnerable if spirited ward, season two gives us a more rounded picture. We see her determined and eager, completing her training, getting up again and again and again. We also see her more feminine, when Triss shows her there is more to being powerful than being just like Geralt. And then with Yenn, her curiosity about the world is indulged, even if there are some sinister motivations at play.
These motivations link into Ciri's power, too. Again, the chosen one being a pretty, young, white girl is nothing new, but after a season of Ciri wandering fairly aimlessly, swirling around her destiny rather than confronting it, season two gives us exactly what we needed. No one would claim Ciri's arc is the single most original piece of storytelling ever committed to media, but it is a compelling piece of The Witcher and it's satisfying to see the show give her the respect that she deserves instead of trading on Cavill's star power.
Season three will likely be even more Ciri focused, but the show has taken the time to earn it, and that means her story will be told right. Just please, don't turn into Game of Thrones, yeah?
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