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The Witcher season 3’s ending, explained

The Witcher season 3 premiered its three final episodes on July 27, bringing the show’s most ambitious and fully-realized season to a close. Henry Cavill stars — for the last time — as Geralt of Rivia, joining Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg and Freya Allan as Ciri. The last three episodes pick up immediately where the first five left off, with the infamous Thanedd coup happening and the reveal that Vilgefortz is allied with Nilfgaard.

The second half of season 3 features many major plot elements that book fans will already know about, especially those who recently read Time of Contempt. However, those unfamiliar with The Witcher‘s novels might have some lingering questions about what exactly happened during the episode, so here’s a breakdown of the main plot points and how the Netflix show says goodbye to Henry Cavill.

The Thanedd coup

Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra as Geralt and Yennefer walking into the mages' ball in The Witcher.
Image via Netflix

Episode 5, The Art of Illusion, is among the show’s best. It revolves around the mages’ ball before the Thanedd coup and ends with Yen and Geralt realizing that Vilgefortz sent Rience after Ciri. Geralt and Yen escape to find Ciri as the battle rages on Aretuza. The Scoia’tael, led by Francesca, Cahir, and Fringilla, attack the mages and kill many. As a last resort, Tissaia summons the powerful Alzur’s Thunder, leveling the battle but becoming severely debilitated in the process.

Meanwhile, Geralt kills Rience, but the family separates when Yennefer returns to Aretuza to fight beside Tissaia. Geralt and Ciri encounter Cahir, who shows true remorse for his crimes against Ciri and begs for her forgiveness before allowing her and Geralt time to escape while he distracts the Scoia’tael. As they try to leave the island, Geralt senses Vilgefortz and sends Ciri alone while he stays behind to face the rogue mage. However, he loses the fight and suffers critical injuries.

After accessing a portal at Tor Lara, Ciri finds herself lost in the Korath desert, where she experiences visions from her late mother, Pavetta, and grandmother, Calanthe. She also sees Falka, the leader of the Redanian rebellion who died at the stake after the war ended. Ciri is tempted by fire magic as Falka tries to influence her into releasing her full power; however, Ciri refuses to accept the possibility of hurting Geralt or Yennefer and renounces her power before passing out. She is then captured by a band of mercenaries as Geralt recovers from his wounds, and Yennefer attempts to rebuild what’s left of the Brotherhood — now comprised solely of females — while tracking Ciri.

The hour of the wolf

A woman walks through the woods in The Witcher season 3.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The season’s last episode, The Cost of Chaos, sees Geralt doing his best to recover from his wounds so he can search for Ciri. After Jaskier reveals Nilfgaard has announced a ball to welcome Ciri home, Geralt becomes resolute to go after her, despite warnings from the equally strong-willed Milva, a warrior caring after him. In Thanedd island, Yennefer has one last heart-to-heart with Tissaia, reaffirming their love for each other; then, unable to handle her guilt over her responsibility in enabling Vilgefortz to carry out the coup and realizing it’s Yennefer’s time to rise, Tissaia slits her wrists and ends her life. A broken-hearted Yennefer travels to Geralt, doing her best to heal his wounds and sharing a tearful goodbye as destiny separates them once more.

In Redania, Philippa returns Radovid home and reaffirms her alliance with Dijkstra. Her servant/lover then slits King Vizimir’s throat before Philippa crowns Radovid as the new ruler, much to Dijkstra’s confusion and Radovid’s terror. In Nilfgaard, Emhyr offers Francesca Cintra in exchange for the remaining Scoia’tael, who he plans to use as cannon fodder. Francesca almost takes the deal until Fringilla reveals Emhyr was behind her baby’s death. Enraged, Francesca promises vengeance against Emhyr and Fringilla.

Geralt battles soldiers in the woods in The Witcher season 3.
Netflix / Netflix

Up North, the girl Vilgefortz claims to be Ciri turns out to be Teryn, the young half-elven Geralt rescued from the flesh monster at Vuilpanne and who was brainwashed into believing she was Ciri. It’s unclear whether she’s out of the spell or if she still believes she is Ciri, but the deception fools Emhyr, who proudly welcomes his daughter home.

Yennefer and her fellow sorceresses band together to restore the magical community. Acknowledging the Brotherhood is no more, they decide to take matters into their own hands and build a better world, thus beginning the Lodge of Sorceresses. Geralt and Jaskier leave for Nilfgaard, arriving at a checkpoint and witnessing Nilfgaardian soldiers abusing the common people. Finally abandoning his neutrality, Geralt fights the soldiers but leaves one alive, telling him to warn Emhyr about his arrival and his mission to rescue Ciri. He and Jaskier then enter Nilfgaard, joined by Milva.

How does The Witcher season 3 end?

A woman sits in a vast desert in The Witcher season 3.
Netflix / Netflix

Finally, the true Ciri is revealed to have been apprehended by a band of mercenaries looking to collect the bounty on her head. However, a group of young bandits, the Rats, rescue her while retrieving one of their own. Ciri recognizes Mistle, a young girl she encountered at Gors Velen when she released the wyvern. Mistle gives Ciri a chance to fight her captor, and she wins, killing the man and thus committing her first murder. Changed by her visions in the desert, unsure of her place in the world, and without Geralt or Yen by her side, Ciri agrees to stay with the Rats. When they ask for her name, she simply replies, “Falka.”

Although Netflix has already confirmed season 4 of The Witcher, there’s no release date yet, and it hasn’t even begun production. What’s certain is that when the show returns, it won’t be with Henry Cavill, as season 3 marks his final outing as the White Wolf. Starting with season 4, Liam Hemsworth will take over as Geralt, continuing the story in new and exciting directions.

The Witcher Season 3 Volume 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

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David Caballero
David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
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