The Witcher season 3 will feature key setting from Blood of Elves book
Henry Cavill's Geralt and Freya Allan's Ciri will visit a notable location from the Witcher books in season 3 that fans have been waiting for.
EW can exclusively reveal a script page for The Witcher season 3, episode 1. The title is one lovers of author Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy world will immediately recognize: "Shaerrawedd."
Written by Mike Ostrowski and directed by Stephen Surjik (who helmed the first two episodes of season 2), the season 3 premiere will visualize the Shaerrawedd ruins, the last remnants of a once-magnificent elven palace that's the setting of an integral scene between Geralt and Ciri in the novel Blood of Elves.
"This set is one of the biggest we ever built," showrunner Lauren Hissrich tells EW. "It was an interior-exterior set. Every shot is visual effects. Obviously there's a fight happening, but more than that, it is this big, open space. There are blue screens everywhere, so we are just now putting the final touches on it. Episode 1's been done for ages, but it's taken that long to get this setting right. I think it's really important for the story."
Hissrich and the writers' room on The Witcher toyed with introducing Shaerrawedd in season 2, but the context never felt right. As Hissrich points out, they weren't tackling the final third of Blood of Elves in the fantasy drama's sophomore run. "We knew we couldn't let go of it," she says. Shaerrawedd will now hold a slightly different significance in the story compared to the source material.
The setting is one way to learn about elven history, which will have more impact for audiences with prequel event series The Witcher: Blood Origin debuting on Netflix this month before The Witcher season 3 hits Netflix in summer 2023. "We're gonna hear Geralt tell the story to Ciri, but we're also gonna hear Yennefer [Anya Chalotra] tell the story to Ciri," Hissrich says. "We're gonna start to understand that everybody has a different version of historical events."
"It's a great way to start to explain Ciri's bloodline and all of the things that are gonna happen to her that come to the surface in The Time of Contempt," the writer-producer also adds, noting the title of Sapkowski's fourth book in the Witcher series. Season 2 gave viewers more morsels to chew on in that regard: Duny (Bart Edwards), Ciri's father who now goes by the name Emhyr var Emreis, was revealed to be the White Flame, an elusive figure who commands sorceress Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni) and Nilfgaardian general Cahir (Eamon Farren).
On a character level, Shaerrawedd and the larger premiere episode will see this chosen family — the trio of Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer — start to mend their relationship. The demon Voleth Meir had manipulated Yennefer in order to possess the princess and wreak havoc. It was an event that made Geralt realize he couldn't keep Ciri hidden away in Kaer Morhen forever. "What we leaned into is, how do we start this path to forgiveness? Because it's not gonna come fast," Hissrich remarks. Part of that, she continues, will involve "Yennefer's dedication to helping Ciri control her magic."
The show's writers haven't forgotten about a core detail of the Shaerrawedd scenes from the book. It's the place where Geralt has a formative conversation with Ciri about neutrality.
"One of the very first things the writers do when we set out ... to write a season is we write one-sentence character arcs so that we can boil it down to, this is Ciri's journey this season, this is Yennefer's, this is Geralt's," Hissrich explains. "Geralt's was him relinquishing his neutrality by the end of the season." Shaerrawedd became the start of that. "This is when we get Geralt's main thoughts on neutrality and why he wants to be neutral," Hissrich continues. "It's a theme you will continue seeing throughout the season, right up to some of my favorite quotes between him and Dijkstra [Graham McTavish] about his neutrality offending so many people."
Geralt? Offend people? Never.
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