The Witcher Season 2 is an absolute delight whether you’re a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher books or not. But those who have read the source material are in for several particularly exciting surprises given that the season is made up mostly of new stories that fill in the gap between the Battle of Sodden and when the first Witcher novel begins. However, it is not the addition of new mutant monsters appearing on the continent, the complicated development of the relationship between Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Ciri (Freya Allan), or the great political movements of Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa) that which will probably surprise fans. of the other books. that probably has to do with the decision to move one of the last big twists from the books to the show’s second season.[editor’s note: extensive spoilers for witcher season 2 and all the witcher books to come. really. don’t read if you don’t want to know how the witcher saga ends.]
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In episode 8, “Family”, the Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis finally joins forces in Cintra. This moment marks the first time the character’s face has appeared on screen, and it’s been hidden until now for good reason: Emhyr is revealed to be Ciri’s father, Duny (Bart Edwards), the former hedgehog-man turned prince. from Cintra that has been left for dead for years.
How are Duny and Emhyr the same person?
as explained in the books, emhyr is the son of the old nilfgaardian king fergus, but his father was overthrown when he was just a teenager. As part of the coup, the usurper had a sorcerer curse Emhyr, causing him to turn into an anthropomorphic hedgehog during the day and revert to his human form at night. After taking the name of Duny, Hedgehog of Erlenwald, Emhyr encountered the wounded King Roegner of Cintra in the forest and saved his life. As payment, Emhyr invoked the law of surprise, leading him to marry Pavetta 15 years later.
Although Emhyr never really loved Pavetta in the books (he married her because he legitimately believed their union would break his curse), he was content with his new life on Cintra for many years. However, Vilgefortz, the main puppeteer of the series, convinced Duny that he was destined for much more. So, a few years after Ciri’s birth, Emhyr and Vilgefortz devised a plan to fake the deaths of Emhyr, Pavetta, and Ciri on a boat trip so they could all go to Nilfgaard together. In the fifth episode of Season 2, “Turn Your Back”, Ciri sees a vision of her parents on the day of the incident. As Ciri and Triss (Anna Schaffer) watch, Emhyr lies to Pavetta (Gaia Mondorori), saying that she wants them to flee Cintra with Ciri because doing so will protect her daughter from those who want to prevent Ithlinne’s prophecy from coming true. .
The show has yet to reveal what happened between that conversation and the deadly boat ride, but in the books, Pavetta correctly suspected her husband of ulterior motives and pulled Ciri off the boat. When Emhyr found out, the two quarreled and Pavetta fell overboard to his death. With her plan in tatters and Ciri still at Cintra, Emhyr continued alone with Nilfgaard. there, emhyr shed his dubious identity, rallied his forces, and successfully overthrew the usurper. It is during this time in the Netflix adaptation that Emhyr also gains the loyalty of Fringilla and Cahir (Eamon Farren). emhyr keeps his duny identity a secret when he first returns to nilfgaard, but in the show he reveals his true connection to ciri to cahir and fringilla during the season two finale.
what does emhyr want with ciri?
Like in the show, Emhyr was determined to hunt down Ciri in the books. But what the Netflix drama has yet to reveal is why. And boy, oh boy, is the reason a doozy. You see, Emhyr wasn’t trying to find Ciri because he missed his daughter or even because he wanted to legitimize his claim to the Cintran throne. The real reason he wanted Ciri is because he wanted to marry and impregnate her.
yeah… that’s a lot to take in. And like almost everything in the Witcher universe, Emhyr’s incestuous motivations can be traced back to the Ithlinne prophecy. the prediction, which has already appeared several times on the show, warns of an impending ice age and an elder blood child who will determine the fate of the world. As revealed in the second season of The Witcher, Ciri has elder blood because she is descended from the elf princess Lara Dorren (Niamh McCormack), whom we saw during Ciri and Triss’ Dol Durza vision quest. This heritage and her powers resulting from it are why Ciri becomes convinced this season that she is destined to be the daughter of ancient blood that Ithlinne predicted she would destroy the world. however, the problem with prophecies is that they are frustratingly vague and people can interpret them in various ways.
the way emhyr understood it in the books, thanks to vilgefortz’s manipulation, was that ithlinne predicted that if emhyr had a child with ciri, their offspring would not only save, but rule the world. and emhyr, always pragmatic, was more than willing to overlook incest to fulfill this destiny. His determined desire to save the world no matter the cost was also what fueled Emhyr’s ruthless imperialism, as he believed that the only way for humanity to survive the impending catastrophe was for them to be united, under the rule of him, of course.
How is the emhyr revelation different in the books?
When it comes to Emhyr, the show has been very faithful to the books so far. There is one major deviation, however, and that’s when Emhyr’s true identity is revealed. In the books, we only learn Emhyr is Ciri’s father at the very end of the final novel, The Lady of the Lake. That means for nearly five novels and almost 2,000 pages, readers thought Emhyr was your run-of-the-mill fantasy villain who wanted Ciri to legitimize his claim to the Cintran throne and leverage her powers for personal gain. Learning at the last hour that his motivations and identity were far different and more complex than they were previously led to believe resulted in severe whiplash for readers, as they had to quickly readjust their assessment of Emhyr only for his arc — and the book series — to end before this revelation could be fully processed. It didn’t help that the Witcher Saga novels concluded with Ciri never learning Emhyr was her father, leaving a major narrative thread unresolved.
That’s why it’s such a relief that hissrich has moved up the reveal of emhyr’s true identity to the end of the second of seven planned seasons. (There’s also the added benefit that not showing Emhyr’s face on screen until the final season would have been extremely challenging.) Knowing Emhyr’s true relationship with Ciri early on means fans can question and appreciate the moral and emotional complexity of this story. unfolds, rather than reassessing events after the fact.
Most importantly, it gives the Netflix drama the time to explore Emhyr’s character and his feelings around this twisted plot with a depth and nuance that Sapkowski’s books frankly never did. the best antagonists are the ones that are most human, and while there is no empathy with a man’s desire to marry and impregnate his daughter, even if he believes it will save the world, it will be interesting to see how the netflix drama fills in the gaps of who is emhyr under the armor and why he makes the decisions he does.
One of the reasons The Witcher has been such a successful adaptation is because of its willingness to play with the source material, balancing the desire to honor the original story with the need to mix stories and create new ones. Uploading Emhyr’s Revelation is a perfect example of taking Sapkowski’s work and deepening it in exciting and thoughtful ways. Plus, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of big twists and reveals from the books yet to come. And who knows, maybe on the show we’ll even get to see Ciri find out the truth. now that would definitely be a reveal worth waiting for.