“What Is Lost” puts Yennefer in a difficult position, as Geralt continues to investigate the strange happenings at Kaer Morhen.
This recap of The Witcher season 2, episode 3, “What Is Lost”, contains spoilers.
The problem with ancient keeps, central heating notwithstanding, is that they tend to house generations of memories, not all of which are pleasant. It’s always the way in fantasy shows. The rickety halls of a castle speak in keening wind and aching stones, a lifetime spent in the same halls accessible at a moment’s notice, with the slightest triggers. The Witchers are all feeling this following Eskel’s death, but Geralt most of all. He’s reminded of their time spent together, training and bickering. The loss still stings, at least in part because it doesn’t make much sense. His transformation remains unexplained, and Vesemir is investigating how it might have happened.
The Witcher season 2, episode 3 recap
In the meantime, the Council of Mages are fretting about the elves having begun to march on Cintra, now in alliance with Nilfgaard, and Yen’s sudden return doesn’t exactly smooth over the fraught politics. Stregobor is getting desperate, Artorius feels his grip on leadership beginning to fail, and Vilgefortz is being allowed to carry the mantel of victory despite Yen’s perceived sacrifice since he and Tissaia are vying for seats on the Council. It’s small consolation to Yen, who predictably isn’t being given proper credit for her role in the Battle of Sodden Hill.
The new alliance between the elves and Nilfgaard is causing all kinds of tensions in the North, and the vague promises of a robed figure in a dream aren’t exactly compelling arguments to justify the union, despite Francesca’s belief that Nilfgaard will protect them. Filavandrel isn’t so sure, which is probably how he became king of the elves in the first place, but his recent failures have given him little negotiating power against Francesca, especially since she’s carrying perhaps the first pureblood elf child in recent memory. It’s not a tenable situation, but few ad-hoc political alliances ever are.
At least at Kaer Morhen things seem less pressing — much of the episode is devoted to Ciri’s attempts, spurred on by Lambert and Coen, to complete an obviously dangerous obstacle course, her attempts gradually drawing a crowd which comes to include Geralt and Vesemir. She’s determined to succeed, at risk to her own health, which shows a lot of bravery but precious little sense. It also doesn’t speak highly of the other Witchers, who are willing to push her into endangering herself, but it’s a good sign that they all seem supportive by the end. Almost all, anyway.
The Witchers are much more of a fraternity than the mages, at least. Stregobor tries to use history — he tells the story of Falka, an important name in Witcher lore — to justify his crusade against Yen, implying her elf heritage might lead everyone to ruin. Of course, the root of the matter is that Stregobor doesn’t want Vilgefortz and Tissaia to take Council seats, nevermind dilute them with elven blood, so he attempts to take matters into his own hands by venturing into Yennefer’s mind and trying to pluck thoughts from it with his fingers, as Tissaia tried to do with Cahir. It doesn’t work, though, since Tissaia intervenes, taking him before the Council and accusing him of treason. Even this, though, doesn’t amount to much, as Stregobor’s case against Yennefer is compelling. It’s eventually decided that Yen should kill Cahir in order to prove her loyalty. She could, as Tissaia suggests, just reveal that she cannot be a threat since she no longer has her magic, but to Yen, admitting that is an admission of her own uselessness. She believes she is nothing without her magic.
The obligatory monster fight of the episode comes when Geralt and Ciri head out into the woods, and Ciri unconsciously leads them to Eskel’s one-armed leshy, the one that infected him in the first place. But the thing is quickly ambushed by a bigger, nastier monster, which tears it to pieces and chases a fleeing Ciri. While it’s distracting, Geralt is able to slice it to pieces, but the thing’s a mystery that needs to be investigated.
The climax of “What Is Lost”, though, returns to Yen’s predicament. Everyone, including King Foltest and Vizimir, is present for Cahir’s execution. But when Yen is handed the executioner’s ax, she instead delivers an almighty swing to his chains, and then to the flaming towers flanking them, buying them both time to escape together.