“Turn Your Back” develops some big worldbuilding ideas as all roads begin to lead back to one person.
This recap of The Witcher season 2, episode 5, “Turn Your Back”, contains spoilers.
“Turn Your Back” pulls the age-old trick of showing prior events from a new perspective, a trick that, funnily enough, the first season of Netflix’s The Witcher was absolutely in love with. Luckily, though, the gimmick makes much more sense here and is used sparingly, basically explaining what happened to Jaskier at the very end of the previous episode, after he helped Yen and Cahir secure passage to Cintra. So, the cold open sees Rience being recruited by Lydia to work on behalf of the White Flame to secure a “little cub” who is currently on the loose. He scrubs up, and as we see, he was in the bar where Jaskier was performing his soft-rock breakup song. It was him who took Jaskier prisoner at the end of the episode.
The Witcher season 2, episode 5 recap
A fair amount of time in “Turn Your Back”, then, is spent watching Yen try to rescue him, getting into scrapes with the locals while also trying to maintain her own cover. It’s a way to fill time, essentially, but Yen and Jaskier make for a great pairing, and they inject a lot of levity that makes this much darker second season feel more reminiscent of the first. Continuing its better sense of serialization, though, all roads do eventually lead back to Ciri, and not always in obvious ways.
Geralt, for instance, goes to see Istredd, an expert on the Conjunction of the Spheres and the Monoliths, leaving Ciri in the care of Vesemir and Triss. Both have plans for her. Triss wants to take her on a walking tour through visions of her past, though the whole thing goes topsy-turvy when it becomes clear that the people in the visions can see her — which isn’t supposed to happen. By the end of the adventure through the dreamscape, Triss has been choked, Ciri has gotten a clear glimpse of the Wild Hunt, and her frantic calls for Geralt’s help cause the Earth to shake to its very foundations. After the vision, Triss is petrified of Ciri, claiming she’ll destroy the world.
This only increases Ciri’s desire to become the first test subject of the new Witcher mutagen, which she agrees to help Vesemir create from her blood. But the process of becoming a Witcher is exceptionally dangerous, and it’s a very risky move. Luckily, Geralt, who heard Ciri’s call for help, returns to Kaer Morhen just in time to prevent this from going ahead. They have a nice conversation about how special she is, and about how, despite her desire to be like Geralt, indifferent to the lies and the past and the things she has done, the world doesn’t work that way. The best they can hope for is being able to move on, but we can’t change who we are or what we really feel.
Speaking of Geralt, he spends most of the episode with Istredd, who shoulders a lot of worldbuilding duties, eventually settling on the idea of the monoliths as a conduit system, and the Conjunction of the Spheres as being fundamentally misunderstood. It wasn’t a conjunction, as everyone thinks, but a collision — the spheres hit one another and bounced away, and now the monoliths, which are trying to communicate, are being used as gateways by monsters, and perhaps other things. Istredd also lets slip to Geralt that Yen is alive, him having believed her to be dead ever since the Battle of Sodden Hill.
Speaking of Yen, even she is eventually led back to Ciri. After being captured, she manages to teleport herself back to that cabin in the woods and that robed figure, who offers her a bargain. To get her access to Chaos back, all she has to do is find Ciri — the figure becomes Ciri for a moment, so Yen knows what she looks like — and deliver her to a door right outside Cintra.