The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1 Recap – What is Shaerrawedd?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: June 29, 2023
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The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1 Recap


Full of action and with a focused central dynamic, the premiere of Season 3 is The Witcher in its most accessible and welcome form.

This recap of The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd”, contains spoilers.

You can usually tell a lot about a show by how it opens.

A show like The Witcher, in particular, comes with certain expectations. You tune in for specific things. Sure, there’s a big, overarching plot about monoliths, spheres, realms, and horse-borne specters galloping through the sky, but what you’re really after is Henry Cavill in leathers chopping people — and sometimes CGI monsters — to bits.

The cold open of “Shaerrawedd” finds Geralt of Rivia doing just that. It’s like being greeted by an old friend.

The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1 Recap

Who is the Professor?

Geralt and Ciri are being sought by henchmen of Rience, who’s willing to pay a pretty penny for their heads, but his choice of assassins leaves a little to be desired. One of them, “The Professor”, is a little Easter Egg for franchise fans. The verbose dork is a villain in the first game. Here, he describes Ciri as having “ashen hair and patrician countenance” and Geralt as “a mannerless, blanched brute.”

Blanched! He deserves everything he gets, which is to watch his headless body topple to the ground from the perspective of his own severed noggin.

What is the monster at the Belleteyn Festival?

Following the Season 2 finale, Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer are on the run. They stay where they can until torch-wielding henchmen catch up with them, at which point they move on. In the scant periods of downtime, Yennefer tries to nurture Ciri’s latent magical abilities while leaving Geralt, who still won’t talk to her, friendly letters about their progress.

This is all nicely charming, but you can see why we opened by chopping the Professor’s head off. A young girl getting frustrated by her overprotective surrogate parents is bordering on young-adult territory. When the gang settles into a far-flung cabin in a frigid wilderness provided to them by Geralt’s dwarf friend Yarpen, it’s mostly an excuse for scenes of pseudo-domesticity and the temptation of the upcoming Belleteyn Festival.

The festival… festivities are interrupted by a jackapace, a giant armadillo-looking CGI monster sent by Rience, which hunts Ciri down with the sample of her blood Rience stole from Kaer Morhen. Geralt despatches it easily enough that you have to wonder if the show is at the point of sacrificing potential drama just to have Cavill look cool.

Since Rience is in possession of Ciri’s blood, he can technically track them anywhere, so the new plan is to lure him out and kill him. They’re going to travel in Yarpen’s caravan and make it very widely known that he’s transporting Ciri, who’s under the reluctant “protection” of Jaskier while Geralt and Yennefer hover nearby.

What is Shaerrawedd?

On the way, they stop at the titular Shaerrawedd, the site of a great Elven battle with humankind after the Conjunction of the Spheres. This is doubly relevant since the Elves are once again preparing for war against humans under the extremist leadership of Francesca and Filavandrel, the former of whom still believes Ciri is the key to finding Dol Blathanna — a now-lost Elven kingdom, formerly of great renown — and is going about uniting the disparate Scoia’tael factions under common, anti-human purpose.

The elves hear the chatter about Ciri too, so they arrive at Shaerrawedd at the same time as Rience, leading to a big, very entertaining battle between the rivalrous factions, including Yarpen and the dwarves. Rience legs it through a portal, but Yennefer is able to hold it open long enough for Geralt to nip through, take a good look out of the window, break Rience’s hands, and leave again to fight back the elves.

The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1 Ending Explained

The elves take heavy losses, among them Francesca’s brother, Gage, which will likely only radicalize her further, but also stokes even more tension between her and Gallatin.

In the meantime, Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri realize that they need to part ways for now. From the power of Rience’s portal, Yen knows he’s being puppeteered by someone much more magically powerful, so she wants to take Ciri to Aretuza to train under Tissaia and the Brotherhood.

Geralt, meanwhile, needs to track down and kill Rience so he can’t keep tracking them. And just as they were starting to get on again!

After an emotional goodbye, the action-packed premiere ends with a brief reminder that the Nilfgaardian Emperor, Emhyr var Emreis, aka Duny, aka The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of his Enemies, is still out there looking for Ciri.

You can stream The Witcher Season 3 Episode 1, “Shaerrawedd” exclusively on Netflix.

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