When you step into Netflix’s The Witcher, you will find out that the fantasy epic’s world is so much bigger than its hero, Geralt of Rivia (Superman himself, Henry Cavill). While Geralt traverses him home of The Continent fighting monsters and brooding, we also follow the stories of Ciri (Freya Allan), a princess whose kingdom is conquered by a rival nation, and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), a peasant who becomes a powerful witch. At the beginning of The Witcher, it appears these stories are happening simultaneously.
But they are not. There are actually three timelines unraveling in front of you. Quite a few clues are hiding throughout Witcher to tip you off.
When we first meet Yennefer in “Four Marks,” we go back to the furthest point in time. Geralt’s storyline is the middle of this tale. Ciri is living in the present.
You may assume Witcher doesn’t want you to figure out its temporal twist from the jump. However, the Netflix series places a huge signal that something is amiss within its very first episode, “The End’s Beginning.” In Ciri’s portion of the premiere, we meet her grandmother, Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May), an aging warrior queen. It is obvious Calanthe has been leading her country, Cintra, for decades.
“You won your first battle in Houchebuz when you were my age,” Ciri, who is a young teenager, tells her grandmother. That means the Houchebuz confrontation was, at minimum, 30 years prior to the events of Ciri’s narrative.
However, when Geralt meets the doomed princess Renfri, she tells a different story. After Renfri explains that villainous wizard Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen) ordered her murder, which led to her rape, she muses about the future should have had instead. Calanthe is an example of that bright alternative life. Queen Calanthe, Renfri explains, has just won her first battle in Cintra. That means our introduction to Geralt’s journey takes place at least 30 years before Ciri’s adventure.
The Witcher then places a few Easter eggs throughout Yennefer’s storyline to suggest her origin story is earlier than both Geralt and Ciri’s places in the narrative. The most compelling and obvious clue can be found in the third episode, “Betrayer Moon,” when Yennefer undergoes her transformation and attends a magical ball. When we first see the ball, attended by mages — aka witches — and their royal clients, the camera pans to a family. There we see a queen and her two children. “Foltest, leave your sister be,” the queen, named Sancia (Katia Bokor), scolds.
The boy and girl are Foltest (Shaun Dooley) and Adda (Jade Croot) of Temeria. These are the same people fueling Geralt’s storyline in the same episode as he battles a striga. In Yennefer’s time, the royals are adorable children. In Geralt’s, Adda is dead, and Foltest is a sad old king. As Geralt learns, Foltest and Adda slept together, leading to a pregnancy born of incest (it is disturbingly unclear if the Temerian rulers were in love like Game of Thrones siblings Cersei and Jamie Lannister or if Foltest raped his sister). There must be at least 30 years between these two moments in the Tamerians' lives, if not more.
Although The Witcher begins its three leads’ stories in wildly different places, they seem destined to intersect as the drama barrels towards the end of season 1. We get our first hint of that destiny in “Of Banquets, Bastards, and Burials,” when Geralt attends the engagement feast-turned-wedding of Calanthe’s daughter Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori), who is also Ciri’s mother. It is here that Geralt accepts the Law of Surprise after saving Pavetta’s beloved Duny, tying himself to whatever Duny should sow after Geralt’s help. The surprise is Ciri, since Pavetta is revealed to be pregnant with Duny’s child.
Then we finally see two of Witcher’s trio of heroes meet in the fifth episode, “Bottled Appetites.” By this point in the story, Yennefer is an experienced mage who is desperate to have a child. Geralt, as ever, is a stone-faced monster killer. After nearly dying at the hands of a djinn, Yennefer and Geralt hook up, bringing an episode of chemistry to fruition and kicking off a romance that also burns bright in the books Witcher is based on.
On a show as horny as The Witcher — which lives for full-body pans of star Henry Cavill’s broad, hairy chest — it’s no surprise the entire season has been building to two of its leads hitting the sheets. Or, in this case, the floor.