We continue our reviews The Witcher while comparing the series with the books. As we did with the first two, we are now in the third episode following the journey of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri.
Episode 3: Betrayer Moon
In this episode, Geralt travels to Temeria, where a creature called Striga terrifies the Kingdom.
The Striga is the daughter of King Foltest (Shaun Dooley) who suffers a curse since birth. This plot has changed a lot from the version in the books and suffers from a simplification, but to me, the story is told effectively and quite well.
In the books, Geralt meets the City’s Castellan, who explains the situation with the Striga and the set of circumstances surrounding the King Foltest and his sister Adda incestuous relationship that resulted into this girl turning into a monster. He also tells Geralt that two previous Witchers tried to end the Striga, but one died and the other left the job before finishing it. Geralt said this was a lie invented by those who paid that Witcher. Foltest explains more in-depth to the Witcher the situation on how they live and how he’s worried about his daughter, the Striga. Then Ostrit (Jason Thorpe) enters the scene, who pays Geralt to leave since he wants to overthrow Foltest because he was in love with Adda and hated him. Based on what some wise people said, they tell Geralt the method which the Striga can be ended.
In the show, the mineworkers pay in advance to a Witcher to take care of the Striga, (the Witchers never do this in the books) but end up dying at the hands of the beast. In the show, people are told that there is no solution to this problem when in the books King Foltest himself hires sorcerers to deal with the issue at hand. Here we see for the first time the sorceress Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer), an important character of the saga that does not appear in the novels until the third book, but here Triss is an adviser to King Foltest, but this story takes place in the books before she was created by Sapkowski. The series they have decided to depart from the source material and show Triss as the one who hires Geralt to save the Striga from the curse without killing her. A change that I liked a lot.
Geralt has a conversation with King Foltest in which he realizes the King had an incestuous relationship with his sister Adda and from it, their daughter was born who turned out to be the Striga. In the books they describe Foltest as handsome, but for some reason they have decided to completely change the appearance of this character, something unnecessary in my opinion. Geralt and Triss investigate the fortress together where the Striga sleeps and discover letters from Queen Sancia of Temeria, who knew about the strange relationship of her children, Foltest and Adda. She wasn’t in favour of the incestuous relationship of her children in the books and it was speculated that it was the same Queen who threw the curse on their daughter. Geralt gets Ostrit to confess that it was him because of his crush on Adda and, different from the books, it is Ostrit who tells Geralt the method he should use to end Striga.
The fight between Geralt and the Striga is one of the things that certainly stand out from this episode and the characterization of the monster couldn’t be more perfect. Once again the fights in this show prove to be on another level. As in the books, the Witcher has to wait out the day until as the Striga only appears after dark, but the monster manages to overcome Geralt and knock the Witcher out.
In the books, after this event, Geralt is taken to a temple where Melitele is worshipped, to be healed by a woman named Neneke, but in the series she is replaced by Triss in Foltest’s castle, healing his wounds. Once again we are reminded of destiny through the sorceress. Anna Shaffer demonstrates in this episode that she was a perfect choice to be Triss Merigold.
Yennefer’s plot reaches an important point in this episode. As she prepares to be the sorceress serving the King of Aedirn, capital of Vengerberg, but during a meeting of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers in which Tissaia commented on the fate of Yennefer, Artorius Vigo manages to convince the rest that his niece Fringilla is the right one to send to Aedirn. Obviously, after knowing this, Yennefer goes into anger and decides that it is time to change and start a new chapter in his life and get to go to Aedirn, going on her own to see the man who transforms and sterilizes the sorceresses.
In the books, Tissaia de Vries promotes forced sterilization. She doesn’t execute it in a general way, although she could be involved in some of them like it is implied in the books. In the show, this role is changed for a magician who seems to be the typical designer who changes the look of the ugly girl in a romantic movie in this adaptation. One thing that I loved is how Yennefer’s transformation has been paralleled with the fight between Geralt and Striga, one struggling to remain a monster and another to stop being one. This transformation of the sorceress serves to make it clear to the average viewer why the sorcerers and sorceresses are sterile.
Yennefer finally manages to appear at the dance in which the Kings meet their sorcerers, to meet the King of Aedirn and remove Fringilla from the equation, who will end up being the sorceress of Nilfgaard in the future. A pretty good scene. In the dance we can also see a young Foltest and his sister Adda with their mother Sancia, once again leaving us another proof that Yennefer’s storyline happens way before Geralt’s and also Ciri’s.
In this episode we only see Ciri being lured into the interior of the Brokilon forest, another change that also makes the plot of the character feel weak. In the books, Geralt is found near this forest and saves Ciri from a creature.
This episode has had many changes from the books and we begin to perceive how weak Ciri’s plot is at this point, being the one that has suffered the most changes regarding the material source. Apart from that, this has been an interesting episode that introduces new and interesting characters, starting with the explanation of why sorcerers and sorceresses are sterile, a sacrifice they must stand to reach the top of their status.