The Witcher S01E06 Episode Review – Rare Species
This is a review and recap of episode six of The Witcher entitled, “Rare Species”. It was written by Haily Hall and directed by Charlotte Brändström. It was released on Netflix on 20th December 2019.
The previous episodes The End’s Beginning, Four Marks, Betrayer Moon, Of Banquets Burials and Bastards, introduced the main characters of Yennefer, Ciri and Geralt and also secondary characters of Jaskier, Tissaia. The previous episode, Bottled Appetites was a rip roaring story about the meeting of Geralt and Yennefer. This episode is also a lot of fun as they continue their relationship. This was actually one of the more popular episodes of the series according to the viewers and critics (see the article here).
The show is about as close to a typical Geralt of Rivia story as you can get – that is, a monster and a dilemma. It also lets us see one of the classic fantasy genre monsters of all time – dragons! There was much less gratuitous in this episode which was a shame, but it was certainly good fun to watch. The graphics were really good. Ok, not as good as the amazing dragons in Game of Thrones, but definitely better than the Kikimora from the first episode. Though to be honest, I thought the Kikimora graphics were pretty good.
The Witcher Episode Review – The Story So Far
Ciri is on the run from the Nilfgaardian Empire and particularly it’s senior henchman, Cahir. However, although she has evaded capture well so far, Cahir is closing in. He has engaged a shapeshifter called a Doppler to help catch her. The Doppler has taken on the disguise of her family friend Mousesack. Dopplers aren’t normally baddies – this dude is the exception. He finds Ciri in Brokilon Forest where she and her elf pal Dara were being sheltered by the Dryads.
Yennefer and Geralt are now fairly close. It’s not so much that they are friends, more like big flirts. It’s pretty clear they like being around each other but they are far from easy in each others company.
The timelines in this episode are still different. Geralt and Yennefer’s have now merged of course, but they are still way behind Ciri’s timeline. There is a scene where the group are discussing the Nilfgaard expansion and how Calanthe of Cintra wouldn’t allow it. Although that can be a bit jarring, in the grand scheme of the episode, It isn’t particularly important as all three timelines will soon merge in the final episode.
The Witcher Review – Episode Six – Rare Species
The show opens with Jaskier playing his lute as two men sit waiting outside a monster cave for Geralt of Rivia to kill the inhabitant.
They think that the monster will get the better of Geralt and leave him to his fate, taking the money for themselves and stealing the Witchers horse. Jaskier tries to stop them and when an older man arrives with his two female bodyguards, the two men become aggressive. A fight breaks out and one of the men is killed. When Geralt eventually arrives with the head of the monster, the other man gives him the money and leaves quickly.
The old dude with the two attractive bodyguards is called Borch Three Jackdaws and he has been looking for Geralt. Borch, the ladies (called Tea and Vea), Geralt and Jaskier head to town for food and lodgings so that he can explain.
In the local Inn, Borsh tells Geralt why he wants his help. There has been a very rare green dragon sighting, and the local monarch has offered a reward for its head. Apparently, the dragon has scorched the nearby countryside and generally caused a nuisance. Borsh would like Geralt to be on his team because, lets face it, Geralt is a renowned monster hunter.
There are three other teams. Geralt is unimpressed and refuses. Borsh however, continues discussing the details in the hope of changing his mind. He points out the other teams, a group of Dwarves and a group of Reavers. At this point, Yennefer enters the tavern with a knight in tow.
It seems that Yennefer and her companion make up the fourth team for the hunt. Geralt instantly accepts Borchs’ offer and he and Jaskier join his team. It’s pretty obvious that Geralt has a bit of a thing for Yennefer although she seems a little disinterested.
The Hunt Begins
Next day, the teams head out to the mountain. They need to leave their horses as the trail is too narrow. The dwarves and the Reavers are not getting along very well but the Dwarves are considerably more friendly to Geralt. One of them seems to think that the quest is tantamount to suicide. When Yennefer comes over to talk to Geralt, she asks how it’s possible that in all her years of travelling she has never met a Witcher and now, after meeting one, she can’t get rid of him. A lovely bit of banter which we all knew was just their idea of flirting.
Exiting the Safety of Brokilon
In Brokilon Forrest, Ciri is asking Mousesack questions about her father’s promise and her grandmothers dying wish. She asks him to explain the principal of The Law of Surprise.
Dara is beginning suspect Mousesack although it isn’t quite obvious yet why he should.
Scarier than a Dragon
On the trail to the Dragons mountain lair, Jaskier is trying (badly) to chat up Borsh’s two attractive bodyguards. He asks why such attractive women are following the old man and they rely that he is (obviously), “the most beautiful….” Jaskier was as surprised by the answer as we were.
Borch meanwhile has noticed how Geralt looks at Yennefer. It’s as though he is afraid he will never see her again and can’t take his eyes away from her. Geralt changes the subject a little and explains that the dragon may not be the most dangerous thing on this hunt (indicating that the most dangerous would be Yennefer of Vengerberg.
As they continue along the trail, they see the still smoking remnants of the Green Dragons attack. There is a burnt scar down much of the hillside. Borsh explains that the Dragon would only do this it it were desperate.
Movement in the Thicket
Jaskier, in a vain attempt to win the favour of the lady bodyguards, forages for some tasty snacks in the undergrowth nearby. He soon notices a ‘creature which initially seems to have a cute face. As it rises it begins to dwarf the the bard and stature and looks considerably more frightening. Jaskier runs off shouting to Geralt that he has found one of his friends again.
Geralt is relatively unconcerned, he points out that it is a Hirikka and it is probably just very hungry and normally harmless. Sir Eyck the knight has other ideas. He barges past and brutally slays the creature.
Ser Eyck then decides to roast the Hirikka and despite the warnings from Borsh, eats some off the flesh. He is determined not to waste the kill. He soon regrets it as the tasty morsel goes to work on his intestines. The Knight runs off to urgently relieve his bowels.
The rest of the group however stay around the fire and discuss the current politics of the time. In particular how Nilfgaard has begun to be more aggressive. We learn that this timeline is a few years before the fall of Cintra.
When Yennefer and the dwarves leave to retire, the Witcher and Borsh talk about Dragons. Jaskier is of the opinion that Dragons are a myth and that their quest is silly. Geralt corrects him however and explains that Green Dragons are relatively common, Red Dragons are rare and Black are rarest. When Borsh tells him that the rarest is the Golden Dragon, Geralt disagrees telling him that Gold Dragons are a myth.
Dara Wants Mousesack Sacked
Dara is becoming increasingly untrustworthy of Mousesack. He finds it odd that after all her troubles, he has only just been able to rescue Ciri. He also doesn’t believe that Mousesack was able to escape the Nilfgaardians. Maybe he noticed mousesack using “we” in his sentences and then correcting himself with “I”. Dara whispers to Ciri that she needs to be careful.
The Doppler, Mousesack is becoming impatient with the chatter and accusations, he suddenly pulls out Queen Calanthe’s sash and presents it to Ciri by way of a distraction.
Death While Emptying The Bowels
Next morning on the mountainside, Sir Eyck is nowhere to be seen. Yennefer goes to land at that point, he is discovered by one of the dwarves. He was killed while relieving his bowels. “Is nothing sacred,” mutters Jaskier.
The dwarf leader believed that the prancing Knight was killed by the Reavers and offers Borsh’s party to travel with them. They have a shortcut that will take half a day off the journey time. Borsh agrees and Geralt tells Jaskier that he will catch up with them later. He hurries off to talk with Yennefer.
Yennefer is still annoyed at the loss of the Knight. She wanted him for something and I can’t for the life of me work out what it is other than to distract the dragon while she kills it. While ranting, she lets Geralt know that she is looking too slay the dragon so that she can take it’s heart for medicinal purposes (healing properties that may help her regain her womb. Geralt tries to dissuade her explaining that there is a good reason why people like them should not have children.
Unfortunately his argument is muted somewhat when he accidentally tell her that he has a child from the Law off Surprise. She accuses him of lecturing her on having a child when he has cheated destiny to steal one. Geralt tries to change the subject by asking her to come with them on the Dwarven path.
The Mousesack Slip-up
As Ciri, Dara and The Doppler disguised ass Mousesack head away from Brokilon Forrest, Ciri too becomes increasingly sceptical about Mousesacks motives. She continues to question him until she eventually catches him out. He reals around and grabs hold of her.
He admits that he killed the original Mousesack and has taken his form. A fight breaks out and when Dara uses his silver knife to attack the Doppler he drops it. The Doppler is unable too pick it up as it burns his skin. Ciri bravely picks up the knife and holds it against the Dopplers neck.
He falls to the floor and Dara rises and confronts him asking why he is after Ciri and where he is taking them. Ciri has already put two and two together and tells Dara that Cahir is after her because of something (a power) that she has inside her.
She instructs Dara to kill the Doppler. Dara hesitates and the Doppler recovers enough too slap Dara down unconscious.
He chases after Ciri.
The Witcher Episode Review – Borsh and the Untimely Fall
The Dwarven shortcut is perilous to say the least. Both teams have to walk across narrow planks attached to the mountain and it all looks really scary. When one of the planks givess way, Borsh falls off the edge. He is caught by Geralt but Geralt can’t hold him very well and Borsh tells him that to save him he must first let him go.
Borsh releases his grip and falls off the mountain. His bodyguards sacrifice themselves too and all three are lost.
When the rest of them managed to get past the perilous plank path, Jaskier attempts to console a sad looking Geralt. He suggests that they leave the next day and head for the coast.
They talk about their feelings and kiss. Apparently both were hurt that each leave without saying goodbye or that they will see each other again.
They make love and Geralt falls asleep telling Yennefer that she is important top him. In the morning they wake up next to each other. This time however, the ones who have left without saying a word are the Dwarves.
The Witcher Episode Review – Ciri’s Hack Smack
Ciri is the bushes heading back to Brokilon Forrest when she is captured by a soldier. He takes her to see Cahir.
Cahir discusses her situation and apologises to her. He talks about the White Flame and how her destiny is important. He tells her that about the White flame and that she is the key to everything. The camera pans away to show us the earnestness of Cahir’s face when we hear a muffled noise. When the camera returns to Ciri, she has changed into Cahir. Ciri was the Doppler.
Cahir and the Doppler Cahir fight. The Doppler is annoyed that Cahir wasn’t forthcoming about the importance of Ciri or that she was ‘special’. Cahir is very, VERY annoyed at being tricked. When the Doppler makes his escape, through the crowded room,
The Witcher Episode Review – Meeting the Dragon
Yennefer quickly catches up to the Dwarves and puts a spell on them to freeze them still.
She runs past and when she reaches the Dragon Cave she discovers a Green Dragon draped around a small dragon egg. The Green Dragon is dead. At this point, The two attractive bodyguards for Borsh arrive as does The Witcher.
Yennefer of Vengerberg looks up at an opening in the cave and in comes a large golden dragon…. Borsh. The bodyguards explained that the green dragon was dying and it’s cries were picked up by Borsh who came to her rescue. He is there to save the egg which can’t be moved until it is hatched.
It was a pretty unimpressive fight and there was even some time for a quick snog and face suck while they caused bloody carnage with the hapless reavers.
One of the Reavers attempted to get close to the egg but Borsh soon stopped him
In the end, only the Reaver captain is left and he is dispatched effortlessly by Yennefer.
Jaskier meanwhile, is still asleep on the hilltop. He wakes, runs down past the dwarves and meets up with everyone.
Borsh greets the Dwarves when the eventually arrive and tells them if they ask no questions, he will give them some dragon teeth that he can take back to the King for a reward. He ads that if the king doesn’t believe them, he will arrange for the dragons body to be delivered (or some other implausible smart arsed comment).
The Witcher Episode Review – Difficult Goodbyes
Back in the wood, Dara rescues Ciri from her bindings. It seems that the Doppler had managed to catch up to her and tie her up so that he could go and confront Cahir. Dara is sick of the adventure of it all and sick seemingly tinuously save her.
He tells her that her adventure from now on would have to be without him. She cries a could of silent tears as he leaves but doesn’t try and stop him. She too is sick of apologising and needs to move on.
The Witcher Episode Review – Bitter Goodbyes
Yennefer gets very upset. She wonders that her feelings for Geralt and because of the wish and not real. She also considered them a waste of a wish. geralt was adamant that he saved her life. The argument is bitter and acrimonious. it isn’t helped when Borsh explains that Yennefer will never regain her womb and Geralt and Yennefer will split.
Borsh wasn’t helping but I think he was trying to. Yennefer storms off and Jaskier tries to console him with an obvious, “What a day” comment. Geralt takes his trouble out on the bard and shouts, “Dammit Jaskier. Why is it that whenever I find myself in a pile of shit these days, it’s you shovelling it!”
Jaskier was taken a back and when Geralt confirmed he wanted rid of the bard, Jaskier reluctantly said his farewells.
And Cahir is no Better
Back in the town, Cahir had killed everyone in the room just in case one was a shape-shifter! It seemed a little drastic even for Cahir. Fringilla had joined him and was bathing his wounds. She explained that the Doppler was nowhere to be found and muttered (regarding the dead people in the room), a simple test with silver would have sufficed.
She goes on to tell him that although Ciri is important, he is the ‘Commissionaire’. They they cannot fail ‘Him’. I’m not sure what is meant by ‘Him’. It’s possibly that The White flame is a him, it isn’t very clear at this point. Either way the two of them become more committed to finding Ciri to help ‘him’ spread his supremacy throughout the land – whether the people want him or not.
And with that, this great episode ends!
The Witcher Episode Six Review & Recap – Conclusion
With the exception of the Reavers, this was a whole lot like our beloved dungeons and dragons. The theme was recognisable and comfortable and we could just sit back and let the story wash over us. There were a lot of high points, non of which, strangely, were the fight scene which seemed a little belaboured. Hell even the kiss in the middle of the dragon fight seemed weird.
So what were the highpoints? Well, for me then obvious one is the relationship between Geralt and Yennefer which, as hoped, would keep us on the edge of our seats. Anya Chalotra is playing Yennefer really well and possibly even taking the stage away from Henry Cavill in the titular role. So yes, characterisation won through in this episode.
It’s a shame we didn’t see Tea and Vea in a bathtub scene (I’m sure that was in the game).
The whole Djinn wish thing still hasn’t been resolved and although it is never stated clearly, I believe that Geralt wished that Yennefer would not die. Not that she would love him or car for him or anything else so mushy. Interestingly the accusations Yennefer made about Geralt abandoning Ciri seemed more and more relevant in this story. It seems less like he is giving her space to become her own person and more like he doesn’t care or has abandoned the idea of being Ciri’s Guardian. This of course, is more complicated by the fact that during this episode, in their time, Ciri was only a small child and not a young woman.
Roll on Episode Seven!
The Witcher Episode Review – I’d rate this a riveting 9.3 out of 10
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The Witcher is a Czech-American fantasy drama web television series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for Netflix.
This Witcher TV Show Episode Review is copyright Tony Fawl and not for reproduction without permission.