Netflix’s The Witcher, introducing viewers to a new world of monsters, witches, and Henry Cavill based on the short stories and novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski. There’s a lot to unpack in Season 1, from the main character’s magical powers to the show’s multiple timelines — but there’s one mystery that might be particularly confusing if you’re new to The Continent where The Witcher takes place.
While it’s totally cool to see Geralt and Yennefer throwing around magic spells and fighting big monsters while also speaking cryptically about destiny, the Princess Ciri is much more of a cipher. She’s on the run after the southern kingdom of Nilfgaard invades her own kingdom of Cintra, scarred by the knowledge of her grandmother, Queen Calanthe, dying and her home falling to enemy rule. But, before Ciri can be taken away by allies, she initially refuses to leave and screams at Calanthe to make this clear.
The scream is supernaturally powerful, revealing that there’s more to Ciri than meets the eye. If you haven’t read the first novel in the Witcher series, Blood of Elves, or played any of the CD Projekt Red, you might not know that Ciri is a Source, a rare and immensely powerful person.
Throughout the eight episodes which make up Season 1, we get a number of hints about Ciri’s powers and where they originate from. First, Ciri is able to shake an entire room through her distressed scream after being ordered to leave the Cintran castle when Nilfgaard attacks. Later, we see Ciri walking in a trance toward the mystical, protected Brokilon forest. Netflix never names what is going on with Ciri but it’s revealed in both Blood of Elves and in the Witcher video games that Ciri is what’s known as a Source — and that’s a big deal.
What does it mean to be a Source in The Witcher?
In Blood of Elves, Ciri learns she is a Source while training with Triss Marigold, a mage we also meet in The Witcher series. Triss reveals that, as she trains Ciri, there is magic far beyond what Triss is able to handle or help Ciri control. It’s at this point Yennefer is introduced into Ciri’s life because Yennefer also has a multitude of experiences honing and channeling her chaotic, intense magical powers.
A Source is a rare type of person born with natural magical abilities. However, these natural magical abilities manifest to such a major degree it’s often hard for the person to contain it without training. If a Source is unable to control their powers, they often descend into mental illness or can go completely catatonic as they become overwhelmed by what’s within them.
A Source’s magical abilities encompass all kinds of magic and can be triggered by tense situations, like, say, your grandmother forcing you to leave the family home while your city is under attack in the dead of night and she won’t tell you why you have to find some random dude named Geralt of Rivia.
What does it mean for Ciri going forward on the show?
Netflix made a big deal in Season 1 about keeping all things Ciri and her powers vague. Yes, we saw her preview what she is capable of and saw those powers in full effect through her mother, Pavetta, during her wedding banquet to Duny. We also learned Ciri is of great interest to the leader of Nilfgaard’s army, Cahir, who has been relentlessly hunting Ciri in hopes of capturing her and using her magic to help Nilfgaard in their conquest of the entire Continent. All the while, we have only understood that Ciri has destructive powers on par with Yennefer and she is going to be of great importance in future arcs on The Witcher.
Going into Season 2 of The Witcher, just knowing Ciri is a Source and understanding that she is a direct channeler of magical power is a game-changer. It’s clear Ciri wants to be one of the good guys and the risk of her willingly going over to Nilfgaard’s side in order to rule the world is slim.
In both the books and Witcher video games, we know Ciri hones her magic with Yennefer, another woman able to channel her chaotic magic to powerful ends. She also trains with Geralt to become a Witcher-like warrior.
Ciri is at the center of The Witcher now because she is such a valuable person and has the ability to control the fates of so many characters, including Geralt and Yennefer, who ultimately become her surrogate parents through their care and training. Ciri is likely going to have a difficult time controlling her powers as she grows but, like Yennefer’s journey in Season 1, it will likely be satisfying to audiences as they watch Ciri grow into her Source powers and become even more powerful than those trying to hurt her or her loved ones.
The Witcher Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.