The Witcher: The Emhyr Turn Explained
The witcher Season 2 is an absolute delight whether you’re a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books or not. But those who have read the source material are going to have several particularly exciting surprises given that the season is mostly made up of new storylines that bridge the gap between the Battle of Sodden and the revival of Witcher’s debut novel. However, it’s not the addition of new mutant monsters appearing in The Continent, the complicated relationship development of Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Ciri (Freya Allan), or the great political movements of Fringilla (Mimî M. Khayisa ) which will probably surprise fans. most books. This probably has to be due to the decision to skip one of the book’s last big twists into the show’s second season.
[Ed note: Extensive spoilers for The Witcher season 2 and all The Witcher books ahead. Seriously. Do not read if you do not want to know how The Witcher Saga ends.]
In episode 8, “Family”, the Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis finally rejoins his forces in Cintra. This moment marks the first time the character’s face has appeared onscreen, and it has been hidden until this point for good reason: Emhyr is revealed to be Ciri’s father, Duny (Bart Edwards), the elder. hedgehog who became Prince of Cintra who has been presumed dead for years.
How are Duny and Emhyr the same person?
As explained in the books, Emhyr is the son of former Nilfgaardian King Fergus, but his father was overthrown when he was just a teenager. As part of the coup, the usurper cursed Emhyr, the sorcerer, who transformed him into an anthropomorphic hedgehog during the day and resumed his human form at night. After taking Duny’s name, Urcheon d’Erlenwald, Emhyr ran into the injured King Roegner of Cintra in the woods and saved his life. As payment, Emhyr invoked the Law of Surprise, which led to his marriage to Pavetta 15 years later.
Although Emhyr never really liked Pavetta in the books – he married her because he rightly believed their union would break his curse – he was content with his new life in Cintra for many years. However, Vilgefortz, the show’s main puppeteer, convinced Duny that there was more to his mind. So, a few years after Ciri was born, Emhyr and Vilgefortz concocted a ploy to fake the deaths of Emhyr, Pavetta, and Ciri on a boat trip so that they could all travel to Nilfgaard together. In the fifth episode of Season 2, “Turn Your Back”, Ciri sees a vision of her parents on the day of the incident. While Ciri and Triss (Anna Schaffer) watch, Emhyr lies to Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori), saying he wants them to flee Cintra with Ciri as this will protect their daughter from those who want to prevent Ithlinne’s prophecy from coming true. .
The show has yet to reveal what transpired between that conversation and the murderous boat trip, but in the books Pavetta rightly suspected that her husband had ulterior motives and smuggled Ciri out of the boat. When Emhyr found out, the two got into a fight and Pavetta fell overboard to her death. With his plan in tatters and Ciri still in Cintra, Emhyr continued on alone to Nilfgaard. There, Emhyr lost his Duny identity, rallied his forces and succeeded in overthrowing the usurper. It was during this time in the Netflix adaptation that Emhyr also won the loyalties of Fringilla and Cahir (Eamon Farren). Emhyr keeps his Duny identity a secret when he first returns to Nilfgaard, but in the series he reveals his true connection with Ciri to Cahir and Fringilla in the season two finale.
What does Emhyr want with Ciri?
As in the show, Emhyr was determined to hunt down Ciri in the books. But what the Netflix drama has yet to reveal is Why. And boy, oh boy, is the reason a doozy. You see, Emhyr wasn’t trying to find Ciri because he missed his daughter or even because he wanted to legitimize his claim to the Cintran throne. The real reason he wanted Ciri was that he wanted to marry her and get her pregnant.
Yeah… that’s a lot to take in. And as with just about everything in the Witcher universe, Emhyr’s incestuous motives date back to Ithlinne’s prophecy. The prediction, which has appeared several times in the series already, warns of an impending ice age and an elder blood child who will determine the fate of the world. As it is revealed in The witcherIn the second season, Ciri has elder blood because she is descended from Elven Princess Lara Dorren (Niamh McCormack), who we spotted during Ciri and Triss’ Dol Durza vision quest. This legacy and the resulting powers are the reason Ciri is convinced this season that she is destined to be the blood child of the ancients who Ithlinne said would destroy the world. However, the problem with prophecies is that they are hopelessly vague and people can interpret them in different ways.
The way Emhyr figured it out in the books, thanks to Vilgefortz’s manipulation, was that Ithlinne predicted that if Emhyr had a child with Ciri, their offspring would not only save, but rule the world. And Emhyr, always pragmatic, was more than willing to ignore incest to accomplish this fate. His stubborn desire to save the world no matter what the cost was also what fueled Emhyr’s ruthless imperialism, as he believed that the only way for mankind to survive the impending catastrophe was to unite – during his reign, of course.
How is Emhyr’s revelation different in the books?
As far as Emhyr is concerned, the series has been very faithful to the books so far. There is one major discrepancy, however, and that is when Emhyr’s true identity is revealed. In the books, we only learn that Emhyr is Ciri’s father at the very end of the last novel, The Lady of the Lake. This means that for nearly five novels and nearly 2,000 pages, readers thought Emhyr was your ordinary fantasy villain who wanted Ciri to legitimize her claim to the Cintran throne and harness her powers for personal gain. Learning at the last hour that his motives and identity were much different and more complex than previously believed was a whiplash for readers, as they had to quickly readjust their assessment of Emhyr purely for his arc. – and the series of books – come to an end before this revelation can be fully processed. It didn’t help that the Witcher Saga novels ended with Ciri never learning that Emhyr was her father, leaving a major narrative thread unresolved.
Which is why it’s a huge relief that Hissrich came forward with revealing Emhyr’s true identity at the end of the second of the planned seven seasons. (There’s also the added bonus that not showing Emhyr’s face onscreen until the last season would have been extremely difficult.) Knowing about Emhyr’s true relationship with Ciri this early means fans can question and appreciate the moral and emotional complexity of this scenario as it unfolds, rather than reassessing events after the fact.
More importantly, it gives the Netflix drama time to explore the character of Emhyr and his feelings around this twisted plot with a depth and nuance that has frankly never interested Sapkowski’s books. The best antagonists are those who are more human, and while there is no sympathy for a man’s desire to marry and imbue his daughter – even if he thinks it will save the world – It will be interesting to see how the Netflix drama fills in the gaps of who Emhyr is in the Armor and why he makes the choices he makes.
One of the reasons The witcher has been such a successful adaptation due to its willingness to play around with the source material, balancing the desire to honor the original story with the need to remix storylines and create new ones. Reassembling the Emhyr Revelation is a perfect example of taking Sapkowski’s work and digging deeper into it in an exciting and thoughtful way. Plus, it’s not like there still aren’t a lot of big twists and reveals in the books to come. And who knows, maybe on the show we’ll even see Ciri uncover the truth. Now, that would definitely be a revelation worth the wait.