The Witcher boss explains why Vilgefortz lost to Cahir in season 1

The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu).
The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu). /

The Witcher season 3 is now at an end; that’s the last time we’ll see Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia. From the epic Thanedd coup to Ciri being stranded in the desert, there was a lot to enjoy in the season’s final three episodes, which dropped on Netflix last week.

By far one of the biggest moments of the season was when Geralt of Rivia faced off against the sorcerer Vilgefortz of Roggeveen (Mahesh Jadu)…and lost badly. Vilgefortz trounces Geralt and leaves him a broken mess on the beach. This is an iconic part of Andrezj Sapkowski’s Witcher Saga book series, and the show rose to the challenge of adapting it.

The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Cahir (Eamon Farren).
The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Cahir (Eamon Farren). /

The Witcher showrunner addresses Vilgefortz’s defeat by Cahir at Sodden

It was reassuring to see how well the Netflix series handled Geralt’s confrontation with Vilgefortz, because going into the season we had some reasons to worry. Though the mage is supposed to be one of the most powerful beings on the Continent, we saw him get bested by the Nilfgaardian commander Cahir (Eamon Farren) back in season 1 during the Battle of Sodden. If Vilgefortz couldn’t even stand up to Cahir, how could he possibly beat Geralt?

Vilgefortz’s loss to Cahir had some fans shouting bloody murder on social media when season 1 released. But now that we’ve seen Vilgefortz in action, showrunner Lauren S. Hissirch has addressed this controversial moment in Netflix’s new behind-the-scenes documentary The Witcher: Making Season 3.

“One of the things that we got questioned the most about in season 1 is, in episode eight, when Vilgefortz and Cahir are fighting. We actually see Cahir very handily beat Vilgefortz,” said Hissirch. “And fans were in an uproar. Vilgefortz is the most powerful mage. There is no way. He could’ve literally killed Cahir just by looking at him.”

"And there’s a great moment where Vilgefortz explains this season that the hardest thing for him about this long game is that he had to hide his real skills.When we see his power really demonstrated for the first time, it is against Geralt. Again, we went back to the books as the source here. And it was really interesting to look at these chapters, because we’ve never had Geralt beaten this badly."

Image: Netflix/Youtube. The Witcher season 3 vol 2.
Image: Netflix/Youtube. The Witcher season 3 vol 2. /

Why would Vilgefortz lose to Cahir on purpose?

During Geralt and Vilgefortz’s duel, the mage tells Geralt that the hardest thing about his grand plan was holding back and hiding his real skills. “Knowing I could end any life, at any time. It was…exasperating.”

Rewatching season 1’s Battle of Sodden Hill, it’s easy to see just how exasperating it might have been. That battle sees Vilgefortz, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and Tissaia (MyAnna Buring) lead a group of mages to Sodden in hopes of preventing Nilfgaard from conquering more of the Northern Kingdoms. During the battle, Vilgefortz and Cahir cross paths, leading to the duel which set the fandom on fire. Vilgefortz uses so much of his magic to create disposable swords for himself that he gives himself a nosebleed. Then Cahir kicks him off a cliff, sending him flopping head over heels down a very steep hill until he hits his head on a rock at the bottom, knocking himself unconscious. Now that’s commitment to a ruse.

So why did Vilgefortz feel he needed to lose to Cahir? Vilgefortz was one of the mages who initially organized the defense of Sodden, gathering as many mages as he could to face down the Nilfgaardians. Now, however, we know that Vilgefortz has been working with Nilfgaard all along. So that move to bring all the mages to Sodden may have been yet another attempt to destabilize the Brotherhood by getting a bunch of them killed, just as we saw at Thanedd in season 3. In that case, it would have made sense for Vilgefortz to fake his own defeat; otherwise, he would be killing his secret allies.

As for losing to Cahir specifically, while Cahir seems unaware of Vilgefortz’s allegiance, Vilgefortz would certainly have known Cahir was an important Nilfgaardian commander; Cahir was the leader of the attack on Cintra, and Vilgefortz always seems to be in the know. It stands to reason he might have been reluctant to kill Cahir.

The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu).
The Witcher season 1, image: Netflix. Tissaia (MyAnna Buring), Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu). /

Do we buy all this logic, or is Vilgefortz’s line to Geralt about hiding his powers in season 3 an elaborate retcon? It’s a fair question, but there are certainly signs that something is amiss about Vilgefortz in season 1. He lies to Yennefer during his very first scene on the show in its seventh episode, and there are more than a few shots of him giving surreptitious glances, such as when Yennefer points out that their group is comprised of “damn powerful mages.”

But the biggest hint that The Witcher had always been working up to this twist comes after the Battle of Sodden, when Vilgefortz wakes up at the bottom of the cliff after his fight with Cahir. Vilgefortz stumbles through the forest until he comes across another mage who’s dying after making a last stand agains the Nilfgaardians. The mage recognizes Vilgefortz and begs for help, but instead Vilgefortz grabs a mace and smashes in the man’s skull. Now we finally know why.

All eight episodes of The Witcher season 3 are now streaming on Netflix.

Next. 5 best (and worst) book changes in The Witcher season 3. dark

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