Filming for Season 3 of Netflix’s The Witcher is already two months in with a couple of more to go. All the while, casting is still ongoing to determine who will join Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan, despite some of the key roles like Milva and Mistle already filled.
Story details for the new season aren’t exactly plentiful, nonetheless in a new audition for a character we don’t quite recognize, we saw something quite curious that may suggest we’ll get to see a Vilgefortz storyline that was only hinted at in Andrzej Sapkowski’s books.
Audition for a healer/priestess?
In this audition tape, actress Clare Holman (Silent Witness, Lewis, Sherwood) reads for the role that is codenamed ‘Archway’. Normally for series regular parts these would be fake scenes, written just for the auditions, but for smaller parts like this one, the scenes are usually lifted from the scripts.
Now, ‘Archway’ doesn’t seem like a character we encountered in the books, but it looks like she’s somehow involved with healing and know a thing or two about magic. Archway does mention a temple as well, which may or may not be the Temple of Melitele.
There is a slight possibility that Archway could end up being the Netflix’s rendition of Iola the First if her backstory with Geralt were to be put a little further in the past, when Geralt was younger.
We do know, however, that at one point, before the covid rewrites, Iola was considered to be cast in Season 2 of The Witcher, but we never found out whether it was supposed to be Iola the First or the Second.
All of that said, it’s probably not any of the two Iolas, but rather someone new. Time will tell, anyway.
The audition transcript
Voice: “When did that happen?”
Archway: “About a year ago. We were at the temple. Morning. His family were killed in a fire, but I was there for Valencia.”
V: “She’s dead.”
A: “She was very sick. She talked about you a lot at the end.”
V: “I don’t know about that. [unintelligible] the spell? A cure?”
A: “I can tell you that whoever did this has grand plans. It’s a mind-control enchantment. Anyone’s head would be a tangled mess.”
V: “Mind control? To what end?”
A: “I don’t know. But it’s damned powerful. It has elements of sorcery, druidic magic and there’s even some ancient elven in this spell. And that’s the other thing. The subject must be part-elven. Maybe a couple of generations removed, but still.”
V: “How can you tell?”
A: “The elven magic, it won’t work on a human.”
V: “Who would have the power to do something like this?”
A: “I don’t know anyone with the knowledge to do something like this. It would take lifetimes to acquire all these skills, but whoever he is, he has a variety of interests.”
V: “I need to know if you can lift it.”
A: “It’ll take a while, there’s no guarantee, but if this works, they’d be able to tell us who did this.”
On the hunt for Vilgefortz?
Now, to the meat of the subject. Those who have read Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, will recall that after Thanedd, the Redanian spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra was on the hunt for the elusive and cunning Vilgefortz. Dijkstra was close to catching up, but always came too late as Vilgefortz only left lifeless bodies of dead girls, after he was done conducting his horrific experiments on them.
This storyline, although interesting and very dark, was never fully explored in the books. Judging by the dialogue above, it looks like we’ll get a version of that as only Vilgefortz comes to mind at the mention of someone with grand plans and high skills of magic, and who is looking for someone part-elven, which Ciri certainly is.
What is Vilgefortz up to in the show?
It appears that whatever Vilgefortz is doing, it has more to do with mind control, rather than genetics. Perhaps things won’t be as gruesome as in the books? Perhaps this has something to do with brainwashing girls into thinking they are Ciri?
After all, we did find the casting of Frances Pooley as Teryn, who may very well be False Ciri and the one he succeeded in brainwashing? As you recall, long ago there was casting for a “young student, who was brainwashed into thinking she’s someone else.”
In any case, showrunner Lauren Hissrich did promise more Vilgefortz in Season 3 during the promos for The Witcher Season 2:
“To me, the history of Vilgefortz, who he is in this world – he enters almost as a complete stranger and everyone’s kind of wondering what his history is, where he came from. That comes into fruition in a huge way in Season 3.“
Season 3 of The Witcher is in production until September 2022 for a 2023 release. The live-action prequel The Witcher: Blood Origin is in post-production after two weeks of reshoots and is currently eyed for a Christmas 2022 release.