Lauren Hissrich, showrunner for Netflix’s The Witcher series, says that an aspect of the show’s first season which many fans consider a plot hole was actually planned all along.
In Making The Witcher: Season 3, a behind-the-scenes documentary on the production of the Netflix fantasy show, Hissrich explained how a single line of dialogue in the second volume of Season 3 explained why a certain character who was portrayed as a bit player in the first season of the show was actually a big deal despite getting his ass handed to him.
Back in season 1, Vilgefortz, who was basically Yennefer’s stepfather, engaged in, and lost, a battle against an enemy soldier named Cahir. Vilgefortz was basically outplayed at every turn in the nearly-two minute scuffle, having his sword taken from him and his nose bloodied before being unceremoniously kicked down a hill where his torso bounced off a tree trunk with all the grace of a deflated basketball. He survives this, although barely. You can check out the one-sided fight below.
However, toward the end of the third season, it’s revealed that Vilgefortz was actually the big bad the whole time. Prior to his confrontation with Geralt, Vilgefortz hints at his suspiciously sudden aptitude for dark magic, saying: “Know what the hardest part was? Holding back. Hiding my real skills, knowing I could take any life at any time. It was exasperating.”
What follows is an even more painful and one-sided battle between Vilgefortz and Geralt where the all-powerful mage gives Geralt a far worse trouncing than the one he received in Season 1, leaving the white wolf bedridden for the rest of the season.
Fans of author Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books already knew that Vilgefortz was quite powerful, and some of them were pretty vocal about how upset they were at seeing his defeat at the hands of a slightly above-average soldier. Hissrich acknowledged fans’ initial outrage as they questioned the showrunners’ decision to have “Cahir very handily defeat Vilgefortz,” saying that the whole thing was dramatic irony for book readers and situational irony for those experiencing The Witcher for the first time through the Netflix series.
“Vilgefortz is the most powerful mage, there is no way [Cahir would win], he could kill Cahir by just looking at him. There’s a great moment [this season where] Vilgefortz explains… that the hardest thing for him about this long game is that he had to hide his skills. When we see his power demonstrated for the first time, it is against Geralt,” Hissirch said. Whether fans buy this explanation for the sudden reveal of Vilgefortz’s powers remains to be seen.