The third season of Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ sets up the audience for a major reveal about a villain whose actions have impacted the events of the story every step of the way. In the second season, Ciri is chased by Rience, a mage who wields fire magic and is ready to do whatever it takes to get her hands on the Cintran princess. The identity of his employer remains a mystery, but in the third season, Geralt and Yennefer dedicate themselves to finding out who is after Ciri and why.
In the fifth episode, a conclave of mages at Aretuza reveals several puzzle pieces hidden from Geralt and Yennefer all this while. In the end, they conclude that their enemy is none other than Vilgefortz. While this is a shocking revelation in itself, it raises several questions about the people who may or may not be in cahoots with him. The biggest question mark is raised about the loyalty of Tissaia, who is in a romantic relationship with Vilgefortz. Does this mean she knew about his plans all along? Has been in on it this entire time? Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD
Is Tissaia Working With Vilgefortz?
One of the things that makes watching ‘The Witcher’ so interesting is the divergence from the source material. While the show relies on the books to establish its characters and the general plot line, it has made changes in the characters, especially in the relationships between them. In the Netflix series, Tissaia and Vilgefortz have fallen head over heels for each other. In the books, however, no such relationship exists between them. And that’s why one cannot completely rely on the information from the books to answer the question of Tissaia’s loyalty and intentions.
Apart from having her date Vilgefortz, another change in Tissaia’s story is her relationship with Yennefer. In the books, they have more of a mentor-mentee bond, and it is hinted that they are closer to each other than other sorceresses. However, the Netflix series leans heavily into their bond, which feels more like a mother-daughter bond. In the past two seasons, we have seen Tissaia and Yennefer cross many marks in their friendship, which attests to the fact that Tissaia cares about Yennefer like the daughter she never had. This is one of the reasons why despite her so many trespasses, Tissaia always forgives Yennefer and welcomes her with open arms.
Tissaia’s love for Yennefer is reciprocated, and while the latter might have despised her mentor at several points, she still loves and reveres Tissaia more than anyone else. In the third season, when Yennefer discovers that Vilgefortz is the one who has been kidnapping the girls and experimenting on them while trying to get to Ciri through Rience, her first thoughts are about Tissaia. She makes it clear that she will not leave Aretuza without her mentor.
Considering the relationship between Tissaia and Yennefer, it feels unlikely that the rector of Aretuza will betray her daughter figure, especially when she knows that Yennefer has found the daughter she was looking for in Ciri. Tissaia also seems dedicated to maintaining peace in the Continent and seems glad that the conclave might bring the Northern kingdoms together to fight Nilfgaard. However, this could all be a ruse, much like everyone in the banquet.
At the end of Season 2, when Tissaia discovers the danger Ciri poses to the world, she agrees to the decision to put a bounty on her head. At the time, however, she is unaware of Ciri’s importance to Yennefer, which is why she doesn’t give up the princess when Yennefer brings her to Aretuza. Considering how she has been all this while and how her emotions dictate her actions when it comes to Yennefer, it’s unlikely that Tissaia would betray Yennefer for Vilgefortz. It would be a huge shock if she did, especially for Yennefer, who loves and cares for Tissaia deeply. Straying from the books, the show could very well go down that road.
For reference, in the books, Tissaia is entirely unaware of Vilgefortz’s actions. When the coup of Thanedd breaks out, she is devastated. She tries to calm things down, make the fight even, and tries to save Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri. However, the Brotherhood is broken beyond her control, and in the end, she succumbs to this defeat and kills herself. With the coup of Thanedd just around the corner in Season 3, one wonders if this would be the end of Tissaia. However, with the show straying from the books, this could be the chance for them to increase Tissaia’s life span and give her an extended role, preferably in favor of Yennefer.