The Witcher took its time revealing its main antagonist for Season 2, at times seeming to be less reliant on having a “big bad” for Geralt to fight in favor of focusing on the mystery of Ciri’s abilities and Yennefer’s ongoing magic crisis. But the wait was rewarded when the penultimate episode finally showed just how evil the woman in the chicken leg cabin could be. But what is Voleth Meir, exactly? Like all good Witcher foes, the Deathless Mother is out of a fairy tale.
Warning: Spoilers for The Witcher Season 2 follow. The new season of The Witcher dropped a lot of Season 1’s “monster of the week” hunting by Geralt in favor of a more linear arc of Ciri’s training and backstory. It was an upgrade for fans who weren’t into the more fragmented first season. But it was a loss that Geralt did not have creatures to fight on the regular. Part of The Witcher’s initial charm was Andrzej Sapkowski’s retelling of Eastern European fairy tales — the same ones Disney bowdlerized for American audiences decades ago. Seeing them in all their monstrous horror glory as Henry Cavill battled them out felt like discovering something new in the old.
But with the Voleth Meir, the show brought in one of Sapkowski’s more frightening folklore demons. Like Darth Vader (Dark Father), the translation of its name tells you what you need to know: Voleth Meir means Deathless Mother. Based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga, a supernatural being that resides in a house that rests on chicken legs, this child-eating monster will promise to make your dreams come true but then turn them into nightmares.
And the Deathless Mother is true to her name, letting Francesca’s long-hoped-for baby perish in Filavandrel’s arms, driving the Elven mage to murder the newborns across Redania. For Fringilla, a hands-across-the-Continent movement becomes a Red Wedding-style bloodbath clearing her way to power. And for Yennefer, the promise of her magic being restored comes at the price of one Ciri, breaking the bond of trust between her and Geralt, perhaps forever.
But what does the Deathless Mother want with Ciri? To possess her and turn her into an instrument of a massacre, of course. The sight of Ciri in the show’s final episode going from bed to bed, murdering the Witchers who opened their home to her with a smile, was one of the show’s most gory moments so far. But perhaps more heartbreaking was watching Geralt refuse to put Ciri down, willing to give up his life at her hand rather than harm her.
But like all creatures, the Voleth Meir doesn’t want blood for blood’s sake. She has a goal. Like so many monsters on the Continent, she was brought here during the Great Conjunction of the Spheres. But unlike her mindless animal counterparts, she remembers where she came from. Her possession of Ciri is all a ploy to get those cracks between worlds to reopen so that she can go home.
The Voleth Meir may have found her way out of this world, leaving Ciri behind to pick up the pieces, but how many more monsters are coming through? That’s for The Witcher Season 3 to answer.
The Witcher Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix.