The Witcher had a delicate needle to thread when it came to adapting the series, with three entirely different fanbases to please at once. There were the short story enthusiasts, who wanted every episode to be Geralt, Monster Hunter Mutant. There were the fans of the novels, for whom Yennefer and Ciri's stories were just as crucial as anything Geralt did. And there were the video gamers, who expected extensive Witcher vs. Monster action. In balancing these stories, the show has left a critical question unanswered: How powerful is Ciri in The Witcher?
Warning: Spoilers for Netflix's The Witcher follow.
So far, viewers haven't gotten to see Ciri do very much, other than roar. Her ability is why she's called "the Lion Cub of Cintra," though she doesn't know it. It only happens when she emotionally loses control, like when Calanthe sends her away, and she screams at the thought of losing her home and family. Or when Cahir nearly captures her, and she starts screaming in absolute terror, ripping the Earth apart.
But there are other signs as well. Ciri isn't affected by the waters of the Brokilon forest, a place that called out to her. And in Episode 7, when under attack, she instead falls into a trance-like state, and prophecy flows from her lips, terrifying those who would mean her harm.
What audiences who haven't read the books don't realize is this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Warning: Spoilers for The Witcher novels follow.
Ciri isn't powerful the way, say, Yennefer is. Yennefer is a mage, someone who can be taught to touch and control magic. As the first full-length Witcher novel, Blood of Elves, reveals, Ciri is a Source. Think of it as the next level up, someone who naturally channels magic, like you or I breathe air.
This means getting her into training is imperative. Unlike Yennefer, who could have been left on her farm, occasionally disappearing when necessary, Ciri must be taught to handle magic, or else it could kill her.
Ciri's power is the reason why the series chose to interweave the different timelines together. If Ciri were not so powerful, it wouldn't be a big deal to have a more direct adaptation. Season 1 could have focused on Geralt going from kingdom to kingdom, slaughtering a monster or five, bedding Yennefer once in a while, and maybe having a run-in with Queen Calanthe over a law of surprise.
But, as showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich pointed out on Twitter, to have the show focus solely on Geralt and then suddenly, in Season 2, introduce Ciri and explain she's the key to everything, would have caused viewer whiplash.
The scene where Ciri began spouting prophecy showed her abilities are already getting stronger. Geralt's going to need to find someone to train her come Season 2, and soon.