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The Most Heartbreaking Ciri Moment From The Witcher

After just two, eight-episode seasons of "The Witcher," the series' young protagonist Ciri (Freya Allan) has already seen more than her fair share of trauma and devastation. In Season 1, Ciri not only lost all the most important people in her life (and in a variety of horrific ways at that, but was also forced to flee from the only home she ever knew when the kingdom of Cintra fell and was burned to the ground by Nilfgaard's army. Though she managed to escape and, with the help of her mysterious powers and a few benevolent strangers, find her way to Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), the first few chapters of her journey were wrought with terror, physical strife, and emotional turmoil. 

In some ways, it might be easier to point out the handful of moments Ciri's enjoyed so far that weren't heartbreaking. This, of course, is to be expected. No self-respecting "hero's journey" can begin without its central figure butting up against a wall of adversity, and the show's source material, Andrzej Sapkowski's "The Witcher" novel series, is no exception. And yet, it's because the dynamic character has seen and been through so much over the course of her young life that a scene in the Season 2 finale, "Family," is as gut-wrenching as it is. 

Ciri gets everything she ever wanted, almost

At the conclusion of Episode 7 — after learning that a family who befriended her while she was on the road has been burned alive by the man sent to find her — Ciri is consumed by anger, pain, and a lust for revenge. In her vulnerable state, the demon Voleth Meir is able to over-take Ciri's mind and body with ease, as it's exactly these kinds of emotions upon which the monster feeds and thrives. 

In her possessed state in Episode 8, Ciri kills several Witchers, turns Kaer Morhen to rubble, and attempts to destroy what little family she has left, including Geralt. In order to defeat the Witchers and open the portal to another sphere, Voleth Meir must maintain control over Ciri and her powers. In order to do this, she keeps Ciri trapped in a dream containing everything she's ever longed for, and it's in this dream that we most feel for our already-heartbroken young hero.

Ciri "awakes" in this unreality safe and sound in her room at the palace in Cintra. Her long-dead mentor Mousesack (Adam Levy) enters the room, reprimands her for being late for an event, and seems utterly perplexed by Ciri's own confusion. When she enters the palace's grand hall to find her (also long-dead) beloved grandmother, Jodhi May's Queen Calanthe, equally safe and sound and equally prepared to reprimand her, Ciri is overcome with joy. It appears as if everything she's ever lost — her life, her family, even the parents who died in her youth and whom she's never met — has all been returned to her.

Ciri is forced to make an unfathomable decision in the Season 2 finale

Of course, it hasn't actually. Her grandmother is still dead, Mousesack is still dead, Cintra is still lost to her, and her parents (as far as she knows) are also still dead. A part of Ciri can sense that the idyllic setting and its unbridled revelry are an illusion, but it's a rare person indeed who'd be willing to deny themselves such a reunion. This is part (but only part) of what makes the scene so heartbreaking: any viewer who's ever longed to see someone they've loved, and lost, just one more time, can relate to Ciri's inability to break free from her gilded mental cage. Nevertheless — she does. 

Eventually, Ciri begins to hear Geralt's voice breaking through the barrier of her beautiful new "reality," and despite her lengthy hesitation, she ultimately does what she knows she must. Losing everyone she ever loved the first time was tragic; losing everyone she ever loved, all over again, and at what feels and looks like her own behest, is a trauma unlike anything she's ever experienced. What's more, her friends and family don't just fade casually away as she begins her mental struggle with Voleth Meir — they disintegrate, slowly but violently, into ash. And that's not all. 

Ciri must grapple with a different kind of death in Season 2

It isn't merely the tease of her family's resurrection — nor is it having to watch those family members disintegrate, one by one, before her eyes — that makes the scene so devastating. It's the notion that she must decide to let this happen that lingers. Despite knowing deep down that her grandmother isn't real, the image of her crumbling away will remain with Ciri, who'll forever be forced to wonder if she made the right call. From now on, every time the pain of her initial loss of that family, and of that life, creeps up on her, she'll be forced to relive the moment she chose to resist their return. 

All that would be heartbreaking enough, but there's another, less tangible death that happens in the Season 2 finale. Ciri may have grown up too fast after the fall of Cintra, but up until she breaks free of her demon's illusion (both literally and figuratively), she's always held on to some semblance of hope. Not the hope that she might, at some point, see her friends and family again, but the hope that she might find some happiness, some purpose, some return to the person she once was. All of that dies and proves itself as illusory as Voleth Meir's projection when she's forced to turn away once and for all from the innocence she once knew.

What's more, in the wake of Ciri's possession, she'll not only have to cope with the imagined and metaphoric deaths that occurred in her dream state, but with all the actual death and destruction she caused while under the demon's control. How she manages to handle all this heartache will undoubtedly be the key to what her destructive powers will mean for both The Continent and for everyone she loves.