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"Why wouldn't you travel by main roads?"

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So, Geralt!

There's a lot going on with him.

This episode's opening is perhaps the second worst for Geralt - the first episode has people ready to assault him for existing, but this one has the people who hired him ready to steal his stuff while he's gone. I think this is another angle of what we've see in the fourth episode about how people treat him post-fame: even people who aren't openly hostile to him the whole time don't necessarily think of him as a person. And notice his lack of real reaction. Now, he has some time to get composed before he actually pokes his head out, so we can't say for sure this didn't hurt, but by all appearances, this isn't a surprise and this kind of thing probably happens with regularity, even after Jaskier's been singing about him.

Contrary to fanon's murder Roach, the horse we see here is standing there with impeccable manners as loud strangers begin to poke around at her sides. Why? Well, look at what happens when Jaskier objects to them doing this. If someone wants to rob your horse and your horse puts up a fight, your horse is probably getting stabbed. In Geralt's particular case, this can even be seen as practical - getting his stuff back may not be that hard, especially if he hunts the person down before they get back to civilization, while a dead horse is hard to replace. We also know Geralt leaves his horse behind as collateral once that we see and possibly other times we don't - the sweeter your horse is, the more likely it's well-kept because the person is hoping to keep it for good, while the nastier it is, the more likely it's mistreated or outright killed before you get back.

And this is the sort of thing Geralt has to be aware of. He never knows when it's going to happen and he has to live his life around the fact some of the time it will and he has to be prepared.

Jaskier: "You stop-- stop that, or I-- I'll, uh..."
Man: "Or you'll what? Sing us to death?"
Jaskier: "Geralt, they-- With the-- This woman just killed a man with her bare hands for trying to steal your horse."
Geralt: "Maybe she'll make a better travel companion, then."

So, multiple ways to take this!

Straightforwardly, Geralt thinks Jaskier sucks compared to someone who can actually help defend Geralt's property. She did something Jaskier couldn't and Geralt says that means she's a better travel companion. Geralt may be feeling stressed that all the responsibility is always on his shoulders. He has to protect himself, he has to protect everything else around him, and no one can help. He may really wish it was possible to have a traveling companion he not only wouldn't have to fear for, but who could even take up some of his other burdens. I'm really curious if Geralt behaves any differently in the next season when we finally see him around other witchers.

Conversely, Geralt is upset Jaskier tried to when he was just getting himself into trouble. Maybe he shouldn't be traveling with Geralt if he's this vulnerable, and someone who won't get themselves killed trying to help out Geralt is the better travel companion. After all, if he wanted a traveling companion who'd do more to keep his stuff from being stolen, teaching his horse to fight back against thieves is a much more direct way to handle horse thieves. Why wouldn't he say this sort of thing outright? I point back to Episode 5 when Jaskier brushes off him being happy Jaskier's alive.

And possibly, Geralt is annoyed that Jaskier seems to disapprove of the fact someone just killed a man with her bare hands for trying to steal his precious Roachie-pie and is trying to get across that frankly in his opinion murdering people over his horsie is good. (Which returns us to one of the things I was asking in the very first episode - does Geralt ever kill humans for his own sake? Would he have killed someone over Roach? Would he have felt that it was valid, because criminal, or that it was a bad idea for him personally to do something like that and so he's relieved someone else did it for him?) If Geralt is feeling particularly thin-skinned today, maybe he's even feeling like oh, am I just a witcher to you? You think it's wrong to steal from me, but you don't think it's right to actually hurt a human, a real person, over it? That seems a really uncharitable reading in the context of Jaskier speaking up, but Geralt might discount that on the basis that Jaskier didn't realize he'd endanger himself doing so.

In addition, it could be Geralt is mad about something else and is just really snippy because of that. We don't see anything in particular to suggest this, but we know from previous interactions that Jaskier can say something that'll make Geralt mad and still be chirpy and unaware of that, so the fact Jaskier doesn't give us any clue they've had an argument means little. For something specific, Jaskier is currently working on what'll become Her Sweet Kiss - people have pointed out that if you pause, it seems to have very different lyrics at the point he's drafting it here, but if it was to some degree always an attack on Yennefer, Geralt may have been getting especially annoyed listening to it over and over.

But no matter what, I don't think Geralt expects Jaskier to truly take this to heart, because again, as far as he can tell, Jaskier doesn't particularly listen to him. Even in their fight last time, Jaskier frames his offense as Geralt trying to be a dick to him, his good friend, rather than actually caring about the criticism itself. And there's no sign at the time that Jaskier does take offense.

Also worth mentioning is that there's no actual rule Geralt can only travel with one person, so saying she'd make a better one isn't saying Jaskier is fired from that post. Still dickish, but again, the Her Sweet Kiss thing may be an element here - if Geralt is annoyed Jaskier seems to be annoyed he's paying attention to someone other than Jaskier, he might be needling him in the sense of saying let's add another person to the group.

Regardless of the exact details, though? Geralt's in a bad mood at the start of this episode. That cheerful fucking with Jaskier we see in the fourth episode banquet? Nowhere in evidence here. He's extremely on edge around Borch.

Borch: "I suppose you want me to tell you why I've sought out such an accomplished monster hunter."
Geralt: "Don't trouble yourself on my account. I just want food."

Borch's chumminess is just making him clam up further and further. Also, this implies some things about the state of his finances. It doesn't tell us he couldn't afford a meal, but he's willing to put up with someone he doesn't like or trust to get one. And this when he's just been paid! I think it's plausible Geralt's learned to try to take advantage of this even when he doesn't need it, but it means it's likely that, while Jaskier's songs may have helped, there's still been a lot of hungry nights over the last twenty years for him to have kept this behavior up.

Then Borch brings up a dragon, and Geralt manages to freeze up even further, with a bit of a deer in the headlights look.

I think Geralt saw something like this coming from someone talking about being a fan of how he's a monster hunter. It was going to be a bad request, he was going to say no, there was a good chance the guy wouldn't like that...

He may even have known and suspected this was what was going on. Jaskier is surprised to hear about the dragon, but Jaskier also is excited about the dragon hunt. If Geralt was planning to ignore it, he could have heard about it and, well, ignored it until now. Given Jaskier is immediately on-board, it's not like he would've felt safe confiding in Jaskier about how unhappy it makes him.

Borch: "Four teams have signed on. The winner gets the dragon treasure hoard plus the title of lord over one of his new vassal states. That is... if he survives."
Geralt: "What does this have to do with me?"

Bit interesting he says this. While it could be a simple matter of knowing exactly where it's going but dragging his feet, it seems like he's a little suspicious something's off already. Maybe something in the way Borch is talking just doesn't seem right, or maybe it's in combination with Borch earlier saying "This is a first for me, and that's saying something. I've very few firsts left." which is a jadedness that doesn't quite go with someone chasing a pile of treasure and a lordship. Borch's freeness with his money and general attitude even seem like someone who already has both.

Geralt: "You've wasted your breath, Borch. I don't kill dragons. Take my advice. No treasure is worth dying for."
Borch: "Depends on the treasure."

Another response Geralt wasn't expecting, and he's getting suspicious. But Borch repeats what he said about firsts and presents it like he's some asshole big game hunter: "What I need is...a new adventure. One final first before I'm too old to do anything but die."

Of course, that's not a reason for Geralt to change his mind. He seems to have disliked Borch before dragon-murder came up, so why would revealing himself to be an even worse person make Geralt care about what he wants?

Now, I think it's worth taking a moment to think about what this specific event suggests about the more general life Geralt lives.

We know Geralt doesn't want to kill a dragon. We know Geralt doesn't want a dragon to be killed. Note, however, those are two slightly different sentences. Geralt is following through on the first but not the second - it seems pretty likely the dragon's going to die, and Geralt wasn't going to get involved.

Now for Mr. "Given The Choice I Prefer Not To Choose At All", staying out of the much worse situation of something he probably couldn't even choose to stop anyway isn't a surprise. I point it out instead because I think people don't appreciate how much living like this sucks. Geralt is hearing people talking about killing this dragon now, and later he's going to hear about how someone killed the dragon, and later he's going to be walking through Lord So-And-So's land full of statues of how the mighty lord slayed a dragon that time.

Like most people faced with things they can't do anything about, Geralt wants to engage with it as little as possible. So he's refusing to go, and he's probably planning to try to get out of the area and outrun the news for a bit.

Borch, however, keeps pushing, and he starts to get weird about it. He looms forward across the table, staring at Geralt without blinking.

Borch: "You feel it just the same as me...that hole inside you. That itch that can't be scratched, that burns your brain, keeps you awake at night. Come with me. I'll show you what you're missing."

And Geralt seems to be taking crazy dude hitting on him seriously: "What am I missing?"

Now, does Borch mean Yennefer? Borch sits back down as Jaskier observes that Borch said four other teams but only introduced three and in walks Yennefer. But this is supposed to be the twist that, if you're paying attention, you should see coming. Borch is here for a kid, last episode established that the thing that keeps Geralt awake at night is the kid, and Borch says explicitly says that in order to see what Geralt's missing, he has to go up the mountain first and then Borch will show him. Even before we know what that is, it can't be anyone who's already here.

Borch definitely means the egg. The real question is if he meant for Geralt to think it was about Yennefer. It may be that his plan was just pressing on the child/unhappiness issue and expected that to lure Geralt up the mountain to find out the answer, or it may be that he expected Yennefer to be what got Geralt into position. By all appearances it was Yennefer that did it, and Borch seems to know all sorts of things about people that should've let him know that'd work, but on the other hand, Borch is really intense trying to convince Geralt to come along over shared parental obsession when he could've just sat there and chilled until Yennefer arrived secure that'll trick Geralt into where Borch wanted him. And while it could be dragons are intertwined with Fate and Destiny and all that, so as a dragon he was able to push that to make this coincidence happen, I feel that's contradicted by the fact they're going extinct.

(Why not tell Geralt the truth when the whole reason he sought Geralt out was because he thought he was trustworthy? Honestly, Borch just doesn't make very much sense to me.)

Just as Geralt ignored Jaskier saying they were totally doing this, he ignores Jaskier saying that holy shit what no they want nothing to do with all THAT thanks but bye. If Yennefer's here? Now he's in.

But is he?

Geralt doesn't go into why he doesn't kill dragons here, that it's murder rather than that dragons are too much work or he'll just get screwed out of the reward with so many other people jockeying for it or something. But we'll find out it's murder shortly, so he probably didn't sign on to commit murder. Borch obviously wouldn't want him along if he thought Geralt would actually be convinced by Yennefer to kill a dragon, and it's also not in line with what we've seen from the show's Geralt who's been willing to give people a great deal but not anything he disagrees with. (Short Story Geralt, of course, does consider it, but I think Short Story Geralt is a less consistent person.)

I think he has no idea why in particular Yennefer's here, because he thinks there's nothing about the list of rewards that she could want. Maybe he thinks she's planning to screw over one of the other competitors because they have something she wants. A less straightforward plan would be in line with what he saw from her last episode, where he spent the whole time trying to figure out what she wanted from him when really she was going for something else entirely.

Now, a thing worth mentioning is that Yennefer does not exactly ignore him. She looks back, she seems interested, she just doesn't come over to see him right then and stays with the knight. I mentioned with Eist that the show tends to do a very careful dance with ambivalent women - Geralt isn't just seeing Yennefer and going, but seeing Yennefer and getting something at least in the ballpark of suggesting she's happy to see him as well. When he heads up, he's with Roach when Yennefer comes over to talk.

He knows he wants to be around Yennefer, and he's paying attention to if she wants him around, but even with that, he doesn't seem comfortable making a move himself.

Yennefer: "How is it that I've walked this earth for decades without coming across a witcher, and then the first one I meet, I can't get rid of?"

Part of why Jaskier can jump in here is Geralt just stares at her. Now, we know he doesn't actually struggle to talk, and he certainly managed plenty of back and forth with her last episode. I think he may be concerned she actually means it about trying to get rid of him. I said last chapter that Yennefer probably feels she's getting mixed signals from Geralt, but Geralt's definitely getting mixed ones from Yennefer, and he's got a lifetime of people not wanting him to stick around. (And there's probably explicit discouragement of that by older witchers, since it probably goes really badly for witchers who try to stay in one place and have a normal relationship with a non-witcher.)

Jaskier insults Yennefer. Yennefer insults Jaskier. Jaskier tries to insult her back, then leaves. Roach butts Geralt in the chest, hard. Geralt finally re-enters the conversation.

Geralt: "Thanks, Roach. What are you doing here, Yen?"
Yennefer: "I'm here with my escort. Noble Sir Eyck of Denesle. To assist him in killing the dragon."
Noble Sir Eyck of Denesle: "For kingdom and glory!"
Yennefer: "Till we meet again, Geralt. See you, Roach."

Geralt is sure something's up. He may not know what Yennefer wants here, but he knows helping this guy out doesn't make sense.

He also does get a very slight go-ahead, where she's slightly more friendly saying goodbye and includes his horse, then keeps looking back at him.

And while I'm not sure how aware of it Yennefer is, there's definitely an added bit of jealousy that she's here with a human knight seeking land and stability, things Geralt can't do/provide for Yennefer or anyone else. He watches her leave, she watches him watching her with Eyck, she then carasses Eyck's face as she turns away, Geralt looks increasingly unhappy with this. I don't think Geralt wants an outright knighting and noble estate, but it's highlighting just how much he doesn't have.

Also, to go back a moment.

Jaskier: "Your man might've mentioned that the road was too narrow for horses in his initial sales pitch."
Geralt: "Welcome to the world, Jaskier."

Geralt doesn't think much of Borch. Which, again, makes sense. All he knows is that this guy thinks he's cool for hunting monsters and wants to kill a dragon not even because of the reward but because he thinks it'd be something to brag about. He may also suspect that Borch isn't being honest, but that just means there's some worse thing he's plotting. It's quite possible he was concerned Borch was planning to add "killed a famous witcher" as another first.

Yarpen goes from screaming at the Reaver guy to seeing Geralt and calmly shaking Geralt's hand. This may be connected to Jaskier's songs, but Yarpen really doesn't like Jaskier - he blows off Jaskier's introduction by saying he knows and stays focused on Geralt. Most likely, witchers at large were already understood not to treat dwarves badly, and dwarves don't have issues with witchers either.

We proceed to the trip up. Yennefer is walking in front of Geralt, smiling at Eyck. Geralt is being grouchy about it.

Borch: "You worry if you blink, you'll never see her again. You're in love with her."
Geralt: "Or...the danger here isn't the dragon."
Borch: "That's why I brought you along, Geralt of Rivia. Nothing scares you."
Geralt: "Huh. Then you don't know Yennefer of Vengerberg."
Borch: "May she be the worst encounter, then."

Neat little exchange here.

Borch says his behavior is because he loves her. Geralt says it's because Yennefer's the biggest danger. But that ties back to Borch's accusation, really - Yennefer is a threat to everyone but most of all Yennefer, and she works fast enough at that you should be worried about blinking.

I do think Geralt's being somewhat honest here and under other less dangerous circumstances he wouldn't be glaring daggers at someone else Yennefer was smiling at because Geralt's big on avoidance and he'd have just run away from the emotions given the choice.

As they continue up, they see the damage the dragon did.

Geralt: "Dragons avoid people. It should have left when they attacked. I don't get it. Why the retaliation?"

Another thing to consider is that Geralt may have assumed this hunt was a fool's errand and the dragon had already left. Maybe he thought people made up the damages to make the hunt sound more impressive. But if the dragon really stuck around after the first attack, maybe it stuck around longer. It'd explain why he seems a lot more concerned by the sight of this.

Borch: "When your species is on the verge of collapse, perhaps everything becomes more desperate."

Geralt eyes him as he speaks and keeps standing there as he leaves, thinking. It's hard to say if he's more concerned by Borch acting weird here - recognizing a species in crisis or that the upcoming fight might be a dangerous one is still within the bounds of asshole aging big game hunter ("I need to kill a tiger before the last one goes extinct!") but it's still unusual and he seems sure Borch is up to something - or if it's the dragon itself he's worried about now that he's realizing he can't predict its behavior (or possibly concerned for dragons in general, because if one dragon is acting strangely it could be others are changing as well for whatever reason).

He might also be wondering if Borch is intending to be making a comparison to witchers, given they're a dead species walking.

Next, Jaskier wanders into the bushes.

"There's something back here. It sort of looks like a faun. "

Geralt, well away, turns away to the side in embarrassment/exasperation. I'm not sure what he thinks is coming next but it's definitely something he doesn't want but doesn't think is dangerous.

We know this because as soon as Jaskier starts actually shouting and indicates it's dangerous, Geralt hanges his behavior and looks toward him and grabs his sword, ready to save Jaskier.

When he gets a look, he relaxes again.

Geralt: "It's an hirikka. It's probably starving. Sheathe your weapons."

Now, I'm not sure if there's other canon people are going off of here, but at least from what we see, I'm not sure why consensus seems to have gone with "herbivore". Jaskier finds it hiding behind a berry bush and we see it has sharp fangs, and generally, one does not find starving plant-eaters outside of winter or drought, neither of which are in appearance here. And a carnivore, especially a scavenger, would make a lot more sense as something that'll make you sick if you eat it than a herbivore. A carnivore is also a lot more likely to charge at other creatures even if they're not up for a fight, since the other creatures might've killed something it can take. And it means more, I think, if it's more akin to a hungry dog than a hungry rabbit and Geralt still thinks feeding it is the best answer, because he's willing to coexist with things capable of being dangerous to him.

Of course, feeding it doesn't happen, as Eyck charges at it, knocking Yarpen over in the process. Geralt helps him up.

Boholt: "How would you like to serve me tonight... Witch?"
Geralt: "Careful, Boholt."
Boholt: "So, the Witcher wants to play knight too, hmm?
Geralt: "No. She's plenty able of murdering you herself."

Geralt would, of course, love to play knight, in a lot of ways. But defending Yennefer is tricky business, and defending anyone when you're a witcher is as well. (The very last thing you want to do when you're trying to threaten someone off, after all, is encourage them to do it just to pick a fight with you.) This is, once again, Geralt knowing what he's doing in a conversation.

Yarpen: "What's so amusin', you overgrown cock hair?"
Boholt: "I'm just wondering who I will kill first. The monster, or the monster hunter."

Joke's on you, Boholt, for Geralt it's already a step up that you're distinguishing between the two.

It's interesting that he does end up asking if Yennefer killed Eyck despite this guy spitting threats - possibly his lifetime of people singling him out made him assume that Boholt's murderousness might only go as far as nonhumans, or at least that the nonhumans would be targeted first.

Then Jaskier makes his joke about Yennefer's virtue and Geralt hits him on the leg.

While the previous bit was ambiguous over if he viewed himself as in a fight over who got the benefits of that supposed virtue, and that's certainly what Boholt was driving at, this one is extremely straightforward. Jaskier's saying something mean. Geralt's establishing he doesn't think people should say mean things to Yennefer, even if they're not doing it as part of putting in a claim that she should be sexually available for them instead of him.

Boholt and then Eyck leave, leaving the rest of the circle to chat among themselves. Yarpen wants to talk politics, which Geralt tries to be above: "States rise and fall like the tide. Nothing new." Because, of course, Geralt can't get involved in those things, so thinking about them as having causes or different outcomes is something he wants to avoid. Yarpen insists that no really, trouble's coming, and Yennefer and then Jaskier jump in, with Jaskier in particular saying, "Queen Calanthe would die before letting them take what's hers." while Geralt stares at the camera and doesn't talk.

Jaskier: "So...we're all about to have new evil overlords, and dragons are, in fact, a thing. Good day all round. ... Oh, you've all seen a dragon before, have you? Geralt, will you please tell them?"
Geralt: "Their numbers are dwindling. Treasure seekers saw to that."

That Geralt describes it like this and not that dragons also get into conflict with humans would fit with the idea he thought the bit about the dragon attacking the countryside was made up for drama.

Geralt: "But they do exist. What people call "green dragons," like the one we have here, they're the most common. Red dragons, less so. Black dragons are the rarest."
Borch: "Gold dragons are rarest."
Geralt: "Gold dragons are a myth. For a gold dragon to exist, it would...have to be the result accidental, unique mutation. And in my experience, mutations, they're intentional."

Okay that's super not what mutations are!

I think the best way to make sense of this would be that Geralt is addressing the trope of mutants being the super version of a regular creature. Witchers are not awesome by accident. Most mutations are damaging mutations, and most mutant animals are in some way crippled and less fit, and being mutated very rarely causes a whole host of changes (and if it does, it was probably a really important gene and you're super crippled). So, if Geralt's been hearing stories about gold dragons the super awesome ultra dragons with ten extra powers, he's going to understandably call bullshit.

The only other explanation is that the way the universe they're in works is that DNA does not mutate naturally and needs to be deliberately messed with, which, interestingly, actually would be consistent with what we've seen! It fits with how Stregobor was so firm in linking the princesses being mutated to magic, and why the idea of the mutation being ongoing as they grew would be particularly frightening - it's abnormal to happen at all, and here it is happening over and over. If children can only have birth defects due to genes their parents carry, situations like Yennefer's would be rarer and cause greater ostracism, and be much more easily tied to odd genetic interactions. It would also mean that if you, say, have the Elder blood in your family tree, it could pop back out any time, unaltered. And if life is no good at speciating here, it explains how the world seems to keep picking up diversity every time the sphere-collisions dump another batch of weird life on the planet, rather than most of them dying out because their niches are already full and the remaining couple going invasive and decimating biodiversity in the process.

(I would add that technically, we do not have any evidence a gold dragon isn't an intentional mutation, something the dragons could do to their own kind but perhaps required resources they can no longer muster.)

Geralt: "Mutant or myth, gold dragons met the same fate as anything too different to endure. They died out."

I mentioned that Geralt may have been ruminating on the desperation of dragons and the state of witchers earlier, and definitely here, the fate of witchers for being different is looming over his thoughts.

And he's definitely thinking of himself, because Borch replies: "There are other ways of enduring. If it's legacy you're after, perhaps you should take the overgrown cock hair's advice and become a knight."

But we'll see that Borch is thinking of something else for his legacy, and it's also what Geralt's sure he can't have and is running from.

As Borch and Jaskier laugh at the suggestion of Geralt becoming a knight, Geralt sits and broods silently.

It's not until further in that we'll get an actual dream of Geralt's and see it was to be a knight, and realize that's the context that's been running through so many of these episodes all the way back to the story he tells in the first one. Geralt liked the idea of knights. And yet it's something he can't have, and wanting it is considered childish both because he's a witcher and because the real knights are just assholes. A witcher does good, but isn't recognized for it, a knight doesn't, but is praised for it. Borch even highlights the contradiction by saying if somehow Geralt could be a knight, he'd be considered an awful one because he doesn't want to do the awful things a knight does. That it's impossible is another part of why Geralt keeps insisting he doesn't want because he's not allowed to have.

The next day they discover Eyck's death, and the dwarves offer to show Borch a shortcut. Geralt appears to take it for granted that they'll be fine with Yennefer coming along too, and by all appearances is correct.

Geralt: "Did you kill Eyck?"

Perhaps half of Geralt understanding Yennefer is just admitting she's hard to understand and actually asking her why she's doing things. Istredd thinks he understands what she wants and won't listen when she says that's not it. Jaskier is happy to assume everything, if only because he wants to get away from her as fast as possible.

Yennefer: "Kill him? That's rather pedestrian. And you're the one who's been staring daggers at him since we arrived."

This is also somewhat obliquely dancing around whether or not she wanted Geralt staring daggers. She's saying here that why yes, she noticed, which is another very small signal to go ahead rather than back off.

Geralt: "And what was that? Yen! What are you really doing here?"
Yennefer: "I'm here for the dragon."

Geralt genuinely wasn't expecting that Yennefer could've joined a hunt for the dragon to hunt a dragon. As Geralt continues to be flabbergasted, Yennefer presumably understands he means "but why would you care about treasure or a lordship" and says no, literally, the dragon.

Geralt: "I thought your transformation healed all parts of you?"
Yennefer: "At the cost of losing others, yes."

It is ambiguous here if this is new information to Geralt and he just puts together than she means sterility because he knows that's what dragon bits are for, or if he knew all the details of the transformation but it didn't occur to him anyone would object to that.

Geralt smiles at this. I think part of it's relief.

Geralt: " not tell me you've traveled all this way for made-up fertility cures using fresh dragon hearts?"

This is not a good way to approach this, but I think Geralt is likely coming at it from the perspective of not wanting to murder a dragon. That Yennefer's here for that was really upsetting, but whew, turns out she doesn't need to after all so they don't need to fight about this.

Yennefer: "They're not made up!"
Geralt: "They are."

Also, we're on witcher nerd territory now, which Geralt is really comfortable with. He's easing up and feeling confident, not picking up that Yennefer's pretty upset.

Geralt: "And seriously? You, a mother?"
Yennefer: "Do you think I'd make a bad one?"
Geralt: "Definitely."


Yennefer doesn't argue, just turns away. Geralt's smile fades. He's realizing this wasn't a great idea.

However - though we'll find out more soon, this is starting to approach several open wounds of Geralt's, and he's not going to be totally rational about it either.

Geralt: "Yen... A child? What could you possibly want with a child?"
Yennefer: "They took my choice. I want it back. Not that I'd expect you to understand."

Interestingly, Geralt does not blow up at Yennefer for giving possibly the worst response to this question. He seems to make the jump to that Yennefer isn't saying this in the sense of wanting a child as a trophy.

Geralt: "I didn't choose to become a witcher. Listen...the people who made us, they made us sterile for a lot of reasons. One of the kinder ones is because this lifestyle isn't suited to a child."

He must make that jump, because the argument that he comes back with is that it's impossible because the child will be unhappy. He doesn't mean she'd be a bad mother because she wouldn't care about the child, but because her life will prevent her from properly taking care of it.

Geralt: "What? You were going to summon chaos on kings' orders in between feeding and naps?"
Yennefer: "Do not patronize me!"
Geralt: "I'm not."

He's absolutely not, and a big clue can be that this is nonsense. Geralt is projecting all over this conversation. Yennefer could totally have fed and napped a baby while being otherwise bored out of her skull in a king's service and maybe left it with a nursemaid if she actually had to briefly leave to deal with something, and in the actual life she has now, it'd be easy to keep one in the side room of her shop.

But Geralt's really not thinking about the finer details of Yennefer's life here.

Geralt: "I've thought about this. Often. And I'd rather use my Child Surprise as bruxa bait than subject it to this life!"

I'm surprised people don't seem to talk more about this line, because Jesus.

Geralt isn't just saying that he can't care for a child. He's jumped from Yennefer's ability to care for a child to his ability to care for a child to whether or not a witcher's life is even worth living. He just said he thinks he'd have been better off dead. He didn't have a choice to be a witcher, but another witcher made the choice to take him to become one, and he thinks that the kinder choice would've been to feed him to a monster.

We'll get more context on just why he's like this in the upcoming episodes, but this gives you most of it.

Unfortunately for Geralt, Yennefer doesn't find anything noteworthy about wanting to die, so she just goes for the part that is a surprise.

Yennefer: "What did you just say?"
Geralt: "Uh... Ah, fuck!"

Yennefer lays into him for having what she wants while daring to tell her she shouldn't want it.

Geralt: "Every time I'm near you, I say more in five minutes than I've said in weeks. And I always regret it."

Not a very positive thing to say to someone. And yet, he follows it up by finally telling her about the shortcut - ie, in a very roundabout way, he says he regrets what he says, not being near her.

Yennefer: "I can take care of myself."
Geralt: "You don't always have to. Come with me."

So this conversation goes all over the place, but it's a much more productive one than usual. Geralt, unlike everyone else, can understand Yennefer wanting a kid. He brings some brand-new issues to the table, but he's making himself vulnerable in the process, and he's willing to at least try to engage with the central issue. And the one thing he does show skill at navigating is that Yennefer wants people to care about her but is also sensitive about needing help, and by framing this as something she doesn't need to take but also something she doesn't have to refuse, he gets Yennefer to come along.

He does make the mistake of thinking he won the argument about dragon hearts. Geralt doesn't seem to know just how bad Yennefer is at letting go of a plan. (Which does tell us a tiny bit about what happens during their other meetings, namely, whatever she was doing, it wasn't something Geralt felt he should try to convince her to stop.)

They arrive at the shortcut. Jaskier and Yennefer complain about the shortcut and Geralt does not, either because he's generally less complainy or because he knew the sort of thing you're getting into when dwarves tell you they have a mining shortcut or both.

And then the planks break, and Geralt grabs the chain to try to save Borch, Tea, and Vea.

It's at this point I feel I should repeat that Geralt does not really seem to like these people much. Possibly he's warmed up a bit, but even the campfire chat is Borch and Jaskier chuckling about knights, with no sign Geralt appreciated it. This isn't Geralt almost getting killed to save his new best friend, this is Geralt doing it because he doesn't want people to die in front of him.

Of course, he can't do anything about that! As his friends beg him to not get himself killed and he refuses to let go, Borch decides now is the time to commit suicide while calling him "Sir" like he's a knight. Geralt is horrified. He holds his hand out to Tea, who's in an even more impossible place to reach, and she commits suicide after.

(Also - while you could say there's a story reason to have the camera linger and show her choosing to let go like that and how it plays into the twist we don't yet know but she's well aware of, it also stands out to me as the camera treating everyone involved as having a moral weight. Each death is a tragedy and Geralt only gives up once the last one's fallen.)

We see Geralt staring after them, then turning and just staring out, still crouched. Cut the the next scene, and he's staring into the distance as the camera slowly comes into focus on him.

Jaskier comes over to sit next to him and tries to give him a pep talk.

Jaskier: "You did your best. There's nothing else you could have done. Look, why don't we leave tomorrow? That is, if you'll give me another chance to prove myself a...worthy travel companion."
Geralt: "Hm."
Jaskier: "We could head to the coast. Get away for a while. Sounds like something Borch would say, doesn't it? Life is too short. Do what pleases you...while you can."

I think a part of the problem here is that this isn't really what Geralt's feeling bad about. If Geralt's issue was "I could have done more" we wouldn't see him in the first episode desperately trying not to do anything. Geralt's miserable because he lives in a miserable world and he feels helpless to change that, so assuring him there was nothing he could've done isn't helping. Life being short isn't it either - Geralt's own life isn't short and also, he's suicidal. That other people's lives are short is something he already knows and is probably a big part of why he doesn't want to get close to them.

Geralt: "Composing your next song?"

I feel this lends credence to the idea that at least some of his crankiness toward Jaskier at the start could've been about the Her Sweet Kiss song.

It also has some strong implications about how Geralt feels this "friendship" thing works. While how Jaskier actually feels is a question for his meta, I think it's quite plausible that while Geralt doesn't believe Jaskier is treating him as any lesser for being a witcher, it's because he thinks Jaskier just sees everyone around as song fodder, and he's going to do the same to Borch's memory, no different than the first time when he met elves and used that to write a song about the evil elven army led by the devil.

Jaskier: "No, I'm just, uh... Just trying to work out what pleases me."

Okay, so people say Geralt missed the point here, but I wonder if Jaskier reframing it as being how he feels is what actually gets through to him. Because what he said earlier is a bunch of platitudes on the face of it, and Geralt has reason to worry about if this memory he's probably hoping to repress is going to end up another inescapable song pretending it was some sort of heroics. But Jaskier is genuinely better at being happy than Geralt is, and I think he recognizes that. So "live now because we could die tomorrow" might not be it, but maybe "if you know what'd make you happy, why are you refusing to do it? If everything sucks no matter what you do, what do you have to be afraid of?" Jaskier is saying he's thinking about what he wants and choosing to do that, because that's an option people have.

And what would Geralt choose to do?

Well, he'll go to Yennefer's tent. Sorry, Jaskier fans. If it makes you feel better, it doesn't make much sense for him to say what he's missing is what he has already, so this isn't a rejection in that sense. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure if Geralt has any plan past that it's to say hey Yennefer, Jaskier says the coast is nice this time of year.

He's surprised to find out her tent is a magical room. Either he's been encountering her in normal rooms, or he can't sense that they're magically messed with and it's only because this time she made something obviously impossible he can tell.

Geralt: "Hm. So simple."
Yennefer: "Do you like it?"

In the same way I think part of Geralt's issues with Eyck is that the guy had things he didn't, I don't think this is Geralt preferring the simple lack-of-comforts of legitimate non-magical camping. I think seeing that Yennefer has and likes nice things is making him question what he has to offer her when he's already anxious approaching her at all. Given she made this herself, that's pretty irrational, but not much more than spending time being jealous of someone she was transparently using (to the point Geralt wasn't sure if she was planning to kill the guy!) while flirting with Geralt.

Geralt really should say something nice in response to the question but he barely even got in the door and now he's feeling even more out of place to be in a nice room. It's only after Yennefer starts kissing him that he manages to say he came here for her.

If I had to pinpoint exactly what Geralt's changed his mind on, I think it's admitting to himself that he fears losing her, and avoiding her won't make it hurt any less. Similarly, he's afraid she'll reject him, but he's not happy being apart without the rejection, so how much does he really have to lose finding out?

Yennefer confesses she was afraid he'd die falling down the mountain too. Geralt says only his nonsense died, which would suggest that he was going to do this with or without Jaskier's pep talk, but then again, could be a joint effort.

Yennefer: "I quite like your nonsense."

And, probably because Yennefer's actually sounding like she likes him, Geralt is able to indirectly bring up that he's concerned he likes her a lot and maybe she doesn't feel the same?

Geralt: "That scent. The moment I dread most every time you when it fades. When you're really gone."

By actually confessing he's fallen for her even if he's just a fling to her, Yennefer explains that no, she is super clingy and invested and has been acting like this because she's mad she thought it was just a fling to him. Miscommunication addressed, they go to bed.

Yennefer: "Do you hurt? I don't mean physical pain. They say witchers can't feel human emotion."
Geralt: "They say whatever justifies despising our kind."

Geralt does not take offense to this for whatever reason. Possibly it's as simple as that she sounds concerned. Possibly it's that it's coming after her confessing she was deliberately trying to hurt his feelings and getting an apology from him.

Now it's time for another round of asking Geralt how he feels about being a witcher. This also goes a lot better than the one in the tub with Jaskier. Now, part of that could be Geralt is just choosing to interpret what she says in a better light, but I don't think that's necessary to explain it.

Yennefer: "Do you regret it? Becoming a witcher?"
Geralt: "It's hard to regret something you didn't choose."
Yennefer: "But if the choice had been yours, what would you have done instead?"

First, Yennefer starts from the standpoint that being a witcher is something you could regret - that it's a thing he is, and can't not be, and comes with downsides, rather than that he can do what he wants if he wants. Geralt deflects her, and she changes the question rather than argue with the deflection, and she also recognizes the deflection and understands what it means because the changed question isn't "if you could have chosen to be a witcher would you have?" but "well, clearly you wouldn't have, so what would you have liked?"

This is very, very different from "Do witchers retire?"/"No."/"Lol but seriously what are your retirement plans?"

There is also a matter of attainability, and possibly a class aspect here. Yennefer lays out some possibilities: "A farmer? A stableman?" See, the thing is, in a society like theirs, "retirement" is not something most people can manage. Most people keep going until they're too old to work, and then, if they're lucky, have kids who'll take care of them. And most work is not glamorous, and people are limited in their options by their birth. Yennefer's not suggesting outlandish possibilities. Geralt knows plants and he knows horses, and like her, he doesn't have a surname. Those are people he could've been. Would he have wanted to be them?

Geralt: "Horses are good company. But if I ever dreamed of being something...other...than what I was too long ago to remember."

And this way works. Geralt is able to sort of go with it, that yeah, being a stableman might've been nice. Then he goes on to give her context about why he isn't really answering - he learned about not wanting things very young.

However, he understands that if she's asking, it might be something she's thinking of.

Geralt: "Did you dream of being a mage?"
Yennefer: "I didn't have much of a choice either."
Geralt: "Did you always want to become a mother?"

Good questions to ask!

Did you want to be the thing you are, but changed your mind now? Is what you're chasing now something you always wanted, or did you change your mind?

Since fandom's been intensely weird about Yennefer and choice, I don't think the point here is that Geralt thinks if she changed her mind she'd definitely be totally wrong. Someone who decides something very early and never lets it go may not be making the right choice either. Neither, "I've wanted it forever", or, "I've wanted a lot of different things" is enough alone to be sure, and Geralt's own track record with choices is a disaster so I don't think he's under the impression there's a clear right answer. It's better as an opening for actual conversation and examining of things.

As I've said about Yennefer, I think she has never had that conversation with anyone. Which gets into how Geralt is helpful - she's not actually pathologically incapable of anyhing resembling self-reflection, she's just drawn that way, but only Geralt is willing to consider it.

I'm not sure if this is entirely about trying to make sense of Yennefer, or if it's that, having had time to calm down and think about things, he's reconsidering his own rather knee-jerk rejection. He was not expecting that she'd be hurt when he said she'd be a bad mother (or if he was, he expected her to attack him, not shut down). If the one thing that might make her not go through with this was that she would be a bad mother, maybe she wouldn't be. It's also possible, though I'm not quite sure how good a handle Geralt has on trauma, that he consciously realized he was projecting about what his mother did to him and backed down over that - if nothing else, with no more witchers Yennefer sure can't condemn her kid to being one! While massive trauma makes you more irrational, Geralt does seem introspective and good at controlling his emotions, and the times he failed at it he wasn't given breathing room. (Actually, this may be the longest stretch of time we see with him. First episode is entering a town midday and then concludes in the early morning, second episode is maybe a couple hours, third episode maybe a day + an unknown amount of time unconscious, fourth episode is one night, fifth episode starts in the afternoon, goes through the night, and finishes sometime the next day.)

Yennefer: "I dreamed...of becoming important to someone. Someday."

And in return for Geralt actually asking her about her feelings, he gets an actual answer.

Yennefer, in response to her heartfelt confession being met by Geralt falling asleep: "Do I bore you?"
Geralt: "Not at all. Before we met, the days were calm and the nights were restless. But now..."

So this is confirming that he didn't finally manage to get that nap at the end of last episode just because he was so relieved it was all over and Yennefer just happened to be in the room was all, as well as that this has been a chronic issue throughout the series. He and Yennefer do not have a perfect relationship, but they're generally happier around each other.

I'd also like to point out that there's two things here. "the nights were restless" is confirming the chronic insomnia problem, but it's paired with "the days were calm". It's possible he means this as a paired good/bad: "you do bring drama, but it doesn't end in more nightmares". It's also possible that "the days were calm" is not a positive - this is going down in the context of Geralt admitting he can't tell her what he wanted because he doesn't dare want things, and it's also happening in an episode that centers around something Geralt thinks is morally abhorent but would not have gotten involved in. Without Yennefer, he would have refused to join the dragon hunt and had another calm day instead.

Perhaps Geralt himself isn't sure which he means.

Just as he thinks he's won the don't kill the dragon because that won't get you a kid argument, I think he thinks he's about to win the don't have a kid at all argument.

Geralt: "You're important to me."

And it might've worked! (Probably not permanently, but in the sense it'd get Yennefer away from fixating on it.) We don't get a chance to test it because he hasn't realized that Yennefer does not give up on plans and so the only time this could work is when she's between schemes. In fairness, he may have mistaken the clusterfuck of the djinn as being down to Yennefer's massive trust issues, unaware that Yennefer's massive trust issues do not appear to apply to anything halfway useful for her ever, and mistakenly thought that as he's proven himself trustworthy it'll be fine. I think there's shades of that in him snapping at her over the dragon heart thing - she knows he wouldn't lie to her, surely, so what, she doesn't think he knows his dragon facts inside and out?

Anyway, in the morning we find neither of them have tried to win at relationships by running away first! Wow, progress!


Geralt: "At a quick pace, we can make it back to the Pensive Dragon before sundown."

Geralt, quite reasonably, thinks that if they've talked through their feelings and also the practical fact that dragon hearts do not work that way, there's no remaining problems! His mistake, perhaps, is that he's aware Yennefer is smart, so he missed that she's also very stupid.

Yennefer: "What are you talking about? We're almost at the top. ... I came here for a reason, Geralt. I'm not leaving till I've killed that dragon."

Perhaps part of this, though, is Geralt's own fault. See, he hasn't explained anything about his opinion on dragons or, for that matter, anything about them but that the heart thing won't work. Even his speech about gold dragons that suggested he was seeing himself in the situation a little, which alone isn't telling you much, only happened after the rest of the group left, as did Borch saying he refused to kill dragons.

Geralt thinks he told Yennefer: "Hey, good news! You don't need to choose between murdering an innocent person or having a kid, because murdering them won't help you actually!" (Although it's unclear if even Geralt knows dragons are people before one starts actually talking to him, but given we won't get the other context for why he feels this way until after, and we established early on that he doesn't kill based on whether or not they look human but if they talk, I think it's likely we're meant to assume that he was aware.)

But what Yennefer got was: Dragons are pretty dangerous so I don't think you should take such a big risk for something that probably won't work." Geralt never explained he's in active opposition to dragonslaying, and the only information Yennefer has to go on there is that Geralt kills monsters all the time and also did agree to go on this hunt to kill a dragon. Geralt hasn't given a reason to want to avoid hurting the dragon...and for some reason he still doesn't.

Geralt: "Yen, no! What will it solve?"
Yennefer: "It will solve everything."

We don't know for sure he wouldn't try explaining, because Yennefer does rush off at this point, but it just doesn't seem to occur to him, which suggests as much as he seems to like Yennefer, he thinks she'd dismiss his take on the morality of a situation the same way he's used to from everyone else. This is particularly noticeable because the morality of the situation is the only thing that does finally get through to Yennefer yet Geralt, who's done better at navigating Yennefer than anyone, misses the most obvious thing to try.

And this is a consistent thing with Geralt. It's not that he never mentions his own sense of right and wrong, but it's more often closer to a frustrated outburst at the whole situation than any attempt to reason with the people around him. And if you expect everyone to disagree with your heartfelt values and then go commit what to you are monstrous acts...well, you're just not going to bring it up and give people a chance to make you feel even worse about how awful they are, and if anything, you'll avoid it all the more with anyone you otherwise like, because hearing them explain they don't see a problem with an atrocity is even worse.

Also, to repeat - Yennefer rushes off. Away from Geralt, down the path, to the dwarves, then she overtakes them and gets to the cave. We see a pretty wide view of the mountain, and we do not see Geralt anywhere. We do know that he's already in armor with his bag and swords resting next to him, and he picks up his bag as soon as she does this.

So, what's up with that?

One possibility is that Geralt is just really, really slow, and I'm not sure we've seen him run, so maybe, but it seems weird - especially because with super-strength there's not even the issue that armor and weapons are heavy.

Or maybe it's because he was working up his nerve to try to stop this. We do know Geralt is bad at actually trying to stop things. He was going to avoid this hunt rather than attempt to disrupt it, then he pretends he'll help just so he can follow Yennefer who he assumes is doing something else, then he suggests that they head back and leave the other teams to murder the dragon and/or each other. And, you know, the previous five episodes. But this time, Geralt bursts in shouting: "Stop!" which is a particularly big deal for someone so incredibly bad at actually intervening normally. (And only after he gets further in does he see who else is in the cave, so that appears to be aimed just at Yennefer.) I'm not sure what he would've done here - just keep telling Yennefer not to do this without getting into the fact it's wrong? Actually tell her that? Gone for "I'm not going to fight you but I will physically stand in your way so that you have to kill me first?" and hope Yennefer doesn't explode the one person who said she matters? (Or maybe on some level is hoping for exactly that.)

We don't find out because Yennefer is already questioning if this is the right thing to do, and Geralt isn't going to have to convince her after all.

Instead, they kill loads of other people without hesitation, because again, this is not a show that does hand-wringing about how life may be precious but humans obviously just matter more.

Borch: "Sir Witcher and his sorceress."

So, this, and Borch with Yennefer in general, is just kind of weird. My best guess is that he's crediting Geralt as setting the stage for Yennefer not attacking him here, but I'm not sure that's really borne out by what we see beyond maybe making Yennefer slightly calmer and that being what tips the scale. Really, the cause/effect seems to be a lot closer to that he's only there because Yennefer refused to leave - he wouldn't have come up on his own, and then tried to leave again just minutes ago, and I guess you could say that's because she's "his sorceress" but that's not usually how people use those words.

... Although it should also be mentioned that without Geralt, Yennefer is going the long route behind the Reavers, who might ambush and kill her. So possibly the real string of events is you need Geralt in order to invite Yennefer to take the shortcut so she gets to the cave alive so she can reconsider about killing dragons so Geralt will follow her so they can help fight off the Reavers. (Also, it's only because Yennefer freezes the dwarves that the dwarves aren't first in and getting charbroiled first, before the Reavers even get there, and the dwarves are both generally more sympathetic and used for the plan of convincing people the dragon hunt was a success and to leave the cave with its egg alone.)

Borch: "So I came to find you, the white-haired witcher, the knight who was taught to save dragons instead of kill them."

Ah, and this is our first statement that what's been going on all episode is, apparently, not just a regular witcher thing. Not only that, but it's odd with what we do know about Geralt so far - we know Geralt was raised by witchers, and he told Yennefer he can't remember ever wanting to be something else, and the one other time he's referenced being taught it was by another witcher, and they're presumably the ones with opinions about monster killing. But if it was only the white-haired witcher of all of them that would think he should save a dragon, then this isn't what witchers teach, so what's going on there? It leads in so nicely to the final episodes. This also raises questions about what else Geralt's done in opposition to the humans around him that isn't a regular witcher thing either, and the question in turn of if the reception he gets from humans is somewhat different than the average witcher in return.

As the fight processes, Yennefer ends up in trouble so Geralt throws his weapon into her assailant, which leads to him in trouble in his own fight.

Boholt: "So I get to kill you after all, Witcher."

There continues to be a sense that men just want to pick fights with Geralt as a machismo thing. Quite possibly there were elements of this in the men planning to steal Geralt's stuff too.

This is in some ways a repeat of almost getting pulled down by holding onto the chain, but for once, his sacrifice is instead rewarded by her killing his assailant. Does this tie back into that exchange early in the episode about traveling companions who can kill people? Maybe.

Here they are afterward, sitting together. They've mostly relaxed and any remaining tension seems focused outwardly on Borch explaining the situation.

Borch: "This is my final first. A child. This treasure, this legacy must endure."

To reiterate: this is a recurring theme! The concept of legacy as in children, legacy as what matters, and Borch is particularly hammering in that adoption is a valid way of doing that.

Borch: "Thank you for protecting it. And thank you, Yennefer of Vengerberg. I can see why Geralt didn't want to lose you."

Once again, it's really unclear just what Borch does and doesn't know, as this wording kind of implies he didn't really know what Yennefer was going to do until it happened and only then understood why Geralt was so wrapped up in her, yet at the same time he knows her connection to Nilfgaard and the wish.

Yennefer finds this a little weird and looks at Geralt.

Yennefer: "What does that mean?"

I'm not quite sure what Geralt's thinking here. He definitely thinks it means something that Borch said it. My best guess is that he thinks Borch is bringing this up because he should talk to Yennefer about the wish. He absolutely could tell her that Borch is just talking about why he joined the dragon hunt, after all. At most, maybe Yennefer could be upset that he thought she couldn't handle it herself, but Yennefer came into this with an escort and was willing to admit she was planning to use him to kill the dragon and losing him messes up her plan. She's not actually that wedded to the idea she can do anything. And Borch didn't say anything about a wish, and he's been making comments about Geralt coming on this adventure because he's scared of losing Yennefer too. Geralt could absolutely have given some other answer and been believed, and even has enough wiggle room to argue it wouldn't technically be a lie because maybe Borch didn't mean exactly that.

Now, we have only circumstantial evidence Geralt didn't want to talk about the wish - he falls asleep before she can ask the first time, and while he does skedaddle after that point, he's got reasons to do that without needing a secret he's trying to keep. On the other hand, he does seem to hesitate and do it because he thinks the magic dragon's prompting him to.

Geralt: "In Rinde."

I'm not sure if he expected her to be mad about this, or if he doesn't think she'd mind but is just super insecure. Whatever it was, he was not expecting Yennefer's response.

Yennefer: "That's why we can't escape each other."

Geralt looks confused at this, blinking and shaking his head slightly.

Yennefer: "Why I feel this way inside."

As he realizes where this is going, he stops with the confusion/denial and gets firmer, but distressed.

Geralt: "No."
Yennefer: "It's not because of anything real...or true. You made a wish. It's magic."

This might make sense to a viewer depending on their familiarity with tropes or opinion on things like love potions, but it does not make sense in the context of Yennefer and Geralt's shared relationships with magic. Geralt was made by magic. Geralt and Yennefer just used magic to blast people off their feet so they could be killed more easily. It is absolutely real. Even if he did think she'd be angry about something, there's no way he saw this objection coming.

Geralt: "It's real, Yen."
Yennefer: "How could we ever know?"

However, even if he didn't expect it to go wrong in this specific way, I don't think he's totally surprised. He was expecting her to reject him, and now it's happening, and it's hard for him to respond.

Yennefer: "Disregard for other's freedom has become quite your trademark."

With that in mind, this is probably especially painful. For it to be a trademark, it had to happen more than once - ie, she's not just talking about the djinn but now saying she wasn't free in their subsequent interactions. He had trouble believing she'd want him, she's now saying of course she didn't really.

That Geralt gets angry does, I think, very strongly imply the wish was not along those lines. If it was possible for this to be true, even a little, I think he'd fold and believe it.

Geralt: "I made that wish to save your life."
Yennefer: "I didn't need your help!"
Geralt: "Like fuck you didn't!"

Very different here than him offering help while reassuring her it doesn't mean he thinks she needs it. Here we're seeing the problem is that you can't always dance around her issues, and when you can't, it's probably because you're in the middle of another argument and it's the worst possible time to be starting more fights.

Geralt: "And you, you flit about like a tornado, wreaking havoc, and for what? So you can have a baby? A child is no way to boost your fragile ego, Yen."

This I think is interesting if you look at it as having an edge of jealousy. Geralt is always worrying about the consequences of his actions. He never gets to do what he wants. And then Yennefer is not only doing so, but heedlessly pursuing the very thing he can't touch because he cares about consequences!

Yennefer: "I'll take advice from you about children as soon as you take responsibility for the one you bound to you and then abandoned!"

And then she accuses him of what he already believes is true. That's why he was a mess in Rinde in the first place. He doesn't dare take the kid for their own sake but he also knows that's abandoning his kid.

Borch: "That's enough. I'm going to save you both a lot of hurt with a little pain now. The sorceress will never regain her womb. And though you didn't want to lose her, Geralt, you will."

Now, if we say this is magic dragon prophesy that must be right, what exactly is it saying?

They're yelling at each other, and Borch says to save them hurt now, he'll tell them something. This does make Yennefer jump to just leaving. The thing is, it seems to be about the argument. We know Yennefer doesn't actually exit the story, and also, whether it's by paying attention to spoilers or just picking up context clues, you know that saying Yennefer never gets her womb back isn't the same thing as saying Yennefer never gets a child, even though that's absolutely how Yennefer's going to take it. It seems very unlikely that he'd be cagey on that one and then completely straightforward on Geralt's. (There's also the possibility that just because Borch knows things doesn't mean what he says is true. He may not have the full context, plus nothing says you can't lie on purpose.)

It does seem likely this argument was going to happen at some point, if you assume Geralt wasn't intentionally keeping the wish secret, and it's possibly better to get it over with now as relatively smoothly as possible. But we also know the dragon was needling Yennefer about Nilfgaard, and because Yennefer leaves and goes on a massive spiral, she ends up fighting them. Similarly...

Geralt: "You wanted to show me what I was missing... there she goes."
Borch: "What you're missing is still out there. Your legacy."

...this disaster is what's going to push Geralt to go to Cintra. He was trying to get Yennefer to quit her plan to get a kid and stay with him. And also, he was saying being around her was making him able to think about something other than how he was a horrible person who abandoned his kid.

But first, the only moment anyone else cares about.

Jaskier has been watching this all go down!

Jaskier: "Phew! What a day! (chuckles) I imagine you're probably-"
Geralt: "Damn it, Jaskier! Why is it whenever I find myself in a pile of shit these days, it's you, shoveling it?"
Jaskier: "Well, that's not fair."
Geralt: "The Child Surprise, the djinn, all of it! If life could give me one blessing, it would be to take you off my hands."

So, there's two ways to look at this.

1) Geralt is incredibly upset right now.

The issue isn't whether or not a judge would agree about exactly where the blame goes, it's that Jaskier was there when a lot of things happened, and even more importantly, Jaskier is here right now chuckling. (This may tie in to him assuming Jaskier talking about Borch is because he's composing a song.) Much like last episode, context matters, and someone at the end of their rope is going to be acting differently than they normally would.

2) Geralt is right.

...Let's go through this, shall we?

"The Child Surprise"

Okay, Jaskier didn't make him ask for the Law of Surprise. All Jaskier did was insist he go to a betrothal feast when he kept saying he didn't want to and it was a bad idea, and then he got triggered to hell and back culminating in him asking for the Law of Surprise, which incidentally, something Jaskier did not at all object to. I'm not saying Jaskier is a bad person for not intervening, but I do think it's worth mentioning just because I've seen people arguing it's so hideously unfair to blame Jaskier because Jaskier opposed it or tried to stop Geralt and was ignored and that really did not happen. The person who knew it was a bad idea was Calanthe.

"The djinn"

Again, Jaskier totally didn't make him make that wish. All Jaskier did was set up the situation that made Geralt look for a djinn, then interfered, then tried to steal all the wishes so Geralt didn't realize what had happened, then continued to have a shouting argument so the wish went wrong, then needed to be saved leading to going to Yennefer who then also goes after the djinn which culminates in the wish.

"all of it!"

So, looking at those two things, and the other incident in their first meeting, and how Jaskier is constantly talking over Geralt (as illustrated even in this episode - Jaskier attempts to make Geralt join up over his objection, he just doesn't succeed this particular time in making Geralt)...Geralt objects to things because he's got enough experience to know it's a bad idea, and Jaskier ignores him, and Geralt ends up paying the price for it.

Does this mean Geralt hates Jaskier? No. But the two big things he's upset about right now happened because of Jaskier dragging him into things he'd have otherwise avoided, and given the overall tone of this outburst I think those may have been the biggest but far from the only ones. In both of them, Jaskier wasn't listening to Geralt, which also happens in their first meeting and in Jaskier insisting they go on the dragon hunt this episode, which means 4/4 times we see them together. Whether or not Jaskier doing this causes a problem has more to do with if Geralt is able to ignore him.

In conclusion:

It's about twenty years from Toss a Coin, and people seem to have stopped calling Geralt the Butcher so much! They do not seem to treat witchers as a class much better, though. Speaking of, it's been twenty years and Geralt still doesn't seem pleased about Jaskier writing songs about him, or believe that's coming from a place of empathy.

Once again, Roach is not a murder horse, and once again, it's actually noteworthy how far to the opposite she is and how it seems like Geralt must have intentionally trained her that way. The idea Geralt wants her or Jaskier to be able to defend themselves is not just made up but outright contradicted by what we see happen here, and the sudden threats Jaskier gets give us a clue why as well - people are probably willing to take out their issues with witchers on softer targets if they've given any excuse.

Also once again, Geralt is a genuinely good person who does not need to be best friends with someone to not want them to die.

While book!Geralt was quite into book!Borch, show!Geralt is uncomfortable and mistrustful of him.

Geralt gets along great with the dwarves, in contrast, continuing the pattern that he's positive toward other nonhumans.

Geralt makes no real attempt at moral arguments throughout this episode. He doesn't like the idea of people killing the dragon, but he makes no attempt to talk them out of it, presumably because he's used to no one caring about his idea of morality.

As I mentioned with Calanthe and Eist, the show is unusual in that it avoids portraying relationships that are one-sided pursuits. The plot of this episode revolves around the idea that Geralt is following after Yennefer, and in a lot of media, we'd see Geralt pining after her while she gives no sign she's even aware he's there, or worse, she'd object to it and he'd ignore that to do it anyway. Here, time's spent not only showing Yennefer reciprocates, but showing Geralt seeing this from her. That said, he's pretty hesitant even on top of that,

Please for the love of god stop saying Jaskier's so helpful giving Geralt a peaceful night's sleep. It's not just that it's almost pathological how many story beats of Yennefer's people say are actually Jaskier's, we also have Geralt himself saying he's had sleeping issues throughout the time he's been around Jaskier. If you want an argument that what's going on with Yennefer is bad and Jaskier good, the better one would be that being miserable for lack of Ciri is good because he needs to be pushed until he goes to get her, and Yennefer making it bearable is like taking painkillers instead of fixing what's causing you pain in the first place.

While Geralt is definitely yelling at Jaskier because he's upset, they're not actually situations where Jaskier was blameless and they do fit into a broader pattern of Jaskier causing problems for Geralt.

Geralt flat out says that he thinks it would be kinder for someone to be fed to vampire monsters than live his life.