‘The Witcher on Netflix: Why are girls turned into eels in the fantasy series?

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The Witcher, based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, transports viewers to a captivating fantasy world where monster hunters, sorceresses, and a wide array of mythical creatures coexist. While the series introduces audiences to a host of intriguing and fantastical elements, it also delivers some unexpected and unusual moments. One such instance occurs in season 1 when Tissaia, a powerful sorceress, performs a transformation spell that turns some of her Aretuza students into eels.

Despite the abundance of magical occurrences and extraordinary beings in The Witcher, this particular transformation stands out as one of the show’s weirdest and most memorable moments. The scene showcases the versatility of the show’s storytelling, delving into the mystical and occasionally bizarre aspects of its world.

The popularity of The Witcher was evident even before its release on Netflix in December 2019. Recognizing the immense potential and the strong fan following, Netflix made the remarkable decision to renew the series for a second season prior to the premiere of the first season. This early renewal demonstrated the streaming giant’s confidence in the show’s ability to captivate audiences with its rich storytelling, intricate characters, and immersive world-building.

With its blend of epic fantasy, complex characters, and gripping narratives, The Witcher has become one of Netflix’s most successful TV seasons to date. The series has garnered a passionate and dedicated fan base, eagerly anticipating each new season and exploring the depths of the enthralling universe created by Sapkowski.

'The Witcher on Netflix: Why are girls turned into eels in the fantasy series?
Courtesy of Netflix

As the show continues to expand its lore and introduce new characters and storylines, fans can expect to encounter more surprises, both thrilling and peculiar, as they embark on further adventures alongside Geralt of Rivia and the intriguing inhabitants of The Witcher’s mesmerizing world.

The Witcher series on Netflix masterfully delved into the backstory of Yennefer of Vengerberg, portrayed by the talented Anya Chalotra, providing viewers with a compelling narrative that showcased her remarkable journey and transformation into one of the most formidable sorceresses of Aretuza. However, Yennefer’s path to power was far from smooth, and she faced a series of challenging and often traumatic events along the way.

One of the most poignant and disturbing moments in Yennefer’s storyline occurred when she witnessed the transformation of some of her fellow classmates into eels. This event added a layer of darkness and tragedy to Yennefer’s already tumultuous journey. It showcased the harsh realities and sacrifices that were sometimes required in the pursuit of magical abilities and power within the world of Aretuza.

By exploring the profound impact of such traumatic experiences on Yennefer’s character, the series highlighted the complexities of her emotional and psychological growth. These events shaped her perspective and motivations, ultimately contributing to her development as a deeply complex and multifaceted character.

The inclusion of this unsettling event served to deepen the audience’s understanding of the sacrifices and hardships that characters like Yennefer faced in their pursuit of magical mastery. It added a sense of realism and gravity to the fantastical world of The Witcher, reminding viewers that even within a realm of magic and mythical creatures, there are still moments of darkness and tragedy.

As the series continues to unfold, fans can anticipate further exploration of Yennefer’s character and the impact of her past experiences. The Witcher showcases a willingness to delve into the depths of its characters’ psyches, providing a rich and textured narrative that keeps viewers engaged and invested in their journeys.

The Witcher on Netflix skillfully portrayed Yennefer’s challenging path to becoming a powerful sorceress, incorporating traumatic events such as the transformation of her classmates into eels. This narrative choice added depth and complexity to her character, emphasizing the hardships and sacrifices that were integral to her growth. It serves as a reminder that even in a fantasy world, characters face moments of darkness and emotional turmoil, making their journeys all the more captivating and relatable.

Why Tissaia Turned The Aretuza Girls Into Eels?

In Netflix’s The Witcher, Yennefer’s journey takes a dark turn when she is sold to Tissaia de Vries and brought to Aretuza. Despite struggling in her classes, Yennefer manages to pass a test orchestrated by Tissaia, giving her hope of “ascending” alongside her fellow classmates. Tissaia instructs Yennefer to “listen for the knock,” indicating that she might be chosen for the next phase. However, Tissaia bypasses Yennefer’s door, leaving her disappointed and curious.

Driven by curiosity, Yennefer sneaks out of her room to spy on Tissaia and the selected girls who are meant to “ascend.” To her shock, she discovers that the ritual involves transforming the girls into eels. This disturbing transformation serves a purpose within Aretuza. By turning the apprentices into eels, Tissaia strips them of their autonomy but not their inherent power. These transformed girls then become conduits for Aretuza’s power, forced to live out their days as eels in a pool at the bottom of the tower.

'The Witcher on Netflix: Why are girls turned into eels in the fantasy series?
Courtesy of Netflix

Yennefer, however, was not chosen for this fate. Tissaia recognized her potential and saw her as someone who shouldn’t be wasted by becoming an eel. According to the official site for Netflix’s The Witcher, the white pool at the tower’s base is Aretuza’s power source, and mages who are unable to harness chaos are transformed into eels to provide power to the academy.

The criteria for selecting which apprentices become eels and which ones go through proper initiations to become sorceresses appears to be based on talent, or lack thereof. The least talented girls are chosen to become eels, although occasionally a talented individual may be chosen to serve as an eel if they cannot be trusted due to their abilities. Tissaia explains to Yennefer that their powers make them conduits of chaos, and there are two types of mages: those who control their emotions and those whose emotions control them. The transformation into eels is a means for Tissaia to help the apprentices better control the chaos within them and channel it into magic.

While this practice is unusual and cruel, it is not a random act from Tissaia. It serves a purpose within the magical hierarchy of Aretuza, even though it is morally questionable. The revelation of this practice adds another layer of complexity to the world of The Witcher, highlighting the sacrifices and manipulations present within the world of magic and power.

Yennefer’s experience at Aretuza takes a dark turn when she discovers the ritual of transforming apprentices into eels. This practice, orchestrated by Tissaia, serves as a means to control the chaos within the girls and harness their powers. While the selection process appears to be based on talent, it is not without its cruelties. The revelation of this practice adds depth to the narrative, shedding light on the sacrifices and manipulations that exist within the world of magic in The Witcher.

Aretuza’s Unique Approach: Differentiating from Hogwarts in The Witcher

When it comes to magical schools depicted in popular culture, comparisons to Hogwarts are almost inevitable. The presence of young students in a boarding school setting, learning to wield magic, naturally evokes imagery of robed figures and wands, largely thanks to the immense cultural impact of the Harry Potter series. However, Aretuza, the magical school in Netflix’s The Witcher, stands apart from Hogwarts in several significant ways. And one notable divergence comes in the form of Tissaia turning her students into eels, a plot point absent from the original novels and video games that serve as the source material for The Witcher.

'The Witcher on Netflix: Why are girls turned into eels in the fantasy series?
Courtesy of Netflix

Differentiating Aretuza and Hogwarts

Lauren Schmidt Hirsch, the showrunner of The Witcher, openly acknowledged that the decision to have Tissaia transform her students into eels was a deliberate move to create a distinct contrast between Aretuza and Hogwarts. In an interview with TV Guide, Hirsch admitted that they wanted to avoid Aretuza becoming a simple magical place where students acquire powers and fulfill their desires without consequences. The inclusion of the eel transformation served as a pivotal point of differentiation, highlighting the unique nature of Aretuza’s teaching methods and the conflicts that arise within its walls.

The Significance of the Eels

Credit for the introduction of the eels as a plot point goes to writer Jenny Klein, who contributed to crafting The Witcher’s narrative. The transformation into eels provided a means to generate conflict within the setting of Aretuza, a place where young women might have anticipated finding a magical family. Not all the students at Aretuza are able to experience that sense of belonging. Instead, some unfortunate individuals find themselves subjected to the eel transformation, adding complexity and tension to the story.

Aretuza in The Witcher sets itself apart from Hogwarts by adopting a different approach to magical education. The decision to have Tissaia turn her students into eels was a deliberate creative choice to differentiate Aretuza from the iconic school of witchcraft and wizardry. This unique plot point, absent from the source material, adds layers of conflict and challenges within the magical academy, creating a distinct narrative that sets The Witcher apart from other magical school stories in popular culture.

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Nikhat Parveen
Nikhat Parveen
Nikhat Parveen is a Literature Enthusiast. She is Currently Pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi, India. She holds the position of Entertainment Writer at AWSMONE and also is a Published Poet. She has been working as a Content Writer and Interviewer for the past 3 years and as an Honorary Reporter.