The Witcher Season 2 was recently released, expanding the magical world we came to love two years ago. While it's generally agreed that the second season is quite confusing for those who haven't read the books or rewatch Season 1 recently, there were plenty of twists and turns, including an unsettling revelation about Ciri's father. Book and game fans, however, were perplexed and saddened by a death in the series that they didn't expect to see. So, why did Eskel die in Season 2 of The Witcher and does he also die in the books?
Attention: Spoilers Below!
The Witcher Season 2: Who Is Eskel?
Eskel is one of the many witchers Geralt reunites with when he takes Ciri to Kaer Morhen. Like Geralt, Eskel was trained by Vesemir. Eskel and Geralt grew up together like brothers. Having endured most trials side by side in their early life, and having survived the mutation that turned them into witchers, they have a very strong bond.
Compared to his series' counterpart, book Eskel has a very mild personality. He's polite, proper, and more mature than other witchers and does not enjoy unnecessary conflict, even when he disagrees. Knowing that the witchers often felt compelled to develop gruff or violent personalities, he sounds like a breath of fresh air in Kaer Morhen. That being the case, book fans were frustrated by his death early in Season 2, which did not happen in the source material.
The Witcher Season 2: Why Did Eskel Die?
In the show, Eskel dies relatively shortly after being introduced. He appears to have survived a monster known as leshy - a forest deity. Instead, he becomes infected by it and attacks his own brothers in Kaer Morhen. Geralt eventually has to kill him.
But why did this have to happen, if it wasn't a book event? Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich provided an explanation in The Witcher Unlocked, a Netflix-released post-show video. Hissrich mentioned that the initial plan was to kill a character of less importance. However, they eventually decided that the death of a character both the fanbase and Geralt had a connection with was the way to move the story forward.
In Hissrich's own words: "[Eskel's] death is what changes everything for Geralt. I think it propels Geralt's need to figure out what's going on with Ciri and to do it fast, because he knows... he's going to risk losing her and his brothers if he doesn't. And we really just wanted to motivate that character journey for him."
While understandable, the change still doesn't feel justified for many fans. Besides, killing off Eskel so early did little for show-only fans from an emotional perspective. We barely knew Eskel. He was more than any random witcher, but only by a little bit, if you haven't read the books or played the game. While we understand that the character meant a lot to Geralt, he hadn't come to mean a lot to us. In that sense, it can be argued that the decision to kill off Eskel wasn't the most successful. Not only did it do little for those only familiar with the show, but it also annoyed book fans.
Also Read: The Witcher Season 2: Who Is Ciri's Father?