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How The Witcher's Henry Cavill Handled That 'Heart-Wrenching' Surprise Death In Season 2

the witcher season 2 netflix ciri geralt after roach
(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning! SPOILERS AHEAD for The Witcher Season 2. Feast on some of our other Witchin’ content until you’ve caught up!

If you, like many fans of The Witcher, have spent the past few days watching the new season of Netflix’s fantasy mega hit, you know that there are a lot of surprises held within. While several of those can be found in The Witcher Season 2 ending, a major shock came early in Episode 6 in the form of a death I (and many other viewers, I’m sure) had hoped wouldn’t happen. That’s right, folks, Geralt’s beloved horse, Roach, is no longer with us, but we now know how star Henry Cavill handled that “heart-wrenching” death scene.

Look, I get how this works. The Witcher is a show with a lot of destruction, war, political machinations, and death, so that naturally means that audiences will sometimes find themselves attached to a character who will eventually bite the dust. But, that doesn’t mean that it was easy to watch poor Roach be unceremoniously clawed up by an extremely dangerous chernobog. 

Some of what we see in this season is taken from the book, Blood of Elves, and when Henry Cavill spoke with Digital Spy about the moment where we lose Roach, he noted that there’s a scene from the novel he loved which couldn’t be included in the show, so he pulled from it to help send Roach on her way. That is a scene where Geralt spends some time with Death at the top of Sodden Hill, after he passes out from his ghoul bite, and Death talks to him “about crossing over in this lovely sort of poetic piece.” According to Cavill:

I thought it was such a shame that we missed that beat in the story. It's such an informative beat, as to Geralt's personality. [I] really wanted to bring some of [Andrzej] Sapkowski's poetic nature of Geralt into it. It was heart-wrenching, but not intentionally. It's not like the horse thought, 'I’m going to act the hell out of this'. It's because he was lying down. And because horses are so heavy, his breathing just sounded like death rattles – the last breaths. It was really quite a powerful moment for all of us there. He knocked it out of the park, that horse.

Sigh…Well, Cavill is correct that adding that speech to the scene where Roach is lying on the ground wheezing and bleeding out from nasty chernobog claw wounds on her belly did help to make the moment even more of a big ol’ heartbreak. Geralt had taken Ciri from Kaer Morhen to deliver her to another old teacher of his, Nenneke, but while they were traveling came upon the monster. 

He tries to fight it, but the chernobog eventually goes for Ciri, who’s waiting on Roach. She falls off, and our horse friend gets got. Of course, there’s nothing to do but see Roach to the other side as quickly as possible so that she doesn’t have to suffer for hours, so right before he slits her throat, Geralt says:

Enjoy your last walk across the meadow and through the mist. Be not afraid of Her, for She is your friend.

You guys? It was so sad. And, Henry Cavill makes a good point about the horse actor who played Roach, as it did a very good job being still and looking fucking terrified. While Cavill’s instinct to pull inspiration from something in the source material that had to be left out really worked to show what Roach’s death meant to Geralt, it should also be noted that he did an appropriate amount of lip-quivering / jaw-tensing to show that Geralt was, once again, pushing as much of that sadness as possible right back into his Witcher body, just like he was taught to do all those years ago. I hate that Roach is gone, but at least she got a good send off.

You can revisit all of The Witcher on Netflix right now, but while you wait for Season 3, be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule

Adrienne Jones

Bachelor Nation, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.