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There are many things which one could pick at when it comes to the Netflix hit The Witcher. Maybe you tired of all of Geralt's grunting. Or, you (like a lot of viewers) despised the multiple timelines and didn't even know you were watching more than one timeline for quite a while. You might have wanted to see even more of our hero washing the day's monster killing off of his (not so) weary form. But, there's one bizarre plot from Season 1 of the fantasy drama that the showrunner now admits was added to make the show different from Harry Potter: those poor eels!
If you're asking yourself, 'What eels?' then you weren't nearly as traumatized as I was by the sight of them in The Witcher, nor as confused as most fans of the books and games were when they saw them. The reveal of how those eels come to power the magic school where Yenn was trained isn't present in the source material, and when The Witcher's showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, spoke with TV Guide about some wild fan theories for the series, she admitted they added that plot to differentiate the school at Aretuza from Hogwarts. Schmidt Hissrich said:
That came from the brain of Jenny Klein, one of the writers. You know, I have two kids. They're huge fans of Harry Potter. So I have read, seen, done everything about magic schooling. And it was like, what's different about Aretuza? How do we not make it just become this beautiful place where you go and you get powers and you get anything you want, because that takes conflict out of it. So it was fun to sort of watch all of these young women come together and join and feel like, 'Oh, this is our family.' And then some of them are, as we said in the room, eels at the end.
Ah, that's right! Now you remember the eels, don't you? Yenn does not have an easy go of it during her training at Aretuza, which makes total sense, seeing as how the scared girl was sold to her soon-to-be magical teacher, Tissaia, by her hateful stepfather. Plus, the training at Aretuza is no joke, and if any of the girls who train there screw themselves up trying to perfect their skills, well, too bad so sad.
As any professor would, Tissaia works with the young women to see who's the most capable of harnessing chaos and using magic, and she promises that those who are good at it will "ascend." But, we soon see that this is a lie, because when Yenn spies on her one night she sees Tissaia turn some of Yenn's fellow students into eels. When Tissaia realizes that Yenn is snooping, she makes the girl push her former classmates into the water, which lets their power fuel Aretuza.
Shocking and disturbing though the revelation was to both Yennefer and the audience, the bizarre plot twist absolutely helped to set Aretuza apart from the Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame. While the latter magical academy is hardly an easy place to live and learn your craft, at least none of the teachers were actively lying to the kids so that they could trick them into a transformation which would alter their lives forever; a transformation which pretty much no one would agree to on any level.
So, the girls who train at Aretuza are allowed to grow as much as they can, become friends who rely on each other, and then, those who aren't powerful enough to become full-blown sorceresses get turned into eel-based power sources. Brutal, but intriguing nonetheless.