Why The Aretuza Girls Turned Into Eels


The Witcher took viewers to a fantasy world where monster hunters, sorceresses, and various mythical creatures co-exist – and yet one of season 1’s weirdest moments was when Tissaia turned some of her Aretuza girls into eels. Based on the book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher was first released on Netflix in December 2019, and it might be the streaming giant’s biggest TV season ever. Netflix was aware of the popularity of The Witcher and renewed the series for a second season before the first one was even out.


The series gave Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) a proper backstory, allowing viewers to follow her journey and transformation to become one of the most powerful sorceresses of Aretuza – but the road wasn’t easy, and she experienced and witnessed some traumatic events, such as when some of her classmates were turned into eels.

Related: The Witcher’s Deleted Yennefer Scenes Explained (& Why They Were Cut)

Why Tissaia Turned The Aretuza Girls Into Eels

Tissaia looking serious in The Witcher season 1

Netflix’s The Witcher sees Yennefer sold to Tissaia de Vries (MyAnna Buring) and taken to Aretuza. Although she didn’t excel at her classes, Yennefer passed a test orchestrated by Tissaia, which gave her hope of “ascending” with the rest of her classmates. Tissaia told her to “listen for the knock,” but she skipped Yennefer’s door. Yennefer snuck out of her room to spy on Tissaia and those who were chosen to “ascend,” only to find out that the ritual consisted of turning the girls into eels.

The Aretuza apprentices actually serve a purpose as eels, as cruel as this transformation (and the whole “ascend” trick) is. By turning them into eels, Tissaia is taking away their control, but not their power, thus serving as a conduit for Aretuza. Yennefer wasn’t chosen as Tissaia saw her potential, and turning her into an eel would have been a real waste. According to the official site for Netflix’s The Witcher, the pool with white water at the bottom of the tower is Aretuza’s power source, and the “mages not capable of harnessing chaos are transformed into eels, forced to live out their days in this pool and provide power to the academy.”

The criteria for choosing which Aretuza apprentices will be turned into eels and which ones will have proper initiations (and thus become sorceresses) seems to be the least talented girls in the group, though there might be a talented one among them from time to time, chosen to serve as an eel as she can’t be trusted.

Tissaia mentioned to Yennefer that their powers make them “conduits of chaos” and that there are two types of mages – those who control their emotions and those who let their emotions control them. Tissaia turns the Aretuza apprentices into eels to help them to better control that chaos and turn it into magic. It’s a weird practice, but it wasn’t a random act from Tissaia, though it is quite cruel.

Why Tissaia Didn’t Turn Yennefer Into An Eel

Yennefer the sorceress casts waves of fire in The Witcher season 1

As such, Tissaia spared Yennefer the fate of being turned into an eel due to Yennefer’s rapidly growing powers in The Witcher season 1. While many of the Aretuza girls who were turned into eels had already hit the ceiling of their respective potencies, Tissaia rightfully noticed Yennefer’s burgeoning abilities, which ensured she did not fit the criteria of being transformed.

Furthermore, Tissaia’s prescience allowed her to see the formidable mage Yennefer would become in future seasons of The Witcher and understood that turning her into an eel would lead to a darker future in which Nilfgaard won the battle of Sodden Hill. Simply put, Yennefer was already far too valuable to Tissaia, even if the young mage did not know it herself at the time, meaning Yennefer was never going to be turned into one of Aretuza’s eels in The Witcher season 1.

The Witcher Eel Scene Was Added To Make Aretuza Different From… Hogwarts

Yennefer watches Tissaia turn Aretuza students into eels in The Witcher season 1

It’s inevitable when a school that teaches magical skills in pop culture appears, it’s going to be compared to Hogwarts. That’s true with Aretuza in Netflix’s The Witcher as well. The idea of young people in a boarding school learning to harness magic does conjure up images of robed figures and wands thanks to Harry Potter’s huge pop culture presence. Aretuza, however, is very different from Hogwarts, so Tissaia turning her students into eels is one more way to differentiate the two.

The plot point of magical students being turned into eels isn’t one present in the novels or video games that provide the source material for The Witcher. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hirsch admitted to TV Guide that the particular plot point was made to create a major point of difference between Aretuza and Hogwarts. Hirsch explained that they didn’t want Aretuza to simply be a magical place where, “you go, and you get powers, and you get anything you want.”

Hirsch credits writer Jenny Klein with the addition of the eels, and notes that they’re a way to still create conflict in an environment where young women might have believed themselves to have found a magical family. Not all the women get to have that family at Aretuza; instead, some of the magical students end up as eels in The Witcher.

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  • Denis Ava

    Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

Denis Ava
Denis Avahttps://allbusinessreviews.org/
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

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