Weekly coverage of A Discovery of Witches continues as Diana makes a startling discovery about the nature of her powers as Matthew’s peacemaking efforts cause further problems.
Let’s bitch it out…
The plot really takes off this week as Matthew (Matthew Goode)’s effort to stay on neutral ground between Father Hubbard (Paul Rhys) and William Cecil (Adrian Rawlins) only earns him more ire. Not only is he forced to promise his father Philippe’s favourtism to Hubbard, but his insubordination to Cecil lands him in the sights of Queen Elizabeth (Barbara Marten), who demands he and Diana (Teresa Palmer) immediately present themselves at Whitehall.
Diana, meanwhile, is busy working with Goody Aslop (Sheila Hancock) to discover which of the four elements she will “weave” with. Naturally it’s not quite as simple as that: it quickly becomes evident that Diana is the rare witch who connects with earth, air, fire and water equally. Alas her tutelage is cut short when Matthew is forced to promise Elizabeth that they will track down a missing library scribe who has abdicated with Ashmole to the court of Emperor Rudolph II in Bohemia.
A few significant characters make their debut appearance in this episode. The first is obviously Queen Elizabeth, who proves to be every bit the cranky, demanding, powerful figure we expect. Marten alternates between mildly paranoid and almost flirty when it comes to Queen Elizabeth’s interactions with Matthew, whom she appears fond of (albeit less so now that he has a random wife).
The other major character is Matthew’s “nephew” Gallowglass (Steven Cree), who arrives almost exclusively to reveal that Philippe knows that Matthew is in London. The episode treats Gallowglass’ arrival like a big moment, though for audiences (like me) who haven’t read the book, it’s unclear why Gallowglass is such a big deal.
- The way that A Discovery of Witches keeps teasing Philippe’s appearance is really building a ton of anticipation. Here’s hoping that Purefoy can deliver the goods when he shows up.
- Poor Kit (Tom Hughes): not only is he obviously desperately in love with Matthew, he draws his love interest’s ire when Matthew blames him for his troubles with Cecil. Hughes has actually had less to do than I expected on the series considering the famed character he’s playing, but the actor is doing a good job of selling Kit’s struggle with Diana’s presence.
- Having praised the FX on London back in the first episode, some of the city scenes here look quite a bit more dodgy (the last shot set in 1590 as they row away in particular looks…not great). The effects involving Diana’s elemental threads and the tree she sprouts as she attempts to tie the four knots is far more impressive.
- Speaking of praise-worthy elements, this episode deserves major props for the costuming when Diana and Matthew go to Whitehall. The period-specific detailing has really elevated the look of the show this season. There aren’t a ton of funny moments on A Discovery of Witches, but there’s something amusing about Elizabeth (Victoria Yeates) and her maids descending upon Diana to prepare her for an audience with the Queen.
- As Matthew and Diana prepare to journey to Bohemia, they say goodbye to Jack (Joshua Pickering) whom they leave behind. This episode really leans into Jack being their surrogate son, to the point of Matthew comforting him after a nightmare and Diana offering him the painted miniatures that the Daemons gave her in S1.
For the first time in three episodes, we finally have something substantial going on in the modern day storylines:
- The wrap-around is Vampire Council member Domenico (Gregg Chillin) using the discovery of a brutally murdered person as leverage against Peter Knox (Owen Teague). The suggestion that the De Clermont bloodline is responsible for the “Blood Rage” is intriguing, though at the moment it’s more of a dangling plot thread for next week.
- There’s also a brief piece with Aunt Em (Valarie Pettiford) performing a spell in the middle of the night wherein she calls on the spirit of Rebecca (Sophia Myles), Diana’s mother. For now, it’s unclear where this is going.
A Discovery of Witches airs weekly on Fridays on Sky One (UK) and Saturdays on Sundance and Shudder (in North America).