Weekly coverage of A Discovery of Witches continues as Queen Elizabeth and Matthew’s sister Louisa spark some much needed conflict back in 1591.
Let’s bitch it out…
Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer) return to London to mixed reception. Goody Aslop (Sheila Hancock), who has apparently been quite ill, is delighted that Diana is ready to resume her training. Queen Elizabeth I (Barbara Marten), however, is less thrilled that her “Shadow” defied her orders from 2.03 and returned with a book rather than Edward Kelley.
Meanwhile, Kit (Tom Hughes) and Louisa (Elaine Cassidy) join forces to get rid of Diana, though their plans differ greatly: Kit wants to bind Diana and put her on a ship, while Louisa actively wants to kill her. Needless to say, things don’t turn out well for either of them.
While there’s really only two plotlines in this penultimate episode, it feels exceedingly packed because there’s a ton of big developments. Not only is it revealed that Diana is pregnant with Matthew’s child (a plot point anticipated by their adoption of Joshua Pickering’s Jack this season), Diana finally resumes her weaver training and identifies her familiar: a fire drake named Corra.
Then there’s Matthew’s confession to Queen Liz that he and Diana are time travellers, which then requires him to reassure the monarch about her legacy in a scene that is both touching and surprisingly sexual. Healing a toothache is never as sensual as on A Discovery of Witches!
- While the big confrontation between Louisa and Diana is entertaining, it leaves something to be desired, if only because Diana is once again restrained from fully unleashing her powers. A Discovery of Witches loves to have both of its central pair use their powers for violence only to have their partner walk them back, but there’s a mildly misogynistic undercurrent to it. Diana always saves Matthew from his blood rage using her love as leverage. When he stops her, however, it’s always under the guise of protecting her despite the fact that, as we see here, Diana is clearly able to take care of herself.
- Shout-out to the location scout who found that cave/factory set where Diana takes on Louisa and Kit. It’s wet and rocky, with a sloping angled roof; basically it’s exceedingly evocative and perfectly sets the stage for a threatening encounter.
- It’s pretty ingenious of Diana to quote Kit’s own words – from Hero and Leander – back to him in an attempt to win him over. The most (unintentionally?) amusing moment of the episode occurs immediately before when Louisa argues that Kit has been struggling with his words since Diana’s arrival. This has to be an euphemism for erectile dysfunction, right?
- The effects work on Corra the fire drake are reminiscent of Fawkes, the phoenix from Harry Potter, which unfortunately makes it seem like an inferior knock-off.
- Call it juvenile, but Diana’s rhyming voice over as she works her way through the knots really works. A Discovery of Magic really comes alive in the scenes when Diana does her weaving. It’s a great marriage of FX, camera work and score to make a pretty static sequence feel impactful.
- Speaking of impactful: the moment when Matthew explains that Queen Elizabeth I will be remembered forever is simple, but very effective. A slow tilt of the camera frames “Bess” in a low-angle shot, bathing her in light from the window, which emphasizes her regal power as she basks in the knowledge that her legacy is intact five hundred years in the future.
- Between the erotic tooth encounter and the final scene, 2.09 is easily the sexiest episode of A Discovery of Witches’ second season. Sadly that moment in bed between Matthew and Diana, with its swelling score, blood cleavage and golden forehead shower, played more silly than sultry.
- Next week: finale time! The preview suggests more modern day stuff than 1591, which leads me to believe that the few scenes with Matthew and Diana will simply focus on getting them back to the present as war breaks loose between the Congregation and the de Clermonts.
A Discovery of Witches airs weekly on Fridays on Sky One (UK) and Saturdays on Sundance Now and Shudder (in North America).