Weekly coverage of A Discovery of Witches continues as Benjamin (Jacob Ifan) and Baldwin (Trystan Gravelle) move against Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer).
Let’s bitch it out…
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- Season 1 (Links to Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr podcast)
- Season 2: 2.01 / 2.02 / 2.03 / 2.04 / 2.05 / 2.06 / 2.07 / 2.08 / 2.09 / 2.10
- Season 3: 3.01 / 3.02 / 3.03 / 3.04
The action relocates to Sept-Tours as the day of the twins’ baptism looms. While Marthe (Sorcha Cusack) and Ysabeau (Lindsay Duncan) are elated to welcome the babies to the castle, the latter worries that the celebration is an act of war.
As the majority of the cast celebrate, Baldwin arrives late, demanding to test the babes, prompting a dramatic showdown between brothers. In the end, Diana makes a pledge to Baldwin that could doom the entire de Clermont family.
With the emphasis on family, there are no new characters of note introduced, so perhaps let’s use this space to address the extremely icky subplot involving Benjamin.
This would be uncomfortable regardless of how it was handled, but A Discovery of Witches does an appallingly bad job of introducing Benjamin’s new plot to abduct and rape witches in Germany. Rape is often used in TV and films as a shorthand to confirm that a villain is truly “evil”, often without giving any screen time to the experience of the rape survivor. While Lena, the woman Benjamin assaults, gets a certain amount of screen time, nothing is known about her except her trauma and Matthew even has the gall to angrily defend himself when Lena suggests that Benjamin blames Matthew.
This whole storyline exists solely to explore the conflict between Matthew and Benjamin and it is using women as bodies to be raped and impregnated. It’s aggressively not good and the writers should have adapted Harkness’ subplot with much more care.
- The notable absentee from the baptism is Gallowglass, who presumably is still out riding hog and nursing his broken heart.
- I really appreciated the (admittedly brief) scenes of Sarah (Alex Kingston) working through her grief of being back at the site of her wife’s murder. I had major reservations about Aunt Em’s death in last season’s finale, but these moments help acknowledge that it wasn’t merely a plot point to escalate the stakes.
- Speaking of stakes: what is Diana thinking when she offers Baldwin reassurance that she and Matthew will take responsibility for all of his children’s actions (which includes Benjamin)?! There are plenty of hasty decisions made in the heat of the moment in this episode, but this one seems particularly misguided. Maybe have a calm, collected chat with a few folks before you go offering yourself up, Diana?
- Speaking of heat (heh), how awesome is the moment when Diana once again goes off on Baldwin? After she nearly strangled him back in 3.02, I would have thought Baldwin would know better than to cross the world’s most powerful witch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Diana is the strongest character on this series and I love seeing her use her powers. More please!
- There’s a brief, but fascinating moment late in the episode when Sarah asks why Diana only used elemental spells and not her weaving. Diana reveals that she could feel the tenth – and final – knot spell, but that when she uses it, it could have the power to heal or break the world. So…that’s some pretty exciting foreshadowing.
- I’ve buried the lede but this episode confirms the supernatural identities of the two babies: the boy, Philip Michael Addison Sorley, is a witch and the girl, Rebecca Aurelie Emily Martha, is a vampire. Naturally Matthew blows a fuse when she sees Diana feeding Rebecca blood, which resulted in much eye rolling in my house. I know he has Blood Rage, but the dude needs to chill.
- In Congregation news: despite Agatha (Tanya Moodie)’s best efforts to keep the peace, Gerbert d’Aurillac (Trevor Eve) declares Baldwin a shitty leader and disbands the Council, which basically confirms that the vampires are going to war against ours protagonists, who are all newly minted Knights of Lazarus who have taken a vow to protect each other. Sidebar: that scene is extremely cool.
- Phoebe (Adelle Leonce) is demanding that Marcus (Edward Bluemel) turn her into a vampire. Ummm, haven’t they only known each other for a few months? I can’t with this…
- Gathering so many characters in a single location is a huge undertaking (and often very costly), so I understand why we don’t often get a congregation like this, but seeing characters like Ransome (Parker Sawyers) and Fernando (Olivier Huband) at Sept-Tours is pretty fun.
- Finally: credit to the music supervisor because the songs leading into the closing credits have been A+ this season. This episode features London Grammar’s cover of “Nightcall” and it’s a banger.
A Discovery of Witches airs weekly on Fridays on Sky Max (UK) and Saturdays on AMC and Shudder (in North America)