Following a time walking cliffhanger (which really wasn’t a cliffhanger if you saw any of the Season 2 promotional material), A Discovery of Witches returns with its second season in a very different setting.
The first season was greatly praised for its characters, world-building, and lack of “teen drama” that seems ever so prevalent in vampire romance media. Can this new season and setting live up to that? Let’s find out!
Old Year, Old Me
Upon successfully escaping the Congregation via time travel, Matthew and Diana arrive at London in the year 1590. Immediately they go to his house, where he tells everyone she’s his wife and he attempts to maintain the mirage that he is in fact the version of himself from that time (who just went off traveling).
Even back then the suspicions and distrust between vampires and witches is ever prevalent, and such they must conceal Diana’s true identity as she attempts to find a teacher to learn more about her powers and eventually locate the Book of Mysteries.
It’s rather fascinating to see Matthew Goode have to take on almost three entirely different characters. In the first season we saw his private persona that fell for Diana, and his public persona that attempted to keep the peace and balance with the Congregation.
Now in 1590, he still has the private one, but he has to be Matthew the political/historical figure, as well as Matthew the 1590’s version of himself that those close to him expect him to be. And while he struggles with that identity crisis, Diana finds herself at odds with one of them.
The world has changed immensely in the last few decades, let alone the last few centuries. And while the episode does gloss over the issue of smell (apparently they’re in a high class area that doesn’t smell as bad), and it completely overlooks the whole bathroom situation, which would be quite the shock to anyone coming from the 21st Century, Diana finds herself most horrified at how people are treated.
Matthew himself (staying in line what he was doing at that time) is spying on Catholics so they can be persecuted at the hands of the Protestant government headed by Elizabeth I (in a complete shift from the bloody treatment of Protestants by Elizabeth’s older sister Mary when she was queen). History is a messy subject, and it’s enlightening to see that the series doesn’t shy away from that fact.
There’s even a starving young boy who attempts to pickpocket, and while Matthew responds to him with hostility, which clearly bothers Diana, she offers the boy mercy. One of the primary criticisms of historical fiction is that protagonists are often given modern day morals that set them apart greatly from the unjust social norms of the day. And usually it feels quite contrived. However, the trope actually works out here because Diana is quite literally from our modern time. And it will be interesting to see that play out.
Setting the Stage
As far as the magical plot goes, this season premiere was admittedly light, but for good reason. After all the tension at the end of Season 1, we needed a chance to breathe with this characters and have them get accustomed to their new setting, as the viewers do the same with the show itself.
As a former history major, it’s a lot of fun to see them in another century, and hopefully the series makes of the most of it. But all in all, it’s off to great start!
What did you think of the season premiere? What do you hope to see going forward? Let us know in the comments!
A Discovery of Witches airs Fridays on Sky One in the UK, and is streaming on Sundance Now and Shudder in the US
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