Following an entire episode set in the present, A Discovery of Witches returns this week to 1590, and picks up with Matthew and Diana. We learn a bit more about the greater politics happening at that time, and delve deeper into Matthew and Diana’s relationship in a way we haven’t since the first season.
(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)
We begin with Matthew and Diana arriving in France upon the call of Matthew’s father Philippe. The mood is a blend of tension and excitement as Matthew, while missing his father in the present, knows just how cunning and manipulative he can be. Diana just seems excited to delve further into Matthew’s family and learn more about them.
Meanwhile, back in London, Matthew’s sister Louisa arrives, and she definitely seems to be his tonal opposite in her personality and behavior. For some vampires the blood lust is more than just a need for sustenance, and even becomes a hobby or joy.
And that’s very much the case here. It’s interesting because her temperament seems closer to what one might find it modern day, and it’s kind of refreshing to see a more upbeat and outgoing personality among all the uptight and “proper” Elizabethans.
After a short journey, Matthew and Diana arrive at his father’s estate, where we finally meet the frequently referenced Philippe de Clermont. He’s charming, elegant, and brilliantly tactical and calculating. He’s already well aware of Diana being a witch and rather than disapproving of her, he feigns acceptance, while driving an emotional wedge between them, in pure Machiavellian fashion.
James Purefoy absolutely steals every scene he’s in, even though it’s just a few. His charisma was already demonstrated in series like Rome and The Following, and here as well. Purefoy does a great job of always seeming in control.
With Matthew and Diane, not only does he get between them, but he’s almost gleeful about doing it. He’s the type of person who could trick you into losing everything, then somehow still convince you that he’s your friend.
It’s a solid piece of casting (and writing), and hopefully we get to see a lot more of him as the season goes on.
The Heart of the Series
Admittedly, this episode doesn’t have as much going on plot-wise as the last one did. But it gives us time to breathe with Matthew and Diana, and to focus on their relationship, which was initially the pinnacle of this entire series.
We get a genuinely sweet and tender moment with them while camping on the road to see Philippe. However, once they arrive, he pinpoints exactly how to drive them apart and bend them to his will and advantage.
All he does is point out that they not “consummated” yet and questions why this is. According to Philippe, if Matthew was so serious and in love, why has he not done it already? On the surface, he’s just being a troll, but it really does get under their skin.
His comments highlight the fact that despite all they’ve been through, they still struggle with “normal couple” things. And perhaps the reason for is because of just how much they’ve been through.
Their relationship was condemned from the start, which no doubt led to stronger attraction. But unless they’re able to flourish under typical circumstances, how can they ever know? Traveling back to 1590 was supposed to be their escape, but it’s proving to have just as many issues as the present.
What did you think of this episode? What do you hope to see next week on A Discovery of Witches? Let us know in the comments!
A Discovery of Witches is streaming exclusively on Sundance Now and Shudder
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