Now officially married (and consummated) Diana and Matthew continue on to Central Europe on their quest to find the incredibly important book they’ve been looking for all series long. All this and more on the next episode of A Discovery of Witches!
(Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned)
After making amends with his father, Matthew and Diana make their way to Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) to seek out an audience with Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, because they believe he may know who has the book.
Upon their arrival, we’re treated to another historical figured being portrayed by this series. Although this one is far more eccentric than Elizabeth I earlier this season. He seems far more fascinated by vampires and witches (whereas Elizabeth merely saw dealing with them as a necessity of ruling).
Rudolf is also oddly obsessed with alchemy, and thus is immediately intrigued by Diana (who kind of takes advantage of it). Ultimately this leads to disaster when Rudolf figures out the ruse and Matthew and Diana’s true plan is revealed. It ultimately leads to them running for their lives to escape his palace.
But not before Rudolf attempts to bring out the blood rage in Matthew and turn him against Diana. The fact that she’s able to calm him down serves as further evidence that she truly brings out the best in him, and their love is the very heart of this series. Without it, there’d be no point or purpose to anything.
They manage to get away with the book (but not before a few pages are ripped out). Meanwhile in the present Peter Knox arrives at a museum, and finds further clues as to Matthew and Diana’s whereabouts in the past. It’s a nice little touch, and reminder that there’s still a concurrent storyline running in the present (which admittedly, we haven’t seen for the last two episodes).
What really shines in this episode is the tension around, and overall portrayal of Rudof II of the Holy Roman Empire. For those familiar with 16th/17th Century European History, he was known for being fascinated with mysticism, so the alchemy subplot seems very accurate.
The series portrays him as casually anti-Semitic, which tragically was not an uncommon sentiment in Europe at that time. His animosity towards Elizabeth I does seem a little out of place.
While he certainly wasn’t best friends with her, he was also known for being tolerant of Protestants, something Philip II of Spain (who led the Spanish Armada) did not share.
But having Matthew and Diana encounter these historical figures not only provides a fascinating retelling of history, it demonstrates how global politics were just as complex and tense centuries ago as they are today.
It also brings up another point of how involved were supernatural creatures with European monarchies during the Renaissance in this universe. Certain events play out very differently if we can imagine that vampires and witches played roles in it.
Plus, it’s great to see a figure less iconic than Elizabeth I being portrayed in the series. And the chemistry/tension he has with Matthew and Diana makes for an overall compelling episode. Arguably one of the most thrilling this season thus far!
What did you think this episode? What do you hope to see next week? Let us know in the comments!
A Discovery of Witches is streaming exclusively on Sundance Now and Shudder
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