In the season two premiere of A Discovery of Witches, we pick up right where we left off with Diana and Matthew arriving in the past, London 1590 to be precise.
We soon meet the vampire’s friends in the School of Night who are tasked with helping the couple find a tutor for the witch and Ashmole 782. This point in the series is based on the second novel of the All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night.
While the two don’t land exactly where they originally intended too, it’s close enough and Matthew quickly directs them to a nearby building where Diana (Teresa Palmer) is soon confronted by Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (Tom Hughes) for being a witch and a trespasser. Matthew (Matthew Goode) quickly returns after going to look for other occupants and tells the daemon that she is with him, she is his wife so the other man must respect her. Kit thinks that his friend has been bewitched because at this point in time the vampire still detested witches. Marlowe by the way is a daemon.
Sir Walter Raleigh (Michael Lindall) and Henry Percy (Adam Sklar), the 9th Earl of Northumberland are called by Kit to join them and are also introduced to Diana (who is forced to wear Louisa’s old clothes). Matthew explains to the gentlemen that he is requesting for their help to find his lady a teacher and to locate the manuscript. Kit is familiar with it, explaining to the two humans that it contains possibly contains origins to creatures though he is doubtful it exists. Diana strongly interjects that it does. Earlier she also realizes that her Matthew is Matthew Roydon who was the least known individual in the group of poets, writers, and scientists from the School of Night. As a historian, she is thrilled to have discovered this, while the vampire seems more apprehensive as he now must become this version of himself again. The group also recommends that Diana stay indoors to not attract attention with her strange accent and choice of words. She acquiesces but is clearly not pleased about it.
Matthew leaves to make inquiries while Diana wakes up from her sleep being drawn to another witch in the street. Though the other woman seems to recognize something in her, she runs away leaving Diana. Back at the inn, Matthew returns and she tells him that the witch she ran after was likely Sophie Norman’s ancestor. Diana believes this makes complete sense because of the chess piece the daemon had given them in season one. This must be how the Norman family gains the piece in the past and she is convinced that this woman must become her teacher. Meanwhile Matthew is quite apprehensive that it could have been nefarious spell work luring his lady love outside, but she says she has a new way of perceiving and knowing magic. In this scene we also see the vampire’s highly protective nature where he’s upset that Diana went out by herself while she counters that he won’t even reveal to her where exactly he went tonight. It goes both ways that they protect each other. The historian doesn’t back down and tells him that he either finds her an instructor or she will go out there and find one herself.
The following morning he asks her to show him the building that the witch had emerged from and he’ll get Walter on the case to find her. He then adds that he might take her around the city as long as Francoise has her new wardrobe ready. Thankfully new clothes are ready for her and our very modern professor is decked out in Elizabethan era attire ready to check out her new reality. As the couple walk along cobblestone streets Matthew spots someone who recognizes him and he curses. We then see this individual report back to William Cecil (first Baron Burghley) that Matthew is in town. Back at the inn, the vampire is annoyed with himself for being careless and now has to pay Cecil a visit though he won’t tell Diana who this associate of Kit’s is. He’ll just have to go through this formality and pay his respects though it’ll be challenging since this man will has for a report and he has no idea what his old self was doing the week prior. Matthew has an idea though and goes to see William Pole at a tavern and is able to get information that he had been sent to Scotland to deal with a Scottish king who was rounding up witches to focus the monarch on his own affairs. With sufficient knowledge, the vampire heads to visit Cecil.
Lord Burghley commands Matthew to explain himself and the geneticist explains that he left because his errand concluded though Cecil retorts that the assignment was not meant to be a short one. The vampire goes on to say that he’s sown the seeds of chaos and staying any longer would risk detection, unless that’s what the other man wanted of course. The English lord backs down for the moment and Matthew takes his leave. But before stepping out of the room, Cecil tells him not to leave town without permission because now that he’s back he’s going to be put to work.
Back at the inn, Diana discovers a secret room in the attic and realizes that Matthew had been a spy during this time period. Francoise finds her and confirms that the other vampire is identifying other Catholics and betraying them. When he returns, he finds her sitting behind his desk. She asks him how everything went and he answers that the other man remains convinced for the moment. Diana then wants to find out why he did it and Matthew tiredly responds that it’s his duty. Philippe de Clermont (James Purefoy) needed a spy in the English court and he fulfilled that role well. The witch is still flabbergasted that his father would send him there knowing that he is Catholic. He asks her to come to bed, adding that she’s the only thing that makes sense to him right now.
The following day, Kit, Walter and Henry manage to locate Diana’s witch from earlier. The other woman clearly doesn’t want to be there and even at first claims that the historian isn’t a witch. Matthew is quite threatening that the other woman needs to consider her answer as Diana asks to be tested a different way because no one would want him for an enemy. The witch (Susannah Norman) relents and asks Diana to ignite a candle flame and stop a bell from ringing. She is unable to do it but asks for one more try and as she concentrates a bowl of fruit on the table withers and decomposes, frightening Susannah. Diana goes after her and says that she truly needs help. The other woman claims that it is witches like her that is the reason why they are being hunted in Scotland and why they are being harassed by men like her husband in even in England.
Diana follows her out to the street with Matthew coming out soon after. While the other witch is gone, they do run into Jack Blackfriars, a young pickpocket. She gives him some food and is able to discover from the boy that rumors of her being a witch has gone around and it originated from the Lamb, a local tavern around the corner. Later on that evening as Diana is having dinner with the members of the School of Night, Walter and Henry comment on how Matt has made a lot of changes to his appearance since they saw him last. The vampire asks Walter if he’s had a drink at the Lamb recently and the other man says that he hasn’t but it’s Kit who’s always there. At this point we know that it’s the poet who spread the rumor that Diana is a witch. The other two men depart leaving Marlowe alone with two time travelers. This time however the historian feels that they should tell the daemon the truth because he won’t stop being suspicious. Matthew is reluctant but tells Kit that this is his last chance with him. Diana goes on to explain that she’s from Cambridge, Massachusetts a colony in the new world from a different time. The daemon thinks she is crazy to believe that she is a time spinner but the vampire confirms it because he traveled back with her. Kit asks where is the Matthew from this period and she says they don’t know. It’s possible that he got displaced when they arrived from the future and that when they leave things should return to what they were. Losing patience, the vampire asks the daemon to accept them if the other man was ever his friend and should he breathe a word of this to anyone he will end him.
Cecil then sends word to Matthew and he takes a small boat in the dead of night to a prison where it looks like Pole is being kept after a severe beating. He then instructs a guard to pull out the prisoner’s tongue. Yikes.
Back at the house, Kit and Diana sit together for a fireside chat with some wine. This is the first time that the daemon isn’t openly hostile to the witch and she realizes how the man is actually deeply in love with Matthew. Kit tells her that this version of his friend seems gentler, but he won’t remain the same now that he has to wear the cloak of his old self. He’s seen the vampire at his worst and feels that Diana is out of her depth. She counters that he doesn’t know her but he goes on to talk about how when they first met Matthew singles her out making her believe that she was special an exceptional in a way that he could not define. Kit goes on that there is a darkness in the other man that was there through the many lifetimes he’s lived but it was all just marking time till he met you. Well, that sounds awfully familiar. When she says nothing he tells her that if she must stay then fine but don’t think for one second that she actually knows him. Claws out!
Kit’s final words to Diana in this episode really rang true where her Matthew won’t be quite the same either being back in this time. The gentle professor has left the building and the spymaster has been forced to surface. The vampire is clearly on edge not being able to fully control his environment and having to be very worried about keeping Diana safe. He seems to oscillate between deception, aggravation, and threats in his interactions with the characters of 1590.
It is so much fun though to see characters from Shadow of Night come to life and I was particularly happy to see Jack as he’ll be important as the story continues. I do hope we get to see Annie soon enough as well!
Overall, it’s a great start to season two and looking forward to continued story development as Matthew and Diana hunt for Ashmole 782 and their search for a teacher. The tone definitely feels darker and more sinister as our main characters face dangers from different fronts. They are strangers in a strange land and there’s lots of fear of the supernatural.
I continue to enjoy the interactions between the different characters especially with Kit disliking Diana so much. Their scene at the end of the episode was riveting because it made her pause for a moment realizing that Kit’s relation to the vampire was also significant. How much does she really know about Matthew? Will their relationship survive this trip back to the past? Time will tell!
You can watch A Discovery of Witches on AMC, Shudder, and Sundance Now.