This week on A Discovery of Witches, Matthew is forced to make a hard decision when it comes to another creature’s life in order to protect Diana. Diana in the meantime discovers what she is exactly and finds a teacher in Goody Alsop.
Here are the notable moments from episode 2 of this season. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Em and Sarah are in Sept Tour
While Diana and Matthew are in the past, the witches family has taken refuge at Sept Tour under the protection of the de Cleremont family. But it’s not easy as creatures have been instructed for many years not to mingle by the Congregation. Sarah is convinced Peter Knox will find them no matter what but Em tries to reassure her that the Madison coven will not reveal their location. She also believed that the page from the Ashmole 782 Diana left them is connected somehow and must have answers for them. The redhead though is more frustrated that the Book of Life is what started this whole mess to begin with. Em asks her pointedly doesn’t she want to know why.
Downstairs, Marthe is setting up the table with Ysabeau asking if the witches will be dining with them tonight. The matriarch of the de Cleremonts clearly has no desire to play happy family with Em and Sarah but the other vampire says counters that Matthew would want his mother to make the other two women feel at home and if he can evolve then so can they.
Satu Visits Finland
Satu returns home to a report part of Finland where we are introduced to another witch who trained her. She’s upset and confronts her teacher that she wasn’t told who she was and that she doesn’t want protection but to learn and to better understand her abilities. The elder woman says she should stay then and become who she was meant to be. Satu seems to be able to then freeze an entire lake (though we don’t see her actually doing it).
Meeting Mary Sidney
At the inn with Walter and Henry, Matthew suggests they enlist the help of Mary Sidney (or Mary Herbert), Countess of Pembroke, in finding a teacher for Diana. Speaking of the historian, she geeks out in finally meeting one of her heroes. While Mary proves to be forward thinking as an alchemist, she says that she sadly cannot help them. She learned about the existence of creatures from her brother (who Matthew also knew) but she was quite reluctant in being vocal about it. Mary does ask Diana would like to assist her in her experiments and offered her friendship. The Yale professor is visibly disheartened that the other woman seems quite reluctant to aid in her quest to find a teacher, yet she does glad accept the alchemist as a friend.
During this encounter we also learn of another one of Diana’s unique abilities as she was able to bring a snake pattern on Mary’s slipper to life. She pretended that the reptile must have crawled in from the outside, but everyone knew witchcraft was involved. Before they departed, the countess offered a word of advice that no one in London should be trusted with knowledge of Diana. The events in Scotland were making people very fearful.
Things Get Political For Matthew
Now that he’s back in London, Cecil expects Matthew to continue serving the crown and his task this week is to discover if there is a plot amongst the English witches as a response to the witch hunts in Scotland. The lord feels that the imprisonment and torture of the leader of the Scottish witches would cause their counterparts in England to rebel against the queen. Matthew counters that they helped repel the armada, but Cecil says no one is above suspicion.
Lord Burghley then has him question a local witch named Thomas “Tom” Caldwell to find out what the witches are plotting. All because poor Tom said negative things about the crown while he was being tortured. Matthew argues that their covenant forbids them from meddling in human affairs but Cecil points out that if that was the case why was the vampire here working for them then? The spy is expected to extra a confession by any means necessary.
The situation gets even more complicated when we are introduced to Father Andrew Hubbard, the defacto head of all the creatures of London. He was made by a vampire at some point in time before his death, but his sire is unknown. Father Hubbard arranged a truce with Philippe de Cleremont that essentially had them stay out of the other’s business. Matthew is summoned to meet him that evening with Diana. Back at the inn he has word sent to Kit who arrives soon after. The witch learns that Father Hubbard takes in the lost creatures of the town but controls them too. Matthew tells his lady love that she shouldn’t under any circumstances let the other vampire taste her blood because it’s a part of the man’s ritual to reveal another person’s soul. In a sense it does because vamps are able to glean another creature’s secrets through it. Diana though falls outside of the de Cleremont diplomatic immunity in this case and Kit advices that Matthew inhabit his old life quickly before he gets himself killed. Downer much?
Later at Father Hubbard’s home, audiences witness a new member joining the vampire’s family. Just like Matthew said, the priest drew blood from his new “child” and then was accepted a member of their group. Hubbard notices them and quickly moves close to Diana prompting Matthew to threaten the entire den if the other vamp doesn’t step away. He does but notices the bite marks on the witch’s neck and tells the duo that the de Cleremont male flaunts the rule by allowing Diana to roam free. In addition, relationships between creatures is a sin and the fact that he’s even fed on her is worse. If it was without consent, he would be put to death and if
she gave it willingly she would be cast out of England. Diana though comes up with a solution without having to actually join Father Hubbard’s flock by revealing that she did feed Matthew of her own free will because he was dying. She forced him to drink to save his life. While he accepts this explanation, he warns her that nothing happens in London without his blessing.
The next day Kit finds Matthew at a church praying where the daemon tells his friend that they should go have some fun. The two men end up at a tavern where they win at cards against two poor men. They even take a small hoop earring from one of them. As the two creatures depart the establishment one of Cecil’s men is waiting for Matthew in the street to remind the spy of his responsibilities. He needs to hurry up and question Tom at the Tower. The clerk tells the vampire not to test his lord’s patience with Matthew getting up in the man’s personal space as a reminder that he is a dangerous creature.
In the aftermath, Kit and Matthew have another drink and the daemon asks about his future. The geneticist won’t answer that of course because that way lies madness and that no man should know their fate. Giving up, the other man asks instead if Matthew still writes verse and is told that the elder’s focus is on science and the alchemical process as it’s evolved. In their conversation Kit asks what questions he’s trying to answer now and the vampire remarks that it’s still the same ones such as why is he here? Matthew is doubtful that he’ll ever learn the answer to that. As he leaves, Kit advises him not to ignore Cecil’s orders no matter how he feels about witches now.
Back at the inn, Matthew is reading Thomas Caldwell’s testimonies as Diana asks him about it understanding that the Malleus Maleficarum was used on the imprisoned man. She points out that this book was a tool to trap innocent people and she asks why Cecil would need a creature interrogated if he knows they exist. Matthew explains that it is the queen that is worried that England’s witches will turn against her and unfortunately under duress Thomas said some very terrible things about the crown. Diana realizes that the poor man has committed treason which would result in the death sentence and the vampire gives a yup. He knows what she’s thinking though and argues that he wouldn’t have brought her here if witch hunts were going to break out. It’s another twenty years before that is apparently supposed to start. Matthew then asks if he could please finish his reading and Diana relents letting him know that she’s found a teacher before leaving.
As he heads to the Tower sometime later, Hubbard finds him and essentially requests that he help Tom Caldwell who is one of his. The priest says that the prisoner is innocent and as the queen’s trusted shadow can exert influence. Matthew is cutting and tells the other man that any influence he has won’t be to further Hubbard’s interest. But the top London vampire follows up that they both have individuals to protect, respectively Diana and Tom. Hubbard then low key threatens that maybe he should seek Philippe’s assistance instead.
In Caldwell’s cell within the Tower, Matthew decides to snap his neck, thinking that this is the best option. Both Cecil and Hubbard though are not pleased with the outcome. The human thinks that perhaps the vampire has a reason to side with the witch though Matthew stresses he is loyal to the crown. Meanwhile the priest has a letter sent to Philippe to inform him likely of Diana and her relationship to his son. The historian is the only one who seems to understand that Matthew killed Caldwell out of mercy.
Diana Finds Her Teacher at Last
While out with Francoise, Diana sees Susannah Norman on the street again and is able to get the other witch to talk to her back at the inn since Matthew is out. Inside, Susannah asks the historian to transfer the content of an egg into the bowl without her hands. Diana asks if they can do a different one because she doesn’t know that spell, but the other woman says that she can’t manage this then no witch can help her. Diana concentrates and her magic grows the embryo into a baby chick much to the astonishment of Susannah who says that she’ll speak to her coven head, Goody Alsop. Goody also happens to be the most powerful witch in England.
Sometime after, Diana is accompanied by Matthew to meet the elder witch. Goody asks to take a look at her with the historian hesitant, revealing how Satu tried to look inside her before. But it takes only a few painless moments and England’s strongest witch says that she’s waited a long time for Diana. The auguries foretold her arrival a long time ago and with the trouble up north Goody knew to expect her now.
The elder woman says that Agnes Sampson is imprisoned and the three of them are all that is left of their kind. Diana finally learns that she is a unique kind of witch, a weaver, a maker of spells. The historian is skeptical though because she’s always been terrible at spell work but Goody interjects that she needs to create her own. Matthew mansplains a little he knows of old stories where witches have very unique abilities but he’s never encountered a weaver before. Exasperated the elder witch says that they are rare, often hunted down, and forced into hiding. Diana ponders if Satu knew what she was but doesn’t know for certain. Goody then drops another bombshell that Stephen Proctor was one as well because she could see the binding spell he crafted onto his daughter. He knew that Diana would follow his path and so spellbound her to protect her with love.
Susannah is still super cautious about Diana being trained because it would attract too much attention and points out that the Council of Witches need to be consulted. Matthew though would rather not because he doesn’t want his ladylove’s identity being discovered. Good agrees though that the group’s consent is required and Diana’s presence has already been felt.
The following day, Diana pleads her case before the council revealing how she was spellbound and orphaned as a child. Now that her bindings are gone she’s ready to learn the full nature of her power and she needs community of witches to do that. Susannah is then asked to state her concern and the other woman says that Diana’s marriage to a vampire would bring danger to their people. Just as the council seems to not want to agree to the training, Goody interjects that Diana’s soul is as clear to her as her own. Dark times were coming and Mistress Royden is their prophesized witch who will come to their aid. As the group still seem hesitant, the historian reveals that she is a time spinner and she was come from the future to seek a very special teacher. She’s also seen the Book of Life with her own eyes. Diana admits that she doesn’t know how her magic is connected to the first grimoire but it and her relationship to Matthew are all woven together. One cannot exclude each other. Led by Goody, the council comes to accept and welcome her, forming a circle with their hands extended in magical greeting.
This was an exciting episode to see even more characters from the book on screen! One of the things I loved most about the books is the wonderful way author Deborah Harkness weaves real historical figures into her story. Shadow of Night (book two in the All Souls trilogy that this season is based on) almost felt like it fit into the alternate history genre with witches, vampires, and daemons. This is 100% my jam.
The trip back to the past isn’t going to be without it’s complications as Matthew and Diana are being to discover and they have to be careful to not make changes that will impact their present. It was definitely wise that Matthew chose not to reveal what happens to Kit despite his friend’s questions.
This episode also felt meaty in presenting different interests at play between Cecil, Hubbard, Matthew, and Diana. The show doesn’t shy away from also addressing serious issues like prejudice and poverty. The witch hunts in particular show how so many innocent people were tortured and killed because of fear. It was also interesting to see how Diana’s morals to fight against injustice still influences her actions in the past, while Matthew’s chief concern is her safety and well being. It seems that he doesn’t necessarily want to rock the boat, just get what they need and get out of there.
Now that Hubbard has written to Philippe I hope that we’ll finally get to meet him in the next episode. He is a unique character and I can’t wait to see how James Purefoy brings him to life.
You can watch A Discovery of Witches on AMC, Shudder, and Sundance Now.