‘A Discovery of Witches’ Season 2 Episode 8 Review: Marcus Chooses a Path

On A Discovery of Witches this week, Marcus learns that with great power comes great responsibility as the grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus. He must decide what is important to him and decide quickly as nefarious forces conspire to take down his family and those he cares about.

Here are the key moments from this episode:

Diana Tries to Read a Damaged Ashmole 782

After their escapade in Bohemia, Matthew (Matthew Goode) and Diana (Teresa Palmer) as well as Pierre, Francoise, and Jack have all returned to London. Diana’s been trying to read a damaged Ashmole 782 but it’s been resisting her. Matthew seems troubled that his wife has spent so much time glued to the book and suggests that she should go eat the meal that Francoise prepared. The witch at first seems reluctant to but gives in and heads downstairs.

Later she falls asleep with the book and dreams of the tree of life freezing and dying as she sees screaming souls within. She wakes up in a start and when Matthew asks her if everything is alright, she answers no it isn’t.

Gerbert and Knox: Scheming Bros

Knox (Owen Teale) returns to Venice from his trip to Rudolf’s country palace and reveals to his vampire ally that he’s discovered a letter written by Edward Kelly that he had ripped three pages from the Book of Life when he possessed it in 1591. In addition, the daemon had given a page to a member of their three species. Gerbert (Trevor Eve) thinks that the de Cleremonts have one of them while Knox is investigating the whereabouts of another. The witch also claims that he was unable to call the book because it was incomplete with the vampire scoffing that Diana Bishop managed it. Knox then throws out that maybe she already had a page and if they could find one it might help them call it from the Bodleian.

Emily Keeps Trying to Summon Rebecca

Meanwhile in Sept-Tours, Emily Mathers (Valerie Pettiford) continues to remain wholly preoccupied with trying to use the page from the Ashmole 782 to summon Rebecca (Sophia Myles). She’s convinced that her long dead friend can help them understand how Diana is tied to the book. We get a tight shot of the page and it’s the same illustration that came to life when Diana opened the tome in 1591. We see the tree of life and the alchemical wedding.

She tries once more to call on Rebecca’s spirit and manages to do so again briefly but the ghost is unable to say anything important before vanishing. Unfortunately, Sarah (Alex Kingston) also finds her there and is livid that she’s been practicing higher magic. As the two begin arguing, Em says that the other woman doesn’t understand that Rebecca is trying to tell her something. Sarah takes the page away to keep it safe. But Emily says that maybe her ladylove can help her next time because there is a sacred site, a temple outside the chateau and that she could feel its power. Sarah gets even angrier asking why isn’t Em listening to her when the other witch counters by asking doesn’t she want to help Diana. Sarah then calms down a little and explains not at the risk of losing her because anything could come through. She thinks Em is being used and is being shown what she wants to see.

Upset, Emily goes outside to get some air. Ysabeau (Lindsay Duncan) follows and offers the witch some wine and the advice to never sleep on an argument. Eventually Sarah comes outside and the two make up. She even offers to help with the summoning, not wanting her beloved to do this alone. The following night the two women sneak out of Sept-Tour and head to the temple dedicated to Diana. This is the same spot where Philippe asked for the goddess to bless Diana and Matthew’s marriage. As Emily calls on Rebecca’s spirit once more, this time Sarah is overcome by seeing her sister calling out to her. She is unable to help herself and moves forward, disrupting the spell.

The Many Facets of Marcus Whitmore

This episode in focused on Marcus (Edward Bluemel) in many ways as he begins to grapple with trying to win Phoebe (Adelle Leonce) back and his responsibilities as grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus. When we first met the vampire doctor, he seemed young and more carefree in comparison to Matthew and Miriam (Aiysha Hart). But by the end of the season one his father had named him as the new grandmaster, a responsibility he did not want. In the second season thus far we’ve only seen him begin to understand that the organization needed to do something different to be able to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves in the present. After Ysabeau revealed that the origins of the knights were to protect her as a carrier of blood rage, Marcus is understandably super upset because it was kept from him. He had believed that he was irresponsible as a sire in New Orleans which is why Matthew had killed so many of his children.

As Marcus is getting ready to leave his home in Oxford, Miriam arrives and tells him that Philippe had wanted to eliminate blood rage to prevent humans from discovering their existence and to safeguard Ysabeau. He is still angry that she didn’t tell him as a friend, but she counters that she isn’t family and didn’t have a right to reveal it. This was clearly a de Cleremont family affair. When he asks why he wasn’t killed as well Miriam says that because Matthew defied Philippe’s orders. Marcus though at this point feels betrayed and is done with his family and the knights. It’s made him realize what’s important to him: his friends, his work, his human life. He looks at the scarf that Phoebe left on the table and Miriam says that whomever that belongs to is not worth it and that he can’t deny what he is.

He heads to the auction house and Phoebe comes out irritated that he is there. Marcus returns her scarf and tells her that he is telling the truth. Just as she begins to dismiss him, he gives her a medallion to look at and explains that it is the property of the Knights of Lazarus. It’s an organization that dates back to the 12th century and he is the grandmaster. Phoebe thinks he’s lying again and claims that she’s Princess Leia then. He tells her to research it and to run tests on the piece, all she’ll find are questions and when she’s ready for answers she knows where he’ll be.

As she is leaving work, Phoebe can’t seem to help herself and gives the medallion to a colleague to examine. She then heads downstairs to their vault where Domenico appears. The vampire questions her about the miniatures and at first she thinks he’s a police officer. But soon Phoebe realizes that isn’t the case when she asks about their missing security guard. Domenico (Gregg Chillin) looks like he’s about to get violent when Phoebe’s colleague appears excited about what he’s discovered about the medallion and asks where she got it. She tells him it’s from a new client when the vampire notices the object and asks the same question. Phoebe then wisely says that Marcus gave it to her and that he is grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus. This makes Domenico back off and he bids her a good evening.

The following day she goes to Marcus and asks him pretty much everything. He reveals to her that the couple in the miniatures are his father Matthew and a witch named Diana Bishop. The vampire tells her that he was born in 1757, though he was sired in 1781. He had been a surgeon’s assistant in the Continental Army dying of fever and Matthew came offering him a means to survive so he took it. They spend the whole day together talking and in amorous activities. He reveals that he does enjoy being a vampire but sometimes it gets lonely. When Phoebe brings up that his human family are long since dead, Marcus says that’s true but he has a vampire family now and human friends. Phoebe is special though and is the only human who knows what he is. He takes her hand and puts it to his chest, to show her that his heart does beat only much slower. They then move on to other topics like feeding and Marcus explains that they try not to drink human blood anymore but he does feed via the blood bags as a doctor who has access to such things. But he drinks it in a mug, he’s not a heathen!

At a local pub, he explains that she’s probably worked with creatures before maybe even loved one of them. There used to be a lot more but their numbers are dwindling and they don’t know why. Some vampires can’t sire, witches are losing their powers, and some daemons are driven to madness. Marcus comments though that there was a time when the creature population intermingled with the humans all the time but the latter got afraid and prejudice just got worse and worse. Phoebe then asks who the oldest vampire he ever met was and he easily answers his grandfather Philippe.

Later after a session of lovemaking, she has him pick up ice cream for her while she timed how fast he could do it. After more chatting, Phoebe asks more about the Knights of Lazarus and mentions how some guy came around asking about the robbery. He confirms that was Domenico. It’s at this time that he tells her that he’s going to give up the grandmaster position because vampire culture has become so archaic and they’re all stuck in the past, he knows what’s important to him – friends and work. Phoebe disagrees though that he can’t turn his back on his kind. She says that he could have any life he wanted but he chose to become a doctor because he wants to help people and as someone born during revolutionary times if he doesn’t like creature politics then he should do something to change it. Phoebe urges him to use the knights to help everyone for future generations. No pressure.

A Baby is Born

Sophie (Aisling Loftus) tells Nathaniel (Daniel Ezra) and Marcus back at the house in Oxford that the baby is coming and they head to the hospital for the impending birth. She then gives birth to a baby girl with Marcus arriving soon after. When Miriam comes to check to see that everything is alright, grandmother Agatha Wilson (Tanya Moodie) is there already as well. The female vampire asks what the newborn’s name is and Nathaniel answers Margaret. It seems that Miriam is not a fan though. Just then she gives Marcus a look and she tells the daemons that the baby’s blood is singing, confirming that Margaret is a witch.

The grandmaster says that the Congregation can’t get their hands on the baby and so once the doctor gives them the all clear the family should stay in Sept-Tour for awhile. They can decide what to do long term once the dust settles down. Nathaniel and Sophie look at each other briefly with him saying if the baby will be safer there, then of course.

Unfortunately after Marcus heads to Venice to visit Baldwin and he refuses to relinquish his leadership over the Knights of Lazarus, his uncle decides to rat him out to Gerbert. He had just revealed that two daemons gave birth to a witch and that child needed to be protected. Baldwin of course is appalled because the knights were created to protect de Cleremont interests, specifically to protect Ysabeau’s secret. Marcus informs him that he already knows about blood rage and that he’s carrier. Baldwin goes so far to say that Philippe should have had all of Ysabeau’s line killed. Marcus then slaps back that now he understands why his grandfather was always so disappointed in his son. When Gerbert comes to Baldwin after Marcus leaves, the other vampire makes some massive threats and demands to know everything. With a cold calculated look, the head of the de Cleremont family reveals that his nephew is protecting a witch baby born of two daemons.

Of course Gerbert tells Knox who then heads to the hospital in Oxford. He knocks out the parents with a spell and evaluates Margaret when Agatha walks into the room. Knox tells her that the baby will be raised by her kind and that she should make the most of the time left she has with her granddaughter. Agatha says if that if he comes near her grandchild again she will kill him with her bare hands but this doesn’t phase him. He exits the room leaving her emotionally shaken. Likely because Agatha is a fellow Congregation member herself that he didn’t just take the baby with him right then and there.

Final Thoughts

  • Knox and Gerbert sometimes remind me of two old busybody gossips who are annoyed the young folk are usurping their power.
  • I have really enjoyed the character development with Marcus this season. It seems that Phoebe is acting as his conscience, just when he was ready to give up and relinquish responsibility.
  • Trystan Gravelle’s ability to bring Baldwin’s arrogance to life is so much fun to watch.
  • Seeing Ysabeau warm up to Emily and Sarah has also been great to see unfold after Diana discovers her hatred for witches in 1590.
  • Everyone in the series continues to be impeccably dressed and I find myself constantly admiring how sharp everyone looks.
  • My one criticism: the lack of Gallowglass.

A Discovery of Witches streams on AMC+, Sundance Now, and Shudder.

Nicole C
Nicole Chttps://theworkprint.com
Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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