The show gains momentum as the first season reaches its mid point.
A Discovery of Witches might just be one of the most gorgeous looking shows currently on television. Each locale is stunning and steeped in history; there is barely a modern architectural structure in sight between the university libraries and cobbled streets of Oxford, the decaying grandeur of Venice and its winding walkways and Congregation halls and now the rustic village on the foothills beneath the stunning de Clermont castle in France. Even the home of Diana’s aunts in Maine has a delightfully rustic feel to it. There is such a rich beauty on display that you could probably watch it on mute and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
But then you wouldn’t necessarily know what was happening and after three weeks of teasing alliances, mysteries and political intrigue, the chess pieces started to move into place. In Venice we saw the ruling congregation unite as Owen Teale’s powerful witch Peter Knox demanded that Diana Bishop be released from the clutches of vampire Matthew Clairmont. Breaking the ancient law of not forming relationships between races, it seems as if the central characters are facing conflict in multiple sides; not only is Diana facing the wrath of Peter for not retrieving the Ashmole 782, it seems that she is now in the sights of other characters too. Matthew’s brother Baldwin Montclair (Trystan Gravelle) sends fellow vampire Dominico Michele (Gregg Chillin) to France to demand that Diana and Mattew be brought before the Congregation, something that results in a violent altercation as Matthew refuses.
The revelation that Diana retrieved the Ashmole 782 is also inadvertently revealed at the Congregation, to the surprise of the demon and vampire leaders. It seems that Tanya Moodie’s demon patriarch Agatha Wilson conversation with daughter in law Sophie (Aisling Loftus) and her mysterious white knight artefact may offer another role for Diana to play with Matthew preordained as the ‘dark one’ in this demon legend.
There were also plenty of intriguing power plays within the different races. Juliet Durand (Elarica Johnson) became a wild card for Matthew’s team when she turned up in Oxford, with (presumably) old hostilities in play. And Satu’s attempts to learn more of Peter’s plan earned her his wrath in a particularly brutal display of magic in the witch library. She has always seemed the most dangerous witch in the series so far, but perhaps her allegiances might shift elsewhere? It certainly seems as if Peter Knox is not to be trusted by anyone.
We don’t know enough about the demon culture yet and the witches seem to be concerned with allegiance and power but it is the vampire population that has been the most fascinating aspect of A Discovery of Witches so far. Matthew’s followers Marcus and Miriam have been working with Matthew to explore the scientific basis for the supernatural, while the Venice based Gerbert D’Aurilla, Dominico, Juliet and Baldwin come across as much more traditional and dangerous; their Machiavellian schemes could prove to be the most interesting threat in the series.
Different again is vampire witch hunter and icy matriarch Ysabeau de Clermont played superbly by Lindsey Duncan. Matthew’s mother bore a quiet rage at Diana being brought to her home; her fierce hatred for witches that murdered her husband make her an equally dangerous figure. I liked how Diana stood up to her, showing some conviction that has felt a little lacking before. Perhaps it is her bourgeoning romance with Matthew that took a big step forward this week with tangos, horse rides and a kiss under starlight, but there was a passion in Diana that we haven’t seen in her before. Certainly it seems as if her magical abilities are tied to her connection to Matthew. After Dominico’s visit, he left Diana to return to London but I don’t believe he will stay away long.
There is still a huge amount of mystery and intrigue to uncover but I continue to be absorbed in this supernatural world. We’re half way through A Discovery of Witches‘ first season and it feels as if there is a momentum now after the rich ground working made in the first three episodes.
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