Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Recap: Step Into the Past in ‘A Discovery of Witches’ Season 2, Episode 1

The second season of the fantasy drama series A Discovery of Witches is finally here, and it was well worth the wait. Based on author Deborah Harkness’ All Souls book series, season 2 of A Discovery of Witches follows the second book, Shadow of Night.

In the season 1 finale, the drama surrounding Matthew and Diana’s forbidden romance and the hunt for Ashmole 782 finally came to a head as the couple decided that timewalking was the only way to buy them more time against the looming threat of the Congregation. As their witch, demon, and vampire friends and family scattered for the sake of their own safety, the final moments of the episode found Matthew and Diana on the verge of stepping into the past just as Peter Knox, Satu, and Gerbert arrived. Keep reading to find out what happened in the first episode of the second season of A Discovery of Witches.

New York, Present Day

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The season premiere picks up just moments after the last episode, with Knox, Satu, and Gerbert standing in Diana’s room trying to figure out where she and Matthew have disappeared to. The trio puts the pieces together fairly quickly upon noticing Matthew and Diana’s freshly discarded clothing, and Gerbert questions if perhaps they were going somewhere that they couldn’t be seen in modern day clothes. At that, Knox finally makes the revelation that Diana Bishop is a timewalker.

London, 1590

An older woman sits beside a fire and looks out into the distance as she says that the prophesized arrival of “our fearsome witch” has finally come. Then we switch to Diana and Matthew, who wink into existence in the middle of a dark street in Elizabethan London. Troubled, Matthew notes that the place that they have arrived is not where he had hoped. They walk a short distance before entering a building that Matthew seems to be quite familiar with.

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Courtesy of Sky One.

As Matthew attempts to figure out where the rest of the house’s inhabitants are, a man approaches Diana and demands to know who she is. Matthew returns in a rush, growling as the man tells him that he’s sure she’s a witch. Another man and a woman descend the nearby staircase, and the man refers to Matthew as “Master Roydon” before stating that they weren’t expecting him for weeks yet. The first man, who Matthew refers to as Kit, angrily claims that the vampire has been bewitched. Furious, Matthew speaks in a dangerous tone as he confirms that not only is he well and in his right mind, but Diana is there as lady of the house — she is his wife.

Having escaped the scrutiny downstairs, Matthew and Diana reconvene in a bedroom. Although they seem to have landed 60 miles off course, Diana still managed to deliver them to the correct date down to the very evening. We then learn that Kit is none other than the famed playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe, and he just so happens to be a daemon.

The woman from earlier, Francoise, knocks and enters their room, stating that Kit has sent for Sir Walter Raleigh and Henry Percy, the Earl of Northumberland (both of whom are humans and trustworthy friends). Diana, putting two and two together, realizes that the vampire’s circle of friends means that he is the English poet known as Matthew Roydon of the School of Night.

Courtesy of Sky One.

Matthew excuses himself to go and “deal with” Kit, who begins questioning him about Diana once more. He still believes his friend has been put under some kind of spell. Upstairs, Francoise brings Diana an outfit to wear that belongs to Matthew’s sister Louisa. Adequately dressed for the times, Diana goes back downstairs to meet Walter and Henry, who immediately begin to question her strange (American) accent.

Things remain tense between Kit and Diana as the three men exit the house, and they advise her that it would be best for her not to leave for the time being so as not to raise suspicion. Diana isn’t pleased to then find out that Matthew must also leave for the evening as well, because his return to the city means that he must reorient himself and reach out to certain people.

Matthew prowls the streets of London as Diana resolves to go to bed, but she’s soon distracted by a feeling that leads her outside. Donning a cloak, she steps out and sees a woman with an aura shining around her — a witch. Diana briskly follows her. When the woman notices and turns around, she happens to look exactly like the present day daemon Sophie.

Upon Matthew’s return, Diana tells him what happened, stating that the woman must be an ancestor of Sophie’s. She believes that this is how Matthew’s chess piece will end up in Sophie’s family, and in turn she must be the witch that is meant to be her teacher. Matthew is angry and skeptical, and the two begin to argue.

When morning comes, Matthew gives in and tells Diana that he’ll get Walter to find the witch. Meanwhile, Matthew and Diana set off to explore the city. The two garner many looks from the city folk as they traverse the streets. Despite their circumstances, the historian in Diana is thrilled to take in the ancient world she’s found herself in.

Courtesy of Sky One.

As they’re walking, they come across a man that takes once glance at them and then takes off. Matthew is annoyed after this happens, because he remembers that being in London means that he now has somebody to report to. And the problem? He doesn’t exactly remember what Matthew Roydon was supposed to be doing at that particular time in the 1590s. Matthew goes to a tavern and seeks out a man that he knows. He uses a careful tactic to get the man to tell him what he was doing out of London: he was up north dealing with the Scottish king. Satisfied with the information that he procured, Matthew arrives at the office of the man he’s mean to report to — William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Matthew carefully attempts to talk his way out of his premature return to London.

Back at the house, Diana explores the hallways and ends up in the attic. She’s troubled to find a letter with the royal seal addressed “my trusty shadow.” She continues to look around, eventually finding a trap door hidden in the panels of the roof. Diana enters a hidden room which is full of dozens of letters. She  then finds a rosary and looks up to see a cross on the wall. Francoise enters the room, concerned, and Diana quickly tells that she already knew Matthew was Catholic. Francoise still doesn’t seem entirely convinced that she hasn’t bewitched Matthew, but Diana reassures her that she won’t tell a soul what she saw up there. She goes on to say that she suspected Matthew was a spy, but she hadn’t put it all together until then — he’s identifying Catholics.

Matthew returns home to find Diana sitting at the desk in the regular room in the attic. He explains that his father was in need of a spy in the English court at the time, which explains why he must report to Lord Burghley.

The next day, Kit, Walter, and Henry have found Diana’s witch — Susanna Norman. The woman sits down at the table with Diana, touching her forehead and quickly stating that she is not a witch. Diana, however, calls her out and says that she thinks she can sense her power and implores her to test her abilities. The woman complies after Matthew casually adds in a threat, and she challenges Diana to light a candle. She’s not pleased upon seeing Diana’s failed attempts. However, Diana then ends up rapidly aging a bowl of fruit at an alarming rate. Scared, the woman quickly leaves, and she tells Diana that power like hers is why witches are being hunted in Scotland.

Diana tries to follow her, but the witch quickly disappears. As she stands outside talking to Matthew, a young boy attempts to pickpocket her. Though Matthew is angry, Diana is not, and she decides to bring the boy inside instead. They learn that the boy, Jack, doesn’t have any family. She asks Jack if he’s heard anything about her before that day, and he tells them that people have been saying that she’s a witch. The rumors originated in the tavern on the corner.

As Matthew and Diana sit down with Kit, Henry, and Walter, Matthew is quick to realize whose loose lips at The Lamb gave Diana away. He dismisses Henry and Walter and rounds on Kit, accusing him of talking about Diana. Kit doesn’t even bother denying it, saying he’d do it again, too. Matthew angrily pins him up against the wall, demanding to know what happened to his loyalty. Diana tries to break the two of them up as Kit tries to explain things from his perspective — Matthew returned from Scotland married to a witch with no word of an explanation, and he’s not himself. Diana resolves that they need to tell Kit the truth, or else he’ll keep making trouble.

Courtesy of Sky One.

Diana goes on to explain to Kit that she’s a time spinner — timewalker — and they’ve both come from the future. Matthew tells Kit that he can either be his friend and accept both of them, or he can leave the house and never come back.

Francoise finds Matthew later and delivers a letter from one of William Cecil’s men. Diana wakes up unable to find Matthew, and Kit informs her that he’s gone out. The two sit beside the fire. Kit warns Diana that her Matthew seems to be gentler, but being back in 1590 will change him. As she also did in the novel that this season is based on, Diana seems to have caught on quite early that Kit cares for Matthew beyond that of a friend.

As the episode comes to a close, Matthew stands in a cell and rounds on a man in chains while another man begins to torture the prisoner.

The highly anticipated second season of A Discovery of Witches is off to a compelling and alluring start. We’ve truly stepped into an entirely new world in season 2, and it will be interesting to see how Matthew continues to reorient himself as Diana adapts to her new surroundings.

Episode 2 of the second season of A Discovery of Witches will be available on Sundance Now, AMC Plus, and Shudder on Saturday, January 16. Check out the rest of our season 2 recaps here.

Lindsey
Lindsey
Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about something Star Wars related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: directors@nerdsandbeyond.com

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