Season 2 episode 4 is spent entirely in the present day, where the vicious killer vampire strikes again, causing concern among the de Clermonts as well as Gerbert and Domenico. Domenico continues his investigation into the murderer, which leads him to cross paths with Marcus.
Much of the episode follows Marcus as he attempts to make a purchase from a high end auction house for Ysabeau, then becomes romantically involved with Phoebe Taylor, a human associate at the auction house. He must reconsider his priorities as de Clermont secrets that he’s kept and those that that have been kept from him begin to take center stage in his life.
We begin back on the Oxford campus in the present day, following a young man (Tom Byrne) riding a bike. He reaches his destination and locks up his bike, then walks down a secluded alley. He’s startled by the noise when a vampire circles the block, trying to escape the threat. Before he’s gone more than a few steps, the vampire attacks him, moving almost faster than the eye can follow, biting and ripping at him savagely.
Domenico’s police contact (Tosh Wanogho-Maud) calls to let him know another body has been found.
Marcus arrives early at the auction house Ysabeau sent him to- according to the sign, “Cooper Sinclair: Fine Art, Auctions and Sales, Established 1872”, modelled on the famous Sotheby’s. Phoebe Taylor (Adelle Leonce) is kind enough to see him without an appointment. As they walk to her office, he discovers that she’s listening to a podcast on radiocarbon dating and tells her he’s listening to 80s New Wave band New Order. She’s never heard of them.
Once they’re at Phoebe’s desk, she asks Marcus which lot he’s interested in.
Marcus: “42. The answer to life, the universe and everything.”
He says it with cheeky smugness. She gets the Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, but isn’t impressed and asks what questions he has about the lot. He wants to buy it outright. She tells him that’s against the rules. He offers £200,000 for the lot, which has an estimated worth of £80,000, and explains that his grandmother really wants them. Marcus pours on the charm, but Phoebe can’t break the rules. He’ll have to bid on the lot at auction this afternoon.
But she can let him see the pieces before the auction. Lot 42 is made up of the two miniature paintings of Matthew and Diana that they gave to Jack in 1590. Marcus confirms that they’re what he’s looking for.
Lol. Matthew and Diana are “the answer to life, the universe and everything.” Just in case this episode confused us about who the main characters are.
Sarah and Em are enjoying Marthe’s nut loaf for breakfast at Sept-Tours when Ysabeau brings them news. She explains that Marcus, acting as Grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus, tasked Nathaniel, who is one of the Knights, with watching for signs of Diana and Matthew showing up from the past. He discovered the miniatures for sale at Cooper Sinclair in Oxford. This is the first concrete evidence they’re had that Matthew and Diana safely made it to the Elizabethan England.
Marcus successfully purchases the miniatures at auction for £94,000, saving more than £100k over his initial offer. But the bad news is that the auction house won’t let him pay in cash, so he can’t take the miniatures with him until tomorrow, after his payment clears.
I guess people are prone to paying high end auction houses with counterfeit cash? Not to mention the security risks of moving that much real cash around.
Once again, the rules can’t be broken, so the paintings return to the vault and Marcus has a free evening. Phoebe tells him he can “stream some more old man dance music.” Always the optimist, what Marcus gets from her comment is that Phoebe cared enough to look up the band he was listening to.
Personally, I’m offended that she called New Order dance music. They’re New Wave/Post Punk. Though it’s hilarious that she instinctively picked up that he’s an old man in a young man’s body.
Peter Knox meets Gerbert in Venice to tell him that one of the Madison, NY witches (from Sarah and Em’s coven) finally told him there were daemons and vampires at the Bishop house before Matthew and Diana disappeared last fall. Peter characterizes this as Matthew forming his own cabal, while Gerbert decides it’s another de Clermont conspiracy.
Peter says it involves the Book of Life and they need to work together if they’re going to catch up. Gerbert shows Peter a map annotated with information that dates back as far as the 13th century that shows everything he knows about the Book of Life.
Peter and Gerbert don’t seem to remember that they were chasing Diana and Matthew last fall and threatening Diana’s life, giving the couple a legitimate reason to take defensive action. The two Congregation members conveniently don’t mention Diana’s name at all in this conversation. They can’t seem to decide whether Matthew hates and harasses witches or conspires with them, but they’re certain he’s in control of the whole thing.
Marcus, Agatha and Nathaniel discuss what to do when Sophie and Nathaniel’s baby is born, should the Congregation try to take her away. They’re worried that the Congregation will want to study the baby because she’s a witch born to daemon parents. Since the baby’s grandmother, Agatha, is a member of the Congregation, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to slip under the radar the way Sophie did as a daemon born to witch parents.
Miriam calls Marcus in to consult about Sophie’s pregnancy. As he’s entering the room, Miriam says to Sophie: “Your DNA should help us determine the levels of witch and daemon in your blood. Her DNA might even help us understand why creature genetics are changing.”
The baby has a fetal arrhythmia, a slight abnormality in her heart rate. Sophie had been planning on a home birth, but Miriam and Marcus think she should go to a hospital just in case. Sophie is worried about Congregation spies at the hospital. Marcus thinks the risk is worth it so that they can have specialist care available.
Domenico examines the latest murder victim’s body in the morgue, then calls Gerbert. The victim’s wounds are consistent with vampire blood rage, but Domenico doesn’t recognize the killer’s scent. Gerbert instructs him to track the scent and find the killer. They’re both certain that the killer vampire has to be linked to the de Clermonts.
Late that night, Domenico follows the killer’s scent to Cooper Sinclair, but he stays outside while the vampire attacks a security guard and robs the vault. The guard’s heart is still beating when the killer leaves and then Domenico goes inside. Chances are, Domenico finishes off the guard by drinking his blood to read his memories of the robbery and any recent interactions that might prove interesting. So Domenico probably knows what the killer looks like, even if he doesn’t know his/her identity yet.
In the morning, Phoebe’s boss tells her that the alarms, power and surveillance cameras were disabled before the robbery, so the alarm didn’t alert the police or security company and the camera didn’t record footage.
That sounds premeditated, rather than the act of an out of control, random killer.
The security guard, Joe Evans, is missing. The manager doesn’t mention blood on the scene or signs of a struggle. Later, Phoebe tells Marcus that the vault door was ripped open, but it looks like only Lot 42 was taken.
When Ysabeau tells Sarah and Em about the robbery, they assume it has something to do with Peter Knox. They discuss getting a witch from the Oxford covens to poke around, but Sarah would rather she and Em go themselves. After Ysabeau gets a call from Gerbert, she forbids the two witches from leaving Sept-Tours. They’re not hostages, they just have to stay inside the house at all times so that they’ll be safe until Matthew and Diana get back.
Ysabeau is still smarting from the time that Diana was kidnapped by a flying witch (Satu) when she was outside and close to the house. It’s not going to happen a second time on her watch.
Sarah and Em don’t do well as prisoners. Sarah works with her herbs intensely, while Em tries to convince her that they should find out more about the Book of Life by contacting Rebecca’s spirit. Sarah is terrified at the thought of Em trying to summon the dead or do any form of higher magic. She realizes that Em has already been practicing without telling her, despite the danger. Sarah pleads with Em to stop. Em says she will.
Marcus asks Phoebe to dinner before he leaves Cooper Sinclair. When she hesitates because she barely knows him, he promises her that he doesn’t bite.
Just a little vampire humor.
Domenico watches Cooper Sinclair from the pub across the street, so he finds out that Marcus has been doing business with them.
At dinner, Phoebe brings up the miniatures, telling Marcus that she researched them extensively, but couldn’t pin down their exact origin. Marcus shares that they probably belonged to his grandmother’s side of the family in the past. His grandmother is French, but he’s a revolutionary American originally. He just loves history, even if shows like Hamilton get the details wrong sometimes.
Phoebe says she gets history right for a living. She usually spends her weekends cataloguing artwork. Her friends think she’s weird. Marcus tells her he likes weird. They look into each other’s eyes for a moment, then Domenico ruins it by appearing at the bar.
Marcus tells her he needs to call his grandmother before dinner. She says she’ll talk to her gin while he’s gone. This is about the 3rd time since they’ve met that he’s used the excuse he needs to call his grandmother, so he’s seeming a bit weird right now, too.
Domenico: “Wherever there’s trouble, there’s a de Clermont.”
That does seem to be true, though, to be fair, there are a lot of de Clermonts. They’re hard to avoid.
Domenico asks Marcus what he was doing at the auction house, then leans in and gives him a good sniff. Marcus is confused and appalled. They establish that they won’t be dating and that Domenico isn’t the boss of Marcus.
Domenico explains that there’s a vampire serial killer on the loose in London who isn’t covering his tracks. The bodies have been ripped to shreds. He had to clean up the mess at the auction house last night before the police found it. The killer has blood rage and he’ll expose creature society to humans if he isn’t stopped.
Marcus asks if Domenico took anything, then insists that Philippe eliminated blood rage centuries ago. Domenico: “Apparently not.” He tells Marcus to inform him if he comes across any new information and to keep Phoebe from asking too many questions. After Marcus leaves, Domenico asks his police contact to find out if anything was stolen from the auction house when the guard went missing.
When Marcus returns to Phoebe, she asks about his grandmother. He says she’s still upset about the theft. Phoebe shares that the auction house thinks it was an inside job, since the security guard is missing, but that theory doesn’t make sense to her. Joe didn’t seem the type to steal and it’s odd that the thief only took the miniatures when there were much more valuable pieces in the vault. She asks Marcus if his grandmother thought the pieces were undervalued because of who the sitters were.
Marcus changes the subject. She asks if he’s always hot and cold like this. He blames his mood on his phone conversation. She forgives him. They smile adorably at each other.
Later, after they leave the restaurant, they laugh and flirt, but Phoebe interrupts the conversation to tell him she feels like he’s holding back. He’s hardly talked about himself at all. He says his life is complicated. She pulls him forward and kisses him, then gets into the waiting cab.
At home in his complicated life, Marcus learns that Nat and Sophie have decided Sophie will give birth at the hospital Marcus works at, since it seems like the safest option. But Nathaniel worries about what kind of world they’re bringing the baby into, with the Congregation against her. Marcus assures him the baby will be okay, since she’ll have loving parents and the Knights of Lazarus to protect her.
Marcus thinks there might even be others like the baby. Nathaniel scoffs at the notion of the Knights of Lazarus. They don’t actually do much to help people in the modern world. He thinks they need a rebrand.
Nathaniel goes to bed and Phoebe calls Marcus, telling him he’s a mystery and she hates mysteries. He invites her over for a drink. Once she’s there, she says she discovered that he has very little online presence. She senses that something is off about him, but can’t figure out what, so she grills him and he answers her questions. It’s unlikely she’ll guess the real issue.
He says that Whitmore is his real name; he’s a real A&E doctor; and he can afford such a nice, big house because he has family money. Also, he’s for reals a superhero who’s trying to get into her pants. Looks like he’s successful.
Ysabeau meets Gerbert outside in the middle of the night on the Sept-Tours grounds. He makes a sarcastic remark, trying to turn the outdoor meeting into proof that she has something to hide. But honestly, he was part of Diana’s kidnapping last season and he kidnapped Ysabeau in the distant past. Who’d want him in the house?
When she doesn’t bite, he explicitly brings up the rumors that Sarah and Em are staying with her and how wrong all of this fraternizing between witches and vampires is. He accuses Matthew of going against the needs of vampires as a whole by choosing a witch as his mate and implies that Philippe would strongly disapprove. Gerbert knows Matthew and Diana are somewhere in time, but he wants to know what their plan is.
Ysabeau tells him to send her an email the next time he wants to ask her a question.
He informs her that a vampire with blood rage is murdering humans in Oxford. The rumors about her bloodline and the disease haven’t gone away. If she sides with him, he’ll keep the investigation away from her family. Ysabeau denies any de Clermont involvement in the murders.
Gerbert: “Time will tell, Ysabeau.”
Despite her promise to Sarah, Emily practices higher magic again. She successfully summons a spirit that looks like Rebecca, but the spectre whispers Em’s name, then disappears. Em goes to bed, but can’t sleep.
Phoebe goes downstairs alone to get a drink and discovers a bag of donated blood in the fridge (blood type B+). She’s even more confused and squicked out than before, so the obvious answer is somehow not to get out of the house or ask Marcus why he has blood (he is a doctor, plus he could have a medical condition), but to search Marcus’ belongings.
Phoebe is one of those characters who was always meant to be what she becomes.
She searches drawers and shelves in the dark, looking through each intrusive corner of Marcus life, as if she’s entitled to his secrets. Eventually she finds a wooden box that contains a pile of old photos dating from the beginning of photography in the Civil War era up to about 20 years ago. Marcus is in each photo and always looks the same.
Sophie catches her looking through the photos. Phoebe isn’t embarrassed, the way you’d expect her to be. Instead she asks if the baby is Marcus’. He hears the conversation, which alerts him to where she is.
She gets dressed while explaining to him that in her work, she’s had to learn how to spot con artists. She can tell he’s still hiding something. Plus, she wants to know why his relatives from the photos all look exactly like him.
Normally, I’d totally be on her side about honesty in relationships, but they’ve only known each other two days and have been on one date. Even if he were human, he wouldn’t owe her his entire life’s story yet, never mind his deepest, darkest secrets. Searching his house was a serious violation of trust. Sure, finding buried treasure is her thing, but this was an invasion of privacy, not helping someone with their lost provenance.
Phoebe finally comes back around to the bag of blood. Marcus admits that it’s not there because of a medical need, but refuses to say more. She says she really likes him, “but nothing in your life makes sense.” As she’s about to walk out, he asks if they can take a walk and talk.
Once they’re outside, she tells him to just spit out whatever it is- “It can’t be that bad.” So he does, “I’m a vampire.”
This entire evening explains why he’s still single.
Phoebe has traveled quite a bit, so she thinks of herself as worldly, but she has no idea how the world really works, even for most humans. For example, yes, it can be that bad or worse. He could have been using the blood as the stock for his cannibal soup, made from his dates, using Jeffrey Dahmer’s recipes.
She doesn’t believe him, so he tries adding details. Every truth he shares pushes her further away. She decides he’s mentally ill, rather than asking for more physical proof, and tells him to get help before saying goodbye.
Marcus’ next visitor is his imperious Uncle Baldwin, who’s angry that Marcus isn’t answering his phone calls and hasn’t solved the murder case already. Baldwin has a fantastic new haircut though, adding to the love-hate confusion I feel with this character. He’s demanding and way too rule oriented, but also loyal to the core and generally ready to raise an army to save one of his own, even if he’s threatened to murder them himself only hours before.
We learn from Baldwin’s newspaper that the killer vampire has earned the nickname “Drac the Ripper” and is sticking to the Oxford area. The humans have noticed the similarity of his method to vampire and serial killer lore and the internet is abuzz with it.
Ysabeau asked Baldwin to talk to Miriam about the murders. Marcus wonders why she didn’t just ask him to do it. Baldwin says Ysabeau wants to speak with him directly- at Sept-Tours.
Baldwin makes a play for leadership of the Knights of Lazarus, working on Marcus’ reputation within the family for avoiding responsibility and offering to take the extra work off his hands. He tells Marcus that the Congregation is considering war against the de Clermonts, so the Knights need an experienced, committed leader. Marcus explains that Matthew didn’t give him a choice about becoming Grand Master. Baldwin is sure that Matthew is just withholding the leadership role as a way to needle him. Marcus says that his father trusts him to make a difference as leader of the Knights.
Baldwin: “He’s been lying to you your whole life.”
Baldwin refuses to explain what he means by that statement. He just tells Marcus, again, to give him the Knights, for everyone’s sake and that Matthew doesn’t deserve his loyalty.
Domenico’s police contact sends him images of the miniatures along with a copy of the police report on the incident at the auction house. He recognizes the paintings as Matthew and Diana, so he now has a reference for where and when they traveled in Time.
Gerbert calls Domenico to check on the progress of his investigation. He’s upset about the attention the murders are getting- it’s a hashtag! Domenico assures him that no one suspects a real life vampire of committing the murder. He doesn’t tell Gerbert about the miniatures or any other leads.
Gerbert threatens him if he’s lying about the lack of progress on the case. Domenico has his own agenda to follow.
Marcus goes to Sept-Tours to meet with Ysabeau. She tells him Phoebe has to die now that he’s told her he’s a vampire. He convinces her that Phoebe’s harmless, since she didn’t believe him anyway.
Wonder what Phoebe thinks about the Drac the Ripper news reports.
Ysabeau lectures Marcus on the responsibilities of the Grand Master of the Knights of Lazarus. She shows him where the Knights’ documentation of their formation and activities for the last 900 years is stored. He stops to look at some ancient armor and weaponry on the wall. Marcus wants to turn the Knights into a modern, relevant institution, but before he can move them forward, he needs to understand how they got to where they are and what they stand for.
Marcus tells Ysabeau that Baldwin wants the Knights. She says he thinks it would help him feel closer to Philippe. Marcus asks why she sent Baldwin to Oxford. Ysabeau says that she had no choice. The current murders threaten the survival of the family.
Marcus asks what she means.
Ysabeau: “Philippe formed the Congregation and the Knights to ensure the survival of our species, but also to protect me. The [Blood Rage] disease is in my bloodline. I’m asymptomatic but others weren’t so fortunate.”
Marcus: “That means that Matthew…”
Ysabeau: “Matthew is fully afflicted.”
Marcus: “But he sired me.”
Ysabeau: “You and I are carriers. The disease lives in our blood. That’s why the children you sired were culled.”
Marcus: “But Matthew said I was siring irresponsibly.”
Ysabeau: “You’d passed on the disease. He was under orders from Philippe to wipe it out.”
Marcus: “Baldwin knew. You all knew. And you kept it from me.”
Ysabeau: “It was Matthew’s decision. He chose to protect you from the truth.”
Marcus: “Protect me?”
Ysabeau: “Now you understand? Gerbert is waiting for any opportunity to take our family down. If we’re linked to the murders, if our secret is uncovered, the Congregation will come for us. They’ll kill you, me, Matthew, every one of us. It will be the end of the de Clermonts.”
Ysabeau tells Marcus the truth about Matthew’s extremely bad temper. The family has spent 1500 years covering up his illness, Blood Rage, in order to protect the lives of Ysabeau and her entire bloodline. Due to his inherited genetic disease, Matthew has spent 1500 years struggling with an addiction to rage which is often triggered by the smallest of offenses and can send him out of control. Philippe structured the Congregation’s rules around protecting Matthew and Ysabeau from anyone who might figure out what was wrong with Matthew. He wiped out everyone else who had Blood Rage, which had the effect of making Matthew’s symptoms harder to recognize, since they became unusual.
Diana has committed her life to a vampire with serious, untreatable, genetic medical and mental health issues which he’s perpetually forced to hide from the authorities, which can also be passed down to his vampire children. Matthew hasn’t bothered to mention any of this to her, anymore than he told Marcus about Blood Rage. His Blood Rage is the reason he craved and then ultimately killed multiple women before her. It’s the reason she should be afraid of him, despite her power, because there are times when it takes over and he legitimately loses control.
Such as the time when Domenico was sent to Sept-Tours by the Congregation to deliver a message to Matthew and Diana in season 1 and Matthew assaulted and humiliated Domenico. Domenico was so upset by that altercation that he vowed to get revenge, which led to him luring Juliette into going to Madison at the end of season 1 and almost killing both Diana and Matthew. Diana killed Juliette and called on the Goddess to help her save Matthew, nearly sacrificing herself in the process.
So in that instance, Juliette, Matthew’s former lover, paid the price for his Blood Rage and Domenico’s wounded pride. Domenico got his revenge by seeing Matthew and Diana nearly dead and Matthew’s former lover dead, with a side of hurting Gerbert as well, since Juliette was his daughter and slave, who he’d created to hurt Matthew and Philippe in the first place. Domenico may not know exactly what happened in Madison, but he knows Juliette never came back and the de Clermonts were so shaken afterwards that Matthew and Diana time travelled, while sending their vulnerable allies into hiding.
Were the events in Madison enough revenge against Matthew for Domenico? Has he returned to the long game he’s been playing for centuries? And what were his feelings for Juliette? Was she just a pawn to him or does he want revenge for her death as well? He’s starting to put together the pieces of the de Clermont puzzle, now that he’s seen the miniatures and evidence of Blood Rage in modern London. What will he do with it once he has the full picture in front of him? Domenico is a canny operator who takes care of himself, since the more powerful factions betray him without a second thought. That makes him the wild card of this universe and the TV series is showing us much more about his character than the books did.
Also, I will never be opposed to the production (or the books) bringing Juliette back-she could have been severely stunned and comatose, but barely clinging to life. In the rush to get out of town, everyone just ignored her body lying out behind the barn (out of sight, out of mind) so that when the Terrible Trio arrived, they were able to save her. If they can save Gillian, a boring, spineless character, they could save Juliette, who has so much potential for growth.
We are quickly shown that Phoebe is smart, hard working and interested in science by the way that she takes that first meeting with Marcus, even though there are no open appointment slots, and is listening to the podcast on radiocarbon dating early in the morning, a scientific method archaeologists use to determine the age of ancient artifacts. A recent adjustment was made to the radiocarbon dating process that has affected the assumed age of previously dated objects. Maybe Phoebe was catching up on the changes?
I’m guessing that Phoebe will have an encounter with Domenico that will convince her everything Marcus told her about vampires was real. Or she’ll identify Matthew and Diana as the sitters in the portraits from their modern identities, and then she’ll have a few more questions.
Sarah says that Marthe’s nut loaf is delicious- wonder how many centuries Marthe worked to get it just right?
Was Peter torturing the Madison coven or did he just lean on the witches he thought were most likely to talk, the way he pressured and flattered Gillian?
Owen Teale is doing a fantastic job as Peter- I absolutely loathe him. Gerbert (Trevor Eve) at least has some style and cares about a few things other than power, even though he does terrible things, too. Peter doesn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities, except maybe his love for the long dead Rebecca Bishop, which has become twisted into ambition to master all aspects of the higher magic they both studied. The fact that I don’t hate Gerbert is thanks to Trevor Eve and the writing. Same with Domenico and Baldwin. Gregg Chillin and Trystan Gravelle have given their villains enough nuance this season that they are intriguing instead of just evil. I appreciate this with Baldwin in particular, who I always thought got a bad rap in the books.
Images courtesy of AMC/Sky One.