Diana and Matthew spend episode 6 at Sept-Tours proving themselves to Philippe. In a visually stunning episode, Philippe makes sure Diana understands what she’s getting into by exposing her to Matthew’s Blood Rage and seeks to understand the rift he senses between himself and Matthew. Once he’s satisfied that Diana is worthy of Matthew and that the two are equally devoted to each other, he approves of their relationship and encourages them to fully mate.
Matthew and Philippe argue about why Philippe allowed the witch Champiers to threaten Diana so that she had no choice but to kill him in episode 5. Philippe felt it was essential to test Diana’s ability to take care of herself, since she already knows so many of the family secrets. He won’t allow Matthew to bring a weak-willed
woman witch into the family who could compromise their safety at the slightest threat.
Once Diana gets involved in the argument, Philippe notices that she’s wearing the cherished ring he gave Ysabeau. Ysabeau wouldn’t part with the ring while he’s still living, which leads him to realize that he must be dead in the time they’ve come from. Matthew confirms his suspicion.
Diana deals with her anguish over her ordeal with Champiers by rowing on the de Clermonts’ lake. In one of the most ironic moments of this series, Matthew, who has told continuous lies to Diana and still has many secrets- this episode is about one of his biggest secrets, which he only reveals because he’s made to by his stepfather, but it’s not his last secret- calls to her from the shore, “Diana! You can’t keep shutting me out!”
Unlike Book Diana, TV Diana has no sense of irony and little sense of humor, so she lets his comment go by her unanswered. She dutifully returns to shore and explains that she left Matthew’s sight for a few minutes because she needed time to think about the violent urges she’s developing. She’s shocked at herself for wanting to kill the man who mindraped her and tried to completely erase her memories. She wonders what she’s becoming.
She’s becoming a woman who stands up for herself when she’s attacked, at least when the attacker isn’t her boyfriend. That’s a good thing. It’s not wrong to wish bad things on someone who’s done you extensive harm and who tried to do worse. The books give mixed messages about whether it’s okay for women to use their power for personal reasons and to protect themselves. Looks like the show will, too.
Let me be clear- I like the books and the show, but this season, Diana has become an object who wears pretty clothes and occasionally does magic, while Matthew lugs her through the 16th century and acts out his angst. Apparently, Matthew’s need for forgiveness from Philippe is the real story of season 2, not Diana’s need to learn magic and understand the nature of the Book of Life. Hopefully the show will move on after this episode and Diana can become a fully fleshed out character again. I’m very tired of watching Teresa Palmer give men wide-eyed looks and (silently) argue for approval.
Philippe is stunned to discover that it’s possible for him to die. He tries to write a letter to Ysabeau, but can’t find the words. He had a habit of writing notes to her while she was away and then hiding them in books for her to find later. In the future, Em and Sarah feel strange vibrations in the library that turn out to be a time anomaly from him changing the past. Ysabeau realizes that that the time anomaly the witches are feeling must be Philippe writing her a new note. It will take Philippe the entire episode to come to terms with his own mortality, so Ysabeau, Marthe and the two witches spend the episode searching through old books looking for his message. From Ysabeau’s perspective, his note will reach her from beyond the grave.
Of course it’s River Song who feels the time anomaly first and strongest. 😘 ⏳
Philippe finds Matthew packing up to leave Sept-Tours, no doubt thinking he’ll make a quick escape before his father reveals anymore of his secrets. But Philippe is just getting started. He throws Matthew a sword and starts a fight combined with an argument about Ysabeau of all things- Matthew left her alone to protect herself, Matthew let her give her ring to a witch… This morphs into Philippe deciding Future Matthew has become a wimp who’s lost his edge and thus his ability to properly fight. Philippe pushes Matthew to get angry and fight harder. He wants to see the Matthew he remembers in the man from the Future.
I don’t know what this argument is. The same fight happens in the book and is a key scene, but Philippe’s motivations are very different. James Purefoy is perfectly cast, but this Philippe is written confusingly. The problem is with the writing and directing, which in episodes 5 and 6 has put more emphasis on creating pretty pictures and following a certain story structure than staying true to the spirit of the story they’re telling. In other words, it seems like Philippe’s character has been sacrificed to someone’s amateurish idea of when particular story beats have to happen and hitting those time stamps.
Diana wanders the house and finds a map, which a servants informs her belongs to Ysabeau. It’s meant to guide her on her next witchhunt. Diana sends the servant away, then performs magic on the map so that the witches’ locations are obscured.
Philippe successfully provokes Matthew into a Blood Rage, the full expression of the disease. He puts a knife to Matthew’s throat and demands to know how he will die. Diana senses something happening and finds them in the barn. Matthew still refuses to reveal the future, so Philippe gives up and leaves them alone. Revealing the Blood Rage to Diana was his main purpose, anyway.
That’s why he created this scene while she was in the house, where she almost missed the whole thing?
As Matthew recovers from his fit, he explains the disease to Diana and tells her that though he has it under control, this is the reason they can never be fully mated. She fiercely tells him she’d never walk away from him, for any reason, ever. He insists she still doesn’t understand what a terrible person and mass murderer he is. He was Philippe’s assassin who killed all of the other vampires with Blood Rage.
She goes to Philippe in her own rage, angry that he turned Matthew into his assassin and then tried to drive her away. He says he just wanted to make sure she fully understood who she was involved with.
Apparently they think she doesn’t understand what a vampire is. Murder is right there in the definition of the species.
Philippe: “You needed to see the wolf behind the man. If you are to have a future together, you must accept every facet of him. And Matthew must be freed of the guilt that he carries.”
She realizes that Philippe wanted to make their relationship stronger. He says that they’ll face malevolent opposition in this time period and their own, so their faith in each other must be unwavering. She says it already is, but he argues that Matthew has very little faith. She says that’s Philippe’s fault, because he left Matthew with a “legacy of pain and recrimination.”
He asks who she thinks she is. She says she’s worthy of his son, then she begins to glimmer, to use the word from the books. She basically glows and produces small fireworks from her body, which increase as Philipe speaks the old prophecy. It’s ridiculously cheesy. Really doesn’t say much that this ancient, powerful vampire is so easily convinced by a few fireworks. After this, he joins her cult, treating her like a goddess. It’s not at all reflective of their relationship in the books, which was that of deeply loving father and daughter who shared an understanding of each other and felt a special kinship. And she didn’t need to use cheap tricks to create that relationship.
But this Philippe is mesmerized by her sparkles: “There is an ancient prophecy. It tells of a witch who would change the destiny of all creatures. Well, some believe that this fearsome witch will alter our understanding of life itself. ‘The old world will die. And a new will be born…’ I believe you are power indeed.”
Diana speaks as though she is a goddess: “Yes, I am. But I love your son and that should be enough.”
Later, Philippe finds Matthew and Diana outside. He’s still worried that if they’re publicly challenged, Matthew will lose Diana because of his Blood Rage. He wants the Congregation to accept her as part of their family, no matter what, so he makes her his blood-sworn daughter by saying an oath as he makes a mark on her forehead written in his own blood. This makes her officially a de Clermont, legally a closer relative to Philippe than Matthew is, since Matthew was sired by Ysabeau and doesn’t carry Philippe’s blood.
Matthew’s fight with Philippe brought his memories of Philippe’s death to the surface. He tells Diana that he’s spent 70 years trying to avoid thinking about them. She suggests he tell her the story, to help the memories lose their power. Then maybe he can leave them behind.
He tells her that Philippe was taken prisoner by the Germans during World War 2 and held at one of the death camps. He’d been trying to free Allied spies. He was the first vampire the Nazis captured, so they were keen to experiment on him. Their witches extracted his memories and did pain experiments on him to see how much he could endure before he died.
Philippe was tortured for three months before Matthew and Baldwin rescued him. His mind and body were fractured and he begged to die. Matthew couldn’t let Ysabeau go through the horror of killing her own mate, so he did it. As he drained Philippe’s blood, he saw all of his father’s broken memories. They were like shards of glass. But Philippe’s heart was still strong and he thought of Ysabeau at the end.
Matthew feels like Ysabeau still can’t look at him without remembering what he did. Now he’ll have to face Diana, too. She tells him that he wasn’t really the one who killed Philippe. He just released his father from his ruined body.
Brief check in with Ysabeau and the witches in the modern day. The note from the past hasn’t arrived yet.
Philippe takes Matthew and Diana out for a horseback ride. He asks her how Ysabeau is, since he’s sure she’s more likely to tell him the truth than Matthew is. Diana says that Ysabeau is doing well, but she misses him. He’s satisfied with her response.
They visit the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Diana. Philippe announces that Matthew and Diana will be married in two days. When he was young, brides would come to the temple to ask the goddess for her protection. He performs the ancient ritual for Diana. When he’s done, a white stag appears.
White stags are messengers from the otherworld. They often signal the beginning of a spiritual quest but can also appear when a taboo is broken. They are frequently associated with purity, innocence, saviors and royalty. This white stag shows the goddess’s approval.
Matthew and Diana discuss whether they actually want to get married. Spoilers- they do. Matthew makes a quickie proposal while they’re still in the temple, just in case the goddess wants to give another opinion.
They make it back to Sept-Tours, so the goddess must approve Philippe’s full plans. While Matthew is dressing, his father brings him a fibula (ancient brooch) to wear during the wedding ceremony. Philippe noticed the fibula when it flashed a bit of blue in the sunlight on a battlefield during the vampire wars. As he bent down to pick it up, a volley of arrows barely missed his head. It probably saved his life. Now he’s passing his good luck charm on to Matthew. His son wears it on his chest during the ceremony.
Diana wears a beautiful dress with an intricate collar three times the size of her head. The brief ceremony takes place in a courtyard with only a few witnesses, followed by a small reception, another change from the book. While they share the first dance, Philippe explains to Diana that they intend to keep Matthew’s marriage a secret from Ysabeau, with the threat of a harsh punishment for anyone who talks. Diana promises to tell Ysabeau the whole story someday. Matthew changes places with Philippe and tells Diana that Ysabeau will have a hard time believing that they were married with Philippe’s blessing. She notes that the wedding was at his insistence.
Finally, they come to the wedding night, which is the real vampire mating ceremony. Things appear to go well. They’ve waited a long time and put in a lot of practice, so they should be ready to face whatever comes up during this challenge. 😘 💖 💋
The next morning, Diana finds Matthew in his chapel, contemplating a toy wooden horse that he carved for his human son, Lucas. He tells her that, “Lucas gave me purpose and he ignited a love I’d never known.” Diana apologizes for being unable to produce human children for the vampire and for not being a vampire who will live as long as Matthew. Matthew insists that she’s all he needs. She points out that she’ll die in 60 or 70 years, but he’s functionally immortal. Matthew looks at Lucas’ horse again.
Really glad Matthew’s son Marcus isn’t here to see his existence negated like this. Philippe and Ysabeau certainly don’t treat Matthew like he’s not their “real” son. I think Diana can become a vampire if she decides she doesn’t want to leave Matthew through death, but either way, he won’t be alone when she dies- he has a huge circle of friends and family. In the meantime, if they want to raise Diana’s witch children in a fashion more like human children, I’m sure that could be arranged. 😉 😉
As Diana and Matthew prepare to leave Sept-Tours, for real this time, Philippe pulls her aside to give her a bag of money, telling her that the de Clermont women manage their own finances. Apparently no one mentioned this to Matthew, since he prefers to control every detail of her life.
Then Philippe considers the meaning of Ysabeau’s ring again. He takes a chain from around his neck and puts it on hers.
Philippe: “Here. Wear this, and I will be with you always. As you will always be in my heart, my daughter.”
He kisses her hand, then they all ride together to the edge of the estate. As they say goodbye, Philippe tells Matthew that he and Diana are worthy of each other. He wants Matthew to stop regretting his life and start living it. He forgives Matthew for whatever happens in the future. “Now, go, my son.” “Thank you, Father.”
As Matthew and Diana ride toward Bohemia and Gallowglass, Philippe finally finds the words to write to Ysabeau. He tells her that he’s accepted his mortality and is at peace with his fate. He shares that Matthew and Diana have fully mated and are headed to Bohemia to look for the Book of Life. He seals the letter with a message of love, then places it in the spine of a book, where Ysabeau finds it in the future. She’s heartened by this surprise final message from her mate, giving her news of their son.
And with that, Matthew finally has the redemption he’s craved for 70 years. He can put aside his depression and guilt, becoming a complex but non-problematic character.
😂 Just kidding. It’s not for nothing that they reminded us that Matthew became a vampire after his beloved human wife and son died and that he may or may not have been trying to commit suicide when he fell off the roof of the church he built for them. Matthew’s guilt and depression are hardwired into him. They aren’t going anywhere, just like his Blood Rage.
Diana’s significant trauma and loss is usually forgotten or downplayed, in the books and the TV series, but Matthew’s angst is never far from the surface. Even in the scenes we just saw, no one thinks about the fact that as far as they know, because Diana is marrying a vampire she will never have children of her own or what that might mean to her. Matthew doesn’t apologize back to her for not being able to give her witch babies, for example. The focus stays on Matthew, who has already had children using both the human and vampire methods of reproduction and even has grandchildren through Marcus. He can also easily sire more vampire children, though he would risk passing on his illness.
Diana doesn’t get a chance to answer Philippe when he says goodbye, so we’re left to guess about whether she’s come to see him as a father or if she wanted to become a blood-sworn de Clermont. In these last two episodes, she’s become a pretty object who answers to the men’s needs and wants and is moved around according to their desires. We rarely see the story from her point of view and she has no agency beyond keeping herself alive and gaining male approval.
Which reminds me, we lost the “Think… and stay alive,” scene from the book, which was such a key part of Philippe and Diana’s relationship and informed so much of her character going forward. Of course, this Diana isn’t the Diana of the books, so she doesn’t particularly need that advice. Book Diana is an impulsive, outspoken woman with a tendency to attract trouble, who frequently has to take care of herself and others in emergency situations. I myself use Philippe’s excellent advice frequently. But season 2 Diana prefers to stand still and placid, looking pretty in her beautiful clothes, and silently turning into a tree or letting fireworks rise out of her while the world keeps turning around her.
Images courtesy of AMC and Sky One.