In episode 8, we return to the present day, where Marcus continues to struggle with his new role as Grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus and his new knowledge about Blood Rage. He’s also still thinking about Phoebe, who left an expensive scarf behind at his house. Sophie goes into labor and gives birth to a baby girl who is a witch, as predicted. The adults around the baby must now focus on protecting her from other creatures who won’t want her raised by daemons. Emily draws Sarah into her attempts to contact Rebecca using higher magic. The usual suspects continue their scheming and infighting.
The episode opens on Diana in her bedroom in 1591, where she’s trying to read the now-damaged Book of Life without much success. The words run around the pages as they did when she got the book out at the library back in season 1 episode 1. When Matthew joins her, she tells him the book is resisting her. Her attempts to understand it are making her feel strange. He tells her that the book is making her ill, which I thought was basically what she just said. Daddy orders Diana to stop looking at the book and come eat something.
In Venice, 2021, Peter tells Gerbert what he’s learned from Edward Kelley’s letters: “Kelley claims to have bequeathed a single page to each of the three species.” He wonders if he was unable to summon the book from the Bodleian because it’s damaged, but Gerbert points out that it appeared for Diana. Peter assumes that Diana had one of the missing pages to facilitate her spell. They need to find one, too. Gerbert will try to get the vampire page from Ysabeau, because who else would have it? Peter says that he’s already searching for the witches’ page.
At Sept-Tours, Emily obsesses over the page that the Bishop house gave to Diana.
In Oxford, Marcus listens to his beloved New Order as he searches for the perfect outfit. He’s nervous about his plans for today and can’t settle on a look. Then he notices the Knights of Lazarus seal and begins to form a new plan. His thoughts are interrupted by Miriam at the door. She uses vampire speed to rush inside before he can slam the door in her face- he’s been avoiding her since discovering she’s was part of the Blood Rage cover up for 200 years.
He’s still not in the mood to accept her excuses for why she never even hinted at what was going on. She offers an explanation for Matthew’s actions, since he’s not there. Philippe wanted to eradicate Blood Rage to protect Yasabeau’s secret. He used Matthew as his assassin. Marcus asks why Matthew didn’t kill him, too. Miriam says that Matthew wanted to protect Marcus, so he disobeyed his orders. “With Matthew, actions speak louder than words.” Miriam didn’t feel that it was her place to say anything, since she’s not family.
Marcus is sick of the lies and secrets. He decides to distance himself from the vampire world in favor of his human life. He and Miriam both look at a scarf on the table between them that Phoebe must have left behind.
Miriam: “Whoever that belongs to, she’s not worth it.”
She’s definitely worth it. (Inside joke for book readers. Time’s Convert is an excellent book!)
Miriam: “Can’t deny what you are, Marcus.”
Marcus: “Yeah, well, apparently I’ve been doing that my whole life.”
This conversation touches on many of the trilogy’s major themes- identity, family, community, loyalty vs betrayal, insiders vs outsiders, coming of age and discovering ones’ true self, prejudice vs protection. In trying to protect Matthew and Ysabeau, the two great loves of his life, Philippe made Matthew kill everyone else who was afflicted with the same condition as himself. Matthew was suicidal when he became a vampire and has never gotten beyond that depression. In trying to save him, Philippe only worsened Matthew’s negative feelings about himself, confirming the message that he and his bloodline are tainted and barely deserve to live.
Matthew appears to have made some kind of deal with Philippe to spare Marcus and those of Marcus’ children who are unafflicted with Blood Rage, but still carriers. But Marcus and his children were kept in the dark about why Matthew and Juliette really slaughtered their family and they were ordered not to reproduce. So yes, compared to what Philippe ordered him to do, Matthew showed some restraint and even kindness with Marcus and his children.
But he also lied to and betrayed them and has continued to do so for hundreds of years, long after Philippe’s death. From Ysabeau and Philippe, Matthew learned to use deceit to control people. He continues to use it on Marcus and Diana, two of the people he loves most in the world. That is a separate issue from his Blood Rage.
Marcus brings the scarf back to Phoebe at the auction house. She scolds him for dropping in without an appointment. He cheekily offers to buy something, then shows her the Knights of Lazarus seal and explains what it is. He leaves the seal with her so she can check out its authenticity, telling her to get back to him once she’s ready to talk.
Phoebe puts the seal in a drawer and tries to forget about it. Marcus impatiently waits at home for her to call, while Nathan consoles him that after hundreds of years, he’ll survive a few more hours as a bachelor. Sophie comes downstairs and announces that she’s in labor, even though it’s a few weeks before her due date.
In the middle of the night, Emily successfully summons Rebecca’s ghost, but the spirit only stays for a few moments. Sarah discovers Emily just as the ghost dissolves. Afterwards, they argue, with Emily insisting that she can feel Rebecca’s spirit willing her to continue. Emily is certain that Rebecca has a message for them. Sarah is scared and angry, because higher magic is addictive- she’s worried that it’s the magic itself drawing Emily in. Once that door is open, anything can come through the spirit door. Sarah tries to hide Emily’s magical tools from her as Em tries to convince her to come to the ancient temple to help her channel its ancient power. Emily yells that Sarah doesn’t understand and walks out on her.
Gerbert calls Ysabeau to pressure her about the missing pages from the Book of Life. They trade threats then hang up. Ysabeau follows Emily out to the castle roof. She gives Em a glass of wine and tells her, “Never sleep on an argument.”
Sophie’s labor goes fine. She gives birth to a healthy baby girl. Marcus is worried for them.
Phoebe asks a more experienced coworker to examine the Knights of Lazarus seal. He’s immediately intrigued by her new find and asks her to let him research it in detail. While he’s working, she researches the Knights of Lazarus and discovers ancient artwork depicting Matthew. She recognizes him from the painting miniatures that were stolen from the auction house and starts to wonder again about Marcus’ story.
She goes down to the vault to examine it for signs of a vampire attack since she’s realized it would take super human strength to open it without the keys. As she’s checking the door and lock, Domenico appears in the hall and asks to question her. She assumes he’s a police detective, but becomes suspicious when his questions repeat what the police have already asked her. He particularly wonders if she’s been able to accurately date the miniatures. Then he asks about Marcus and tells her he knows they’ve been socializing. When she tries to leave, he blocks her way.
She’s saved by her coworker, who’s excited by the discoveries he’s made about the Knights of Lazarus seal. He’s thinks it’s from the Plantagenet era. Domenico is surprised to see that they have the seal. Phoebe explains that Marcus loaned it to her. She tells Domenico that Marcus is the Grandmaster, which is new information for him. Now that he has a new bargaining chip, Domenico makes his exit.
Sarah finds Emily on the roof. They hug and make up.
Agatha, Marcus and Miriam visit Sophie, Nathan and the baby in the hospital. The baby’s name is Margaret. The vampires can hear Margaret’s blood singing, which proves she’s a witch. Marcus tells them that they can’t let the Congregation find her. He wants them to move back to Sept-Tours for protection until the dust settles. Then they can figure out their next move.
Once they’re in bed, Sarah confesses that she used to be jealous when Emily and Rebecca did higher magic together. She practiced on her own, hoping she could improve enough to join them. Emily says that Rebecca wanted to include Sarah. Sarah says she resented higher magic because it took Rebecca away from her and didn’t want to be included.
Sarah suggests they sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to find the ancient temple. They both want to know more about the page, but Sarah is scared that Emily will get hurt if she continues practicing higher magic alone.
Phoebe goes to Marcus’ house to tell him she’s ready for more information about the supernatural world. They sit inside in his bay window as he tells her that the man in the miniature is his vampire father and the woman is a witch. Phoebe realizes that the photos she found the other night were all of Marcus. He tells her he was born in 1757. He became a vampire in 1781.
Marcus: “I was a sergeant’s assistant in the Continental Army, dying of fever. Matthew offered me survival and I took it.”
Phoebe asks if he likes being a vampire. He says he does, but it can be lonely sometimes. She realizes that his human family must all be long dead. He tells her that he has his vampire family now. He has human friends, but she’s the only human who knows what he is.
He places her hand on his chest so that she can feel how slowly his heart beats. “It beats slower and it loves longer.” They kiss.
Then they go for a walk in the
Garden of Eden park while Marcus describes his eating habits in more detail. Vampires enjoy raw or rare meat, nuts, berries and animal blood in addition to human blood. They generally try not to feed on humans anymore. He assures Phoebe that she’s not in any danger from him. He works in the Accidents and Emergency Department at his hospital! When he drinks human blood, it’s from the blood bank and he puts it in a mug.
He does avoid answering a few of her questions directly- while he’s tame, not every vampire is so well behaved.
They go to a pub, where he tells her she’s certainly known many other creatures who were hiding in plain sight all of her life. He explains that creatures are dying out and they don’t know why. Some vampires can’t sire, witches are losing their powers, and daemons are more prone to madness. Long ago, creatures made up 50% of the humanoid population and the four species intermingled. Now, there’s so much prejudice that it seems like humans are going backwards.
He doesn’t mention the divisions between the three creature species.
Phoebe asks who was the oldest vampire he’s ever known? He says it was his grandfather, Philippe, who never revealed his exact age but was millennia old. Phoebe marvels at the thought of having seen all of modern human history. Marcus tells her that though Philippe is gone, Ysabeau has seen nearly that much history, too.
Back at Marcus’ house, Phoebe realizes that Ysabeau and Philippe must have been together for millennia and that Ysabeau was probably devastated when he died. And Marcus must have lost many human friends in the hundreds of years he’s been alive. Marcus confirms that she’s right, but explains that vampires usually move around every few decades, creating new connections and identities in the human world. The emotional atmosphere gets a bit intense between them for a moment, but Phoebe breaks it by complementing the hot chocolate that Marcus made her.
She asks what else she should know. Apparently, she needs to know that some vampires are good in bed.
Also, they heal quicker, have heightened senses, and are stronger and faster.
Once they’re done in bed, Phoebe times Marcus while he races to the corner store to buy her favorite flavor of ice cream. He’s back with three different versions in less than a minute.
If he wore a cape, he might be the perfect boyfriend. Alas, no changing into a bat, sleeping in coffins or wearing capes.
While she’s eating her ice cream, Phoebe tells Marcus about the other vampire who came to the auction house asking questions. He identifies Domenico for her. She tells him that Domenico recognized and respected the Knights of Lazarus seal. Marcus says the Knights are a noble institution, but he’s giving up being Grandmaster. He feels like the Knights and vampire culture in general are stuck in the past. He knows who he is and he has his own life. He doesn’t need the other vampires and their classist prejudices.
Phoebe doesn’t believe he can just walk away from his family and his whole species. He chose to be a doctor because he likes to help people. He’a a revolutionary. If he doesn’t like the way creature or vampire politics work, then he should use the Knights to help change them.
Marcus goes to Venice to meet with Baldwin at Congregation headquarters. Baldwin assumes he’s there to hand over leadership of the Knights of Lazarus. Marcus informs him that he plans to use the Knights to make positive changes for all creatures. This infuriates Baldwin, who tells Marcus that the Knights are meant to work for the de Clermonts. “It’s not a charity.”
I am convinced that Baldwin created right wing conservatism and the hostile corporate takeover.
Marcus tells Baldwin that the Knights still need his help. He wants Baldwin to run interference with the Congregation as part of the Knights’ effort to protect Baby Margaret, Sophie and Nathan. It would be best if Baldwin can find a way to divert the Congregation’s attention away from the baby.
Baldwin thinks Marcus is an insane child who’s spent too much time with humans for putting the interests of a daemon family above his own family. He reminds Marcus that there’s a vicious killer on the loose in Oxford that needs to be dealt with- that’s where their attention should be focused. When Marcus refuses to budge, Baldwin says he won’t take orders from an infant with tainted ideology.
And tainted blood.
Oops, that was meant to be Baldwin’s big, lethal reveal of his own superiority to Marcus, but Ysabeau beat him to it. No matter, There are other ways for them to twist the knives into each other’s bellies.
Baldwin: “Philippe should have culled every member of Ysabeau’s venomous bloodline, including you.”
Marcus: “I actually understand now. Why Philippe was always so disappointed in you.”
Marcus hisses that last line, then turns his back on Baldwin and walks out. Baldwin looks slightly confused, like an adorable puppy just bit him. Marcus couldn’t have chosen a better insult.
Trystan Gravelle (Baldwin) was like a coiled snake in the scene, waiting for the right moment to strike. The way to deal with Baldwin is to force him to respect you, not to deal in love or compassion. In the books, he was a Roman soldier when Philippe turned him and he still sees himself as Philippe’s Centurion. Marcus (Edward Bluemel) is very intelligent, but his optimism can lead him to be naive. This season is the beginning of his coming of age story as a vampire.
Gerbert and Domenico are meeting near Baldwin’s office at the same time. Domenico is close to identifying the killer and wants to renegotiate the terms of their deal. Gerbert refuses to renegotiate until Domenico actually has the killer. He threatens to renege on the deal if Domenico annoys him too much. Then he notices Marcus leaving Baldwin’s office and abruptly cuts their meeting short so he can investigate the situation, calling Domenico a rude name as he walks away.
Domenico looks young, but he isn’t a young vampire. It isn’t clear how old he is, but his conversations earlier in the season made it sound like he’s at least Matthew’s age (1500ish). This is another case of an older vampire, or at least a vampire who is older in thought and appearance, insulting and subjugating a younger vampire. I’m not sure if the plot is going to take that anywhere in the long run, but there’s a strong pattern developing, along with making the revolutionary the leader.
Gerbert enters Baldwin’s office without an invitation and starts asking questions. Baldwin warns him to wait for permission next time, then tells him that Marcus came to Venice on a family matter that’s none of his business. Gerbert promptly brings up the Oxford murders to blackmail Baldwin into talking. Cornered, Baldwin realizes he needs to draw attention away from the de Clermonts and Blood Rage immediately, so he uses the ammunition that Marcus just gave him. “He’s protecting a child.”
Baldwin is the family guard dog. He has one job and he does it well. To understand him, you have to understand how single minded he is. In his mind, this was not a betrayal. This was a necessary action to save the people who matter. He can be horrible, but his motives are straightforward. His strength is in his relentless determination. He respects power, authority and strength.
In the hospital, Sophie confesses to Nathan that she’s scared for Margaret’s future.
Domenico finds Marcus before he leaves the Congregation’s island and opens up negotiations on the Oxford killer.
Domenico: “There’s a link between Matthew and the Oxford murders. See, I saw the stolen portrait. 16th century, worst holiday destination ever.”
Marcus denies any knowledge of the situation.
Domenico says that he’ll catch the Oxford killer eventually and then their identity and his loyalty will be for sale. As Grandmaster of the Knights of Lazarus, Marcus probably has something to offer him. Marcus says to give him a call when he actually has something to sell. Domenico looks pleased.
Gerbert runs straight to Peter to tell him about the witch born to daemons who’s under the protection of the Knights of Lazarus. Peter is skeptical, but goes to the hospital to see for himself. He uses a spell to put Sophie and Nathan to sleep, then examines Margaret. He looks bewildered for a moment, but Margaret’s blood sings, so he’s satisfied that she’s a witch. When Agatha arrives he tells her that sooner or later the witches will come for the baby. Agatha threatens to kill him if he ever comes near her grandchild again.
Sarah and Emily go to the ancient temple in the middle of the night and perform the ritual to summon a spirit. They bring the page from the Book of Life with them. Rebecca appears again. Sarah becomes disoriented when she sees her sister and tries to touch her, breaking the spell.
In 1591, Diana falls asleep holding the Book of Life. She dreams of a Tree of Life growing next to water. The tree loses a few of its leaves; birds fly off its branches; it drips blood; and the entire tree turns gray, as if its turned to ash or stone. Then skulls and body parts appear as part of the tree. The skulls scream.
Diana startles awake from her nightmare. Matthew, who was awake reading, asks if everything’s okay. Diana replies, “I don’t think so.”
The vampires in this universe are addicted to keeping secrets and are annoyingly smug about it. Knowledge may be power, but wielding it like a weapon is deadly to intimacy in the long run. It’s one thing to have to keep time travel secrets, as Gallowglass and Philippe will after Matthew and Diana leave 1591. It’s another matter to purposely keep vital medical information from someone who it personally affects, and to even tell terrible lies that blame the victim to continue the cover up, as the de Clermonts did to Marcus when Matthew killed his children because they’d inherited Blood Rage (this was briefly mentioned when Ysabeau told Marcus about Matthew’s Blood Rage).
Marcus has a right to be angry and keep his distance from his family and from toxic vampire culture in general for a while. Unfortunately, if he’s going to continue on as Grand Master of the Knights of Lazarus, he’ll have to learn to think like the schemers in the vampire world, even if he doesn’t act like them, or he’ll continue to be outmaneuvered the way Baldwin, Gerbert and Peter outmaneuvered him in this episode.
Baldwin didn’t need or have a right to the information about Margaret’s species/talent. Marcus’ trust in Baldwin and his desire to take every precaution to protect the baby ended up causing the thing he feared. Baldwin’s behavior was predictable, so the whole incident could have been avoided for the moment. He’s loyal, but to the de Clermont family above all else. It was a no brainer to him to throw the daemons under the bus to save his family and Marcus should have been able to predict that possibility.
The wiser course of action would have been to send Margaret and her parents someplace less obvious than Sept-Tours to hide. They need to cultivate some powerful friends in South America.
In this context, the reason why vampires keep secrets becomes more clear- with long, long lives and sharp memories, the ally you share your secrets with in this century may become your mortal enemy in the next century. Better to keep personal information on a need to know basis. My issue is that the de Clermonts withhold information from family members who have the need and the right to know, then continue to lie and blame to cover up the real reasons for withholding information.
Marcus will eventually have to learn to deal effectively with older, arrogant vampires who still think like the eras they were born in if he’s going to be a leader. Domenico actually seems like he could be a good. partner in crime, as long as you don’t turn your back on him. Like Baldwin, he’s a logical thinker who can be swayed by evidence and is loyal to his commitments. He’s not a young revolutionary, but he does want to be treated fairly and is willing to negotiate a deal rather than commit murder and mayhem to get what he wants. That’s a good start.
The page from the Book of Life that Emily is obsessing over actually came from Stephen, Diana’s father, via the magical Bishop homestead. Could it be the witches’ page? While the Bishop family lineage can be traced back hundreds of years, the origins of Stephen’s family are murky. There’s been remarkably little curiosity from Matthew and the other geneticists about that side of her family.
There’s been even less curiosity about Sophie’s witch ancestors, who held onto the crucial chess piece for more than 400 years after it was left with Kit Marlowe, a daemon who lived at the same time as Susannah Norman, a witch who could be Sophie’s identical twin. 😉 Sophie’s witch family eventually gave birth to her, a daemon whose intuition led her to Diana at just the right moment. Has Sophie’s family been spontaneously intermingling daemons and witches since the 16th century? Is Sophie related to Kit?
Even though the modern characters don’t have all of the information in the above paragraph, basic biology tells us that since Sophie is a daemon who’s the child of witches and she was able to mate with a full blooded daemon and produce a witch, witches and daemons are the same species. They are essentially different races within the species. It’s a major plot hole that Miriam and Marcus haven’t figured this out using logic, never mind their fancy genetic tests.
It should really be the same thing with humans and vampires- the vampire transformation is similar to a caterpillar turning into a butterfly or a tadpole turning into a frog. Rather than a transformation into a new species, the human is transfigured into a being at the height of human potential, which requires a concentrated food source to maintain. Human blood naturally has all of the nutrients a vampire needs, but isn’t the only food a vampire can eat.
The episode begins with a look at the Tree of Life page from the book of Life, which Matthew compared to a Book of Death because it’s made from the bodies of creatures. Edward Kelley said he heard the book screaming at him continuously, to the point of driving him mad.
The episode ends with Diana’s dream about the Tree of Life turning into a Tree of Death, with dead creatures hanging from the tree, screaming. Is Diana beginning to hear the book screaming the way Kelley did? Is the screaming solely because creatures were sacrificed to make the book or are they screaming because they know their bloodlines are dying out?
Images courtesy of AMC and Sky One.