A Discovery of Witches Season 1 Episode 5 Recap: In Which Diana and Matthew Break the Covenant

Matthew and Diana are separated for most of episode 5, with him back in Oxford investigating the break in at his lab while Diana stays at Sept-Tours with Ysabeau and Marthe. Ysabeau takes the opportunity to test Diana by informing her about the realities of vampires and of Matthew’s romantic past. Matthew informs Gillian that it’s not a good idea to mess with vampires without backup. The various factions within the Congregation continue to huff and puff about the Covenant and the Book of Life.

Recap

Diana soaks in a luxuriously deep tub, recovering from her spontaneous witch water spell, while Ysabeau and Marthe look on to make sure she doesn’t flood the bathroom. Marthe brings her a towel and comments that the ability to produce witch water is a rare power these days. Diana says that she can’t control the elemental magic that she’s producing, like witch water and witch wind. Marthe thinks she just needs time, but Diana wants to visit her aunts to see if they can help her.

Ysabeau insists that she made a promise to Matthew, so Diana isn’t allowed to leave yet. Right now, they’re going hunting.

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 Marcus & Miriam

When Matthew arrives in Oxford, Miriam and Marcus assure him that they’ve checked the lab over and nothing was taken. The computers weren’t hacked, though the thief tried. Matthew still needs to see it for himself. He blames Peter, but Miriam points out that Matthew’s own foolhardy actions have brought them unwanted attention in recent days. No one paid any attention to their work until Diana showed up.

While Miriam is correct- Diana does tend to attract attention- she’s also doing some victim blaming here.

She accuses Matthew of mating with a witch, which he denies. She says that she recognizes the signs, since she’s mated before, unlike Matthew and Marcus. Marcus adds that Ysabeau called to tell him about Domenico’s visit to Sept-Tours, letting Miriam know that the other vampire found out about Matthew and Diana. Matthew informs them that he doesn’t care that Domenico knows.

As he checks over the lab, Matthew realizes he recognizes the thief’s smell. He storms out without a word to Miriam or Marcus. Miriam decides it’s time to call Baldwin and let him know the truth.

Miriam has the thankless job of following Matthew through life, acting as his gatekeeper. He doesn’t seem to realize that she has virtually no life outside of babysitting him- he just accepts as his due that she’ll make his arrangements, run his lab and clean up his messes. Such is the charmed life of a male aristocrat, even in the 21st century. But Matthew’s issues apparently run even deeper than being an ancient, titled vampire.

Marcus calls Baldwin and explains that Matthew and Diana are mating, but he’s fighting it. Plus witches broke into their lab. And the Book of Life is still involved.

Marcus: “I was just thinking, with you being a member of the Congregation and the head of our family that…”

Baldwin: “That I can save him? Matthew never destroys only himself, Marcus. He always drags the rest of us down with him. Well, I can’t help him this time. If he breaks the rules, he pays the price.”

Ysabeau and Diana ride out into the woods so that Diana can watch Ysabeau hunt. She wants Diana to understand what feeding is actually like for vampires, rather than the romanticized human version. She tells Diana not to disturb her or she might accidentally confuse Diana with her prey and attack the wrong warmblood.

While Ysabeau hunts a fox, Matthew hunts Gillian. After he finds her in an alley, he taunts her with how inferior she is to Diana. She says she’s sickened by Diana debasing herself with a vampire. She agrees with Peter that vampires should be made extinct.

As Ysabeau goes in for the kill, Matthew picks up Gillian and bites her. He holds her off the ground as he drains her blood and her memories, which prove that she was the one who broke into his lab. When he’s done, he leaves her in a heap on the ground. He takes her phone, since she photographed the lab.

Ysabeau drains the fox, then eats its internal organs. It’s not clear whether she sees its memories. She asks if Diana still wants to be with her son, knowing he has to kill and eat like that to survive. Diana isn’t phased, probably because she also eats animals and would hunt and eat them raw if that’s what it took to survive.

Seriously, vampires are always so dramatic about their diets. Would they be shocked to learn that vegans sometimes grow and then kill their own plants to eat, otherwise known as gardening?

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 GillianDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Matthew & GillianDisc of Witches S1Ep5 YsabeauDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Blanca & Lucas' Stone

Gillian crawls to Sylvia’s house and rings the doorbell so that her coven leader can find her and save her life. This is a major change from the book, where Gillian dies alone in the alley.

I guess they decided that Matthew was translating to the screen as cruel enough, without adding an unjustified murder to his list.

Sigismund, the third witch representative on the Congregation, reports Gillian’s attack to Peter and Satu. Gillian told Sylvia that Matthew is studying witch DNA, but he stole her phone before she’d uploaded the photos she took in the lab, so she doesn’t have many details to share. Peter lets Gillian take the fall for breaking into a university facility, claiming she acted alone, out of concern for Diana. He’s more worried about what she discovered. Satu remains silent throughout the conversation.

Diana calls her aunts to find out why she didn’t already know about the Covenant. Sarah sensibly tells her that they gave up teaching her about witch culture and magic because she didn’t want to know. She felt it wasn’t relevant to her life.

Diana says that since she’s in love with Matthew, it’s all relevant to her now. Sarah and Em grow worried and try to impress on her that a relationship with Matthew would be a serious violation of creature law.

Diana: “I thought you two might understand how I feel.”

Em: “Honey, it’s just the Congregation is going to do everything in their power to stop a mixed-species relationship.”

Diana: “They don’t get to choose who I love, no matter the consequences.”

Em asks what Matthew thinks about this. Diana admits that he hasn’t said “I love you” yet.

Matthew is with Hamish, one of his favorite sounding boards. He tells Hamish that Diana loves him. When Hamish asks how Matthew feels about Diana, he silently looks at Hamish with soft, sad eyes. Hamish realizes Matthew is lost and swears. He points out that daemons fly under the Congregation’s radar all the time- they haven’t stopped him from having whatever relationships he wants.

But Matthew knows that it’s all about power. The Congregation doesn’t care about daemons consorting with humans, because they aren’t seen as a threat to the balance of power between species and factions. Vampire-witch team ups make the Congregation nervous because they combine too much complementary power. When the vampire in question is a de Clermont and the witch is one of the most powerful seen in generations, the Congregation fears what sort of creature domination they could accomplish together.

But Matthew loves Diana for more than her power- she’s smart, funny, pretty, brave and has a good job as a historian- everything the modern male main character looks for in a woman. As a 1500 year old man, her understanding the past should be an added bonus, since it aids in her understanding of him. 🧐

Since he’s Matthew and he’s been depressed for 1500 years, he turns Diana’s knowledge of history into a negative. In reality, they are studying each other- she’s his latest science project and he’s her latest historical research project. He fears that what she learns of his past will lead her to reject him- as if she doesn’t understand how ruthless and bloody history has been. Hamish reminds Matthew that he knows about the dark side of Matthew’s past and still loves him, so it’s likely Diana will too. He encourages Matthew to stop thinking for Diana.

If only.

Hamish advises him not to let anything stand in his way if he truly loves Diana.

It’s like he doesn’t know Matthew at all.

Ysabeau decides to educate Diana on some of Matthew’s history, starting at the very beginning. They walk to the church Matthew built in the village when he was still human. He was active and curious, even as a child and eventually became a craftsman, like his human father. Inside the church, Ysabeau lights a candle. Diana reads the message carved on a stone embedded in the floor: “Peace. Perfect peace. Blanca and Lucas.” Ysabeau explains that they were Matthew’s human wife and son, who died from a fever when Lucas was 5.

Ysabeau: “Matthew’s true love will always be Blanca. She gave him a son. You’ll never be able to bear a child by him. In 1500 years, Matthew has never mated and I don’t think he ever will.”

Diana: “I will never leave him.”

Ysabeau assures her that she will, since she’s not immortal. She twists that knife as hard as she can, until they’re interrupted by villagers.

Vampires aren’t actually immortal and their mates aren’t forever either- Ysabeau and Miriam’s mates aren’t with them anymore. Matthew could die long before Diana. It’s not even unlikely, given his overprotectiveness, recklessness, depression and numerous enemies.

Vampire mates also don’t give each other children the way humans do- their children are all sired by only one parent, just as Diana’s children would be hers, but not Matthew’s. Diana isn’t inferior to a vampire mate. She and her hypothetical children could also eventually become vampires, if they chose to, so they wouldn’t have to leave Matthew.

The way Ysabeau tries to set up a Rebecca-like competition between Diana and Blanca, a woman who died 1500 years ago, is absurd. If Matthew is still pining for Blanca, he should find a way to die and join her in Heaven already. I’d be fine with him going the way of Vampire Bill in True Blood.

Outside the church, Ysabeau explains that she sired Matthew right there, after he either fell or jumped off the church roof. No one’s ever been sure which it was. As he lay on the ground dying, she decided that God had sent her the opportunity to have a child of her own, so she offered him eternal life at a moment when he couldn’t understand what the offer meant.

Diana: “If I could use my blood to save him, I would.”

Once he recovered, Matthew raged at being sired and had an insatiable bloodlust. He’d leave Sept-Tours for long periods of time. Philippe wouldn’t allow Ysabeau to know where he’d been or what he’d been doing. He didn’t want her to see Matthew consumed by his demons.

Diana finds it hard to imagine Matthew like that, since he’s usually so controlled in her presence. She conveniently forgets the times when he hasn’t been under control.

Peter informs the entire Congregation that Matthew attacked Gillian and is still holding Diana at Sept-Tours. Baldwin immediately informs them that Gillian trespassed on vampire territory when she broke into the lab, so the attack was justified. Agatha speaks out against the vampires’ continued abuse of power. Peter insists again that Diana and Matthew need to be brought before the Congregation. Gerbert offers to pry Diana away from Ysabeau. Agatha wants a delegation with a member of each species to go to Sept-Tours. Baldwin vetoes both ideas. Since Sept-Tours is his family seat, it’s his responsibility to get Diana.

As always, Peter is working an angle, Agatha is trying to maintain order and justice, while Baldwin’s first priority is the de Clermont family.

Later, Satu privately tells Peter that they need to find a way to dissect Diana to learn where she’s hiding her power. Peter seems to agree with the idea in theory, but notes that living witches rarely survive opening spells. So, it’s a fairly pointless procedure, since their power would be lost. He sounds as though he speaks from personal experience.

Peter: “That sort of dark magic’s unreliable and highly dangerous. It’s almost impossible to master, anyway. It affects the spellcaster greatly.”

Satu wonders if Baldwin insisted on going to Sept-Tours alone because he wants Diana for himself. Peter considers this possibility, but decides that there’s nothing they can do to stop him, since Diana is on de Clermont land.

Satu suggests they team up with another vampire to work against Baldwin. Peter becomes angry with her, assuming she’s already discussed the idea with the two other vampires on the Congregation. She insists that she wouldn’t go behind his back, but he physically punishes her anyway, again. He tells her that “Domenico is a sneak and… Gerbert is unspeakable. It’s long been rumored that he’s kept a witch captive for centuries in his thrall.” Satu is shocked. He warns her to stay away from them.

Nate’s first public daemon gathering is successful and well-attended. They debate creature politics and philosophy in a cafe until Sophie arrives to tell Nate about a prophetic dream she had during a nap. She dreamed about Agatha, the witch she’s searching for and her dad telling her that she has to tell the truth. The dream means that it’s time for her to tell Agatha about her family and what she really is. Nate tries to talk her out of revealing information that could get her in trouble with the Congregation, but Sophie is positive that she has to take the risk because the witch needs her help. Agatha is the key to getting the huntress statue to Diana.

Diana works on her laptop at Matthew’s centuries old desk in his tower office. During a break, she pokes through his drawers, because she’s as much his stalker as he is hers. Or we could go with the romantic explanation that she knows they’re soulmates who are destined to be together forever, so she’s just helping the process along, because true love needs no boundaries (or privacy, which is coincidentally what stalkers tell themselves- moving along…).

She finds various medieval stamps and seals because he apparently only cleans out his desk every thousand years or so and still hasn’t switched over to even 19th century office supplies. Then she discovers a locked drawer, so of course she breaks into it. She takes out a leather bound box and opens it to reveal medieval era seals from the Knights of Lazarus of Bethany and Matthew de Clermont, MDCI.

MDCI= 1601 in Roman numerals.

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 Knights of Lazarus Seals

Matthew is obsessing about Diana by examining the mysteries of a single strand of her hair. When he’s done, he calls her to check in. She tells him about her day with Ysabeau, claiming his mother described him as a cross between Superman and Lancelot.

I think that was mostly in Diana’s head.

She asks about the robbery, but he refuses to tell her anything, on the grounds that she shouldn’t worry. She accepts his dismissal and they say goodnight. After they hang up, he reruns her blood tests. She lies by the fire and looks cute in a sweater.

Once, she was an up and coming scholar who had a paper to write for publication. Now, she’s Matthew’s girlfriend.

In the morning, Miriam finds Matthew still at the lab, looking over Diana’s test results. He compared the raw data rather than running the program that compares markers. We aren’t told the results, but Miriam is shocked, because Diana’s test contradicts everything they’ve seen before.

Once he’s double checked the results, Matthew returns to Sept-Tours. Diana runs to meet him in the driveway, demanding “Tell me,” as soon as she sees him.

He replies, “If I do, there’s no turning back. You have to understand what that means.”

Diana: “Ysabeau made me understand. Tell me.”

Matthew holds his hand up, palm out, as if they are engaged in a formal ceremony. Diana rests her palm against his. Ysabeau watches from the window.

Matthew: “From this moment, we will always be one. Diana, I love you.”

They clasp their hands together, then kiss.

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 Matthew & Diana PledgeDisc of Witches Disc of Witches S1Ep5 Matthew & Diana with YsabeauDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Ysabeau Promises Support

When they present themselves to Ysabeau inside, she asks if they understand what they’ve done. Matthew tells her they’ll leave if she doesn’t want them at Sept-Tours because they’ve broken the Covenant. Ysabeau is offended and reminds him that she’s never deserted him before. She’s not going to abandon her beloved son now. She accepts Diana as her daughter and their fight as her fight.

Ysabeau: “If you have the courage to love my son, you have no need to fear your power. The women of the de Clermont family defend themselves. And you will be no different.”

Gerbert pays a visit to the witch he’s kept enthralled for centuries, Meridiana. Her situation is even worse than Peter described. She’s been decapitated and Gerbert keeps her vampire blood-addicted head in the dark, in a wooden box, in a cupboard, taking her out only for the occasional few moments that he wants her to prophesy for him. Of course she’s gone mad. It’s unclear how she’s still alive- can vampire heads survive without their bodies or did Gerbert find a witch to perform some dark magic on her so that she can survive in this state?

He chants what could be either a spell to wake her up or a prayer as he opens her box, then feeds her a few drops of his blood before asking if Diana is the witch in her prophecy. She repeats the same prophecy we heard in her previous appearance in episode 3, then adds to it: “Beware of the witch with the blood of the lion and the wolf, for with it she shall destroy the children of the night.”

Gerbert has heard this before. He tells her to give him something new or he’ll cut off her blood supply.

Meridiana: “Two. Light, dark.”

Gerbert: “There are two witches?”

Meridiana: “One close.”

Gerbert: “Who is she? Where can I find her?”

Meridiana returns to repeating the two lines of her prophecy. Gerbert locks her back up, because Satu is at the door. She didn’t waste much time before disobeying Peter.

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 MeridianaDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Satu

After Matthew and Diana go up to his tower, Ysabeau expresses her continued misgivings about their relationship to Marthe. She worries that Diana’s inability to use her power effectively will put them all at risk when the witches inevitably show up. Marthe is confident that in a crisis, Diana will figure out how to defend herself, just as she has before. Ysabeau isn’t comforted.

Matthew shows Diana the results of her tests- she has every genetic marker they’ve ever found in a witch. “You have the elemental markers of air and water… You also have earth, which means you’re more than likely to be able to cast spells.”

Diana is confused, since she’s always felt so disconnected from her magic. She asks if the test explains why her magic has become more available to her now.

Matthew: “Your magic’s behaving as though it’s waking up from a long sleep. It’s restless. It wants to get out.”

Diana worries about letting her magic out, because her parents faced persecution for their powers. Matthew assures her that he’ll stand by her, so that she’s not always looking over her shoulder.

He tries to tell her about what happened in Oxford, but she can’t wait any longer to get him into bed. He carries her to the bedroom, then brings up bundling, the historical custom of bedsharing during courtship, but sleeping fully clothed to ensure there’s no sex. She tells him she knows what it is and begins removing his clothes. He stops her, concerned that she’ll be upset by the scars he’s accumulated over 1500 years of living and fighting.

Though it’s been masked by her reactions to her childhood traumas, Diana is actually the type of person who runs toward a dare. She whips his shirt off and thoroughly explores his scars. He tells her the history of the more interesting ones and calls them a map to his life. Diana wants to hunt down everyone who’s ever hurt him.

He thinks that’s super hot, and throws her on the bed, saying, “My love, with you, my life has a beginning, a middle and an end. When you’re gone, my life will be over.”

Then he explores some new parts of her body that aren’t usually included in bundling. While she’s recovering, he tells her that’s how it’s done in France.

Disc of Witches Diana Examines Matthew's ScarsDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Bundling

Domenico searches out Juliette in a Venice club. He warns her not to go home, since Gerbert is angry with her for her failure to find Matthew in Oxford. She isn’t worried, since Matthew wasn’t in Oxford at the time. Domenico tells her that Matthew has replaced her with a witch, Diana, but Juliette believes he’s using Diana for her power. Domenico maintains that Matthew is love with Diana. Juliette is convinced that Matthew is still hers.

Domenico: “What are you waiting for? She’s at Sept-Tours.”

Juliette: “I can’t go without Gerbert’s permission.”

Domenico: “Really?”

After giving Domenico a long look in the eye, Juliette walks out of the club.

When Diana awakens in the morning, she watches Matthew sleep for a few minutes, then goes outside for a run. She stops to rest for a moment in one of the gardens. Suddenly, someone lifts her straight up off the ground, into the air.

Disc of Witches S1Ep5 JulietteDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Venice ClubDisc of Witches S1Ep5 DomenicoDisc of Witches S1Ep5 Diana at Sept-Tours


Commentary

Matthew’s idea of dirty talk: “With you, I’ll finally have a good excuse to die in a few decades!!”

Those lines are straight out of the book, as are Diana’s lines in the bedroom love scene, but Diana and Matthew seem to be on completely different pages if you pay attention to the message behind the words. They both talk about him, not her, but she wants to keep him alive (hunt down anyone who hurts him), while he’s excited that having a mortal romantic partner will give him the excuse he’s needed for 1500 years to put aside his vampire family obligations and finally die for good. In the previous scene, Matthew did say he’d stand by her to ensure she doesn’t die young, but he makes no vampire promises or appeals to help her live longer so he doesn’t lose her. He also never uses the word “mate”, though Ysabeau and Miriam both used that specific word for a vampire’s life partner in this episode.

I’m not sure why anyone would put the scene with Domenico and Juliette sizzling onscreen together in a club in the same episode where Matthew begrudgingly declares his love to Diana, then refuses to have sex with her. If you want me to believe Matthew and Diana are soulmates, you’re going to have to do better than this. Unless the point the show is making is that Juliette is right and they aren’t soulmates.

Domenico baits Juliette into further pursuit of Matthew and Diana as his promised revenge for the way Matthew humiliated him at Sept-Tours. Domenico was acting as an official member of the Congregation, delivering their message. Matthew treated him as a trespasser and underling, clearly breaking vampire and Congregation protocols. Rather than complaining to the Congregation, Domenico sets his own plan in motion, using Juliette as his weapon. Matthew won’t even realize that Juliette is carrying out Domenico’s revenge.

It’s not clear why the other vampires treat Domenico with so little respect- he seems to be physically weaker than other ancient vampires, but that could just be something he lets them think. Peter wasn’t wrong when he said Domenico is sneaky. He’s all about schemes and subterfuge. I don’t think we’ve gotten much back story on him in either the books or the series, other than that he used to have more power and lost it, so now he’s resentful.

Take note of what Peter said about the way dark magic affects the spellcaster. He’s not the only character in this series who’s entangled with dark magic. He is one of the few who admits that it’s called dark because it takes the witch to dark places and parts of them may never find their way back. He may even be admitting that it’s changed him. Magic is very personal, involving the witch’s body, mind and soul. Just as “you are what you eat” is true of the vampires, who absorb their prey’s memories, for the witches, “you are the magic that you perform most often.”

Meridiana’s prophecy: “Beware of the witch with the blood of the lion and the wolf, for with it she shall destroy the children of the night.”

To which she added that Gerbert should fear two witches, one light, one dark, one of whom was “close”. Then Satu wrung his doorbell, but that could be a red herring. There could be more lines to the prophecy that Meridiana isn’t mentioning right now and maybe she never will.

It sounds like the “children of the night” are the vampires, except they aren’t required to avoid the sun in this universe, so that doesn’t really make sense. It could just as easily apply to all creatures, witches or daemons. Or anyone. But Gerbert most likely believes the prophecy is about vampires, since he’s kept the prophet a secret hostage for centuries.

I loved the scenes in the book where Diana and Matthew declare their love and pledge themselves to each other, then Ysabeau affirms her continued loyalty. But I feel like the series hasn’t earned that kind of commitment between them. We’re 5 episodes in, the length of 2 films, more than enough time to convince viewers that 2 people are made for each other, but obviously I’m not buying it with TV Matthew and Diana the way I did with the book characters.

The lack of chemistry between the 2 leads is the biggest issue. Then there’s the way that the writing has flattened out Diana’s personality to the point where she feels brain dead sometimes, while overemphasizing Matthew’s side of the equation, as if he’s the only character that matters to the story. The books are told from Diana’s point of view- she’s the star and he’s her costar.

There is no discovery without the witch, just a constantly cranky vampire. “It begins with a discovery of witches,” not a discovery of vampires, for a reason. I wish the creators of the series had paid more attention to that. Diana isn’t supposed to be a dull child who accidentally stumbled onto buried treasure that she wouldn’t be able to handle without her daddy figure. There are fairytale elements in this story, especially Sleeping Beauty, but Diana saves herself most of the time and saves Mathew as often as he saves her. Yet the TV camera is fascinated with Matthew’s cruelty rather than Diana’s magical awakening and the deeper mysteries behind it.

TV Ysabeau isn’t as much of an issue. I think of TV and book Ysabeau as separate characters. I’m sad that we don’t get to see book Ysabeau, who I adore, come to life. But TV Ysabeau is also a great character. And she kept one of Ysabeau’s best lines: “The women of the de Clermont family defend themselves. And you will be no different.” That’s more powerful than anything Matthew has said to Diana so far in their relationship. Let’s not speak of how many lies and lies of omission he’s already told her (we can discuss it at the end of S3).

Images courtesy of AMC.

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