Fellow creatures, it’s time to travel back to 21st century France and Britain for the 3rd and final season of A Discovery of Witches. After their sojourn in 16th century Europe, Diana and Matthew timewalk straight into Sept-Tours and find themselves in the middle of several crises- as usual. Before long, Matthew’s brother, Baldwin, arrives to stir the pot further.
Season 2 Summary
At the end of season 2, Matthew and Diana had spent almost a year in Elizabethan London, with a side trip to Prague in search of the Book of Life. While there, they spent time with Matthew’s vampire nephew, Gallowglass, and fostered an orphaned human boy, Jack. Before they left, Diana secretly asked the vampire-priest who ruled the creatures of London, Father Hubbard, to watch over Jack for her. On their way to Prague, they stopped at Sept-Tours and stayed with Matthew’s vampire stepfather, Philippe, who sanctioned their mating and marriage, then adopted Diana as his blood-sworn daughter using a vampire blood vow.
They located the Book of Life while visiting Emperor Rudolf in Prague, but couldn’t stop the daemon Edward Kelley from tearing out the 3 missing pages. A blood-raged vampire, Benjamin Fuchs, who had previously introduced himself to Diana, accosted Kelley right after Matthew, Diana and Gallowglass escaped from the emperor’s palace. They returned to London with the book, but Diana’s father, Stephen Proctor, who was also a timewalker, paid them a visit and told them they had to leave it in the past when they returned home.
During her time in the past Diana studied magic with a local coven. One witch in particular, a powerful weaver named Goody Alsop, taught her how to use her magic to its fullest potential by creating new spells from knots tied with special cords that represent the threads that bind the universe. While learning to work the knots, Diana discovered she has a familiar, a firedrake (a flying water dragon) named Cora. Diana inherited her ability to weave spells from her father, who was also a weaver.
Before their marriage, Philippe made sure Diana knew one of Matthew’s biggest secrets- that he has blood rage, a vampire disease. After their mating and marriage, Diana and Matthew grew even closer than before, sharing memories with each other through Diana’s heart blood and the witch’s kiss. Not long before they left the 16th century Diana learned that she’s pregnant with Matthew’s child, which shouldn’t be possible.
In the present day, Ysabeau and Marcus kept an eye out for any new historical objects that showed up which could provide clues as to Matthew and Diana’s whereabouts in Time. When Marcus went to an auction house to buy a pair of miniature portraits of his missing father and stepmother, he met Phoebe, a human who soon became his girlfriend and potential mate.
Domenico investigated a series of violent murders by a vampire, including one murder at the auction house where Phoebe works when the miniatures were also stolen. He let Marcus know that he suspected blood rage was involved, which prompted Ysabeau to reveal the family secret to her grandson. She and Marcus are blood rage carriers, while Matthew has the full blown disease, which makes him prone to excessive violence. Marcus realized he’s been lied to for centuries.
Sophie and Nathaniel had a baby girl, who is a witch rather than a daemon like her parents, as predicted. Peter Knox showed up at the hospital almost immediately and threatened to separate the family.
Many of the characters went to Sept-Tours for protection, including Sarah and Emily. In an attempt to get more information through divination or from Rebecca’s ghost, Emily took to practicing higher magic as she and Rebecca had when they were teenagers.
One night, Peter Knox secretly drew Em to the ancient temple and tricked her into summoning Rebecca’s ghost. Rebecca spoke words of warning and prophecy. Emily was working with the page from the Book of Life and disappeared it before Peter could get to it. Enraged, Peter tried to force knowledge out of Emily using invasive magic, causing her to have a heart attack. As Peter was escaping the scene he attacked Marcus and left him unconscious.
The episode begins with a montage set to the original song Farewell to Em by Rob Lane and Julia Church. Since this show usually saves its montages for the end of episodes, beginning the season with an ending isn’t a happy sign. It wordlessly references Philippe’s saying, “In every ending, there is a new beginning.”
Diana and Matthew arrive at present day Sept-Tours straight from the 16th century and still in their white linens, to find Sarah sitting vigil at Em’s bedside. As they stand at the end of the bed, Em opens her eyes one last time, then closes them and dies. Diana rushes to Sarah’s side.
In other parts of the house, Miriam checks Marcus for a concussion, supervised by Phoebe and Sophie, who holds Baby Margaret. Marcus is in rough shape after trying to stop Peter at the Temple. Agatha says goodbye to her son, Nathaniel, before leaving for Venice to inform the Congregation of Peter’s crimes.
Later, after Matthew and Diana have cleaned up and changed into modern clothing, Diana wears a super cozy sweater while sitting on the edge of the bed in shock. She tells Matthew that she feels lost. She can’t imagine raising their child without Em. Matthew helpfully tells her that they’re having two children who won’t know her dead aunt, not one. He can hear two fetal heartbeats.
How long was he holding that information back, waiting for the right time to spring it on her? Even if he just noticed, couldn’t he have found a better way to soften the news?
Matthew tells her that like Whitney Houston, he believes children are the future. He promises that he’ll
let them lead the way never let the Congregation hurt their family again, a promise they both know he can’ t keep.
Hamish soon arrives in a helicopter to provide his support. Gallowglass rides in on his motorcycle, rounding the famous hairpin turn without the customary pause to contemplate what awaits him at Sept-Tours. He’s waited more than 400 years to be allowed to speak to Diana again- he’s not wasting any more time.
The entire family is in the dining hall when Gallowglass enters. Ysabeau greets him from across the room- she may as well have been filmed on another continent. Same with Matthew. Diana gets up and throws herself into his arms with a warm hug. The others don’t even acknowledge him, not even Marcus, who is close to him in the books.
He hugs her back and they tell each other how glad they are to see each other again. Gallowglass points out that she saw him a few days ago in her personal timeline. ❤️🐉
Once the others are seated at the table, Matthew stands behind his chair at the head of the table and makes an accusatory speech. As he speaks, he stares at Marcus, the head of the Knights of Lazarus, who sits at the other end of the table.
Matthew, doing his best Philippe impression: “This is the darkest of days. When Peter Knox murdered Emily Mather, he killed a woman that was like a mother to my wife. He killed a woman that was truly beloved by Sarah. He killed a woman who was under the protection of the de Clermont family. And therefore, Peter Knox has brought about his own end.”
He’s barely finished speaking when Ysabeau tells him to calm down. They need to be strategic about their revenge. Diana wants to do more than just kill Peter. She wants #justiceforEm that’s acknowledged by the creature community. Nathaniel reveals that Agatha has called a meeting of the Congregation so that she can tell her side of the story before Gerbert and Peter twist the facts to turn the de Clermonts into the villains.
Miriam and Hamish are worried they’ll bring the vampire murders in London into the mix as well. They explain to Matthew that a vampire with blood rage has brutally murdered several people near Oxford, gaining a reputation in the press.
After dinner, Phoebe finds Matthew alone and introduces herself. Matthew is rude and dismissive with her, though he hates it when family members treat Diana that way. Marcus joins them, so Matthew turns his anger and disdain toward his son. Marcus gives it right back to him, along with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Marcus is usually easygoing, but he’s hurt by the betrayals he learned about while Matthew was gone.
Matthew criticizes Marcus for Emily’s death, screaming at Phoebe when she defends him. Marcus brings up Matthew’s centuries of lies, murders and betrayals while he kept blood rage hidden. Matthew insists that Marcus didn’t need to know he’s a blood rage carrier. Marcus walks out on him.
In Matthew’s twisted mind, everything would always be FINE if everyone always immediately followed his orders without question. He learned from Philippe and Ysabeau to make secrets and lies not just a way of life, but the cornerstone of how he perpetually dominates and controls those around him.
Matthew told Marcus not to make new vampires, ever, in his entire long life, but didn’t tell him why. He thinks Marcus should have obeyed him without question. Then there would never have been a need for his son to know about Matthew’s disease. This is all actually about protecting Matthew, not his son.
Sarah visits the ancient stone temple where Emily was attacked. As if sent by Emily, the page from the Book of Life, showing the Tree of Knowledge, materializes on the stones in front of her.
When Peter attacked Emily, she must have spelled the page to reappear while Sarah was alone at the temple. They still need to find two more pages. This first page originally appeared in season 1, episode 7, when the Bishop house gave them the page that Diana’s father, Stephen, had set aside for them.
Back in the castle, Diana finds Sarah sitting alone and asks her why Em was at the temple. Sarah explains that Em was having dreams and nightmares about the missing pages. She was doing higher magic, attempting to summon Rebecca’s ghost to help her interpret her premonitions. Diana is shocked, since Em frequently warned her that higher magic is dangerous. Sarah says that Em and Rebecca practiced higher magic together when they were young. Em didn’t want Diana to know.
They wonder why Em would take such chances. Sarah, filled with desperation, suggests they use Diana’s powers to go back and talk to Em. Diana tells her it would be unethical to change the past. Sarah is certain the present isn’t unfolding the way it was meant to. Diana agrees that Em is supposed to be there with them when she tells Sarah her news, placing Sarah’s hand on her abdomen. “None of this is how it was supposed to be.”
Diana tells Sarah that she’s expecting twins, hoping it will give her aunt some comfort, but Sarah is too deep in her grief to feel any joy right now. She questions what the babies will be- vampire, witch or something else? And how Diana will keep them safe? Diana says she’ll love the babies no matter how they turn out.
The Congregation goes through their key ritual to unlock the chamber, then they take their seats and the newly recast Baldwin calls the meeting to order. He turns the floor over to Agatha, but as she stands, Gerbert brings up the vampire killings in London, announcing that they are a much more pressing matter than whatever Agatha has called this emergency meeting to talk about.
So pressing that he and Domenico held back the evidence for months, until they could use it at just the right moment.
No one stops Gerbert and Domenico from hijacking the meeting.
Domenico explains that over the months he’s been tracking this vampire, there have been 6 murders. The level of strength and violence involved in the murders is only seen in blood rage. Domenico fought him recently, but didn’t see his face before the vampire escaped. He only knows that he’s never met this vampire before.
Satu and Sigismund worry that the vampire’s actions will lead to humans discovering the creature world. Baldwin promises to deal with it himself. Gerbert goes off on a rant, complaining that Philippe promised the Congregation that blood rage was wiped out back in the 12th century. Gerbert is sure that Philippe would be APPALLED if he knew about the current state of affairs. “Vampires, witches, daemons mixing, marrying and even mating. I understand there are people here today who are complicit in it.”
With relish, Peter confirms that Agatha’s daemon family, along with witches and humans, are mingling with Baldwin’s vampire clan at Sept-Tours as they speak. Gerbert suggests that Baldwin might want to see this debacle for himself. Visiting Sept-Tours will give him a chance to reunite with his brother, Matthew… and his wife.
Gerbert and Peter positively drip with smug disdain, sure they’ve stolen Agatha’s thunder. Baldwin turns to Agatha to confirm that Matthew and Diana are back. She uses the opening to her advantage, telling him his brother’s homecoming was marred by the murder of Diana’s Aunt Emily by Peter Knox. Peter denies that he killed Emily, claiming she lost control of the higher magic she was practicing and he just happened to be standing next to her. Uninvited, at Sept-Tours. Agatha asks how he explains Marcus’ injuries. Peter claims that Marcus attacked him. When Agatha asks why he was at Sept-Tours in the first place, he refuses to answer.
Agatha announces that although she knows the witches and vampires view the daemons as second class members of the Congregation, she’s still going to exercise her power. “I move that Peter Knox be removed from the Congregation for his crimes!”
Peter is certain no one will back her up by seconding the motion, but Baldwin does so immediately. “It is an act of war for a witch to enter Sept-Tours without invitation.”
Peter is shaken, but it will still take a 5 to 4 majority to remove him from the Congregation. He begins a speech expressing what an upstanding and useful member he’s been. Baldwin cuts him off and calls for the vote.
They all know who Peter Knox is and what he’s capable of. This is a loyalty test, not a vote on whether he’s guilty of Em’s murder.
Gerbert, Domenico and Sigismund oppose removing Peter from the Congregation. The three daemons, Baldwin and Satu vote for his expulsion, so the motion passes. Satu is the surprise vote. She tells Peter, “You killed a witch. Justice must be served.”
Baldwin says the official words that revoke Peter’s privileges forever. Peter responds by threatening Baldwin and Agatha’s families and the others with them at Sept Tours, then storming out. Agatha calls Nathaniel and tells him to take Sophie and the baby and go into hiding right away. She doesn’t want him to tell her where they are. They’re to stay on radio silence until this is all over. That way Peter can’t use her to get to them.
And with that, Nate and Sophie are most likely written out of the rest of the season. Sophie didn’t even get a line. After her confrontation with Matthew, Phoebe also disappeared without a word.
Emily’s funeral is held at the stone temple where she died, attended by a few of the vampires, plus Hamish, Sarah and Diana. Sarah can’t bring herself to take part at first, so Diana begins the ritual alone.
Diana: “Emily, we offer your spirit light in every direction. We offer you protection along the way. We release you from your earthly ties. And with the path lit and free from danger… we…”
Diana can’t continue. Sarah joins her and finishes the incantation, as they release a black ribbon into the wind: “We send you on your next journey.”
Ysabeau and Marthe stayed back at the castle, since Ysabeau didn’t feel right about going, given her history as a witchhunter. She and Marthe will say prayers on their own for their friend.
Sarah and Diana stay behind at the temple after the others leave. Sarah apologizes for her outburst when Diana told her about the babies and assures her that her children will be special. Then she gives Diana the newly returned Book of Life page, explaining that Emily wouldn’t let it fall into Peter’s hands.
Diana promises to make Peter pay for everything he took from their family, including her parents’ deaths in her vow.
When he arrives at Sept-Tours, Baldwin speaks to Matthew in private, going down his laundry list of complaints. Matthew explains that he and Diana were mostly in Old London for the last several months. Plus, they’re married now. Taking a page from Gerbert’s book, Baldwin thinks Philippe would have been APPALLED to see what’s become of his family.
To be fair, Philippe was the racist who created the Covenant in the first place, so Baldwin’s not out of line in expecting he’d want it enforced.
Matthew informs Baldwin that Philippe adopted Diana as his wedding present to her, with his blood vow, to make his intentions clear to the rest of the family. Baldwin counters that the rest of the creatures who are staying at Sept Tours are not safe there. Matthew replies that Peter’s visit has already shown that Sept-Tours isn’t safe. He demands #justiceforEm. Baldwin feels that he’s dealt with the situation by throwing Peter out of the Congregation.
Matthew explodes with anger. The loss of Peter’s job and reputation isn’t enough to compensate for the murder of a member of Diana’s family. Baldwin is unmoved, since Diana’s aunt was a mere witch.
If Matthew wants him to accept Diana as a de Clermont, then she is a member of Matthew’s vampire family now and must obey Baldwin as the head of that family, leaving her previous family ties behind. He orders them to leave Knox alone.
Since Philippe adopted Diana during a century when he was head of the family and Baldwin reveres his vampire father, he will accept her into the de Clermont family as an honorary vampire. But to him that means she’s now a de Clermont and no longer a Bishop or under the witches’ jurisdiction. In Baldwin’s mind, the affairs of witches, whether she is connected to them by blood or affection or not, should not concern Diana any further.
Besides, Baldwin is ready to move on to more urgent vampire matters.
Baldwin orders Matthew to investigate the blood rage murders and then dispose of the killer vampire in his role as family assassin. Matthew accepts the assignment, but it’s clear that he’d hoped to escape that particular role. As Baldwin leaves the room, he tells Matthew that they’ll discuss the rest of the implications of this development at dinner- family only, his witch included.
Baldwin hasn’t quite accepted Diana yet. After all, he hasn’t even heard Philippe’s blood vow, much less decided whether it’s authentic.
Baldwin uses Matthew’s past like a weapon to keep him from rebelling too hard against being controlled, since Matthew understands his blood rage symptoms as similar to an addiction that could flare up again if he loses control. In that case, he would need his family to save him from himself. And now, he worries about what he might do to Diana or their children.
The excluded misfits- Marthe, Hamish, Sarah and Miriam- have dinner down in the kitchen, happy to avoid Baldwin’s scrutiny. They drink a toast to Em, lamenting that the family isn’t together to share a dinner in her honor.
Upstairs, Baldwin sits at the head of the table, presiding over Matthew, Diana, Gallowglass, Marcus and Ysabeau, all of whom do their best zombie impressions. No one wants to accidentally reveal secrets to Baldwin during small talk. Phoebe is still missing, though she and Baldwin got on famously in the books.
Baldwin makes the opening move, remarking on how lovely it is that they can still sit down to dinner as a family, even during difficult times. It’s an invitation to challenge and Marcus, the rebel, takes it, reminding Baldwin of his rudeness in excluding their guests. This turns into a discussion of the merits of the Covenant. Baldwin acknowledges Philippe’s blood vow and that the world has changed. But he feels that Philippe was right to create the Covenant and that it still keeps creatures safe from humans.
Marcus, Ysabeau and Diana bring up their concerns about the Covenant and the classism between creatures it enforces. Baldwin becomes angry when Diana speaks, feeling she is being disloyal to Philippe in his own house.
Baldwin strikes back by making a toast: “Perhaps we should look to brighter things. To my brother’s mate and their unborn children. Whatever they are.”
Book readers will notice a little foreshadowing in his wording. Perhaps he knows more than he’s letting on.
Not satisfied with insults, Baldwin mentions that he recalls another vampire-witch pair who had a child together. He doesn’t remember the details, but pointedly suggests that Matthew might. Diana asks about the child. Matthew won’t tell her, so Baldwin, who is a vampire so of course he actually does remember, tells her. The mother and child were both banished by the witches. As far as Baldwin knows, they died in the desert.
Diana asks why witches would banish the mother and baby, a strange question given the way her own family was persecuted by other witches for being different. Gallowglass says they succumbed to ignorance and superstition. Baldwin also recalls that this happened near the time when Matthew made Benjamin. He was reminded of Benjamin’s existence by the Congregation’s conversation about blood rage and the de Clermonts.
This is a warning and the real reason why Baldwin wanted to gather for a family-only meeting, but make it look casual. The family’s history with blood rage is very public, but the fact that there are at least two surviving members with the disease, one of whom is a favored son, is such a protected secret that some in the family don’t know it.
He only allowed people he trusts into the room, plus Diana, who is being tested. The combination of the blood vow and her pregnancy by Matthew should convince him of her need to keep the de Clermonts’ secrets as if they were her own, because they are. He’s showed that he understands that Matthew is indeed the father, therefore the babies will be part of Baldwin’s family twice over.
Baldwin’s anger and even fear isn’t trivial. The creature community is resentful of the de Clermonts’ millennia-long stranglehold on power in their world and many would welcome an excuse to get rid of them. Blood rage would be the perfect excuse to slaughter both Philippe and Ysabeau’s bloodlines, citing an abundance of caution as the reason. The danger this string of murders poses to the family is very real.
Matthew has heard enough and excuses himself and Diana from the table. Baldwin makes one more announcement, warning that anyone who isn’t a member of the family must leave Sept-Tours by morning. “The Congregation is watching and as de Clermonts, we will uphold Philippe’s covenant.”
Matthew leaves without answering, but he does bare his teeth a little, showing he’s having difficulty controlling his own anger.
Baldwin is intelligent and strategic, but he’s not creative or rebellious. He’s relying on tradition and appearances to carry them through this crisis, as they have through so many others in the past. In this instance, that directly contradicts the instincts of the family members closest to Matthew. Since stubbornness seems to be a trait most vampires carry, it will take them a while to work things out.
Matthew and Diana take a walk outside by the castle moat where they can speak privately. He decides to move his entourage to London in the morning. Diana asks about Benjamin. Is he a de Clermont?
Matthew: “Not exactly. At the end of the First Crusade, I was in Jerusalem. Philippe dreamt of establishing a homeland for creatures, but in order to do so, it was necessary for us to reveal ourselves to some humans that we thought we could trust. And, Benjamin was one of them. So when Benjamin threatened to expose us all, it crushed Philippe’s dream. Well, I lost control.”
Diana realizes that Matthew is talking about Benjamin Fuchs, who introduced himself to her in 16th century Prague while she was waiting in line to see the emperor. Gallowglass had left her alone for a moment while he went ahead to bribe someone to gain their entrance. Benjamin told Diana that the blood vow was singing quite loudly for him, but he was beneath the de Clermonts’ notice. Once you understand how blood vows work (they sing for about a year and are loud for family members but soft for other vampires) and know Benjamin’s history, it’s obvious that it was him. Diana was in the dark about both when she met Benjamin.
Matthew dismisses Diana’s revelation, but doesn’t say why he thinks the vampire couldn’t have been his son Benjamin. In the book he believes Benjamin was dead by the 16th century, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. She describes her meeting with Benjamin, ending with, “He certainly didn’t say he was your son.”
Matthew: “He’s not my son. Not in any true sense.”
In order to punish the human that Benjamin once was, Matthew turned him into a vampire, because death wouldn’t be punishment enough. He thought that Benjamin would be unable to betray the vampires by revealing what they were if he was one as well.
Matthew: “Then I abandoned him. A new blood-raged vampire. I thought it would kill him eventually or get him killed. It was the most terrible miscalculation.”
Gallowglass and Marcus talk in another part of the castle grounds. Gallowglass usually avoids Sept-Tours and is finding it as unwelcoming as ever, thanks to Baldwin and to the sway that Philippe holds over it, even in death. Gallowglass tells Marcus that he knows he’s breaking the rules by saying something negative about their grandfather in his home. Marcus agrees that Philippe could be difficult.
Gallowglass says, with a twinkle in his eye, “Why do you think my father and Fernando struck out on their own and formed a scion? Maybe history needs to repeat itself?”
Marcus takes the bait and calls a late night meeting to broach the idea of forming a scion.
Marcus: “Any male with full-blooded children can establish a scion, which will be a branch of the original family, but with autonomy. And think of who we can take with us.”
All of Matthew’s children and their descendants would be eligible. This will become more relevant when the twins are born. Marcus is excited because it would give them the right to make political decisions for themselves. Baldwin couldn’t stop them from fighting to repeal the Covenant or from just ignoring it.
Matthew dismisses the idea without even considering it. He feels it would be disloyal to the de Clermont family. Also, anything that isn’t his own idea isn’t possible.
In the morning, everyone but Ysabeau and Baldwin leave for London. Gallowglass rides in the helicopter with Diana, Matthew, Sarah and Hamish, leaving his motorcycle behind now that he’s a family man again.😉 Marcus and Miriam drive back- probably a good idea to keep Marcus and Matthew separated for a while.
Baldwin and Ysabeau watch the rest of their family leave. She tells him that driving them away is a hollow victory. He says he won’t protect Matthew if he crosses the line and worries that this all won’t end well. Ysabeau turns her back on him.
When they arrive at their townhouse in London they are met by Fernando, Matthew’s late brother Hugh’s mate. Matthew supported Fernando after Hugh died while most of the de Clermonts refused to acknowledge his loss. Matthew asked him to return the favor and be there for them as they grieve for Emily. Because Hugh and Fernando were a same sex union, they were never accepted by Philippe or the de Clermonts, so they kept to themselves most of the time, even forming a separate scion, as Hugh’s son, Gallowglass, told us.
Once they’ve settled in, they reexamine the page from the Book of Life with Miriam. Matthew tells her that the pages of the book are made from creature skin. He wants to extract DNA from the page and study it for clues to creature evolution, their potential future extinction and blood rage. The Book of Life could help them understand why some carriers develop blood rage and others don’t. “The Book of Life, species decline, blood rage. Somehow this is all connected.”
Miriam states the obvious, that they need to find a discreet lab. Diana thinks she knows a guy.
She takes Matthew and Miriam to Imperial College to meet her best friend, Dr Chris Roberts, a molecular biologist who complains that he hasn’t heard from her in too long. So long, in fact, that since they’ve spoken she’s married a very possessive man and gotten pregnant with twins. Miriam gets overlooked and has to introduce herself.
Chris takes them to his state of the art lab. Miriam asks about the condition of the equipment and Matthew notes that Miriam runs his research. Chris asks them for more details on the project before he takes it on. Miriam hands him a tablet showing unusual blood cells. Matthew asks Chris what he can discern about them. Chris assumes the cells have viral or genetic damage that’s something new he won’t recognize.
Fernando brings Sarah a coffee. She complains that the others are only concerned with their own issues (blood rage and scions). They’ve forgotten about Em already. Fernando asks if she knows who Hugh was. He and Hugh were mated for 600 years, but when Hugh died, his loss and grief weren’t recognized by the family. That was 700 years ago.
Sarah tells him she’s sorry for his loss. He says grief doesn’t ever really go away, it goes in cycles where it gets quieter for a time, but then rushes back. He reminds her that the de Clermonts recognized her and Emily as a couple and they acknowledge her grief. She thinks they should recognize his as well. He says, “I live in hope.”
Off camera, they fill Chris in about the creature world and blood rage, but he has trouble accepting it without evidence. Diana uses her magic to create a bouquet of flowers out of water in a sink. It looks like ice until Chris touches it and Diana lets it disperse into drops of water. Now that he’s convinced magic is real, they explain that they need his help figuring out why creatures are having trouble reproducing and that they need to find a cure for blood rage, while trying to stop a vampire on a killing spree.
Baldwin meets with Domenico, who shares his file on the blood-raged vampire serial killer on the loose in London. He has information that he kept back from the Congregation- the murders all took place in locations connected to Matthew and Diana and the killer stole the 16th century miniature portraits of them from the auction house, but nothing else. The file has crime scene photos for all of the victims.
Baldwin asks why Domenico is trying to help him now, after denouncing the de Clermonts in front of the Congregation. Domenico clarifies that he denounced the killer. And it was Gerbert who used the information to attack Baldwin, not him. “I don’t have to be your enemy.”
Domenico is one of the most underestimated and under appreciated characters on this show (by the other characters).
and beginning montage time! The song is a cover of AP Carter’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, performed by Rob Lane and The Dawn of May.
Matthew’s estranged son, Benjamin, looks at himself in a bathroom mirror, then gets a call informing him that his father and stepmother have returned to the present day. As he walks away from the mirror, we see that his laptop is open to a page about Diana. His obsession continues.
Baldwin spreads the photos from Domenico’s file out on his desk. The crime scenes are bloody and the bodies are dismembered.
Benjamin leaves the door to his hotel room wide open, another bloody crime scene on display. As he walks away, a maid says goodbye to him in German. Then she discovers the body and screams. Benjamin smiles.
Due to time and financial restrictions brought on by filming during Covid, this season is 7 episodes long instead of 8. The book it’s based on, The Book of Life, which is the third book in Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, is ~630 pages long, so the story will be extra fast-paced and condensed this season, covering about 90 pages an episode.
The actors still move through the scenes at a snail’s pace and the camera takes its time, but some of those long, ponderous silences and panoramic scenery shots favored by Bad Wolf might get cut. And there will be even less exposition to help non book readers understand the story, if this episode is any indication. The Congregation meeting and the Scion discussion seemed like half of each scene was missing.
I’ve always thought Marcus should be the one to form his own scion instead of Matthew. Most of the vampires who are affected by this move are Marcus’ descendants and he’s a much better leader. The only reason for Matthew to be involved is to give Diana’s babies an extra layer of protection. And of course he’s the lead male.
He is a cold, disapproving father to Marcus and he abandoned his other child at birth. He has no business leading a scion/clan of his own, especially when the reason for starting one is to escape the legacy of Baldwin and Philippe’s rigid control. Matthew is cut from the same cloth, but he has blood rage as well. Although realistically, he’s so distant that most of the time he’d leave most of the work to Diana, Marcus, Ysabeau and Gallowglass.
Matthew’s actions are mirrored with Baldwin’s repeatedly during the episode. For example, he treats Marcus and Phoebe unfairly while they are alone, then Baldwin does the same to him about his relationship with Diana. Matthew places himself at the head of the table for a family meal and uses that time to publicly excoriate those who haven’t lived up to his expectations. Later, Baldwin does the same, only in a quieter tone of voice. Both Baldwin and Matthew were given information about the blood rage serial killer and are now investigating the murders.
In the book, Baldwin kicks the extra creatures out of Sept-Tours because the Congregation is on its way to do an inspection of the premises, hunting for Covenant violations as if anyone who isn’t a vampire is a rodent who needs to be fumigated out of the castle. His intolerance in this episode is a remnant of that understandable reasoning and the need that remained within the plot to move the characters across the chess board.
I wish we could hear Philippe’s blood vow on Diana’s forehead the way the de Clermont’s do a couple of times. Alas, there was probably no way to show it without making it silly on the order of sparkling vampires.
Vampires take clan loyalties very seriously, so Baldwin’s acceptance is a double edged sword- it gives Diana the protection of being a de Clermont, even more so than Matthew, who is technically Ysabeau’s child rather than Philippe’s. But she’s also expected to obey Baldwin, just like the rest of the family. Baldwin isn’t evil, he just lives by a code from a different time, which we find old-fashioned. He is honorable according to that code. In the books at least, once he accepts Philippe’s vow and finishes testing her loyalty, he accepts her as his sister and treats her that way.
But he also still believes in keeping the four species segregated from each other and that vampires are the superior species. Like most vampires, he is a vampire supremacist, just as many of the witches are witch supremacists, especially Peter Knox.
Though Ysabeau told Baldwin goodbye, he appears to meet Domenico at Sept-Tours. Or maybe they’re supposed to be at a spot in Venice that looks a lot like that outdoor corridor with the stone arches in France.
Benjamin’s face is blurred in the mirror reflection, which highlights his resemblance to Matthew. The first time I watched the episode, I thought he was Matthew for a second. Marcus and Benjamin reflect the two sides of Matthew. One inherited the ruthless assassin side with no softening traits. The other inherited the scientist-philosopher side and even becoming a vampire couldn’t turn him toward cruelty.
Matthew had a warm heart as a human, but that side of him mostly died when he jumped off the church. Or maybe it died with his human wife and son. It’s likely that Matthew was always going to be a mess as a vampire, even without blood rage, because he was in a suicidal depression when Ysabeau turned him and that mental state was frozen into his being as a vampire.
Matthew hates himself and has lived in mental torment for 1500 years. He turned Benjamin assuming it would put the other man in the same torment that he himself lives in. He saw Benjamin as a reflection of himself even before he turned the other man, perhaps because he recognized mental illness and self-destructiveness in Benjamin. For a human to openly threaten to double cross vampires the way that Benjamin did requires a certain reckless streak, to say the least.
Matthew may not fully realize it yet, but they’ve been locked in a duel for centuries, which means there’s probably more to this story than we’re being told, starting with the First Crusade in Jerusalem. As far as we know, Benjamin is the only child that Matthew made before he made Marcus. He turned the act of creation into an act of hatred, hoping it would be an act of murder. This was one of his de Clermont assassinations, but it went horribly wrong.
This doesn’t sound like a plan that Matthew came up with on his own. Why suddenly make a child who he never planned to acknowledge, when he comes from a prominent family who take bloodlines so seriously and he didn’t otherwise want children? I wonder if he had someone whispering in his ear who gave him the idea that death wasn’t punishment enough for Benjamin, who suggested that torture by way of slow death as an abandoned newborn vampire was a better idea. I also wonder if that person, maybe Gerbert, Juliette or Domenico, is the one who taught Benjamin how to stay alive after Matthew left him to die.
The witch Baldwin described, who gave birth, then was banished to the desert, may not have died either. She would have been a weaver, so she could have had the magical resources to fake her and her child’s deaths. Hopefully, if she did survive, she managed to hide from Benjamin for the rest of her life.
Emily was one of my favorite characters in the All Souls Trilogy. I wish we could have seen more of her doing higher magic with Rebecca’s ghost instead of losing her. Or they could give Emily and Kit a spin off of their own. Two fun-loving ghosts on the loose in the 21st century, one with a flair for drama and the other with psychic abilities- I’m sure it would work. The ghosts could latch onto Gillian and make her solve art history mysteries for them. She’d feel so smug and special, keeping that kind of secret.
Here is Seasons of Love from Rent as my tribute to Emily (and maybe my poor lost Kit, too).
Images courtesy of AMC and Sky.