In episode 7, the series finale, Diana shows that she’s come fully into her power. She rallies the family, including Baldwin, to find Matthew and rescue him from Benjamin’s torture. Then she confronts the Congregation with scientific evidence that the Covenant is helping drive species extinct, and in the process thwarts Gerbert’s plans, while helping bring justice for the long overlooked daemons. Once she’s done saving the creature world, Diana turns back toward Matthew and tying up loose ends with her family.
The action picks up not long after the end of the previous episode. Dressed in
black dark colors, the family gathers in the Sept-Tours great hall to organize the search for Matthew.
I guess Lena didn’t actually tell them where she was being held and Matthew figured it out from the watch? And not a single de Clermont thinks to give her a call and ask her now?
Lena’s escape was created for the TV series. In the novel, when Matthew left to find Benjamin, he didn’t know where his son was and intended to hunt throughout Poland for him. When Matthew was kidnapped, the family had to use clues from Benjamin’s video livestream to find him. In the TV series, when Lena escaped she went straight to Matthew, purposely sent by Benjamin to bait his father into coming to him. There is no excuse for the rest of the de Clermonts to have to work so hard to find him. He’s right where he’s supposed to be.
Unless we are meant to believe that Matthew didn’t tell Diana, Ysabeau, Fernando, Gallowglass or Marcus where he was going. It’s strange for a new father of twins to run off into mortal danger alone and not even leave a note saying where he’ll be, just in case. Matthew’s actions were even more reckless in the novel, supporting the idea that he has a death wish. Yet no matter how hard he and karma try, Diana won’t let him die.
Baldwin kicks open the double doors to the great hall, just as he did in the chapel during the christening. The characters in this show love to burst through double doors, especially the de Clermonts. Baldwin has been defanged this season and dramatic entrances are all he has left of his former bite. Everyone bristles at the sight of him, but Diana tells them to stand down. She invited him to help find Matthew.
When she shows him the video, he recognizes that Benjamin is wearing Philippe’s watch and deduces that they must be at the World War 2 hospital where his father was tortured in Chelm, Poland. Diana doesn’t know this story, so they explain that Philippe was captured by the Nazis, then experimented on after they discovered he was a vampire. Benjamin assisted with the experiments.
Baldwin thinks there’s no other way Benjamin could have gotten the watch, though that’s a stretch, since it’s been 75 years. Granted, Benjamin is an enemy of the family who’s been working with Gerbert for centuries, so it’s usually safe to assume the worst of him. But the TV writers have weakened Baldwin’s keen mathematical and strategic mind and Ysabeau’s sharp observational skills, so the reasoning involved in this caper isn’t what it used to be.
Baldwin tells Diana that he and Matthew went to Poland to rescue Philippe, but they were too late. Philippe had lost his mind. Now he fears Benjamin wants to torture Matthew into doing the same. Diana decides to leave for Chelm right away- she doesn’t dare leave Matthew with Benjamin any longer than necessary.
Half the room warns Diana that she’ll be walking into a trap, but she already knows. She has no choice but to go anyway. She assembles her team: Baldwin, since he knows the hospital; Marcus because they need a vampire doctor; and Gallowglass and Miriam because they’re experienced fighters. Marcus calls for Phoebe, Fernando, Chris and Hamish to set up surveillance so they’ll know if Benjamin tries to move Matthew out of the hospital.
Diana does a slow motion hero walk into the helicopter before it takes off for Poland. In between seasons, the de Clermonts must have bought a fleet of helicopters to act as their flying cars. It seems like they never go anywhere without one anymore.
Matthew’s blood has slowed to a drip as Benjamin continues to drain it in Chelm. Benjamin notes that his father’s heart is slowing, too. Though his own blood could revive Matthew, it just wouldn’t feel right. Matthew recites a prayer in Latin. Benjamin is surprised that his father is still religious. He wonders what would make him finally give up his Catholicism, but promises that it’s irrelevant because there’s no hope for Matthew this time.
At Sept-Tours, Sarah guards the twins.
Gerbert arrives to speak to Ysabeau, supposedly as a friend, but the first thing he does is tell her he can hear her grandchildren’s heartbeats. He makes a threatening comment on how unusual they are. Then he tries to turn Ysabeau against Diana, blaming her for bringing old de Clermont secrets into the open and giving birth to mixed species children.
And for being a witch, heaven forbid. How dare she.
He reminds Ysabeau of the good old days when they used to hunt witches together. Ysabeau tells him that’s all in the past. He continues anyway, moving on to blaming Matthew for breaking the Covenant and becoming a criminal.
Ysabeau eventually stops him and tells him she knows that he and Benjamin are responsible for most everything that’s gone wrong- including the part they played in bringing about Philippe’s death. As far as she’s concerned, the things Gerbert and Benjamin did are much worse than anything anyone in her family did.
Gerbert threatens to have Matthew and Diana executed and the rest of the family punished. He offers to show Ysabeau mercy of she gives him the twins now, using flattery to try to convince her to switch sides. She lets him know that she’ll never forgive him for his part in Philippe’s downfall and tells him to go back to Venice. He warns her she’ll regret her decision.
Gerbert is so intoxicated with the idea of his imminent victory that he forgets to read the room. Sure, he’s in love with Ysabeau and she’s enjoyed toying with his affections in the past, but Philippe was her mate. No vampire will forgive or forget a deliberate plot that led to the death of their mate. Plus, Ysabeau thought she’d never have babies in the house and has been cut off from creating much of a vampire bloodline of her own because of the blood rage. Diana has brought her family back life, almost literally, after decades spent mourning Philippe. She and Matthew, Ysabeau’s favorite child, have her undying loyalty.
Though Yasabeau frequently allows herself to be underestimated, she’s actually a formidable vampire in her own right. Which Gerbert, of all people, should know. Either he thinks she’ll waste away in mourning forever or he’s overconfident in his ability to woo her over to his side.
The helicopter lands on the hospital roof and Miriam kicks in the door to the stairs, just because she can- she didn’t even test it to see if it was locked. Inside, they hear the heartbeats of two vampires (one weak) and a warmblood. They move downstairs, where they find Matthew chained to a metal table with his chest ripped open and his beating heart exposed, a play on the injuries Juliette gave him during the fight in Madison at the end of season 1. Diana tells the others to stop and approaches on her own. When she gets close, Matthew says, “I’m in endless pain. Kill me, please.”
Diana walks back to the others and tells them it’s magic. Matthew yells for her to kill him. She dispenses with the illusion with a wave of her arm. She hears Satu whisper, “Show me your power.” They hear babies cry. As they’re following the sound, Satu telepathically tells Diana the others will all die. Diana stops and puts up a force field so they can’t follow her. Baldwin says no, but otherwise they stand still and silent while she’ll tells them this is her battle, then leaves to fight alone.
That was the most un-Gallowglass-like behavior ever. Normally, he’d fry himself on the force field before he’d let her go without backup. Good thing they were so specific about the skills of everyone on the team before they left the house. They’ll certainly put them to good use standing in the hall.
Diana continues on to another enchanted room, where Matthew appears to be standing between the babies’ cradles, a hand resting on each. He tells her the children have blood rage and he should have killed them at birth, but it’s not too late. Diana tells Satu to show herself and the illusion disappears, revealing the other witch.
The images of Matthew were fake, but Satu took them and his words from what she found inside his head. She wanted her projections to haunt Diana. Diana’s worst fears are Matthew’s death and the deaths of her children, particularly by Matthew’s hand, acting as the de Clermont assassin.
Satu reveals that she is also a weaver and asks where the Book of Life is. She says she’s not Diana’s enemy. Diana asks where Matthew is. Satu says he’s with Benjamin. Diana asks why Satu would help a witch killer.
Diana must have forgotten that her mother-in-law is a famous witch killer.
Satu tells her that the two of them are different, more special than other witches. She says she’s stronger than she was in LaPierre and orders Diana to give up The Book of Life. Diana gets all spooky, letting The Book of Life reveal itself inside her. “I am the book.” Satu angrily tells her that holding the power of the book isn’t her destiny. “It’s mine.”
Satu manifests fireballs in her hands and recites Meridiana’s prophecy about the witch with the blood of the lion and the wolf. Diana plays Spiderman, growing webs in her palms. She tells Satu that the book would never have shown itself to her. As she weaves a spell with her hands, she says that their power is the lifeblood of witches’ magic. They could have been allies, if Satu hadn’t chosen to use her power to destroy. “I bind you, Satu Jaarvinen, delivering you into the hands of the goddess without power or craft.”
A shockwave flows through the building as Diana spellbinds Satu, removing her power. Satu asks what Diana did to her. Diana says, “Power without conscience is a savage weapon.” And walks out, leaving Satu on the floor crying.
I want to note that Satu is not purely a villain. She has been lied to and abused just as Diana has, but she is much more alone. She is correct that she also offered to help Diana at La Pierre, but the way that she kidnapped Diana and Diana’s own biases precluded them from having a conversation that could have led to an alliance. They have misunderstood each other and been kept apart from the beginning.
Satu freed Meridiana from centuries of torture and enslavement. She voted Peter off the Congregation despite the risk to herself. She spoke up against spellbinding, while Diana has decided to act alone in deciding Satu’s fate, a violation that’s akin to amputation or worse. In Satu’s eyes, Diana has aligned herself with vampires, witch killers and assassins against witches. From the outside, if you’re not a de Clermont, Benjamin has a legitimate case against Matthew.
And now Diana has committed one of the worst crimes one witch can commit against another. That she would do this to another weaver after it was done to her, without considering the role Peter and Gerbert played in creating a rift between them, shows how messed up she is. Especially given how hard Diana works to understand the vampires and the way she forgives them for all of their previous acts, no matter how violent or cruel. Hopefully in future books Diana will have more time to examine her own issues beyond developing her magic.
When she’s done with Satu, Diana senses where Benjamin is in the building and heads straight toward him, chanting the full incantation for weavers’ knot magic that she learned in season 2 in the 16th century. As she weaves the spell, we see flashbacks from pivotal moments in seasons 1 and 2. This is the culmination of the unleashing of her magic that began when she opened The Book of Life for the first time.
Benjamin senses her approach and meets her in the hall. When they face each other for their duel, Diana manifests the fiery bow and arrow that she used to kill Juliette at the end of season 1. She shoots an arrow into Benjamin’s heart and kills him before he has time to do more than growl at her. She exhales one word, “Justice.” Then she drops the force field holding her squad in the basement and goes to Matthew.
As we were shown on Benjamin’s video, Matthew is almost completely drained of blood. Diana tells him to drink from her, but Marcus stops her. As an expert vampire doctor, he’s just now realized that a vampire who’s nearly drained needs access to their sire’s blood, if possible. But, oops, they left Ysabeau at home and no one thought to have her donate a few bags of blood to bring with them. 🤦🏻♀️
Guess Diana’s magical
oak tree Goddess-fortified blood was close enough in season 1 because Ysabeau was an ocean away. Marcus was convinced at the time that Diana’s blood wouldn’t work, but then it did.
And in the blink of an eye, everyone is back at Sept-Tours tucking Matthew into his cosy bed. Ysabeau drips some blood into his mouth and Hamish reads him some Rilke while the others worry by the fire. Diana sleeps in a chair next to the bed.
Despite Marcus shaking his head no to the assembled family, a few seconds later the patient is out of bed and calling Diana “Mon Coeur” again. Before we know it, he’s beating Hamish at chess and insulting Diana’s Aunt Sarah and her healing tea.
Not long after that, he’s back to solving the mysteries of the universe, lead male character plot armor intact.
Miriam: “When Diana told us that The Book of Life says that we’re all linked, Chris and I went back and compared Diana’s DNA to other DNA. That’s when Matthew made the connection.”
Matthew and Diana both have Daemon DNA. So do many other creatures, to varying degrees, depending on how far back in their family tree their daemon ancestor was. Daemon DNA is also the key to understanding blood rage. “If a vampire with the blood rage gene sires a human being with enough daemon DNA, blood rage manifests itself.”
Chris: “The overall prevalence of daemon DNA has decreased over time.”
Matthew, Benjamin and Jack all had enough daemon DNA to trigger the blood rage gene. Diana mentions that according to The Book of Life, weavers are born from unions of witches and daemons. Then the daemon DNA the weavers and blood raged vampires carry allows them to create Bright Born children.
Except neither of Diana’s parents was a daemon, unless she means there was a daemon somewhere in her ancestry, which they just established. Same with Sophie’s family. How did Sophie, a daemon, suddenly come from two lines of witches? And then how did Sophie and Nate, two daemons, come up with enough witch DNA to create a weaver child? It seems like the genetics is more complicated than the explanation Chris and Miriam give, since daemons spontaneously appear in human and witch bloodlines. And it appears that weavers also spontaneously appear in daemon and witch bloodlines. Diana might be the only public figure who understands Bright Born bloodlines.
Then there’s my eternal question- what happens when a witch is turned into a vampire? 😉 🐉 Asking for a Scottish friend.
I think so far Matthew, Miriam and Chris have put their energy into understanding how daemons, vampires and blood rage affect each other and don’t understand how witches fit into the equation at all. Figuring out that they could use their science to repeal the Covenant was a bonus based on Diana’s tip. That wasn’t accidental on her part.
Chris: “You said witches’ powers were waning, vampires could no longer sire, and daemons were suffering mental health collapse. It correlates directly to the decline in daemon DNA across all creature groups.”
Matthew: “By forcing us to live separately, the Covenant was slowly destroying us.”
Baldwin looks shocked and realizes he’s been wrong. Diana takes the paperwork showing the results and announces that she has to show them to the Congregation. Baldwin tries to explain to her that they won’t listen to her. Gerbert will treat her like a criminal and have her executed. Diana tells him that it’s for the children and their freedom, but he insists that she can’t go, because he won’t be able to protect her.
Later, Matthew gets Baldwin alone and tells him that Diana needs support, not protection. This was all part of Philippe’s plan. Baldwin agrees that Matthew is right. He thought that as Philippe’s heir he had to protect his father’s legacy from change. But he can see now that they have to challenge the Covenant.
Baldwin has always thought Philippe would have preferred Matthew as his successor in the Congregation. Matthew assures him that Philippe chose their roles carefully. He knew Baldwin would always do what was necessary, regardless of his personal feelings. Baldwin says, “He was playing the long game.”
He realizes that Philippe’s long game has given him a way to support Diana with the Congregation. As Philippe’s blood-sworn daughter, Diana is eligible to be the de Clermont representative to the Congregation. She would be the one to chair the meeting and determine the agenda. She can make them listen to her when she challenges the Covenant.
Diana puts on a stunning outfit that makes her look fabulous and feel powerful. In the book, the jacket was one she’d worn in the 16th century and this looks like it’s reminiscent of that. She brings Baldwin and Gallowglass along to vouch for her as the new de Clermont representative. Linda Crosby, who thankfully survived Peter Knox’s attack, is one of the new witch representatives. The other is a new, unnamed character, instead of Satu.
Agatha is still representing the daemons, despite Gerbert’s plot to get rid of her.
Maybe Domenico intervened with the daemons off camera. Maybe the show forgot they set up that subplot. Gerbert doesn’t react to her presence, so we’re all going to bluff our way through.
When Gerbert sees Diana, he gleefully assumes victory: “So, the de Clermonts have bowed to the Congregation’s demand. You have brought us the witch.”
There’s a wonderful moment when Baldwin steps aside, telling Gerbert he’s wrong, and Diana pulls out her key to the Congregation. Then she opens the big doors to the chamber and waits while the others file in. Gerbert enters last, swearing that Baldwin has signed the de Clermonts’ death warrant before Diana closes the doors.
Gerbert quickly takes control of the meeting, telling Diana she must answer for her crimes. He starts listing them, despite Agatha pointing out that Diana is in charge, not him.
Gerbert: “Your illegal union with Matthew de Clermont, concealing his blood rage, bearing his children! I have it on good authority that you are responsible for the deaths of Juliette Durand, Benjamin Fuchs and Peter Knox. And let us not forget Satu Jaarvinen. You Spellbound a fellow witch. A member of this Congregation.”
I love that Gerbert is so scandalized by Diana’s infants. Sexual reproduction. Ew, gross. 😈
Diana: “Falling in love was only made a crime by the Covenant. A law which sanctified prejudice and exclusion and legitimized the violence that was unleashed. I never meant to harm anyone. But I had to protect myself and my family from attacks driven by hatred. Hatred enshrined in your Covenant.
Gerbert: “You knew you were defying the Covenant.”
Diana: “Yes. And it deserves to be broken.”
Gerbert continues to argue, bringing up Philippe and shouting that the Covenant has kept creatures safe from humans for 900 years. Diana tells the Congregation that the Covenant is driving creatures to extinction. Gerbert accuses her of scaremongering. Diana says that she has proof that change is needed and their history should define their future.
She pulls The Book of Life from her tote bag and places it in the center of the circle. Linda says it’s the witches’ lost book of spells. Domenico calls it the vampires’ lost history, then says it smells of death. Diana tells them that the book belongs to all of them and it’s made from the bodies of dead creatures of all types. Gerbert notices that the pages are empty and asks what she did to it.
Diana says, “I am The Book of Life.” The book once again shows itself under her skin. Gerbert accuses her of bewitching the book. She tells him that it was already bewitched. All she did was open it. Then she makes the tree of life grow from the pages, as it did in Prague in the 16th century, just before Kelley tore the pages out. Roots grow across the floor, connecting them all.
Diana: “Vampires, daemons, witches and humans are all related. All branches on the same tree. Our family history’s written in the book. Our genetic profiles tell us the same story, that each member of the Congregation here is related to one another.”
The tree shrinks back into the book. Gerbert doesn’t believe Diana. She explains that what she’s learned from the book is confirmed by science. He replies that he’s one of the few creatures old enough to remember “the dark days before the Covenant” when humans hunted creatures. Diana notes that before the Covenant, creatures also mingled freely. And the Covenant was created to maintain the balance of power between creatures, but that balance favors vampires, allowing them to rule over the others for centuries.
Gerbert seems to have forgotten that witches continued to be hunted by humans (and vampires). The Covenant and the Congregation didn’t protect them. Diana rarely thinks to defend or speak for her own kind, whether it’s witches or weavers. Too bad she wasn’t the one who found Meridiana. Maybe that would have made her more sympathetic to other witches.
Diana tells the Congregation that rather than keeping them safe, the Covenant’s emphasis on segregation and pure bloodlines have led to species decline. “The truth is, it is daemon DNA that is vital to all of us. We need it to survive.”
And with that, she proposes they overturn the Covenant. Agatha seconds her motion. Gerbert proposes a counter-motion to punish Diana and the de Clermonts for their crimes against the Covenant. He refuses to let a criminal undermine their traditional way of life. Agatha suggests they adjourn for discussion. Gerbert refuses, since he feels the correct vote is clear. Domenico tells him they need to take species decline seriously.
Sigismund suggests the current issue may be a minor blip that isn’t related to the Covenant. Diana pulls out her documentation and hands it to Sigismund to examine. Linda and Agatha note that the Covenant was never fair anyway. Sigismund is only willing to consider reform, not repeal. Osamu agrees. Diana insists that the Covenant and its separatism must be abolished so that there are no more victims of its consequences.
Matthew is carving a stone plaque in the chapel when Jack finds him and they take a minute to catch up. Jack has been practicing his blood rage control techniques and is doing better. Matthew says he’s proud of Jack and though it will take continued practice, he knows they’ll both get there in the end. Jack gives him the miniature paintings from 1590, then they each say, “I love you.”
After further discussion, Domenico decides the Congregation has talked long enough. Agatha and Sigismund explain the stakes. Gerbert wants Diana tried for her crimes. Diana wants the Covenant overturned. Gerbert thinks she should be tried for her crimes first. Sigismund says that if the Covenant is overturned all crimes against it will be pardoned and Diana won’t be punished.
Agatha calls for everyone in favor of abolishing the Covenant to raise their hands. Everyone votes for abolishment except Gerbert. He complains that Diana has deceived them, but Agatha tells him to be quiet. Diana tells the group that this is the beginning of a new era and for too long creatures have acted only in their own best interests. They need to work harder to include those who’ve been excluded and oppressed under the Covenant. She nominates Agatha as their new leader. Domenico seconds her nomination and once again, everyone but Gerbert votes in favor. Agatha, a daemon, will run the Congregation from now on, instead of a de Clermont vampire or Diana, a witch.
While the others gather around Agatha to congratulate her, Diana gets up to leave. She pauses to warn Gerbert, “Your day of judgement is coming.”
Matthew’s final voice over is based on the quote from the first book that began each episode in season 1. It acts as a happily ever after montage, bringing the series full circle.
“It began with absence and desire. It began with blood and fear. It began with A Discovery of Witches. Once again our world is full of wonder. We creatures are re-emerging. Years of oppression, fear and prejudice are fading as we come together. For there is a new vision, a new world, one that rights the wrongs of the past and acknowledges the sacrifices that have been made by those along the way. And for every soul we have lost in our fight, we’ve found the strength to move forward, as their legacies live on. Because as my father used to say, “In every ending, there is a new beginning.”
On screen, Agatha is reunited with Nathaniel, Sophie and Baby Margaret, who is now a toddler. Domenico sits at Gerbert’s desk, retaking the Venician throne that he lost when the Congregation and Gerbert took over Venice. Marcus puts a ring on Phoebe’s finger. It looks like a very expensive family heirloom. Miriam leans in VERY CLOSE to Chris as they look over some fascinating science on his laptop. Matthew finishes carving his plaque and mounts it on his brother Hugh’s tomb. It memorializes he and Fernando as beloved mates. Fernando is moved to see his relationship with Hugh officially acknowledged- written in stone, as it were. Gallowglass says goodbye to Matthew and sets out for adventure on his motorcycle. Sarah takes off the necklaces that belonged to Em which she’s been wearing since her partner died and puts them in a safe place. Ysabeau and Baldwin stare down at the Knights of Lazarus sword, Philippe’s sword, as if they expect it to start speaking to them. They are reconciled after decades of estrangement. Marthe and Jack hold the twins in the nursery, showing all the stages of the family who have reunited for this new era.
Diana writes the story of the Bright Born twins Rebecca and Phillip in The Book of Life.
The de Clermont clan gathers in the Sept-Tours great hall, playing the tango, Por Una Cabeza, that Diana and Matthew danced to during their first visit to Sept-Tours back in season 1. They dance again, surrounded by love, family and friends and free from fear. Philippe and Emily appear as ghosts next to the windows, revealing that they’re always watching over their family.
That’s it for the TV series. Deborah Harkness recently reiterated on twitter that she retains the rights to Time’s Convert, the fourth book in the series, all future books and the characters. She said she doesn’t plan on licensing any further adaptations until she’s done writing all of the books in the series. That’s fine with me, since I’ve seen TV and film series mess with the continuity of book series in progress more than once. (Never mind Game of Thrones. I’m still not over how True Blood affected the Sookie Stackhouse book series.)
For anyone who hasn’t heard, Dr Harkness was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is currently undergoing treatment, so we’ll have to be patient for a while longer as we wait for her next book. She’s still active on social media and is a pleasure to follow. The Metawitches wish her all the best and are sending healing thoughts her way.
Of course after I complained about how under lit this season has been in my last recap, this episode was one of the brightest of the season. On the other hand, I truly thought they were all in black in the early scenes until I started brightening up screen caps. And all at once they remembered that season 1 exists.
The presence of Emily and Philippe’s ghosts at the end of the episode shows us that witches and vampires both have immortal spirits with their own agency that continue on after their physical deaths. Emily also called Rebecca’s spirit to her in season 2 and spoke with her. In this universe, becoming a vampire does not diminish the immortal soul. Neither does doing any sort of magic that we’ve seen so far, including dark higher magic.
Rebecca, Emily and Philippe are the same as they were in life, apparently unjudged, unrewarded and unpunished. They also haven’t moved on from the mortal plane, so their afterlife could change eventually. I don’t recall any daemon ghosts in the books off the top of my head, but if witches and vampires make the cut, it’s unlikely that humans and daemons won’t- or maybe daemon DNA is required to hang around as a ghost. 😉
Maybe when he’s feeling playful, Philippe’s ghost pretends to speak through the sword.
I’m a bit peeved that Gallowglass didn’t also hug Diana goodbye.
There may be hope for Miriam and Chris’ romance yet. Supposedly vampires mate for life and never take a second one if they lose the first, but that just seems like a rule that was made to be broken. Miriam has followed Matthew around for something like a thousand years, since it was her dying mate Bertrand’s wish that she take care of his best friend. Surely if Gallowglass has been released from looking after Diana because she’s married and mated, Miriam can be released from her oath as well. Anyway, Matthew has Fernando taking a turn at watching over him now.
Matthew’s Survival vs Philippe’s Death
One of the changes from the novel is in the extensiveness of Matthew’s injuries when he’s rescued. Book Benjamin inflicts horrific torture on Matthew and his survival is touch and go. I wasn’t sorry that the TV show left the torture out, but it does mean that we lost the depth involved in the change to Matthew’s character, which made his final voice over slightly jarring for me. In the novel, Diana is worried that he’ll lose his will to live when they bring him home, so she has the twins spend as much time with him as possible during his long recovery. The entire family rallies around him to remind him of his reasons to live.
I see it as a parallel to the way they lost Philippe, who lost his will to live after he was tortured and gravely injured by Benjamin. Ysabeau and Matthew gave in to his desire to die a merciful death rather than live with the results of his torture. He wouldn’t have made a full physical recovery the way Matthew does, but my impression is that he could have survived. He would have been a very different man after his ordeal and he didn’t want to live that way.
Philippe viewed his abilities to control and dominate as the core of who he was, dominating his enemies ruthlessly and his family with love (but also ruthlessly). Even when he was healthy, Philippe couldn’t fathom stepping aside to give the rest of the family a chance to grow and lead, becoming a sage elder who advised the next generation. When he lost his physical strength and his abilities to dominate and control in the ways he had in the past, he couldn’t see a way forward for himself at all.
Matthew isn’t as ableist as Philippe and doesn’t base his self image on his strength and vitality as much as his father did. He was more equipped to survive torture and humiliation than Philippe because his self image and view of his own masculinity are based as much on his intellectual and creative abilities and his relationships as his vampire physicality. His need for control is based more in fear than the need to dominate that Philippe and Baldwin share, with his skills as an assassin largely being a tool and a burden.
If Matthew can make peace with his past and his inner demons (daemons?), he potentially has the inner resources to move past his death wish going forward because his interests and relationships are deep and varied. Until very recently, he’s been Philippe’s puppet and his nihilism was encouraged. His new life with Diana gives him a chance to fully express the rest of his nature for the first time since he was a human.
The New Leader of the Congregation
I’m going to stay neutral on the switch from Diana as new chair of the Congregation, which is what happened in the book, to the TV show’s choice of Agatha. Agatha has seniority in the chamber and has acted as a Congregation leader who challenged the vampires and witches from the beginning of the series, so she’s a reasonable choice. Without the Covenant, the role of the Congregation is changing, so it’s not clear how important the position will be going forward. They’ll need to work out whether they’re going to become a more democratic body and how that will work. And they’ll need to consider how to regulate human-creature interactions now that the Covenant is no longer in force.
In the books and in the series, Diana earns her leadership over the course of years, through the alliances between creatures she and Matthew risk their lives to build and through her hard work to restore and understand The Book of Life and the science behind it. She starts out as a powerless witch who’s so oppressed that her parents spellbound her to keep her alive and in the end she saves the future of all creatures by fighting to abolish the Covenant, facing Gerbert on her own after he’s plotted the deaths of her and her family for centuries.
She’s not an upstart usurper who walks into the Congregation and jumps the line. She’s a revolutionary who fundamentally changes the structure and understanding of creature society. She has a large and influential following among creatures, as is typical of successful revolutionaries. If a revolution is successful, the leader is usually put in charge of the new government.
In addition, Diana’s people, the weavers, have been brutally hunted down and slaughtered for centuries. To suggest that daemons have suffered more than weavers, who are nearly extinct and live in fear and so deeply in hiding that they are literally mythical creatures, is ludicrous.
But, whatever. The makers of the TV show wanted to create an ending that felt more defined and current to them than the ending in the book, so they played up the daemon oppression angle as a parallel to racism, cutting material from the novels that pertains to weavers in the process. As I said, Angela is a worthy leader and Diana still sits in the de Clermont seat, so it’s an understandable ending for the series.
Diana’s Bow and Arrow
In the TV show, when Diana kills Benjamin, she uses the tenth knot for the first time, falling back on the rhyme to help her build power. In the book she uses it to kill Peter first, who is at the hospital instead of Satu. Some form of Stephen’s spirit is also present to guide her.
She used a magical bow and arrow for the first time when she killed Juliette, before she’d called on the Goddess for the first time (she asked the Goddess to help her save Matthew’s life right after she shot Juliette), long before she found out about knot magic.
She used a magical bow and arrow for the first time when she killed Juliette, before she’d called on the Goddess for the first time (she asked the Goddess to help her save Matthew’s life right after she shot Juliette), long before she found out about knot magic. In the book, to kill Benjamin she summoned the Goddess’ bow and arrow (without flames) by working the tenth knot.
In the books, the Goddess gives Diana a magical bow and arrow as gifts to help her do the Goddess’ work. I wonder if Diana also accidentally used the tenth knot when she summoned the flaming bow and arrow to kill Juliette and/or if the Goddess helped her create them then as well, before Diana made her bargain to save Matthew’s life. Perhaps Diana the Huntress was always meant to do the Goddess’ work and that event just made her aware of it?
Spellbinding, Weavers and Timewalkers: Stephen, Diana and Satu
I want to note the difference between the elaborate two person spellbinding ritual Diana’s parents used on her, which included a story about Matthew, and the spell Diana did on Satu. Though Diana and Stephen’s binding spells would be original to each of them, since that’s how weavers’ powers work, it also seemed as though Diana’s parents did more to her than just bind her powers.
Stephen and Rebecca worked together on a complex spell, which had nuance in when and how she could use her powers and eventually break free of the binding. Diana simply removed Satu’s powers, leaving her as if she were born human, a terrible fate for a witch. This also means Satu’s weaver powers, such as her telepathy and ability to project illusions, are lost to the weaver and witch communities.
I believe her parents’ spell also bound Diana to Matthew, since he was included in the original binding incantations as the Shadow Prince of Rebecca’s story and then again when Diana was in the oubliette and broke free of the worst of the spellbinding. The Book of Life, which also increased her power and may have further loosened Diana’s bindings when she absorbed it, is connected to Diana, Matthew and the twins.
Throughout the novels Diana literally visualizes her relationship with Matthew by seeing a chain that binds them together. She frequently tests the integrity of the chain to reassure herself that Matthew is fine and their relationship is stable. In season 1 episode 4 (~37:38), when Matthew refuses to admit that he loves her, she tells him that they’re “bound” together and fights hard for a relationship with a man she’s only known for three weeks. Diana may not consciously realize that they’re magically spellbound together, but deep down she knows it.
Diana’s Conversational Spellbinding Incantation (speaking to Satu): “The book would have never revealed itself to you. Our power is the lifeblood of all witches’ magic. An incredible gift we had in common. We could have been the greatest allies, you and I. But instead, you chose to use your power to destroy. I bind you, Satu Jaarvinen, delivering you into the hands of the Goddess without power or craft. [She makes a gesture to complete the spell. Satu asks what Diana did to her.] Power without conscience is a savage weapon.”
A wave of power rushes through the building as Satu’s powers are removed from her body.
In a sense, Diana does tell a little story similar to her mother’s words about the Shadow Prince, but it’s the reverse of Rebecca’s tale. She tells Satu about what might have been and why it can’t be, instead of what will be in the future. She speaks the actual binding incantation near the end. The webbing that binds Satu circles Diana’s hands and envelops Satu. It disappears when the spell is complete. Satu is devastated by the loss of power.
It’s ironic that Diana continues to see her relationship with Satu as so one sided, because Diana is the one who hasn’t been open to other witches, except for when she needs help from them, as she did with Goody Alsop and Linda Crosby. Satu isn’t innocent, but she was also used and abused by Peter and Gerbert and was willing to help Diana in the beginning. Diana is open and forgiving with vampires, but not witches.
For this spell, Diana uses her knot magic, whereas Stephen used the elements, including herbs and flame. Satu also doesn’t appear to use knots in the same way that Diana does. Diana doesn’t recite the incantation that she learned with the knots, as she does when she kills Benjamin.
Stephen’s Spellbinding Incantation (I couldn’t hear all of it through Rebecca’s story.): “Guardians of the elements, I call you. Guardians of the elements, … Shield you from their power. We bind you.” Repeated several times while webs cover Diana, who is lying in bed. At the end she glows and absorbs the webs while the room shakes and the flames in Stephen’s bowl rise. She tells Rebecca she doesn’t like what’s happening, then passes out for a minute after she absorbs the spell.
The Magic Ribbons and the Shadow Prince, Part 1, Spellbinding Edition (“Diana’s favorite story”- told while Stephen performs the spellbinding spell.): “Once upon a time, there was a young witch, a very brave young witch, who was covered in invisible ribbons in all the colors of the rainbow. The ribbons that wrapped around the witch were special ribbons. The ribbons would protect the girl from witches who were jealous of her power. Then one day, when she was all grown up, she met the Shadow Prince.”
The last line is spoken as Diana absorbs the webs from the spellbinding into her body. Diana becomes fearful just as Rebecca mentions the Shadow Prince. Stephen pours a potion and sprinkles something into a bowl as part of the spell. ADOW hasn’t done this type of magic, as far as I recall, but it could be Matthew’s hair or blood were included to bind him to Diana.
The ribbons in the story symbolize the webs of the binding, to help Diana eventually visualize unbinding the threads tying her magic up. She’s meant to release herself from the spellbinding in stages, perhaps to give her time to adjust to the strength of her magic at each stage. Meeting the Shadow Prince/Matthew, rescuing herself from the oubliette and absorbing The Book of Life are three points when the bindings loosen significantly and both her power and control increase. She also has to learn control, just as teaching yourself to walk isn’t the same as learning to dance.
The Magic Ribbons and the Shadow Prince, Part 2, Oubliette Edition (Mom and Dad help Diana escape): (Diana asks Rebecca to skip the bad parts. We’re shown flashbacks of Matthew’s excessive violence and Peter’s treachery.) “It doesn’t work that way Diana. I can’t skip the bad parts of the story. You have to face them. Diana was locked in the dark room, all alone. [Diana: “A witch trapped me inside.”] She wondered how she would ever get out. But then, she heard a knocking at the door. It was the prince. He used all of his strength to open the locked door, but he still couldn’t get to her. [Diana: “Then how did she get out?”] Diana spied a hole in the roof just big enough for her to squeeze through. So she called up to him… [Diana: “Fly down and lift me out.”] But the Prince couldn’t fly, so Diana had to help herself.” Diana wakes up in the oubliette.
Though only Rebecca speaks, Stephen is also next to Diana in the oubliette. This seems to have been a dream that recreates a memory, but there’s no reason for Stephen to be there if it wasn’t real. I have a feeling Rebecca and Stephen timewalked to a moment when Diana was semiconscious with a concussion in order to help her escape before Gerbert captures her. We know Stephen took Rebecca on timewalks, but I have a feeling that Em kept secret from Matthew and Diana just how often they traveled. Diana is in an altered mental state and she doesn’t know her father was a timewalker yet, so she can only make sense of their presence by assuming they’re part of a dream.
Or maybe ghosts are still able to timewalk and they continue to follow her life without appearing to her under normal circumstances, though that’s just wild speculation. They knew they were going to die, so they could have made some unusual arrangements for their post-corporeal lives. Another wild speculation is that Rebecca and Stephen bound their spirits to Diana’s before they died, so they are always with her. Peter makes a comment about Em binding Rebecca’s spirit and Rebecca was more advanced than Em in higher magic. Maybe she and Stephen created a spell to bind spirits to a person rather than a place.
Most of the time only the witch who created the spell can undo a spellbinding. In theory, Diana’s binding loosened according to need and because Matthew was there, but in hindsight, Stephen was also there each time- he was at the library when she first accessed The Book of Life, which was when her magic actually started acting up. We associate it with her and Matthew meeting, but the book might have flown off the library shelf and into his hand, causing them to meet, because Diana’s magic was already stronger than she expected.
And as already noted, Stephen was in the oubliette before Matthew’s arrival. He could have loosened the binding while Rebecca reminded Diana of her next move in the timeline they’re playing out. With their instructions fresh in her mind, Diana was ready to escape when she regained full consciousness and Matthew arrived, right on cue.
I don’t recall Stephen’s presence in the book when Diana finally retrieves The Book of Life, but he could have been out of sight somewhere in the library. And in the book, his spirit is present when she works the tenth knot for the first time, which should be the culmination of her magic and possibly the final step in removing the spellbinding.
The fact that Diana needs to be herded through the appropriate responses to make sure she and Matthew end up together, combined with her compatibility with Gallowglass, has made me wonder if she and Gallowglass were together in an original timeline, but they failed to secure The Book of Life and defeat their enemies, creating disaster for creatures. My theory is that Future Diana had a hand in developing a master plan that’s created the current timeline.
Perhaps a plan was devised to send a timewalker back to change the timeline so that the de Clermonts and Bishop-Proctors ended up with the book, then dismantled the Covenant and Gerbert’s schemes. As part of the change, Diana needed a more ruthless mate to help her survive her enemies, procure The Book of Life and fulfill all of the prophecies. Meridiana and Ursula Shipton’s prophecies are still out there, waiting, maybe for Diana’s children.
Or maybe for Satu and Diana to work out their differences and become allies. If the two of them could overcome their past and learn to trust each other, then Diana could undo the spellbinding, freeing Satu and herself from that burden. The best revenge against Peter and Gerbert would be for them to work together as weavers and finish making the world safe for the Bright Born and weavers who are still in hiding.
Creature Genetics: Theories and Questions
We’re given a little new information about the daemon DNA theory in the conversation with Chris and Miriam, but most of it is already in the books. The season 1 episode 1 scene where Marcus was unable to sire his friend was added to the TV show as exposition. I’m guessing Marcus still has the same amount of daemon DNA as he did when he sired dozens of vampires in 19th century New Orleans. He has enough daemon DNA to help trigger blood rage, combined with the blood rage gene he inherited from Matthew and Ysabeau.
For the theory to make sense, in his case it would be the modern day humans he’s siring who don’t have as much daemon DNA as they used to. It would follow that vampires made since the Covenant don’t have as much daemon DNA, with the proportion decreasing over time, so that Benjamin probably has more than Jack and Jack has more than Marcus. It’s possible that blood rage in younger vampires was naturally becoming less severe over time due to the Covenant diluting the amount of daemon DNA in vampire bloodlines as younger humans naturally had less daemon DNA, but Philippe’s insistence on killing Marcus’ descendants and any other vampires with blood rage he could find (except Jack) disguised that change.
It also seems likely that the combination of daemon DNA in the sire and in the fledgling determine whether the siring is a success, whether or not blood rage is triggered (if the sire has the blood rage gene) and how intense it is if it manifests. In Time’s Convert they mention that ancient vampires are more likely to still be able to sire successfully, so, once again, it seems to be something about the combined total amount of daemon DNA between the sire and fledgling when their blood mingles that matters, or something similar.
Ancient vampires likely have more daemon DNA than younger vampires. On the other hand, if both the sire and the fledgling are young, maybe the diluted daemon DNA from recent centuries can be enough when two sources combine. But also, maybe siring never works on humans without any daemon DNA, no matter who the vampire sire is. Maybe the vampire/daemon DNA code has to have some creature DNA coding to latch onto in its new host in order to replicate. Someday, maybe prospective vampire siring pairs will be advised to go for genetic counseling prior to the big day, the way humans with hereditary diseases in their families sometimes do before they have children.
What the episode didn’t address were creature origin stories. Were vampires created by a weaver’s spell? Could that spell be breaking down, just as other old spells do? Were vampires meant to be sired from witches and daemons, but the ancient schism that led to the races thinking of themselves as separate species also led to vampires turning to humans or mixed breed humans to create families in order to further separate themselves from the other two types of creatures? Or were humans always the vampires’ first choice for siring? Did humans universally have daemon DNA in the distant past? Out of the four, were daemons the original species and the other three are evolving away from them? Why did two kinds of witches evolve in the first place? Were weavers the original witches, who were later driven nearly to extinction by a less powerful human-witch hybrid? Diana must know more about this ancient history from The Book of Life, but she has’t revealed it yet in the books.
If you like stories like this one, I recommend Outlander (obviously), True Blood, Midnight, Texas, Weeds, Orphan Black, Shadow and Bone, The Wheel of Time or Twelve Monkeys. And read the books this show is based on. Time’s Convert is a great book which continues the story in the present, while also covering Marcus’ life in detail, introducing a few characters who weren’t in the TV series but are delightful, and filling in more of the history of some of the other characters such as Matthew, Ransome, Gallowglass and Ysabeau.
Images courtesy of AMC and SKY.