A Discovery of Witches Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: In Which Diana and Matthew Timewalk

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Hello, witches, daemons and vampires! The long-awaited second season of A Discovery of Witches is finally here. This is my favorite book in Deborah Harkness’ series, so I’ll be attempting to keep up with weekly recaps this season. Besides having Diana and Matthew’s timewalk to Elizabethan England to enjoy this season, at long last we’ll meet daemon playwright Christopher Marlowe (Tom Hughes), James Purefoy as Matthew’s father Philippe, Steven Cree as Gallowglass, Sheila Hancock as Goody Alsop, Adelle Leonce as Phoebe Taylor and Barbara Marten as Queen Elizabeth I. If you haven’t read the book, I’ll just leave you to wonder about the unfamiliar names for now.

On with the show.

Recap

We open in the room where we left off, minutes after Diana (Teresa Palmer) and Matthew (Matthew Goode) timewalked out of the old Bishop house in upstate NY on Halloween night. At the end of S1, Gerbert (Trevor Eve), Satu (Malin Buska) and Peter Knox (Owen Teale) were breaking into the house, ready to capture and torture Diana the same way witches did with her parents. Now, they’re examining the remnants of Diana’s magic, trying to figure how she and Matthew escaped.

Though Knox always presents himself as the leader and magical expert, it’s Satu and Gerbert who closely examine evidence Diana and Matthew left behind, then quickly solve the case. Meanwhile, Peter stands off to the side, assigning his own motivations to the missing couple. Satu asks if Peter can feel the power in Diana’s spell, but he doesn’t directly answer her. I don’t think he senses it the way she does.

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The Third Day Part 3/Winter: Season 1 Episode 6 Last Day- The Dark Recap

The Third Day S1Ep6 Jess Sits in the Altar Position at Church 1

Episode 6, The Dark, is the third day in Helen’s cycle on the island. She’s found Sam, so now it’s time for their confrontation. The islanders will, of course, do everything possible to interfere, up to and including murdering each other, but Helen has already proven that her energy is strong and she will persevere. It’s time for some answers.

Ellie continues her initiation into the island’s ancient beliefs with Kail. She meets more of the true believers and learns how she can help them, including toying with cult membership. Lu goes on the run, retracing the steps we’ve seen her parents take during their time on the island. She combines their journeys, but her path is also uniquely her own. By the end of the episode, each family member will have been put through their own trial and will come to their own conclusions about Osea Island. Helen and Sam each find their own reward.

Recap

Helen (Naomie Harris) and Sam (Jude Law) walk silently toward each other on the dock. They’re more like two enemies who are about to duel than a husband and wife who are about to be reunited after 9 months of separation. Jude Law and Naomie Harris project intense chemistry, love and longing underlying the bitterness between them.

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Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Analysis Part 2- How Romulan Values Took Over the Federation

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And Other Dangling Plot Threads the Show May or May Not Pick Up Again in S2

More discussion of odds and ends leftover from my recaps of S1 of Star Trek: Picard. In this installment, I’m working from the TV series, the prequel novel, The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack, the 3 part Picard S1 prequel Countdown graphic novel by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Another ongoing theme in Season 1 is the idea of freedom vs ownership and control, whether it’s the freedom of sentient beings, the freedom of ideas or the theft of body parts and someone else’s work. Rather than assimilating the Romulans into Federation life, as Picard planned for them, the Romulans have insidiously assimilated the Federation into their way of thinking. They value secrecy and hierarchy above all else and don’t value life or justice for their own sake.

This season introduced some deep concepts that we on Earth have only begun to explore as a world here in the 21st century, such as how is sentience determined?  Which species have the right to self-determination and which can be treated as objects or livestock, harvested for their parts or used as slaves by anyone who sees fit? If humanoids can’t even recognize the sentience and basic rights of other humanoids, such as synths and xBs, how will we recognize sentience in other forms of life when we encounter them, including here on Earth?

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Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Analysis Part 1- Outsiders, Twins and Broken Pieces

SStar Trek Picard S1E10 Soji & Picard

I have several pages of leftover notes from Star Trek: Picard S1 that didn’t make it into my recaps last spring. To celebrate the holidays and production starting soon on S2, I’m going to attempt to wrangle some of them into a few analysis posts on symbolism, mythology and whatnot.

So happy end of 2020, everyone! May you all have received your COVID vaccinations by this time next year! Preferably many months sooner!

Jean Luc begins the season amongst his vineyard’s vines, flowers and fireplaces, surrounded by organic life and symbols that his life is real and truthful. Well, technically he starts with a dream about Data which includes many hints at the season to come, from Blue Skies and the starry nebula, to the five Queens (for five synth daughters) in Data’s poker hand and the Mars attack while Picard laments that he hasn’t finished his tea and doesn’t want the game to end yet.

A Season of Outsiders

The common thread running through Picard, his friends and acquaintances this season is that they’ve been failed by “the system” and now live outside of it. Even the emissaries of Starfleet turn out to be outsiders in some way.

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The Third Day Part 3/Winter: Season 1 Episode 5 Tuesday- The Daughter Recap

The Third Day S1Ep5 Secret Esus 5

With Jess in labor and the islanders at war, in episode 5 Helen is called on to act as midwife. She also reveals that she’s searching for Sam on Osea. Ellie gets to know Kail, leaving Lu to her own adventures. We learn more about how Sam’s disappearance and Nathan’s death affected the family.

Recap

The story picks up in the middle of the night, with Helen sound asleep and dreaming about Sam standing on a beach, calling to her. He calls her by his nickname for her, “Cass”. She wakes up when a woman screams.

Mrs Martin’s implication that of course the pub is safe was about as truthful as any other message she sends.

The woman continues screaming and both girls wake up, so Helen gets up to find the source of the sound. Lu, ever the sensible one in the family, tells her not to go. Helen responds by ordering her two girls to stay upstairs, alone, in the dark room.

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The Third Day Part 3/Winter: Season 1 Episode 4 Monday- The Mother Recap

Part 3 of The Third Day, Winter, picks up several months after Part 2, Autumn. It’s been nine months since Sam came to the island in May, which makes it February of the following year.

Part 3 follows single mom Helen (Naomie Harris) and her two young daughters, Ellie (Nico Parker), who’s almost 14, and Lu, short for Talulah (Charlotte Gairdner-Mihell), age 9. They arrive on Osea Island for a brief holiday, only to find that the islanders are at war again and there’s no room at any of the inns. In fact, the inns are permanently closed.

The sacred tourism idea from Parts 1 and 2 seems to have been scrapped. Instead, some residents are attempting to flee the island in tears. But with all of the chaos, the island tourism board forgot to take down room listings, so now the villagers have three cold, tired and hungry tourists to deal with, much like they had to deal with Sam at an inopportune time in Part 1.

Weird how this keeps happening, isn’t it?

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A Blast from the Past: Avengers Fireside Holiday “Yule Log” Videos

A peek inside the Avengers’ apartments during the holidays as we hang out by their fireplaces.

I posted these Marvel Fireside Heroes videos back in 2016 (between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War in the MCU timeline) and just came across them as I was looking at old holiday posts. They’re so much fun, I decided to share them with y’all once again, since most of us are on lockdown this holiday season and have been staring at the same screens for months. They are like Yule log videos, but instead we’re sitting in Steve Rogers’ apartment, listening to swing jazz versions of Christmas carols for an hour as we watch his fire, or on the Guardians of the Galaxy’s spaceship watching Baby Groot dance next to the fire.

Each video is filled with tiny details, like the pictures of Bucky, Peggy and his mom that Steve has next to the fire, and his original USO tour shield hung over the mantel. One chair leg is held up by a stack of books, because Steve is still a thrifty Depression era guy at heart. The apartment furnishings look like they could be straight from the forties, just like Steve himself. It’s a lonely looking place, from a lonely time in his life, but we could totally join him and make it better, right?

Captain America’s Brooklyn Apartment Fireside video. The close up version is above:

Under the cut: Thor, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, the Guardians & Deadpool

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The Third Day Part 2: Autumn Live Event Recap

The Third Day Part 2 Watery Last Supper

The Third Day Part 2, Autumn, was a 12 hour live streamed event that took place on October 3, 2020, on the real Osea Island, in between the original broadcast of Parts 1 and 2. The event was streamed and recorded as it happened, in one continuous take. Over the course of the long day, Jude Law’s Sam, who has spent the last several months living on the island, undergoes a ritual initiation as island Father.

The ritual takes place during the island’s annual Esus and the Sea festival. The producers had originally planned for the festival to be a musical concert event attended by a crowd of 10,000 people, but the COVID pandemic forced them to scrap those plans. The broadcast of The Third Day was moved from May to October and the concert festival became a religious ritual similar to the Easter tradition of reenacting Jesus’ walk through the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering or Stations of the Cross, on the way to his execution on Good Friday. They limited the crowd to the villagers, with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, whose music was memorably used in Part 1, providing solo performances at a few key moments.

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The Third Day Part 1/ Summer: Season 1 Episode 3 Sunday- The Ghost Recap

The Third Day S1Ep3 Mrs Martin & Sam

Episode 3, The Ghost, answers many of the questions that the first two episodes set up, but it can be a difficult hour of television to watch. Sam starts the hour as a kidnap victim who’s still high on a hallucinogenic drug. What follows is somewhere between a prank-filled ramble through the Fairy Realm and a torturous scramble to escape the Island of the Dead before he’s killed by one of its insane residents. At least Sam is still wearing Mrs Martin’s magic shoes.

There are three competing mythological strands in Part 1 which are being pushed onto Sam by various factions of islanders. In some ways, Sam is on the classic Hero’s Journey, following in the footsteps of Odysseus and the legends of King Arthur. There are also elements of the Christian Stations of the Cross, based on Jesus last day before his crucifixion, in Sam’s weekend events, and those continue on Sunday. And the islanders have pushed Sam toward the heroic Threefold Death all weekend.

The Threefold Death is an ancient Indo-European rite which involves death by hanging (or strangulation or falling), drowning (or poisoning) and by wounding (or fire/burning). The death might involve all three injuries happening to one person or a different person experiencing each injury. Combined, the human sacrifices made to Esus (god of war/hanging), Teutatis (tribal protector/fire) and Taranis (god of thunder, sky, sun and wheel of the year/drowning) were Threefold Deaths. Some on the island want to kill Sam, either for real or symbolically. Other want him to do the killing, either for real or symbolically.

For two days, Sam refused to take the bait and also avoided capture by the more violent islanders. At the end of episode 2, the island’s main instigators seemed to have finally forced the issue, drugging/poisoning Sam, then leaving him alone in the woods like a child in a fairy tale. Are Mrs Martin and Jess acting as Sam’s Judases? Is Mrs Martin the island’s fairy queen, leading Jess and Epona to tempt this Odysseus into staying an extra year or 20? Or are the islanders preparing to act out the Osea version of The Wicker Man?

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The Third Day Part 1/Summer: Season 1 Episode 2 Saturday- The Son Recap

The Third Day S1Ep2 Jess & Sam

In episode 2, The Son, Sam and Jess spend another day and night together on Osea Island. We learn more about Jess’s situation with her daughters and the death of Sam’s son. Sam visits the island’s historian to learn more about local customs, then in the evening, he and Jess take part in a dry run of the upcoming festival.

It’s all perfectly normal and nothing strange happens at all.

Recap

The episode begins with Sam’s nightmare from episode 1, which could be a recurring dream. Sam is in a moonlit, open field. He’s not trapped or encumbered- maybe he wishes he still was. In the distance, he sees the boy through a rounded opening in a wall of forest branches and greenery. As Sam calls out for him, the boy runs away and disappears through the portal, into whatever realm is on the other side- purgatory, death, uncertainty, H*ll.

This is a living wall, instead of a wall of stone, suggesting that some part of Sam hasn’t accepted his son’s death. It’s also a reminder that the islanders inherited the Druids’ belief in reincarnation, with its fluid boundaries between life, death and rebirth. Death is not necessarily an impenetrable wall here.

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