‘A Discovery of Witches’ Season 2 Review: Upholding Shadow of the Night’s Spirit

A Discovery of Witches

Spoilers Below.

A Discovery of Witches Season Two, written by Kate Brooke, Tom Farrelly, Charles James, and Sarah Dollard, keeps the All Souls Trilogy second book’s spirit while creating something unique, leaving viewers desperate to see more.

Season 2 is directly based on Shadow of the Night by Deborah Harkness. British Vampire Matthew Clairmont and American witch Diana Bishop travel back to Elizabethan London to hide from the Congregation. Meanwhile, in the present, their families try to find a way to make sure the couple is safe. Matthew and Diana need to find the Book of Life to stop daemons, vampires, and witches from dying out.

Diana is a true feminist hero. Since her parents died, she has refused to embrace her witch nature. Instead, she dove into the world of history. She is a historian who studies alchemy and science. Even the little spells that Diana’s Aunts, Sarah Bishop and Emily Mather, taught her as a child were significant failures.

Last season, Diana discovered that her father, Stephen Proctor bound her powers to protect his daughter from the greedy witch Peter Knox. When she started to fall in love with Matthew, her abilities began to manifest. After fellow witch Satu accidentally broke the binding spell, Aunt Sarah and Aunt Emily still struggled to teach her spells.

In Season 2, Diana realizes she can’t learn spells because she is a “weaver.” Weavers are a subset of witches that can create their own spells, but they can’t do anything magical if the spell is created by somebody else. In Elizabethan England, weaver elder Goody Alsop teaches Diana the ten knots that allow her to develop spells and summon her familiar firedrake Corra. By fully embracing her witch nature, Diana takes back control of her life.

Last season, Diana needed protection because her powers only came out during dire situations. Now she refuses to let Matthew be her “protector.” The couple forms a true partnership.

When Diana and Matthew visit his father, the ancient vampire Phillipe de Clermont in Sept-Tours (France), the witch is tested multiple times. Phillipe brings the witch Monsieur Andre Champier to Diana while she is reading in his library. Champier is drawn to Sept-Tours because he can sense her great power. He tries to break into Diana’s head to steal all her memories. Diana’s mind flashes to images of her saving Matthew’s life and when she accidentally summoned witch wind at the Bodleian Library.

Champier realizes a vampire drank from her. She screams in pain when the male witch tries to remove her memories. Matthew hears her screams. He runs faster than light to Diana’s aid. When he enters the room, she summons one of his daggers. Diana stabs Champier in the heart, proving that she doesn’t need anybody’s protection. Phillipe now knows that the Clairmont family can trust his son’s great love with their secrets because Diana won’t let herself be compromised.

Matthew forgives himself and realizes that he is worthy of love. His vampire mother a.k.a. sire, Ysabeau de Clermont, is a blood rage carrier. This genetic disease causes loss of control and violent impulses triggered by strong negative emotions like rage. Over the centuries, Matthew has gained control of his blood rage. But when he is forced back to the Elizabethan court as Matthew Roydon, the vampire’s homicidal tendencies are re-awoken.

Roydon is a spy for the British royal court, cruel inquisitor, and Phillipe’s executioner. He kills the Scottish witch Thomas Caldwell to save him from further torture. Elizabeth I is afraid that Caldwell and all the other witches are no longer loyal to the British Crown. Matthew remains haunted by the fact that he mercifully killed his father Phillipe during World War Two. Nazi witches tortured Phillipe to the point of permeant physical and mental damage. Seeing his father again is painful for Matthew because he has never forgiven himself. Guilt brings the blood rage bubbling up to the surface when Phillipe tries to get Matthew to tell him his future. Matthew’s father won’t stop beating him with a sword until he becomes a raging animal. The son refuses to tell Phillipe anything.

Diana’s acceptance of everything Matthew is, including the blood rage, allows the two to mate and marry. Mating makes Matthew overly protective of Diana, but the two creatures create a true partnership.

Season 2 leaves viewers with a small mystery for the final installment of A Discovery of Witches. The show changes several details from the original text Shadow of the Night. One of the more minor changes is that Mary Sidney commissions two small portraitures of Matthew and Diana as gifts in the book. Matthew orders the portraitures for their adopted son Jack Blackfriars, a former street urchin in the television show. Before traveling to Sept-Tours, the couple leaves the paintings with Jack to comfort him. During modern times, Marcus Whitmore (Matthew’s vampire son) tries to buy the portraitures from an auction house, but they are stolen before he picks them up.

Meanwhile, treacherous vampire Domenico has been tracking a series of murders in Oxford, Cambridge. A vampire commits these murders in a blood rage. From the third book in the trilogy, The Book of Life, I know that Father Hubbard turns Jack into a vampire when he is a young man. In the present day, Hubbard’s sire Benjamin Fuchs tricks Jack into killing humans in a failed attempt to sire vampires and controls the young man by dangling Matthew in front of him. Jack’s extreme blood rage makes him easy to manipulate.

My theory is that Jack is the one who stole the portraitures since they technically belong to him. The young vampire would want to be closer to his “parents.” Like the third book, Jack murders humans in Oxford because he is under Benjamin’s control.

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  1. Sorry to be a stickler, but Benjamin Fuchs was sired by Matthew, but Father Hubbard.

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