A Discovery of Witches: Episode 4

Welcome back to the review of A Discovery of Witches, just a reminder there are spoilers in this post as I am discussing the show vs. the books.

To pick up where we left off, Diana is no longer safe in Oxford; too many creatures want to use her to get to the infamous book Ashmole 782, aka The Book of Life. After she received a picture of her murdered parents and was confronted by a group of witches, Matthew decides the safest place for Diana is at his home in France, Sept Tours.

In this episode we meet Ysabeau, Matthews vampire mother/maker. In the book Diana makes the observation that this delicate looking woman appears to be a few years younger than Matthew. However, the show chose an actress who clearly looks the part of mother. I think it makes the relationship easier to process if the mother figure looks like a mother figure. Additionally, we meet Marthe, a loyal family retainer. While she is written/cast as a servant her character is clearly a loved family member who happens to also serve them. The actress they picked, in my opinion is the perfect fit for this character; she captures the essence of the Marthe I read about.

Diana and Matthew come to Sept Tours and meet the family. Ysabeau clearly does not want a witch in her house, though the viewer is not sure why at first. But then we learn that witches are responsible for the death of her beloved husband, Phillipe. The book gives more details than the show does, but we understand enough to appreciate the evolution of the relationship between Diana and Ysabeau as the three books unfold. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it all here.

Meanwhile, the show continues to give us little snippets of a looming threat in the form of Juliette. As I said before, she comes unexpected into the book as a momentary threat. But in the show, they will build the feeling of threat over the course of the season.

Not to be left out, the viewer is taken to Venice to learn more about The Congregation; a decision-making body for the world of creatures. They make and enforce rules for the supernatural world and have done so for hundreds of years. In the book The Congregation is used as a phantom threat but they are not really developed as an entity until much later. Again, I think from a viewer’s perspective it is smart to slowly build the profile of this governing body.

Most of the episode has Diana and Matthew at Sept Tours but by the end Domenico comes and reminds everyone that the relationship between a vampire and a witch is forbidden by Congregation rules. They are told if they do not break of whatever relationship that is forming there will be dire consequences. Diana, who has not been overly involved in the world of creatures for the most of her life does not care. She does not feel they should have any say over whom she can love or not. Matthew, on the other hand, has been living with the rules for centuries and is inclined to follow them. He tells Diana it is over, but that he will leave her in Sept Tours for her safety while he returns to Oxford.

Diana, cannot accept this decision. When he leaves the castle, she watches him down the drive and it begins to rain, or so it would seem. Actually, the extreme emotion has triggered another power in Diana, witch water.  

In the show it makes it seem like Diana is conjuring rain, but in the book, we learn that this power is much more complicated than just causing rain. In fact, the power it takes to cause the amount of water we see is so extreme that if she is not stopped, Diana could be lost in the power and die. Ysabeau understands the danger and saves her. Ysabeau sings to Diana, giving her something to focus on and eventually the witch water stops. Afterwards, Marthe and Ysabeau help the exhausted Diana to recover.

It is kind of sad to me that this part of the book is not in the show. It shows Ysabeau as much more complex character, and it also illustrates the love she has for her son. While Ysabeau may hate witches, she will save this one for her son.

There are other plot points being drawn out in this episode, which is appropriate as this is the middle of the season. The pieces are starting to come together, building to the end of the first season/book. All in all, the show has been doing a good job of making this story into a fun to watch show.

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