A Discovery of Witches (Episode 2.1) Review

A Discovery of Witches’ first season was a grand supernatural romance that moved at a leisurely pace and was rather light on action. Still, the gorgeous locations and charismatic actors made for an entertaining drama with hints of horror. Discovery is cut from the same cloth as Twilight or The Vampire Diaries, albeit much more mature—and better in all aspects. While I didn’t love the first season, it ended on an engaging cliffhanger that warranted a second season. 

The first episode of A Discovery of Witches’ sophomore season is engaging, setting up pieces to a web of political intrigue. The season one finale found Diana (Theresa Palmer) and Matthew (Matthew Goode) looking to escape back in time to escape the wrath of The Congregation and find the Book of Life. Season Two picks up right after those final moments–or, right before, if you look at it a certain way.

Diana and Matthew have arrived on the correct date, but in the wrong place. Matthew is instantly on edge as he realizes that he and Diana have landed in the city of London, not the countryside like he had hoped. This poses a threat to Matthew and Diana’s safety as Matthew must fall back into the life he once had. 

Diana’s magic begins to guide her toward a witch she believes could be her teacher. Kit, a friend of Matthew’s, complicates the couple’s plans to lie low. Because of this, an old acquaintance calls upon Matthew to “continue” his work outing Catholics in the supernatural community. Of course, Matthew’s less than honest past is news to Diana. This makes for some excellent tension between the two leads, a welcome change of pace from their generally frictionless relationship of season one.

As with most flagship episodes, answers are in short supply. There are exciting reveals in the final moments of the episode, one regarding the nature of Diana’s power. The other reveals Matthew’s former (and present?) cruelty. The past Matthew being “displaced” is also brought up, hinting at things to come. Understandably, the chess pieces are merely being placed on the board; they aren’t in play yet.

While A Discovery of Witches can be slow for my taste, this episode left me thirsty for more. The change of setting to Elizabethan England adds a new and welcome flavor. Beautiful camera work and set design, as well as a charismatic cast of characters remain the show’s greatest strength. Matthew Goode and Theresa Palmer have excellent chemistry. It’s great to see them return to these characters. If this episode is any indication, fans of the show are in for a real treat.

A Discovery of Witches is streaming now on Shudder and Sundance Now, with new episodes every Saturday.

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