This A Discovery of Witches review contains spoilers.
What a turnaround. They live long lives, vampires, but that doesn’t mean they take things slow. Philippe de Clermont went from antagonist to sweetheart in a single episode that covered a continent of emotional ground. What began in conflict ended in declarations of acceptance and forgiveness. If only we could all time travel our way to such closure with the people we’ve lost.
Most families, admittedly, don’t have the de Clermonts’ baggage. ‘My Son Rescued Me From Nazi Torture, Euthanized Me, And Married Our Mortal Enemy’ would be too lurid a headline even for Jerry Springer. Philippe and Matthew though, didn’t need a bouffanted chat show host to resolve their issues; they had Diana.
Like a beautiful ship’s figurehead, Diana did not bend in Sept-Tours’ raging waters. Her steadfast composure faced down everything thrown at her: the sword-fight, the blood rage, poor Matthew’s guilt… all of it was greeted with the same resolute determination. She loved Matthew. She was worthy of Matthew. And Matthew loved her. That was all there was to be said about it.
Philippe eventually listened, recognising Diana as the witch prophesied to change life as they know it. (Tip: If you possibly can during a confrontation, it helps to spontaneously glow a bit around the edges to hint towards the fact that you wield enormous and untapped magical power. Gives one an edge) A divine offering, a quickie wedding and a blood anointment later, and Diana was one of the family.
Philippe was acting on Ysabeau’s message, in the form of the ring she’d sent Diana. If his witch-hunting mate could accept this newcomer in the future, then so could he. Faced with Diana’s power, and given Philippe’s determination to protect his family, was there also a sense that he’d rather have this witch inside the de Clermont family tent pissing out, than outside pissing in?
Whatever prompted his change of heart, Philippe jumped in with both feet, transforming from the huffing patriarch we met last week into a real softie. His offering to Artemis and presentation of the purse (“the women in this family manage their own finances”), were the perfect gifts for his modern step-daughter.
Philippe’s transformation wasn’t all about Diana, but also the need to accept his own mortality. The millennia-old vampire had to stop fighting the fact that his long life would, one day, end. Confronted by the certainty that he’ll be outlived by Ysabeau and his sons, Philippe was able to accept his lot, and to forgive Matthew whatever schism befell them in the future. It was closure for Matthew, and for Ysabeau, who received a missive through the centuries to let her know that her mate was at peace with whatever fate would bring.
Thanks to another fully committed, moving performance from Matthew Goode, we now know the extent to which Philippe’s death has haunted his son, and why Matthew’s journey to 16th century Sept-Tours was so gloom-ridden. Matthew didn’t just rescue his father from torture in a Nazi death camp, he was also forced to end his suffering, a final, painful task for the de Clermont family assassin. If season one was all about Diana coming into her powers, then season two has been all about Matthew emotionally coming to terms with his past.
It was an emotional episode all round, filled with intimate confessions and – once the ferocious and stunt-filled sword fight was over with – romance. After a blood-soaked start to the hour, things went dreamy at the halfway point and just got dreamier from there. Fans of Diana and Matthew’s relationship were well served with not only a wedding (full points for that magnificent collar) and dancing, but also a wedding night.
With Matthew’s blood rage secret out in the open, the couple were able to consummate things with some tastefully shot soft-focus nudity. As promised in their vows, they gave their bodies to each other – finally, a tick in that to-do box.