A Discovery of Witches Season 2: How History Changes Everything

Can Diana and Matthew's relationship survive their journey to the Elizabethan England and its host of historical characters?

Matthew walking Elizabethan street in A Discovery of Witches
Photo: Bad Wolf

This A Discovery of Witches article contains season two spoilers.

A Discovery of Witches returns for its sophomore season on Sky One and AMC/Sundance and explores a time-travel induced paradigm shift forcing star crossed lovers Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont to gingerly navigate 16th century London. The season two premiere introduces a fascinating new set of historical figures as the search for the Book of Life intensifies, and the romantic entanglement between the witch and the vampire remains at the heart of the tale.

As the crisis surrounding the decline of the three creatures rages on in the present, the search for the volume that details the origin of the species appears to hold answers that all three believe can stem the tide. Now in 1590 England, one of the more fascinating arcs involves the hunt for a skilled witch to instruct Diana in the control of her ever increasing powers. We’re treated to a wonderful scene in which Diana seems unable to light a simple candle yet accelerates time, leading her prospective teacher to recoil in fright. 

Now that we recognize Diana’s abilities as a “time walker,” the added capacity to also manipulate time in another way not only adds to the narrative intrigue, but also to the impact she’s likely to make here and when she and Matthew return to the present. Of course, we must consider not only how long it’s narratively safe to remain in the 16th century, but also whether time travel to other time periods will become a possibility.

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Just as fascinating, however, is the story centering on Matthew’s life in 1590 as poet Matthew Roydon and why his appearance with Diana has his friends so rattled. Certainly, other series have employed historical figures to great effect, and the introduction of  the demon Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (Tom Hughes/Victoria) provides a compelling foil for Matthew. There is, though, a disturbing element to this aspect of the story when we learn Matthew functioned as a spy in the English court with the express purpose of rooting out Catholics. When Kit explains to Diana that the longer Matthew remains in the 16th century, the more it will change him. “He will not be your Matthew any longer.”

Matthew’s relationship with Diana faces numerous obstacles, not the least of which are the dark secrets he harbors, but if this episode shows us anything, it’s her refusal to be shuttered under the guise of protection. Not only does she bring 21st century sensibilities to the 1500’s, she understands how powerful she’s become and doesn’t intend to let anyone prevent her from standing on her own. Let’s not forget, however, that at the heart of this mission is the recovery of the Book of Life and the hope that the knowledge it contains can help witches, demons, and vampires survive in the 21st century.

At its heart, A Discovery of Witches still plays to the burgeoning romance between Diana and Matthew, but with the narrative shift to a new time period and its accompanying figures like Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Henry Percy, the opportunities to explore this relationship amidst these turbulent times only adds to the intrigue. Already renewed for a third series, the Sky One and Sundance show will treat fans to two additional episodes this season as they wait to learn the fates of the witch and the vampire.